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Tutor profile: Kate P.

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Kate P.
Gilman International Scholar and Author/Illustrator
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Questions

Subject: Literature

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Question:

The novels Edward Jones’s "The Known World" and Octavia Butler’s "Kindred" both address the system of slavery in the south and question if and how people can exist within a corrupt system and not be corrupted by it. What characters in the texts show this? Evaluate the characters' existence and discuss whether they can exist within a corrupt system and not be corrupted by it.

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Kate P.
Answer:

In "The Known World" and "Kindred", Henry Townsend and Rufus Wylin both are characters who own slaves in the antebellum south. These men exist in the system of slavery with a chance to act differently in regards to the system in which they are apart. Dana in "Kindred" travels back in time and repeatedly saves Rufus Wylin's life. With this relationship, Rufus constantly owes Dana his life, Dana tries to use her leverage to change the way that Rufus exists as a slave owner. While Rufus takes over from his father at the plantation, he steps into the role of a slave owner and immediately sells off slaves. Dana reacts to this show of power, stating “What do you mean, no? He’s no good. He’s all grown up now, and part of the system. He could feel for us a little when his father was running things—when he wasn’t entirely free himself. But now, he’s in charge. And I guess he had to do something right away, to prove it” (Butler 223). Rufus inherits this role as the slavemaster from his father, not having a choice in the inheritance, but instead changing the system he did not choose, Rufus leans into the role. Rufus's actions as a character show that that simply one cannot be corrupt if they are a part of the system of slavery. Existing on the periphery of the system, Rufus managed to demonstrate his personal inclination for sympathy, yet once taking that step into the corrupt system he clearly could not exist without exploiting others. "The Known World" demonstrates a different entrance into the system of slavery, as Henry Townsend, a free black man, owns slaves and embraces the use of people to increase his wealth. Henry is highly influenced by William Robbins, his former owner, in the way that he understands power structures. Henry wants to be a kind master, but the work "The Known World" demonstrates that being a slave owner is to actively dehumanize people by taking away their bodily autonomy and stops him from the ability to be empathetic. Both characters enter into the power structure differently and simply are corrupted by simply being in the positions of power in the system.

Subject: Political Science

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Question:

What is a social cleavage, what causes one, and what results from one; explain what they produce and why some scholars thought cleavages froze in the 1920s and why those scholars are wrong?

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Kate P.
Answer:

A social cleavage is social divisions that exist dividing and defining groups or communities or political party systems. These social divisions are created by critical junctures, such as a revolution, an economic event, or a large social movement. Critical junctures create social cleavages where parties emerged to represent the differences created in society by this big event. Communities become divided by social cleavages, then need to be represented differently, causing party splits or even the creation of new parties. The division in a country's or community's history can create new interests and change the party system for the future. The scholars Lipset and Rokkan wrote about party systems in voter alignment in 1967, defining the term of social cleavages, discussing how parties are formed, and then represent different interests. They outlined potential divisions of social cleavages being class, religion, cultural identity, and geography. Lipset and Rokkan stated that the party systems froze in the 1920s as it ended the expansion of the suffrage movement and that party organization and discipline was tight, as not much changed in Europe. In retrospect, these scholars do not consider the possible changes of dealignment, a decline in voter identification with parties, and a preference towards other kinds of organizations like social movements as a different form of interest aggregation. A large social cleavage that is still causing separation of interest is the secular vs religious in controlling systems of government. The development of the modern state has made an effort to separate secular vs religious yet some interest groups lobby for religious values.

Subject: English

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Question:

What is Poetry?

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Kate P.
Answer:

Through the medium of poetry, a distinguishing factor is an intentionality in the structure of the work. Rhythm, line structure, rhyme, and use of grammar all matter greatly. First, artistic work has the goal in creating something which initiates a reaction in the audience. Poems do this through a linguistic medium. Poetry is the intentional use of language as an artistic literary reaction employing rhythm and movement through the structure of lines in stanzas with grammatical freedom. Poems are contained in the structure of lines. These lines can be contained in stanzas, which vary with style. The lines are the most formal part of the structure of a poem. Poets will use lines to build ideas rationally. The line can also be used to artistically create a form that builds the main image for the poem. In free verse, the line is the most important structure, as free verse poems do not follow a rhythmic structure. When considering the general view of poetry, lines allow the readers to easily distinguish poetry from prose. The author intentionally uses lines to structure his poem on a page with or without stanzas. Poems, also, have to include some form of movement. This movement can be categorized as rhythm felt and heard when read. Rhythm is essential in poetry, and it can be highly structured or written to sound as if the work is a normal conversation. Rhythm is the intentional use of language, stressed and unstressed syllables, creating a beat and energy in the written word. Some poems rely on rhythm, to push the poem’s narrative forward. Ballads are a good example of this, as the beat creates emotion for the readers to go to the next line. Songs are poems that are written with intentional metrical structure as the author has to consider the music which informs the rhythm of the poem. Poems that are highly structured regarding rhythm often use similar patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. These works emphasize meaning through words that are stressed or written breaking the pattern of the rhythm. Poems do not have to have a highly structured movement pattern to be considered a real poem, but there has to be a sense of felt energy when read. This pushes for the poem's meaning and the author's intentions. When looking at poetry something that is always prominent, is the common disregard for grammatical rules. Sometimes poems are just long run-on sentences or include many commas and never end. A distinguishing factor of a poem is the possibility for the author to change and ignore the use of grammar to emphasize words or images. The permission for the author to control the syntactical structure of a poem is a unique set of principles regarding poetry. Readers understand that grammatical rules are very few surrounding poetry, unlike when reading a novel and a grammatical error creates confusion. Grammar in poetry can create meaning and emphasis on meaning. Poetry is a great medium for an artistic reaction, as the structure and inform all parts of meaning. The line, rhythm, and grammatical structure can change with the author's intentionality as the words in a poem can be highly structured or very flexible.

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