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Essay Revision/ Reviews. - September 8th 2009, 03:54 AM

I know y'all won't actually read through this... but I need to know if there are any major grammar mistakes, or things that make 0 sense. I know you might not have read the book, but I hope you get a feel for what I am try to say. Comments would GREALY be appreciated.

Coping with Loss as a Means to Find Hope in the Future:
Finding a Balance


After decolonization in 1947, India struggled to set up a new society independent of the greed and corruption of all western nations. It was a time of political and social upheaval, realistically captured by Rohinton Mistry in his novel A Fine Balance. The hand of the Prime Minister and her new ideas, along with the cruel plans of fate, continually forced Mistry’s characters into seemingly hopeless situations. Dina Dalal struggled to cope with the loss of her father and then her husband while tailors Ishvar and Omprakash lost their entire family due to caste violence. Maneck Kohlah watched helplessly as his home in the pristine mountains was mercilessly sacrificed in the name of progress. The natures of these tragedies were dissimilar, and therefore their affects on the characters proved to be decisively different as well. Each person needed a different set of skills to deal with their problems. The tools required of some of the characters, however, proved more beneficial than those of the more unfortunate ones. The fortitude that Dina and the tailors grew to possess after the inconvenient deaths of their loved ones allowed them to find hope in their outwardly tragic lives while Maneck, who lived a childhood of innocence and bliss, lacked such strength of mind and ended up in a state of depression. The balance struck between fortune and despair replicate the idea Mistry brings forth in the title, A Fine Balance. While Dina and the tailors find this balance, Maneck lacks the necessary background to obtain a positive future.
Mistry uses the character Dina to portray the determined and typically upbeat attitude of someone who has dealt with more than their fair share of hardship, a balanced life. Before she reaches her teenage years, Dina’s father leaves to practice medicine in a rural area of India and does not live to return home. His death and her mother’s subsequent misery are crushing blows to Dina, who “could have done with a parent for a few more years. She missed her father dreadfully. Her mother’s withdrawal made it much worse,” (Mistry 17). She survives under her brother’s domineering care until she is old enough to marry Rustom, a man of her own choosing. A lasting marriage, however, is not in the cards and Rustom was killed a few years later. At first, Dina lives in a state of denial. Her world has been turned upside down twice, forcing her to lose her footing right as she was regaining balance. She lives a dreamlike existence for a while until the threat of losing her independence awoke her. It is Dina’s drive to live on her own that forces her back into the present, kicking in to help her search for a means of sustaining herself. The death of her loved ones leads Dina to realize that she has to think about the future instead of trying to relive the past. Again, a balance of the future and past are key here. She ends up reaching a place where she “seldom indulged in looking back at her life with regret or bitterness, or questioning why things had turned out the way they had, cheating her of the bright future everyone had predicted for her” (15). This ability to look back on the past while keeping in mind that it cannot be changed or altered in any way is an invaluable tool when it comes to dealing with everyday life. Dina’s loss provided her with the means necessary to exist in an ever-changing world, including strength and resilience. Living through tough times had allowed her to be able to find the light at the end of the tunnel later on. She had learned at a young age that life could be cruel, but no situation was completely hopeless. When it seems as if her landlord is going to evict her, leaving her unemployed and homeless, Dina finds a way to buy herself time instead of giving up completely, as someone less seasoned might have done. She never allows herself to admit complete defeat and sink into depression. At the end of the novel, Dina ends up living with her brother once again. Even in this existence, she still keeps her old friends and does not succumb mentally to her brother’s wishes, defiant to the very end. A balance between her wants and desires along with reality. Life is never perfect, but thanks to the death of family members in the past ironically, Dina was able to find tenacity and a meaningful existence.
Like Dina, Omprakash and Ishvar also dealt with their fair share of hardship. Their family is a member of the untouchable caste in their village, but Om’s father Narayan refuses to fully accept the substandard quality of life. One year, Narayan decides that he is fed up with the discrimination and is determined to cast his vote in a community election. After being told to leave the polls repeatedly, Narayan and his companions are taken hold of and escorted out to await punishment from upper-caste members. Along with other members of the caste, “they were flogged as they hung naked by their ankles from the branches of a banyan tree” (146). The men are tortured for the entire day before they are finally hanged. After that, their bodies are displayed in the village center as a warning to the other untouchables. The cruel treatment does not end there. Upper-caste members round up all of the family they can find, tie them together inside Narayan’s home, and set it on fire. This torture is an act of malicious and unnecessary violence, one that saddles Ishvar and Om with immense grief. Om begins plotting against his family’s murderer to help cope with the sadness and “Ishvar let him entertain his thoughts of revenge…the hands were easy to divert with sewing, but the tormented mind was difficult to free from turmoil” (149). Om’s reaction, one of hostility that ultimately demanded repayment, is normal on some level yet proves to be overly harsh. His anger is so great that it brews in his mind all day while his hands are flying through his work with the cloth. Ishvar himself goes through a phase after the murder of his family in which all he wanted was to avenge their deaths in hopes of quenching his thirst for payback and curbing his anguish. As hopeless as their lives seemed, however, the tailors slowly move on. The road to recovery is long and challenging but along the way they too gained the same strength of mind that Dina possessed. The tailors obtain a broader perspective that allows them to find hope during bad times. Mistry leads the tailors through an agonizing existence, depriving them of good fortune at every turn. Their life at Dina’s was not only the positively needed, but also a sense of family and belonging, which helped to balance out the outcast lives the held in the social caste system. Towards the end of the novel, Om’s desire for revenge resurfaces when he stands up to Thakur Dharamsi, the man responsible for his family’s death, by spitting at his feet. Ishvar realizes that he has made a decision, screaming to Om that, “‘you are mad…if you want to die why don’t you swallow rat poison?’” (513). Ishvar’s worry is well founded, as the tailors are sent to a sterilization camp where a botched procedure at the urging of Thakur Dharamsi incapacitates Om for life. It seems as if the tailors would have no reason to want to continue on with their lives in their present states. But the tools they acquired earlier on served them well, allowing them to walk the line between hope and despair mentioned so often in the novel. At the end of the story, the tailors-turned-beggars have a positive attitude. They visit Dina on a regular basis, who recognizes that “those two made her laugh every day,” (603). These high spirits came about as an indirect result of the tragedies Ishvar and Om had experienced in their pasts and, in turn, help them to endure whatever new challenges life hurls towards them.
Lacking such an unfortunate past, Maneck Kohlah is unable to find the faith necessary to live a balanced existence. His mother and father own a store in the mountains. When they were beseeched to return to the city in letters from family, they refused, writing, “the air and water is so pure, the mountains so beautiful, and the business is doing very well…nowhere else can Maneck have better expectations for his future’” (207). This sentiment is echoed in Maneck, who, if asked, “would have agreed completely; and never mind the future, the present would have been reason enough for him, for his happy childhood universe. His days were rich and full” (207). Maneck’s childhood is incredibly innocent and idyllic. His largest worries never last more than a few hours at most and there are no large, serious tragedies with which he is forced to cope. When he ages, he finds it easy to simply spend hours reminiscing about such a joyous past. As a result, Maneck never learns to deal with suffering on a large scale. The only unhappiness he had ever really feels is resentment towards his parents for sending him to boarding school, which can hardly be compared to what Dina and the tailors are forced to endure. Even at the boarding school, Maneck finds joy in the company of Om. Maneck is never taught to leave painful memories behind. When he is forced into his first real encounter with misfortune, it is easy to see that Maneck was made from a different fiber than his housemates. After a fight with Dina over the tailors, Maneck retreats to his room to ponder the larger questions that exist in his life. He comes to the realization that “memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated—not with the same joy,” (330). This belief leads Maneck to believe that memories were completely useless; people only look back on them with bitterness and distress. He thinks about the subject long enough for him to finally arrive at the idea that “in the end it was all hopeless,” (330). Maneck, however, has trouble when it comes to acting on his thoughts. On some level, he knows he should not be relishing in reliving old memories, yet he continues to do so throughout the novel. Maneck lacks the self-discipline necessary to remove himself from his reveries, where he finds false happiness and security. The difference between Maneck’s attitude and that of Dina and the tailors manifests itself in this sentiment. Maneck is unable to look back on the past without getting caught up in its sadness. He cannot find hope in his past, which subsequently leaves him incapable of finding it in his future. This feeling of dejection follows Maneck throughout his life, until the thought of living in such a bleak world becomes too much for him to bear. His suicide is a sign of his inability to distance himself from the bad times long enough to find even the smallest fragment of joy, brought on by the complete lack of significant suffering in his childhood.
After living through the loss of close family members, Dina and the tailors learned that they needed to regain faith in their futures in order to deal with day-to-day life. Maneck, however, was spared such misfortune, which ironically led to his inability to find any hope on the horizon. He realizes he cannot live life in the past and is lacking the life experiences necessary to bring him out of depression, ending up in a state of hopelessness too great to overcome. Dina and the tailors serve as ample contrast to Maneck in their ways of coping with tragedy, which leads to the different choices they make about embracing or trying to escape their futures. The idea of finding happiness in everyday life is key to dealing with harsh circumstances. Dwelling on sad memories fosters an inability to find such pleasure. It is impossible to truly live without a balance of two contrasting forces, or success is never reached. Mistry’s novel serves as a reminder that a certain amount of suffering is necessary to strengthen one’s resolve and will to live.


   
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Re: Essay Revision/ Reviews. - September 8th 2009, 04:22 AM

I read the first part and I didn't find any big errors. I thought it was very well-written, nice job
Is it for a class assignment?


Yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers
But everything that lives is born to die
And so I say to you that nothing really matters
And all you do is stand and cry.


Music is life. Start living.
   
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Re: Essay Revision/ Reviews. - September 8th 2009, 07:25 AM

It's a decent essay, although I was confused about the purpose of it. In the intro, you mention the title, A Fine Balance, and mention how the book strikes a balance between happiness and misery. However, you pretty much focus all on the negatives, which is fine, however, there's no point that you're making as the entire thing seems like a summary of the novel. While I was reading it I was thinking "so what, what is this about, what is the point or argument she's trying to pursue?". Only at the end, in the very last few lines you give the idea that the entire essay is about how people require suffering in order to find the strength to live. So, I re-read your essay with that in mind (I ignored the intro bit because it didn't fit with that) and it still was a summary of the novel.

The problem I see is you have a lot of information, which is good but it's pretty much just all slopped together with no good arguments. You give quotes from the text to support what you're saying and that's good to have but it's not making any point. Only at the very end, in the last few lines, I finally clued on about what the essay may have been about, although I got confused because the intro gave a completely different idea.

The other problem was you don't introduce the characters properly. Further down in the essay you give more background information but it's written in the assumption that the reader a) has read the book and b) understands the book. I, the reader, have done neither and so I'm getting names flying at me all over the place and it just seems so very disorganized.

Overall, I get the impression that someone has a decent ability to write, has read the book, understood it and gathered some good information but that's about it. I don't get the sense that the person is pursuing an argument because you define a decent argument in the intro but you don't follow it and at the end, the argument has miraculously changed. An essay is meant to not only have a good amount of information but the information is meant to be organized, coherent and there's meant to be some argument that you're trying to convince to me.

If I were you, I'd go back and think what you want your essay to be about. Once you've done that, get the information needed (if you're going to use an argument centered around suffering then you have the information already) and write the essay with the argument in mind. Don't stray away from the argument, always reinforce it and don't have it end up being a summary.
   
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Re: Essay Revision/ Reviews. - September 9th 2009, 10:08 PM

Yes Sam, this is for a class assignment!

Quote:
Overall, I get the impression that someone has a decent ability to write, has read the book, understood it and gathered some good information but that's about it. I don't get the sense that the person is pursuing an argument because you define a decent argument in the intro but you don't follow it and at the end, the argument has miraculously changed. An essay is meant to not only have a good amount of information but the information is meant to be organized, coherent and there's meant to be some argument that you're trying to convince to me.
I see what you mean. I'll try cleaning the paragraphs up and be more obvious with my argument. I hope it wasn't too incoherent...

Thanks for the opinions


   
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Re: Essay Revision/ Reviews. - September 10th 2009, 03:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lost-myself View Post
I see what you mean. I'll try cleaning the paragraphs up and be more obvious with my argument. I hope it wasn't too incoherent...

Thanks for the opinions
No problem, feel free to post the revised version if you want it commented on also.
   
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