Homework, due Sept 26

In your homework books, write a short paragraph on key points in your story:

  • How does it begin? What happened & what were you like?
  • What happened next? How did this cause a conflict for you? What was your problem?
  • What was the “climax” or turning point for you? How did that bring things to a crisis?
  • How was the story resolved? What kind of a person are you now?

This will tell me what your topic is, and I will tell you whether or not your story will work for this paper.

Here’s an example: 

When I was very young, my family used what we bought very quickly. We purchased plastic baggies, used them once, then threw them away. We poured juice straight from the carton into our glass.

Then my mother began rationing out what we owned more carefully. I recall standing over the sink scrubbing plastic bags carefully, and watering juice down until it was just barely flavored (We called it “rose water”, turning our noses up at it.) This caused a conflict for me. I didn’t understand that my mother was trying to save money; I was simply upset at all the extra work we had to do, for (apparently) no purpose. Plastic bags were meant to be thrown away!

As an adult, I recognize that when I was a child, I bought into the American idea of consumption: that we simply buy whatever we need and use it up, without thinking about the consequences. I didn’t understand that throwing away lots of plastic bags was essentially throwing away money, nor that putting so much plastic in the garbage was bad for the environment. All I wanted to do was avoid work.

At some point, my father must have taken a higher-paying job, because we stopped washing out plastic bags. I thought nothing more of this incident in my childhood, until a few years ago when I was on a strict budget for my food: no more than $40-50 / week (between $2-3 per meal, not including extra supplies like toilet paper and baggies). Unwilling to fork over some of the lingering dollar bills in my wallet for baggies, I washed some out. It was startling to me to realize that I had turned into my mother.

Washing my own plastic bags has changed me. I realize what I didn’t as a child: that conserving something is worth a little extra hard work. By reusing my plastic bags, I save money. I care for the world I live in. I am (less) beholden to the consumerist attitudes that pervade our culture, spending less money on stuff and more on experiences and on people. Although my culture teaches me to buy whatever I need and to avoid hard work, I have learned to, whenever possible, provide what I need for myself, through hard work.

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