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Freedom at a cost: Lockdown Escape from Furnace

Through reading this book I have found that a lot of the events within the book and the themes within the book can have many connections to the audience of this book. One thing that is occurring within the book is the potential escape of Alex and his close companions. They are trying to escape from the prison that is advertised as a waiting place for criminals before they die. Also that it is impossible to escape from furnace penitentiary. Although the boys are constantly reminded of these facts, they believe that freedom is possible. But what will this freedom cost them? “But it was too late. The wheezer stabbed the needle into Donovan’s neck and the boy went limp and silent. “You can’t do this!” I shouted. “Donovan, I’ll come for you. I’ll come for you!” (Pg. 260). Their efforts to regain their freedom cost Alex and the boys one of their closest friends in the penitentiary, Alex’s cellmate. Along with the loss of one of the boys, this escape attempt comes with a high chance of failure, and death. Alex and his friends have to be willing to take that risk if they want to be free. When I think of this situation, it causes me to connect this to making hard decisions in life. When we make hard decisions there are always costs involved. No matter what, we always are going to have to give something up or take some risk in order to pursue that decision. What I think the author is doing in this story is he is trying to invite the youth of the world to take risks and make decisions that are going to benefit our lives even if there are costs involved. If we believe in something, and we want to pursue something in life, we should be willing to take the risk and pursue despite the costs.

Overtaken by Fear

Alex now lives in the most dangerous prison in the entire world, and lives each and every day in fear of what is around him. He lives each day in constant fear of what comes next. As he lives each day in the penitentiary, he grows close to a group of inmates. Their companionship helps calm the fear that they live in. When reading this story, it is hard to understand the situation Alex is in because I have never been faced with a situation when I was living in fear, or overtaken by fear. When I think of someone living in fear I think of the Jews living in the concentration camps, or the Africans living in slavery. When hearing true stories of the fear they were overtaken by I see the pattern of mystery. They didn’t know what was around the corner. They had no idea what was going to happen to them. Alex is living in that same mystery. He has no idea what is going to happen to him while living here in the furnace. And he has no idea if he is ever going to see the daylight ever again. One quote that I found when reading that shows how Alex is living in a mystery caused by this immense fear can be found on page 131. “He’s something rotten they dragged up from the bowels of the earth, something they patched together from darkness and filth. He’ll be the death of us all, every single one of us here in Furnace. Only question is when.”

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

Right now I am reading the first book of the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. The title of the book is Lockdown. When starting this book, I found that the style of writing was very easy for me to get into and find myself lost within the story. The author writes in a way that keeps the reader on their toes, and is always wondering what may happen next to our main character Alex and his close friend Toby. What is very significant is how the author is using this big flashback at the beginning of the story to sort of help you as the reader to “catch up” to where Alex is within the story. When the story starts, Alex is already in Furnace Penitentiary. But the author begins with “I can tell you the exact moment that my life went to hell” (Pg. 7). The author is writing in a way where Alex is helping us catch up to where he is at. He knows that as the reader, we aren’t aware of how he even got to the penitentiary. A few characters that I found very significant in the beginning of this story were the mysterious black-suited men. They have had a lot to do with the framing of Alex and I know they are important within the penitentiary, but as the readers, we still are unaware of who these characters actually are. That aspect of mystery, along with suspense, and action is what makes this book extremely interesting to read, and easy to get into. According to Alex’s retelling of his history, it all started with some school yard bullying. But eventually it grew into breaking and entering, robbery, and he was eventually framed for murder. After he was framed, he began to regret his decisions thus far. And as he enters Furnace Penitentiary, I feel that he will begin to regret his decisions more and more.

Colonization and Imperialism reflection

My knowledge on imperialism and colonization before this unit in English was limited to say the least. Certainly not enough to have an idea or view on it to be honest. The topic was just never something I really put time into thinking about. However my idea of imperialism and colonization has not only changed, my knowledge on the topic has also expanded because of the last unit.
​Before starting this unit, my knowledge of imperialism, colonization, and their effects was not extensive enough to have a true “opinion” on it. And personally, I haven’t been affected by imperialism and colonization at all really. But through the book we read in particular, I have learned a lot more, and can make a valid opinion now. There are many examples and quotes from Roots that show how much of an effect imperialism and colonization have on indigenous peoples. One quote that I found to show this very well can be found on page 27. “Scaring Kunta most thoroughly, for the old grandmothers spoke often of the hairy, red-faced, strange-looking white men whose big canoes stole people away from their homes.” This quote helps the reader and me realize how much of an effect imperialism and colonization can have on the people of an area. What this quote causes me to believe is that in every situation where imperialism and colonization occurs, the native people of that area are negatively affected.
​Within the quote, it says “scaring Kunta most thoroughly.” Just the thought of people coming into his home land was frightening. And throughout Kunta’s time in Africa, he was constantly taught to be watchful of the “toubob,” or the people who were imperializing this land. Imperialism had no positive outcome for the people who had to submit to the higher powers. All they could do was try their hardest to avoid it. These people are scared to death of others taking them from their homelands and overpowering them. These people lived their lives in constant fear because some people think that they can force themselves over others. Although the people of this area in this specific story tried to avoid imperialism and colonization of their homeland, eventually it was just impossible. “In a blur, rushing at him, he saw a white face, a club upraised, heard heavy footfalls behind him. Toubob!” Pg. 192.
​Along with Roots, the few stories that Mrs. Jank shared about people’s experiences with imperialism and colonization has also affected my opinions. She explained to us how Native Americans were forced out of their homelands by “white man” and were not allowed to carry out their cultural and religious practices. And were forced to live their lives according to what others said. And it made their lives horrible. The ones who were imperializing and colonizing were undoubtedly benefiting. However, the indigenous people who were invaded upon were left to live their lives outside of their true culture. It helps reinforce my opinion that imperialism and colonization can only be negative for the native people of that area. It causes them to live in ways that they don’t want to live, in places they don’t want to live, and under the power of those they don’t want to serve.
​Through specifically reading Kunta Kinte’s story in Roots, and listening to stories about some Native American tribes my views on imperialism and colonization have drastically changed. Before experiencing the many stories reflecting the effects of both colonization and imperialism I did not have a solid idea or opinion on either of them. But I believe that after reading Roots, hearing Mrs. Jank’s stories, and many other in-class experiences, my idea and opinion has changed. I believe that colonization and imperialism is very negative for the native people of the area being colonized or imperialized within. It causes the people of the area to change their way of life according to how the colonizers want them to live. I believe that both colonization and imperialism is always positive for one side, and always negative for the other.

Caring for Others

Throughout the city of Lincoln, caring for others is evident in the entire community. There are numerous organizations that work specifically to help those who need it. And there are many people who take extra time out of their lives, to improve the lives of others. I feel that this center adds to the feel of the community of Lincoln. When people say that Lincoln is a happy place to live, I can honestly say it is a happy place to stay. In my life, I believe that the main characters of my play are my parents, my brother, and my friends. They make the most impact in my life and have the most influence on the parts of the community of Lincoln I experience every day. I thought that using caring as a center from Hamlet would be a new look on the plot because the center is not extremely evident. It is a more unique project because there isn’t a whole lot of examples of the center of caring throughout Hamlet. In the story, the character Horatio focuses on caring for others and loyalty. In Hamlet, his caring is extremely evident because it is such a different feel than the rest of the story. The entire story is focused on hatred, revenge, selfishness, and power. And only portions of the story really have anything to do with respect and caring for others. I believe that this project will be one of the only projects that is focused on the center of caring.


Help me! I need you!

“Here, sweet Lord, at your service.” “Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man as e’er my conversation coped withal. (Act 3, Scene 2)

I titled this picture “help me! I need you!” because the picture is of an exam room. And when you are visiting an exam room, you are visiting the doctor. And when we visit the doctor we are in need of the help they are able to give us. We come to an exam room when we are sick, and need the support of a professional to get us back to health. Horatio was that doctor for Hamlet. When Hamlet needed someone to care for him and comfort him Horatio was right there waiting. Horatio was ready to care for Horatio whenever he needed him. And he “had his doctorate” in caring for others. Horatio was definitely good at what he did, just as a doctor is good at treating our illnesses. Hamlet even complemented Horatio on his caring in the quote used to caption this picture. “Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man as e’er my conversation coped withal.” What Hamlet is saying here is, you are the best man I’ve ever known. We like to visit doctors we know are good at what they do, just as Hamlet went to Horatio when he needed someone to care for him. He knew Horatio was good at what he did. The table in the picture represents support for Hamlet when Horatio isn’t always there. While Hamlet isn’t around Horatio he can still rely on Horatio’s caring. When we are sick, we can rely on the comfort the exam table can give us if we are in pain when we wait for the doctor to provide the complete caring we need.


Guide me through life

“If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.” (Act 5, Scene 2)

If you are in need of some guidance, the guidance center is the place to go. You go to the guidance center when you need someone who cares about your wellbeing, to lead you down a path that will result in positivity. During Hamlet, Horatio was always there for Hamlet just as Mrs. Fredericks is there for all the students at Lincoln Lutheran. Horatio was always willing to care for Hamlet, especially when he was in great need of guidance. Hamlet was facing eventual death when he received the information about the joust, and to protect him Horatio tried to guide Hamlet towards the safer option. He cared so much about Hamlet that he was willing to lie just to protect him. Mrs. Fredericks is always willing to protect our well-being in times of trouble by guiding us towards the proper path. Horatio tried to care for Hamlet and protect him from death. The sign of the guidance center is above everything because in a proper community, caring for others and guiding others should be the top priority. However, in the community in Hamlet does not value caring for others, and guiding others down the right path. Horatio was the only one within the community that valued caring for others. If every character valued caring for others like Horatio did, the characters wouldn’t have all died.


Caring for everyone!

“Hello, sir. God bless you.” “May he bless you, too.” (Act 4, Scene 6)

Through the community outreach team, students at Lincoln Lutheran were blessed to show caring to those in the community of Lincoln who may need it more than others. Horatio was the entire community outreach team for the community within the story of Hamlet. Horatio was a worker for the highest of the high within this community. He had a job working with the King, and he was the prince’s best friend. He definitely was not on the bottom of the totem pole. But that didn’t stop him from caring for all those he encountered. The sailor, who was definitely lower on the socioeconomic pole in comparison to Horatio, came to Horatio. As usual, he used this as an opportunity to care for others no matter what status within the community they withheld. He could have disregarded the comment made by the sailor. But he decided to show a tender caring spirit towards the sailor, and respond with “may he bless you, too.” This is very closely related to the community outreach team because when students go on servant events, they are taking every opportunity they have to care for everyone they encounter. Whether it is through making meals, building a house, or fundraising, the community outreach team takes this time to care for others. Just as Horatio cared for others. He didn’t ask for anything in return. It was out of the goodness of his heart. Just as the community outreach team does. They both receive no benefit, except the warm feeling caring for others bring.


You got a friend in me.

“The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.” “Sir, my good friend; I’ll change that name with you.” (Act 1, Scene 2)

Horatio and Hamlet throughout the entire story were great friends. Horatio’s caring heart fueled the friendship and it is obvious throughout the story, that Horatio’s caring behavior held their relationship together. It took a strong caring mindset to stick to Hamlet as he was crazy throughout the entire story. And Horatio was that exact friend Hamlet needed. As you can see in the picture, there are two friends. And it requires caring for one another to keep a friendship together. What is very interesting is that not only was Horatio a good, caring friend to Hamlet. But he was humble about it, and wasn’t full of himself. And Hamlet respected him for that. Caring, respect, and loyalty are all required in a friendship. And Horatio showed that throughout the entire plot. And it definitely took a lot of caring to make sure Hamlet didn’t get into too much trouble. This quote is found in Act 1, Scene 2. The beginning of the story. Horatio’s caring heart created a center of caring throughout the entire story. Horatio kept the caring center afloat for the entire story, and it began in the beginning. It didn’t grow as the story went on. Just as these two became friends and showed caring towards each other in the beginning of them knowing each other. And that center of caring has fueled the relationship they have now throughout the entire time they have known each other.


I can’t find it!

“Well, my lord. If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing, and ‘scape detecting, I will pay the theft.” (Act 3, Scene 2)

This picture shows things scattered all over the place. And it would be hard to find certain things within this scattered mess. It would be much easier to find specific things if they were laid on the top. In Hamlet, caring for others was scattered throughout the plot, and there weren’t many examples anyways. Horatio seemed to be the only character within the entire community that actually cared for others. For example, the quote used above is one of the only examples of caring for others within the entire act. If the center of caring for others was constant throughout the story it would be much easier for the reader to notice. But because there is so much scattering of this center, it is hard to even notice that it is a theme of the story. For example, the small pack of gum is the center of caring within the story. But the center of hatred, power, and selfishness are the government text book, the ethics notebook, and the government notebook. These centers for example, blanket the other centers like caring for others, friendship and loyalty because they are much more evident and large. But when the centers are scattered, the less obvious centers can get smothered by the more obvious centers. And the small pack of gum can often become lost within the pile. And caring for others becomes less important because it isn’t found. But Horatio’s efforts to care for others shined in scattered areas of the book, just as  the pack of gum is showing its true colors among the other items.

Tolkien’s Style of Writing and Reader Experience

Elijah Frost

Mrs. Jank

English 4

22, November 2016

Tolkien’s Style of Writing and Reader Experience

The Lord of the Rings is an epic trilogy written by an even more epic author: J.R.R. Tolkien. The first book of this three-part series is The Fellowship of the Ring. When reading The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the author’s writing style affects the reader’s experience in many ways. Tolkien’s extensive description of characters, settings and many different plots within the main plot allow the reader to delve into the story. Tolkien’s use of imagery throughout the book allows the reader to feel a part of the fellowship, and the massive amount of information Tolkien reveals to the reader allows for a new experience on each and every page. When reading The Fellowship of the Ring, analyzing Tolkien’s writing style is something that is critical for full enjoyment of the novel. Understanding why Tolkien is describing each character in such detail, and every setting with so much imagery is important. This understanding allows each reader to dive into the story, and fully experience what the author “brings to the table”.  Understanding his writing style is vital for complete enjoyment of a story that deserves complete enjoyment.

Tolkien’s writing includes many different aspects that reveal the style of writing he so often uses. This style is not just evident in The Fellowship of the Ring, but is also evident through all of his works. This story that Tolkien wrote is not just a simple story with a few settings and a group of characters throughout the series. He creates an entire world, Middle Earth, along with many different races, and countries. He even creates languages for these stories. When first reading through these books appreciation of his extensive description is required. Tolkien wrote this not for his personal gain, he believes that it’s critical for the full appreciation of the story he creates. Each individual race speaks languages such as, “Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!” (Tolkien 390). An example of one of the many languages he creates is the language of the Elves. He also creates a language for the dwarves, the language of Mordor, etc.… This is just a single example that reinforces how detailed J.R.R. Tolkien’s story is.

Some examples of Tolkien’s extensive description in few instances don’t create many effects on the entire plot. For the reader, this description is important to understand the main ideas and the plot of the book. But sometimes Tolkien in certain terms, the author describes too much. Many instances of this occur when Tolkien is using history within the plot to add to the story and is most evident in his use of backstory. The author uses this most often when describing familial lines of “Mr. Drogo, he married poor Miss Primula Brandybuck. She was our Mr. Bilbo’s first cousin on the mother’s side” (Tolkien 45). A group of hobbits, including Samwise’s father “The Gaffer” (Tolkien 45) discuss Bilbo and his nephew Frodo. Though, no reader needs to know Frodo’s father’s backstory to completely understand the plot. Knowing who Drogo married makes no difference for Frodo’s journey, or the plot.

When considering these points, Tolkien uses this tactic throughout the story to add to the depth. He uses these details to complicate the story and make sure that the reader is constantly discovering new insights on the plot. This adds to the overall reader experience that is important when trying to completely enjoy a book. Tolkien adds so much detail so the reader is forced to dive deep into the story. Readers cannot fully appreciate the story without diving deep. Tolkien uses extensive description of characters, settings, plot, and intense imagery to add to the reader experience. Without his unique writing style, The Fellowship of the Ring provides the reader with a “under par” story. The Fellowship of the Ring, due to his writing style, is the opposite.

First and foremost, Tolkien’s style of introducing characters specifically makes for a much better reader experience. The way Tolkien introduces characters to the reader allows the reader to imagine the physical appearance of the character, but also the description allows the reader to make connections. Connections between characters, between separate plots throughout the story such as history Tolkien refers to. This also allows readers to connect the character to someone they know. The reader analyzes a character Tolkien describes as “a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall…” (Tolkien 214). Tolkien is describing the, at first very elusive character, Strider who “wore a hood that overshadowed his face;” (Tolkien 214). As the reader continues on through the next few pages they meet a character who is important throughout the entire trilogy. His description allows the reader to familiarize with each character, enough that the reader is able to connect with those characters throughout all of The Fellowship of the Ring, and the rest of the trilogy.

This first introduction is described with such detail that the reader gains an idea of the character, but it isn’t overwhelming. This is yet another aspect of Tolkien’s style. He describes in great detail, but does not overwhelm the reader. This is especially evident with Tolkien’s description of Aragorn. He is using the way he describes the character to add to the experience for the reader. The character is mysterious and suspicious for Frodo, so he introduces the character in a way that the reader does not know everything about him. Readers begin to wonder about him just as much as Frodo while he stayed at “The Inn of The Prancing Pony” (Tolkien 209).

Some examples of Tolkien’s character description throughout the book either portray under-description or perhaps portray over-description. For example, at the beginning of the chapter, The Council of Elrond, Tolkien is describing some of the characters that arrived at Rivendell for a meeting to discuss the fate of the ring. Gimli, one of the members of the future fellowship is described just as “a younger dwarf at Gloin’s side: his son Gimli” (Tolkien, pg. 315). However, a few paragraphs later, Tolkien describes another member of the future fellowship, Boromir. He holds the same significance as Gimli, yet Tolkien describes him in so much more detail. Boromir “was cloaked and booted as if for a journey on horseback;” (Tolkien, pg. 315). Tolkien did this not because Boromir holds more significance than Gimli, but intentionally for the reader to understand the story better. Most readers of The Fellowship of the Ring know the plot of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Within that book, dwarves hold the title of the main characters and Tolkien describes this race in great detail because the dwarves are unknown to readers. Tolkien most likely thought that re-describing the dwarves was unnecessary. But no reader knows the characteristics of a man from Gondor. When thinking about this, it is very interesting and is just another trait of Tolkien’s writing style that increases the complexity of this story even more, and the complexity directly affects the reader’s overall experience.

When writing this story and the prequel, The Hobbit, Tolkien wanted each race, and individual character described enough that the reader is able to imagine the character living within the story. But he made sure not to overwhelm the reader with character description. He evened it out with equal description of characters, settings, and separate plots within the “big plot.”  One example of this is his description of the Shire. The Shire is deeply described in The Hobbit, so Tolkien didn’t describe the Shire in great complexity because he expects the reader to already know the setting.

Furthermore, Tolkien’s description of specifically the setting adds to the reader’s experience and enjoyment of The Fellowship of the Ring. In the case of the setting, Tolkien describes each setting in such a way that the reader can perfectly imagine each fantastic place. He describes the Bridge of Khazad-dûm as “a hall, bright with daylight from its high windows in the east” and “its huge broken doors they passed, and suddenly…the Great Gates opened” (Tolkien 430) Tolkien describes settings with the reader’s curiosity in mind. He gives each reader a base of what he imagines each setting as. But then he leaves the rest to the readers own imagination. That is very important to consider when applying Tolkien’s writing of settings to reader experience. He isn’t only thoroughly describing each setting in a way that truly excites the readers mind. Tolkien is allowing each reader to envision this story in their own ways. Nobody knows exactly what “the Last Homely House east of the Sea” looks like (Tolkien’s description of the House of Elrond, Rivendell) (Tolkien 296).

Another example of Tolkien’s writing style that affects the reader’s experience when reading this novel is Tolkien’s integration of separate plots within the major plot. In the same way, Tolkien’s extensive use of imagery throughout the story increases the opportunity for the reader to dive into the story, and ultimately adds to a positive reader experience as they read The Fellowship of the Ring. As Tolkien is sharing this wonderful journey of dwarves, and elves, and Hobbits. He is also adding in “extra” plots within that create depth within the story. The multiple plots allow readers to make connections within the story, just as Frodo is making connections when Gandalf is explaining to him how “Sméagol returned alone; and he found that none of his family could see him, when he was wearing the ring” (Tolkien 85). Gandalf is informing Frodo of his travels, and the journey that lies ahead of him. But for an added measure of depth, Tolkien decides to inform the reader of the complete history of the Ring. Not only is Frodo learning this, but so is the reader. This adds to the reader experience in a way that the reader feels as if Frodo isn’t the only one learning about the ring. And Frodo isn’t the only one sitting “in silence…deep in thought” and “in the light of the morning” (Tolkien 76), awaiting Gandalf’s council.

Of course, when reading The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien’s use of imagery is fluent without the story. And adds to a positive reader experience. Imagery is yet another one of Tolkien’s tools he likes to use to help readers dive into the story. Tolkien uses the settings he creates and crams their descriptions full of imagery. Used to such an extent that the reader fully experiences the story using the five senses. The author uses imagery best when describing nature, “They stooped over the dark water…they saw the forms of the encircling mountains mirrored in a profound blue,” (Tolkien 433). When reading this, the reader is wisped into another world, a world that Tolkien thoroughly creates for everyone to enjoy. Each description Tolkien makes revolves around his imagery. And he makes it easy for the five senses to enhance the reader experience. Each reader enjoys “the rushing of the river over the rocks of the rapids” and “the twigs of the trees above them beginning to drip” (Tolkien 503).

It is important to consider Tolkien’s writing style when reading this novel and all of his fine works. His extensive description of characters, settings, and plot allows for a positive reader experience. And the author’s fluent use of imagery allows each reader to dive into Middle Earth. Through the analysis of Tolkien’s writing style and examples throughout The Fellowship of the Ring, reading this novel provides a wonderful experience every time the reader turns a page.



Works Cited

  • Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Print.