The Bad Time

By: Jaimie Bartlett

The most known theory about evolution is the Darwinian philosophy of survival of the fittest. What most do not know is that they true meaning has nothing to do with physical fitness. In today’s world the “fittest” are no longer those that are most likely to survive. The more correct form of the phrase would be “survival of the adaptive”. In The Year of the Flood, all of the characters that have survived are still alive because they learned how to adapt to the new environment and new environmental stressors that have been thrust upon them; no matter how bad, gruesome or terrible. Toby adapted to life in many different ways throughout this novel. At first, she adapted to life with a sick mother, then life at school, then and life without both of her parents and even a rough predicament at work. Many others would not have, and did not survive. She was able to adapt and stay strong and therefore, she survived. For instance, her father could not adapt, or thought that he couldn’t, and because of this he killed himself. The only constant in the world is change. Our environment and our world will always be changing and the only way to survive is to learn to adapt. The following found poem demonstrates the numerous situations that Toby was thrust into and she chose to adapt instead of die.

 

The Bad Time

— Found poem by Jaimie Bartlett, excerpted from The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, pp. 25, 30, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 43, 3, 37, 38, 39, 43, 46, 47.

 

Her father lost his job, the new one paid less.

Her mother became weak and they all were stressed

Her mother was very ill

She went south even with the pills

The period that followed was a bad time

 

Her mother passed,

So her father killed himself with a blast.

She hid the evidence and managed to disappear,

She had no money but “they” might still appear.

The period that followed was a bad time

 

She’d had long hair, it fetched a decent sum

Her eggs sold too and then there were none

She had to make a choice, to live or die

There are quicker ways, so she choose to work but for a bad guy

The period that followed was a bad time

 

He said, I’m promoting you, say thank you

try to not think about the earlier life, focus on the new

She longed to be back in the past,

She wish she left before he demanded her services at last

The period that followed was a bad time

 

Then, a strange procession along the street

They were chanting, trying to save her was their feat

They succeeded, “welcome to our garden”

Enveloped in children, fuzzy, soft, intimate, like that of Eden

The period that followed wasn’t such a bad time

 

She felt she should pay by helping

Because they saved her to keep her from hurting

The gardeners were convinced

The wicked and cruel would cease to exist

The period that followed was a bad time

 

Toby climbs up to watch the sunrise

Birds chirp

Do they notice that quietness, the absence?

The period that followed was a bad time

 

Don’t think about the earlier life

She’s prepared.

The doors are locked, the windows barred.

She has learned to survive from previous scars.

The period that followed was a bad time

 

What happened next?

I guess we’re all still vexed.

Is it still a bad time?

 

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.

Save me – Phil Kreis

Cleansing the Earth by The Stryker Crusade
This is his goal and many graves he has made

Please let me ” stop n rest”, little Jill cried
They were following her and her life would be denied

“Mark, why?” don’t die, Jill cried some more
Little did she know an execution was in store

Such wickedness Stryker does show
Bring in the X men and kill them in one blow

Extraordinary abilities, these Mutants are gifted.
Some out for all good and others goals are twisted

A preacher, soldier, father, or murderer
Who are you?
Destroying lives and no one knew

Mutants, “part of the natural process of Evolution” are they?
Stryker says, “never” and others say okay!

Stryker is shot, right in his chest
The security guard thought this was best
“Purifier” he sought to be
Arraigned due to his killings,”Blam!”
Behind bars he goes, slam!
—Save me poem by Phillip Kreis excerpted from X Men God Loves,Man Kills, by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson (2014), Marvel Worldwide Inc., pp. 1, 2, 7, 29, 47, 59, 60

The Dream

As our species has evolved, we have kept many traits, one of which is dreaming. Dreaming has always been an interesting subject of speculation since we do not truly know what it does for us. In the book The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, the author uses the repetition of dreams to show one way in which they may have helped us. An elderly father dreams start off very dark, which this main character believes is a good sign. Once we start dreaming of good things, he says, it signals the end. However, bad dreams mean we’re still fighting. Yet as the story progresses the father’s dreams start getting better, foreshadowing his death. Through a literary Darwinist lens, these evolutionary dreams show the progress of the father’s life. Some theorists believe that dreams help us store new information we receive throughout the day. Some also contend that we use dreams to get rid of undesirable connections and memories allowing us to evolve.   —found poem by Jonathan E. Hawxhurst, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Vintage, pp. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 276, 278, 282, 284. The Dream   In the dream The road was empty Barren, silent godless No sign of life   Read me a story Can’t you papa?   In the dream It’s raining They sat huddled together He lit the little lamp   On the far side of the river Trunks of trees charred and limbless Everything covered with ash Looking for anything of color   A burned house in the clearing He climbed the stairs He left the boy standing in the road   In the dream I’m scared No sign of life Would death call you?   What would you do if I die? Dreams of peril Call of languor and of death Lost among the house and days   You can talk to me Can’t you papa?   In the dream The child led him by the hand Looking for anything of color   In the dream His pale bride came to him So rich in color Her smile Her down turned eyes   In the dream We’re alright This has been a long time coming   Are you carrying the fire?   In the dream With the first gray light he rose He left the boy standing in the road There was no waking.  

Trust is key

Trust is Key

Throughout the book The Road, many themes were present. The one that grasped my attention the most was trust. Trust is the one thing that keeps humans bonded together. Without it, there would be no adhesive or connection to others. To me few people understand how important trust is. In order to learn grow and develop you have to rely on this invaluable trait. The story The Road expresses trust profoundly through the relationship of the father and the boy. The boy’s only hope for survival is to be dependent on his father, he looks up to him in hopes of a better future. Even when the boy isn’t sure of what is right and wrong or even if the father is always displaying good, he has to rely on trust. Other people the father and the boy run into also display some version of trust. The father is reluctant to let his guard down for anyone, while the boy is incredibly inviting, even to Ely and the thief when they tried to do harm to the boy. The important concept here is to determine the critical essentials in life that allows humans to persevere even through desperate times. Mastering the right qualities in life will guarantee evolution.

—Found poem by Connor Cottrell, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Kindle Edition, pp. 3, 24, 14, 40, 185, 188

 

The air grew thin

Perhaps tomorrow,

Tomorrow came and went.

I always believe you,

Yes I do, I have to.

 

Who is it?

I don’t know,

Who is anybody?

 

What if the bad guys saw it?

The light was failing.

I don’t know what we’re doing.

 

Are we going to die?

He held the boy close to him.

Everything trembling.

The boy clung to him crying,

His head buried against his chest.

It’s gone now.

We’re alright.

 

How do I know your one of the good guys?

You have my whole heart,

You always did.

I think I want to say goodbye to him.

Okay I might, but we’re not dying.

 

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006. Kindle Edition. Kindle AZW File.

Faith through the Darkness

Faith through the Darkness

 

Don’t let go no matter what

 

Are we going to die?

Sometime not now.

 

Don’t let go no matter what

 

If you died I would want to die too.

So I could be with you.

 

Don’t let go no matter what.

 

You can think of me as a faithless slut if you like.

I’ve taken a new lover.

He can give me what you cannot.

 

Don’t let go no matter what.

 

My Heart was ripped out of me the night he was born.

Don’t ask for sorrow now.

 

Don’t let go no matter what.

 

We’ll take it one step at a time.

Don’t let go.

 

Don’t let go no matter what.

 

So you can be with him.

Hold him close.

Last day on earth.

 

Don’t let go no matter what.

 

Goodness will find the little boy.

It always has.

It will again.

You have my whole heart

 

Don’t give up no matter what.

 

-Found Poem by Zachary Goslin, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Vintage, pp.  10, 11, 57, 233, 250, 279, 281.

 

A Cultural Misunderstanding

A Cultural Misunderstanding

 

Playing a sad song when you are sad or a happy song when you are happy seems to be second nature to people today.  The graphic novel X-Men God Loves Man Kills, by Claremont and Anderson, uses evolution in the novel to show how the world reacts to people that are different than the rest.  The world does not take well to the X-Men because they are homo-superior.  While reading this graphic novel I thought of the song “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson.  The song “Breakaway” played a big part in my childhood because the song was very catchy and fun to listen too.  Kelly Clarkson’s song is about love but it applies to the X-Men because the feelings behind her words apply to their situation as well.  X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills shows the reverse of how evolution actually occurs, with biological evolution happening within a generation but the cultural evolution being slowed.

Many different literary Darwinism themes are present in X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills I chose to focus on cultural evolution and how it affects the X-Men.  The countless examples of cultural evolution in the novel are easily relatable to the lyrics of the song.  The sadness and heartbreaking words of “Breakaway” make it an anthem to anyone who has ever had hurt feelings before.  “Breakaway” applies to the X-Men directly because of how they feel with the rest of the world being terrified of them.  Scott states, “But don’t you see – either of you – we’re human, too! A different branch, perhaps, but the same basic tree! Such a fundamental shift in attitude can’t be imposed – to have any meaning, it must grow from within.” (Claremont and Anderson 60)  They are people with feelings too and the lesser humans are terrified that they have special abilities.  The cultural evolution in this novel is not very evolved because of the way that the humans react to the X-Men.  They were born that way and do not understand why people treat them this way even if they are nice and try and help the humans.

Kelly Clarkson has been known to sing heart-wrenching ballads, and “Breakaway” is one of her most well known songs.  The lyrics say, “But when I tried to speak up, felt like no one could hear me.”  This lyric applies to the X-Men because they are trying to get the humans to listen to them and understand them but no one will listen.  The Reverend in the novel is so determined to kill them all because he assumes they are all monsters.  If the Reverend would have heard out the X-Men then many lives could have been saved.  Nightcrawler states, “I have known such fear and hatred from birth.” (11)  This is so sad to hear him say this.  Colossus adds, “To think us evil, simply because we exist? It is madness.” (11)  They have been hated and feared ever since they were born, which is truly heart breaking.  The lyrics go, “Wanted to belong here, But something felt so wrong here, So I prayed I could break away.”  These lyrics show how the X-Men are experiencing these same emotions.  They both just want to belong somewhere and fit in.  Magneto says, “My goal has ever been the conquest of earth – but solely to create a world where our race, Homo Superior, can live in peace.” (47) Magneto wants to live somewhere peacefully but he does not think that the world will understand them because they are so different and they know they cannot belong.   The X-Men just want a world where people are not trying to kill them everyday.  If they were not being targeted then maybe both worlds could live peacefully.

The cultural evolution of the humans in this novel is severely lacking.  The humans come across as ignorant because they are not able to understand how biological evolution occurred making these mutants.  The truth is in real life something like this cannot occur within one generation.  Cultural evolution can occur within one generation but biological evolution may take thousands of generations to evolve into something new.  “Breakaway” is rooted with themes of love and heartbreak but the X-Men just want to be loved and accepted.  If the humans were culturally evolved then they would not have any problem with the     X-Men’s powers.  The X-Men only fit in within their species because the rest of the world is so scared of them.  The novel ends with Magneto asking the other X-Men to come help fight for peace but them saying no is like how “Breakaway” ends with, “Out of the darkness and into the sun, but I won’t forget all the ones that I love, Gotta keep moving on, moving on, Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye, But I won’t forget the place I come from, I gotta take a risk, Take a chance, Make a change, And breakaway.”  The song ends in a powerful way just like the novel does.  In the song she is letting go and going to go do her own thing and move on.  Magneto is moving on to try and create a world where they can live in peace but leaving all those that he loved and that were like him behind.  The endings of the two are so powerful and mean so much together.

 

 

Katelyn Finley

 

Professor Walker

ENG-2200-01

11 July 2014

 

Work Cited

 

Claremont, Chris, and Brent Anderson. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. New York, 2011. Print.

 

Clarkson, Kelly. Breakaway. RCA, 2004. MP3.

 

Gerrard, Matthew. “”Breakaway” Lyrics.” KELLY CLARKSON LYRICS. MusixMatch, n.d. Web. 09 July 2014. <http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kellyclarkson/breakaway.html&gt;.

 

Clarkson, Kelly. “Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway.” YouTube. YouTube, 2 Oct. 2009. Web. 09 July 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-3vPxKdj6o&gt;.

Wings of Angels

Wings of Angels

 

–found poem by Katelyn R. Finley, excerpted from The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (2009). New York: Print, pp. 3, 6, 11, 20, 21, 43, 52, 80, 89, 90, 91, & 96.

 

An increasingly endangered world

devoid of life

traveled through the air as if on wings

burned through cities like fire

flooded with the Light of God’s Creation

only the Spirit lives forever

 

God’s necessary dark Angels

will clutch at any straw

for if you are clutched or even touched

you too will drown

 

The Earth is without form

he created us

a little lower than Angels

cover us with his feathers

under his wings may we trust

 

It’s a strong desire

knowledge of good and evil

reaping the whirlwind

gathering their energy

for the moment

they would burst

 

We rejoice that they were spared

into your hand are they delivered

and with every living creature

we too have been called,

we too forewarned

carried on the wings of God’s dark Angels

 

 

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.

 

Evolution occurs over countless generations and is not instant.  This is a very important concept for the reader to understand.  Group selection has played a huge part in evolution from the time of the cave men.  Being a member of a group gives an individual meaning to their life as well as protection.  The Year of the Flood has a lot of group selection, especially with religion. This occurs in the novel because the Gardener’s use faith to try and understand why life is the way it is. Faith is very resourceful to Adam One in explaining the reasoning behind the waterless flood. God is used in the book to guide the Gardeners to do what they think is right.  They celebrate Saints and do not eat animals because they are all Gods creatures.  Religion gives them a sense of membership as well as guidance in a time when the world has just fallen a part.  Religion has always had this kind of effect on people.  Religion is always there to help you through the dark times and too see light again.  My poem shows the progression as it starts out dark and hopeless and in the end comes out hopeful because of God’s guidance. People turn to faith when they encounter something unknown or scary. My poem will make people feel enlightened after reading my poem because it is relatable to real life because something always good comes out of a dark situation. The dystopia life described in the novel is not how life is today but the meaning behind the poem is what makes it relatable.

 

Wash away, Wash away

the day after tomorrow

we might all be drowning in our sorrow

so go find all of your loved ones

and don’t forget to grab onto your buns

 

the day of the flood has come

wash away, wash away

to run away, or wash away like a bum

wash away, wash away

 

thinking of your past

and wishing it wasn’t your last

gathering up enough food

to last until your last mood

 

you wonder how you made it

you guess it’s just the right fit

this little safe place you found of yours

when all you hear outside is pours

 

you wonder how long you can survive

with just a gun and food and no one alive

you have to make do with what you see

because everything else is up in debris

 

you learned how to adapt in this lonely place

you stared in the mirror to look at your face

but why does it matter anymore how you look

when all you have is your life in a book.

You Can’t Give Up

In The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, a man and his son are traveling down a road in an abandoned world. They only have each other and the boy relies heavily on parental investment. The man has to make very many tough decisions and try to always do what is right for his son. They have to rely on each other to get them through their tough journey. I noticed another evolutionary trait in this novel that is linked to parental investment is dreams. Early humans have passed down dreams and parental investment, but The Road sheds a new light. During their journey, the man has to watch over the boy as he sleeps and therefore, witnesses many of his dreams. Some of the dreams are bad, but others are an escape from the harsh reality they are living in. The dreams they share make their relationship closer. After one of the bad dreams the boy has had, the man says, “When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again then you will have given up. Do you understand? And you can’t give up. I won’t let you” (189). The man uses one of the boy’s bad dreams to teach him that no matter what bad situation they are in, they cannot give up. This intertwines his evolutionary habit of parental investment with their ability to dream. After reading this novel, I can see how the boy and the man use traits they have evolved from previous ancestors to enhance their chances of survival. Even the many dark dreams they have help them get through the many gloomy days and nights.

 

You Can’t Give Up

 

—found poem by Cailyn Scanlan, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Vintage, pp. 3, 5, 18, 21, 22, 26, 29, 57, 69, 98, 102, 113, 115, 139, 175, 189, 227, 261

 

Nights beyond darkness

He watched the boy

in dreams from which he wakened

He slept little

and he slept poorly

 

Dreamt of walking in a flowering world

The boy held onto his hand

and followed behind

The boy was all that stood between him and death

 

My heart was ripped out of me

The unseen sun cast no shadow

No wind

Dead silence

 

Stared bleakly at the gray drifts

The trees standing alone made the faintest shadow

He could only see the darkness

All he saw was terrors

 

The richness of a vanished world

set out through the dark woods

The dull carbon light of the crossing moon behinds

making the shapes of the trees almost visible

 

In the night he woke in a cold dark

Its just a dream

Dreams so rich in color

Most of it broken

 

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print

 

Heart Pounding

Fight or flight has been embedded in the minds of humans throughout the evolutionary process. It is a split second decision that humans make subconsciously. Humans make the decision to run from danger, or to stand tall and fight against it. When looking through a Darwinist lens this evolutionary trait is seen repeatedly in the novel The Road. The father and son live in a world of danger. From cannibals to cold weather they are never safe. There are times they need to run and hide from cannibals. Other times there is no chance to run, they need to fight. They are starving and low are ammunition. They cannot run forever, yet they cannot fight forever. They walk a fine line between life and death. This Pleistocene instinct is what helps keep both, father and son alive on their journey down south. In my found poem I tried to embody the evolutionary instinct of fight or flight. This poem is just a glimpse into the horrid lives of the father and his son.

 

Heart Pounding

 

— found poem by Ian Hislop, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Vintage, pp. 49, 66, 67, 60, 61, 62, 107, 110, 112, 115, 128, 129, 155, 169, 195.

 

Hurry, run

Terrified, frail and coughing

Hearts pounding

Father and son run

 

Crouched over

Listening for noises

Shh, he said

Scared and weak

They move on

Down the long black road

 

Freezing, Shivering and starving

Father and son lay in the cold darkness

 

More noises

A man comes forward

 

Pistol cocked

He fired, it cracked violently

The man dropped to the ground

The father lifted the boy

 

Hurry, run

Terrified, frail and coughing

Hearts pounding

Father and son run

 

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print

 

Written by, Ian Hislop