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Final Project Format

For my final project I will use an MU blog’s layout. This is due to my lack of experience with this along with how I want to present my data.

Category:  Uncategorized     

Warm Bodies: Novel vs. Movie

Warm Bodies is a science fiction book that was created into a movie in 2013, directed by Jonathan Levine. This film only had an hour and thirty-eight minutes to fit in this epic young adult romantic novel. Therefore, there was numerous scenes and important key story line elements thatw ere cut from the film. Within this comparison of the novel to the movie I will focus on some of the key points that were cut from the film that took away from teh overall storyline.

In the novel R eats Perry Kelvin’s brain which then begins his path to fixing the zombie race and bringing them back to life. Perry acts as a subconcious guidance in which he helps R not only with his relationship with Julie but also motivating him to fight for a cure and against his natural instincts as a zombie. Perry plays a huge role within the novel and is a key player in helping the progress of the story. Yet, in the movie Perry is simply Julie’s boyfriend that is killed by R and then is eaten by him. This is quite unfortunate because due to this lack of information, the audience doesn’t get a full understanding of how R starts to become human again. Originally I had seen the movie before reading the book, and I didn’t understand how he could go from a zombie one day to a gradual morphing back into a human the next. We were led to believe that love was the key to breaking the curse. In a way love was the answer, but this was not gathered until much later in the book (the last few chapters) when Julie and R had kissed after changes had already occurred amongst the other zombies. I believe Perry’s character should have been better iluminated and focused upon to give the audience a better understanding of the book’s true intention.

Another key player that was left out was General Grigio. He did not play a large role in the movie (similar to Perry) and only seemed to play the parental role instead of the commander in charge of this huge football stadium compound. On a side note, I believe the actor who played General Grigio, John Malkovich (an outstanding actor) was not teh right person for this position. Although Malkovich was a great father figure for Julie, I feel that he did not pose as a great superior and intimidating leader that the book portrayed him as. He was supposed to be a very involved, hard headed leader but instead was simply a backround character. Part of his character’s job in the novel was to fight against the advancement of R and Julie’s cure for the zombie curse. He was brutally killed on top of the stadium’s wall and seemed to be the end for the mindset of killing anything that isn’t human (zombies and Bonies). His character played a large role in the advancement of this plagued world yet he was a minor character within the film. This diminished some of the underlying symbolism and key components the author was trying to portray to his audience.

There were many other parts that were kept from the movie due to their run time and also their desire to make this movie more appealing to their audience. For example, Julie’s mother was never truly brought up in the movie. Her figure showed insight into who Julie was and her father. It also gave background to how some people dealt with this new world, by not living in it. This was a minor concept that the director decided to leave out along with the minor story lines of the Bonies. Within the first two chapters of the book, we gained a better understanding of the new world through R’s perspective and a large part of this world was the bonies. The bonies seemed to rule the zombie world yet they were their own race. They were the ones who fought so hard to kill Julie because they new her presence was the end of their existence and the beginning of the healing of the zombies. The movie portrayed the bonies as bad guys that had no guidance and were even scary to the zombies when in fact they were supposed to be the zombie’s ‘wise ones’. Unfortunately due to the lack of time the director had to show this story through film, he had to cut their more meaningful positions back.

Within this story there are many key factors that have to be pointed out for the audience to get a good understanding of what the author is actually trying to portray. Within any film, there has to be some cut of the novel to fit the entire story within one movie. Some movies such as Twilight or Harry Potter have split books in half so that they can give the audience a film that is better related to the book. These type of films usually have a longer story plot and fall into some sequal. Unfortunately for this type of film, the movie needed to be put into one film to keep the audience interested and entertained. This occurs in many films but should not keep the audience from reading the books to get an even better understanding of how the author pictured the story.


Work Cited

Marion, Isaac. Warm Bodies: A Novel. New York: Atria, 2011. Print.

Warm Bodies. Dir. Jonathan Levine. Perf. Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Dave Franco. Key Films ; Cecchi Gori Home Video, 2013. DVD.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Reflection: Mental Illness (“Marbles” and “American Splendor”)

This unit focused primarily on individuals who suffered from a mental illness. Ellen Forney, the author of the Marbles wrote about her life as being diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, which impacted her entire life. To sum the book up in a single word, she was instable, transferring through huge long extended mood swings from mania to depression. Her entire character enveloped a woman who went through real life struggles in finding a stable ground through doctor and self prescribed medicines. Harvey Pekar, the main character acting as the narrator over his own life story told a different story. He was a man who began to make a hobby into a paying one which led him to fame and a rocky road he had not ever experienced before. Harvey wrote about his every day dealings (usually in a pessimistic view) which was then translated into comic form and shown and appreciated by a wide audience. He called it an “autobiography written as it’s happening.” (Pekar, 2003) He met his third wife by writing for the comic American Splendor and eventually adopted a daughter with her. Pekar obviously had some type of mental deficit which made him act on impulse and be very pessimistic (audience then assuming he has a sort of depression). He used this comic strip to express himself and get his writing, believing that a comic strip is just like a short film which he wanted to be a part of. (Pekar, 2003)

In both stories, the main character is the person with a mental disorder who shows us their life through their perspective. The difference between the two works is that in one case, Forney’s she is suffering with the extremes including depression but also mania where she will act irrational and could be considered “too happy”. On one occasion she threw a huge party for her thirtieth spending all of her money and going over board, not looking past the next day. During a depressive episode, she could barely move from her bed to her couch. Luckily, the audience was able to see her from her worst to then grow with her as she became more mature and experienced with all the different medications and her behavior swings. Through this I think her story became impactful and could be used as a source for others who are going through similar issues. Within American Splendor, you see Harvey from a boy to when he was older and created his comic strip. I think this gave the piece a more nostalgic feeling in which we can see how certain characteristics as a child can be carried up into adulthood. For example, Harvey’s obsession over his vinyls that literally lined his apartment. This began as a kid, which he grew up believing was acceptable. When he married Joyce after only a week of meeting her in person, she moved in to find his collection and his organized mess of an apartment. The audience was able to watch, as she was trying to clear out some of his things to make room for her own things, Harvey come over and grab all of the boxed items and place them back in their exact spot. This obviously upset Joyce but she stayed with him through all of the hardships. Another example of Harvey’s obsessiveness is any time he is not in charge. He retaliates with anger and shouting. For example, when his second wife Helen left him, he tried to scream at her (even with a sore throat) to stay and convince her to keep things how they are. Throughout the story I noticed this trending topic of Harvey practically itching when things that were his constant (wife, apartment, his vasectomy) were changed.

During this unit I grew a better understanding of what mental illness entails for a person. Subconsciously I knew it, but it was hard to recognize the fact that a person suffering with a mental illness is suffering with it all the time, not just when it’s convenient for them. I was able to see Ellen struggle with an interview with Judy Blume through one of her depression episodes. This was a huge bonus for her at work yet she couldn’t appreciate it let alone barely get out of bed to perform the interview. In Harvey’s case he went through two wives before meeting someone who could read right through people and figure out their disorder and still love and understand Harvey for who he was. I believe that this unit was extremely impactful and I will be looking towards other stories similar to these real life ones such as Black Holes on our recommended reading list. I hope to gain an even better understanding of the extremes a person deals with while suffering with different types of orders, which may later benefit me in my nursing career.




Work Cited

American Splendor. Dir. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Perf. Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner. New Line Cinema, 2003. DVD.

Forney, Ellen. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir. New York: Gotham, 2012. Print.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Final Project Proposal: The Three S’s

I would like to focus my final project upon these three words that correlate with one another and are usually foudn together: Survival, Sacrifice, and Security. These three main topics can be found in many of the writings and viewings we had over this semester. I would like to choose two of  these three assignments readings/viewings to focus more on: Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, and Fault In Our Stars. With these three pieces I can find many examples of survival, sacrifice, and security. With my discussion today in class with professor Rippy, she came up with the idea of comparing Warm Bodies a fantasy story to Fault In Our Stars which would be more realism. I do like this idea and I feel like I could branch off of this nicely. For my final project’s format, I would like to do an MU’s Blog due to my lack of experience with them, this giving me an opportunity to explore the website and designing one based on my own project.

Category:  Uncategorized ,Weekly Reading Responses     

‘Warm Bodies’ by Marion and ‘Insecure Lives’ by Pokornowski

Warm Bodies is a novel written by Isaac Marion that takes place in a world full of zombies and ‘Bonies’ and the few human civilians clustered behind impenetrable makeshift walls. (Marion, 2011) ‘R’ is the main protagonist played alongside with the still-human Julie Grigio. Through R’s denial of his impulse to eat human flesh he saves Julie from a zombie rade and eventually creates and maintains a relationship with her. Through this bond they break the curse of the zombie and he eventually becomes human again, then assisting all other zombie’s to do the same. (Marion, 2011) Before this occurs there are many topics brought up in the text that raise interest to the audience. These interests include R’s fighting against his instincts to attack and kill Julie, Julie’s perceptions on airplanes and a brighter future, and also the situation revolved around Julie’s father, Commander Grigio. Additionally, within ‘Insecure Lives’ by Pokornowski there is the presence of the microscopic study taking place to prevent such diseases to ever occur. (Pokornowski, 2003)

In the first few chapters within Warm Bodies we are able to observe the life of a zombie through R’s life. The audience is able to follow the struggles a zombie faces such as feeling no emotion, living life on instinct, and even not carrying whether you live or die (which is considered reckless to any normal human life). (Marion, 2011) R was somehow different from the other zombies (could be influenced because we view this world through his perspective). He seems to have an understanding of the world and how it has changed and is almost melancholy towards the future. The difference between his perspective and ours, I believe is that he doesn’t care which branches into him not initially caring about his appearance, his wife cheating on him and even caring about whether he lives or dies. R seems to gain some type of care once he meets Julie and has eaten her lover’s brains gaining Perry’s (Julie’s dead ex) memories and even guidance in future events.

In one particular event, R begins to care about Julie and everything she stands for and believes. Part of this includes hope for the future. She mentions on several occasions ‘the airplane’. I believe the air plane resembles what once was and what will be again. Julie continues to have her doubts and her reassurance of the future being bright but in the end she stays strong in her belief. This then influences R to think so too.

Command Grigio seems to be a key player in holding back any progress into having a brighter future. I believe that his character played a huge role (symbolically) in why the Bonies were so set on eating the humans and continuing their progress in no change with how things went. They had never witnessed any of their kind fight their instinct like R did and when they did they did not know what to make of it. (Marion, 2011) I believe that during the final few chapters, Commander Grigio’s death resembled the end of a halted society and the beginning of a progressive brighter future. While coming to this conclusion I recognized similarities between ‘Warm Bodies’ and ‘Angels in America’. Both had a key theme in the antagonist wanting to halt society (Bonies/ Commander Grigio and the angel) while the protagonist fought for a progressive society (R and Prior). In both stories there was a gradual strengthening in character’s to then fight for what they believe which is a progressive society that might be hard but it will be worth it.

Within the report “Insecure Lives” by Pokornowski we are introduced to the unit of microbiology and the actual microbes that could actually be the cause of a ‘zombie outbreak’. (Pokornowski, 2003) With the introduction of the electron microscope we were able to observe the atoms of microorganisms which just brought a higher demand of knowledge on unknown and known organisms that could affect the human population. The zombie theme on the movie screen also helped this desire spread. With this new electron microscope we could observe the tiniest viruses which just made it even more concerning to see an organism that was had living and nonliving characteristic traits. (Pokornowski, 2003) There were many studies based on the viruses that could have a drastic effect on humans. “All of these texts, like the micrographing of the virus, were deeply concerned with finding security from transgressive threats that were at once imperceptible and visible, whether these threats originated in the spiritual or the biological belief.” After watching ‘Warm Bodies’ many topics have been brought up from the continuation of progress to not giving up hope. There are still many microorganisms that have not been discovered and could effect a large population. The fear of contagion is still alive.


Work Cited

Pokornowski, Stevenn. “Insecure Lives: Zombies, Global Health, and the Totalitarianism of Generalization.” Literature and Medicine 31.2 (n.d.): 216-34. Proquest. Johns Hopkins Publisher Distributor, Fall 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. <http://bb.marymount.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-963762-dt-content-rid-1200521_2/courses/EN-429-A-15SP/InsecureLives.pdf>.

Marion, Isaac. Warm Bodies: A Novel. New York: Atria, 2011. Print.


Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Response to ‘American Splendor’ and ‘Strange and Wonderful World’ by Meyer (Wk7)

‘American Splendor’ is a movie based on the real life of Harvey Pekar. The directors Shari Berman and Robert Pulcini created a film based off of Harvey Pekar’s real life, in which he based his comic writings off of soon becoming famous for. (American Splendor, 2003) Pulcini and Berman created this film through a documentary and comic style. This became known as ‘phantasmagoria’ which had not been done before. (Meyer, 2003)  This meant that within the film we followed Harvey’s life (documentary) while using a comic book style feel with ‘talk-bubbles’ and over dramatic scenes and characters. By adding a comic style to the film, the audience was able to receive more personalized feelings due to the audience’s view through Harvey’s perespective. (Meyer, 2003) Joyce Brabner, Harvey’s new wife was a very interesting character that played a large role in Harvey’s comics and also in this documentary. In the very first scene in which the two meet at the train station, she looks around imagining Harvey sitting on one of the benches in many different forms she had read within his American Splendor comics. The directors then take her images she has created with her head and insert unrealistic versions of Harvey from grotesque to good looking Harvey, in different sections of the train station. This added great imagery and a direct connection to what Joyce was thinking that day.

Another example that could be found within the dramatized film, in which Paul Giamatti played Harvey’s in the dramatized scenes, was shown to have lost his voice right before his second wife was leaving him. This had actually occurred within his life but the directors added in scenes where we watched another man leave his home with a box of his belongings his second ex-wife insisted was hers. Additionally, when Harvey wanted to tell his soon to be ex-wife not to go his voice completely gave out on him and he couldn’t beg her to stay. There was almost a “everything-happens-for-a-reason” vive occurring.

This leads me into looking into his later wife Joyce that he married and was still married to many years later when Berman and Pulcini decided to do a documentary on him. I found their relationship very interesting and would like to point out that their relationship seemed to be strange on the surface but was actually very realistic and relatable to any couple. An example of this would be Harvey and his new wife had married after only a few days of actually meeting in real life. They did not have a huge wedding or make a big deal out of it. He also told her when they first met in person (immediately after she got off the train) that he had had a vasectomy, meaning he decided for himself that he would not have children. These two very important life changing topics that affects both individuals in a relationship, were handled like any couple would, arguments, begging and/or eventually compromise. I believe this phantasmagoria film gave great rise to a new style in which character’s perspectives can be displayed for the audience through an entertaining view.

In one excerpt in  Meyer’s film review, Pulcini claims that “Comic books saved his life.” (Meyer, 2003) He conitnues by explaining without the start of his comic books he wouldn’t have met his wife Joyce and have adopted his daughter named Danielle. (Meyer,2003) I do agree with Pulcini’s opinion and would continue to say that through his comics he has had a more than fulfilling life. Though his first half was rough and somewhat depressing, he was able to start something he discovered he loved to do and was good at and made some money, relationships, and make a societal impact by writing his books.


Work Cited

Meyer, Andrea. “The Strange and Wonderful World of American Splendor” Indpendent Film & Video Monthly (Sep 2003):41-43.

American Splendor. Dir. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Perf. Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner. New Line Cinema, 2003. DVD.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Response to Forney’s-Marbles and Gall’s-Lost One’s Marbles (Wk6)

In this week’s assignment we read ‘Marbles’, a graphic memoir of Ellen Forney’s experiences with living with bipolar. Throughout the novel we observe Ellen travel through her manic episodes (extremely high) and her depressed swings (extremely low). There were many key points I found very interesting within her novel and ‘Ellen Forney: Losing One’s Marbles‘ an article written by Amy Gall about Ellen’s piece. One particular thing that stuck out to me was the constant love and support her family and friends gave her throughout her journey. Additionally, I found her exotic lifestyle interesting especially the excessive marijuana intake. Within Gall’s article she brings up a great topic in relationship to Ellen’s memoir, which is her (Ellen’s) disorder a curse or a blessing? By the end of the novel we find out which one it is.

Immediately, Ellen comes off strong and outgoing getting a full back tattoo (her first one mind you) just because she thought it would be outgoing and adventurous. She would take get these unrealistic ideas and live them out like having a huge extravagant birthday party in which she had family fly in, reserve a huge venue, and overall not worry about the costs of the whole thing, just worried about having a good time. Throughout all of this her family supported her and flew in, caving into her outlandish event. She had been very concerned about telling anyone of her diagnosis for fear of judgement and being treated differently. When she told her brother he initially ignored it but later accepted it for who she was and joked with her about it. Her dad was initially shocked but immediately told her that he loved her and he supported her. Her mother was the only character that was showed any concern, not to her face, but did cry once she was off the phone with her. She felt like she was to blame for mental illnesses had run on her side of the family. Ellen’s mom was still a successful lesbian, pediatrician who smoked marijuana. I found this very interesting to learn (her mother smoked pot) because I believe this then tied into Ellen’s own self-diagnosis of smoking pot. This was the key factor into why she believed her medications were giving her any side effects. Right before she came to this realization she had been smoking marijuana every day and had not mentioned this to her psychiatrist. Once she admitted there was a problem with her intake of marijuana with her current drugs she was able to find a solution in to treating her symptoms for her bipolar disorder. Ellen came to this realization only after her medication had seemed to be working except for her shaky memory. This does make me wonder how many patients leave something out when talking with their medical advisor in fear of being judged and getting into trouble. I did take note that Ellen’s psychiatrist ‘Karen’ seemed to be displayed as very distant and more worried about the drugs affecting her than Ellen’s actual state of being. This could be due to how Ellen perceived her and instead Karen could be a very nice and intimate psychiatrist who genuinely cares about the individual above all else.

Gall brings up the point is Ellen’s disorder a blessing or a curse. Throughout the novel Ellen is terrified she will lose her creativity if she is put on these heavy medicines that changes how she thinks and acts. Initially the medicines make Ellen “foggy, depressed and incapable of creativity” which would harm her career as a cartoonist greatly. I believe that if Ellen had a different career she would have worried less about losing her creativity, but part of her job was to make up new material and entertain the public. (Gall, 2012) Ellen luckily was able to do her own research on the subject and realize that her creativity is not being taken away from her when she is on certain medicines. Instead she becomes more stable and has the capability of concentrating and finishing her work in a timely manner. “The colors are as vibrant” while on her drugs but they keep her from going into huge depressions. (Forney, 2012)  Throughout her journey she kept journals of her mood swings which she was able to make into this book to share with others. Her message is very inspiring and helpful to those who suffer with any similar disorder to her bipolar disorder. She claims “it’s not easy, but it is definitely easier” with her new look onto her medication. (Forney, 2012)


Work Cited

Forney, Ellen. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir. New York: Gotham, 2012. Print.

Gall, Amy. “Ellen Forney: Losing One’s Marbles.” Lambda Literary. Lambda Literary, 6 Dec. 2012. Web. Feb. 2015. <http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/12/16/ellen-forney-losing-ones-marbles/>.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Reflection on 2-23 Class Facilitation (Wk5)

In this week’s class discussion, Cheyanne and I presented on the HBO series/movie Angels in America by Tony Kushner. We started off the class by showing a clip from episode four that showed an example of the magical realism found in this series. The clip was about the angel talking to Prior about the painful progress America is making, in which it should stop so that there would be no more pain. We discussed that we desire progress for a better future, Prior shoes us this simply by rejecting to live up in heaven without any pain so that he could live down on earth.

One topic we discussed, which I did not think deeply about before hearing others opinions, was the meaning behind the credits in the beginning of each episode. We were taken through the clouds observing numerous famous buildings and sites like the New York Empire State building or the San Francisco bridge. The viewer is finally glided down towards Central Park in which we observe up close the Bethesda Fountain Angel. (Nichols, 2003) The importance of this traveling through clouds  and from East to West was to symbolize the “Westward expansion” we performed only a few centuries ago. This is a key point in the play, of the “progressiveness” of the human race. (Nichols, 2003) The angel wanted the humans to stop progressing and stay at a standstill so that not only would God get bored of the humans and return his attention of the Angels again but also so that the human race would not have to deal with any more great suffering like the AIDS pandemic. Prior finally gathers up enough confidence to shut her theory down and to explain that without progress, one is not truly living. Harper has a great explanation at the very end of the series within an ‘American Airline’ headed West to San Francisco. She discusses her belief in the rising souls repairing the ozone layer, something that was once destroyed and would lead to the earth’s environmental end (including the human race). Though the ozone layer had a huge hole in it, it was not irreparable. “Nothing is lost forever.” (Kushner, 1993) This means that though there might be extreme damage, there is always the chance that something can become whole again. Her explanation then correlates nicely with the AIDS pandemic simultaneously occurring. Even though there have been many deaths caused by the AIDS virus, that will not stop the progress of a nation specifically the homosexual community who was particular blamed and bashed for this new virus.

A few conclusions I did discover within my own journal ‘Aids Stigma and Sexual Prejudice‘  were quite concerning. I found that there were still some extreme conclusions people would make relating to the AIDS virus and the homosexual community. This included “..most heterosexual adults continue to associate AIDs with homosexuality or bisexuality” even though Professor Rippey explained to us that the population most affected but HIV is of adolescents and women. (Herek, 1999) I have to keep in mind that this was written fifteen years ago so people have changed somewhat. Another conclusions made by this article was that a “Substantial portion of public expressed concerns with mere contact with a patient with AIDs.” (Herek, 1999) Even though it had been twenty years since AIDs came out, people were still fearful of contagion to the point they would be cautious in touching someone. I found it very impactful when Hannah touched the obvious sick Prior while in the Mormon community center. By simply touching his forehead to see if he had a temperature,  she was taking a step in the right direction into finding her true nature. Later these two would become good friends but before they knew each other she forgot the societal belief of receiving AIDs by touch and simply touched him.

‘Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors’ was a great piece in explaining the stigmas held behind AIDS and the key points in the play such as the Angel. Sontag begins her article with discussing the nature of cancer. (Sontag, 2001) She then ties in AIDS and explains how the two correlate with how a person can treat you based on your health. A person with cancer can be avoided and seen as a dead man walking, similarly to that of an AIDS patient. This was because initially we had no clue about AIDS and how to cure it, similarly to certain cancers. Another key point Sontag brought up was the topic of ‘blame’ in relationship to AIDS and cancer. Someone with lung cancer can be assumed by some to have smoked a lot and her having lung cancer is her punishment. This is the same with an AIDS patient. They can be seen as at fault for having sex with a man, they then will contract this disease because they are acting sinful and should feel the wrath of God. (Sontag, 2001)

Overall, I believe we had a good discussion on a few of the topics brought up by these two articles and the mini-series. The class eventually got involved into discussion when we had reviewed some of the material seen. I had two pages of typed notes and four of written notes that helped guide me through this facilitation. I want to thank Professor Rippey for assisting me in better forming my thoughts for this week’s discussion which had a lot of good material. I do believe the AIDS topic is a very interesting subject, and something I might pursue for my final project.





Work Cited

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America part One, Millennium Approaches 1993, Theatre Communications Group

Angels in America. Dir. Mike Nichols. Perf. Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson,. HBO, 2003. DVD.

Sontag, Susan. “Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors.” (2001): n. pag. Print.

Herek, G.m., and J.p. Capitanio. “AIDS Stigma and Sexual Prejudice.”American Behavioral Scientist 42.7 (1999): 1130-147. University of California, Davis, 1999. Web. Feb. 2015. <http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites/rainbow/html/abs99_sp.pdf>.

Category:  Uncategorized     

Response to Kushner’s, Angels in America (Wk4)

In this week’s reading material I read the play Angels in America by Tony Kushner. There was one character that stood out to me in which I would like to analyze and get a better understanding of. Harper Wilson is the wife to Joseph Wilson who is an “agoraphobic with a mild valium addiction.” (Kushner, pg. 3) She (along with prior) are the ‘victims’ in the story to Joe and Louis’s decisions. With more time I would like to look at Prior for I believe he had a very strong part in this play. I hope to discuss him and many more topics in class discussion. For now I will observe Harper and Joe’s relationship and Harper’s perspective on imagination. Harper’s character interested me due to her addiction to a medication, the effects it had on her state of mind, and how she interacted with others.

Joseph Porter Pitt was a chief clerk for Justice Theodore Wilson of the Federal Court of Appeals, Second Court. (Kushner, pg. 3) He was married to Harper his wife who was addicted to valium prescribed after her miscarriage, that then led to her hallucinations and babbled talk. He had been a Mormon since he was very young believing in the values and customs of his people. Yet throughout the play he slowly discovered that he never was sexually attracted to his wife, which led to their little physical contact let alone intercourse. In a marriage this can be very tough to stay true to your partner and this can lead some to adultery or even divorce. In Harper’s circumstance, she simply stayed at home doing nothing but listen to broadcasts and take excessive amounts of valium so she could disconnect from the world. This way in dealing with her husband’s distancing, was very dangerous, but did assist her in moving on from him and living in her own world, escaping her old problems. At one point in act three, scene three even though she had said some very alarming things (she hopes her baby had white fur to keep it warm and she could produce hot chocolate from her bosoms for the baby to drink) she does have a sense of reality. She knows that she is hallucinating but she still demands to live in the moment and make the best of her hallucination. I find her character extremely interesting as she does seem to have her own story playing out not correlating with the book’s main themes. Yet she was not the only victim in the relationship. She had said drastic things such as claiming she was pregnant to Joe and telling him that their baby would be addicted to pills, “a baby who does not dream but hallucinates”. (Kushner, pg. 41) Harper’s “conscious”, Mr. Lies is very straight forward with her and realistic. He tells her at one point that she has come to Antarctica to feel “numb and safe”, away from the crazed outside world. (Kushner, pg. 102) He is her guide and her get-away from the world, but only for the moment. He mentions to her that ice will someday melt, (referring to her visit to Antarctica and any of her hallucinations she has after taking the pills) in which she denies and rejects the thought. Though her character shows flaws in her mental state, she makes up for them with her wit.

In Act I scene seven Harper and Prior, both the victims in the play, meet in some type of hallucination. (Kuschner, pg. 32) The topic of imagination arises once Harper starts questioning who this random man is in her hallucination. She is curious to how someone that she has never met, was in her hallucination. In fact she was not hallucinating, but had actually had a real encounter with Prior in which they had a real exchange. Harper firmly believes she should only be able to observe recycled bits of information she has experienced previously. Even if this had been another one of Harper’s hallucinations her belief would still be proven false due to Prior’s presence.

For both of these key components of Harper’s character, her marriage’s relationship and her beliefs on imagination, she drew in the audience and made us question whether she was truly insane or simply ‘above it all’. You could argue both ways. I believe she was a mixture of both. She knew she was being irrational by living in her hallucinations but she knew it was not reality and she would have to return eventually. Harper Wilson was a very interesting character that we can only guess had more to her story.




Work Cited

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1996. Print.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses     

Response to Albertini and Shilts (Wk3)

For this week, we began the unit of “Fear and Contagion”. I would like to focus on the many different medical issues that were brought up in the film that could have led to additional spreading of the disease. Additionally I would like to review the persistence of Dr. Don Francis on getting the information about this new unnamed virus, to the public, and then how the government did little to assist the CDC in doing so.

In the very first scene, Dr. Don Francis is in Africa searching and studying a disease that had killed so many people and yet no one knows where it comes from, let alone what it is. (Spottiswoode, 1993) He hears a woman gasping for air and enters the tent where she is curled up in obvious pain. She grabs his hand when he bends down next to her and she coughs up blood all over his bare hand. Immediately I was concerned about the doctor receiving the disease through any open cuts or sores on his hands through droplet contamination. He was extremely fortunate that he did not transmit the disease during that close encounter. I believe the movie director had over exaggerated this scene by zooming up on his bare hand and hers grasped around his wrist tightly over his protective gear. Then the music picks up once she coughs blood onto him and dies dramatically leaving him to ponder over this extremely deadly disease. This dramatization is used to bring the audience in to the concerns of this disease and get them interested in the movie. Even if this had occurred in real life he would not have simply sat there and look horrified at his hand. Instead, a professional would quickly sanitize his hand to lower the risks of him receiving the disease the elderly woman died from. Another example of a medical concern was when the Doctor from Paris, in his original hospital was going from one patient to another to another touching each one without washing his hands. (Spottiswoode, 1993) These people may not be affected with the same disease yet they are all within five feet of each other and he is simply passing any pathogens one has, and passing it along to the next. In a hospital setting one would wash their hands between each patient to lower the risk of transmitting the disease. The number one way of transmitting a disease within a hospital setting is through poor hand hygiene. I believe the director wanted the doctor to move from patient to patient to show the great amount of people affected with this gruesome disease along with strengthening the doctors caring character.

Dr. Don Francis believed in ‘good clean science’. He sends his samples over to the French instead of a previous colleague Gallo, due to the common courtesy expected in the scientific world. (Spottiswoode, 1993) By allowing the Paris scientists to study the disease he sends them, he gave them a chance to learn even more about the virus and then discover some type of treatment for this disease to prevent more deaths. Even after being shut down by many government organizations about sharing their findings about this disease, Dr. Francis continues to share his own knowledge about the disease to the public even when he is constantly being shut down due to the original assumptions that this disease was solely revolved around the homosexual population. Later it is found out that the committee in charge of the blood distribution was not checking their donors for any type of disease, and therefore transmitting this disease to all the receivers of the contaminated blood bags. Dr. Francis yells at the committee (one of my favorite quotes of the movie): “How many people have to die before it would be more cost benefit to check the donated blood than to go to court?!” (Spottiswoode, 1993) This just puts it into perspective that many of these victims that died did not have to die if the blood supplies were checked for diseases before being pumped into their systems in the beginning. This disease would spread all around and kill or infect anyone it is in contact with. This does concern me because this actually did occur in the past and the government did play a big part in not taking this serious and letting so many people die before they acted. It may have been a lot of money to test the blood but it would save so many lives and prevent a further spread of the disease. I hope we can discuss this more in class, because I believe we can discuss what other people would do in this situation (In Dr. Don Francis’s position and then in the committee’s position).



And the Band Played on. Dir. Roger Spottiswoode. Perf. Matthew Modine and Alan Alda. HBO, 1993. Amazon Prime.

Category:  Weekly Reading Responses