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The Westbury Court

The Westbury Court

Isabel Rosado Engl-108 Professor Barbara Monaghan

As adults we also tend to remember certain incidents that occurred in our childhood. These incidents change the way we remember our childhood. The Westbury Court essay states, how as a child people tend to pay very little attention to our surroundings. People tend to view their surroundings differently as a child, since everything around them is taller and bigger than they are. As Edwidge Danticat described in the essay, Westbury Court, the building that she lived in as a child, I was able to clearly view it. She described the building as a sixstory brick building in a cul-de-sac off Flatbush Ave., in Brooklyn, NY. As a child I grew up in a six-story building in New York City; however, the building was not in a cul-desac, dead-end street. As a child I remembered that I viewed my surroundings bigger than what it was especially the building that I grew up in. I viewed it as a mansion, but when I became an adult I returned to the six-story building and saw that it was not as tall as I had remembered. In the essay she states that the maintains in the building was very poor, but did not remember moving from the building until a fire occurred in an apartment across the hall from the one she lived in. First, she stated in the essay that she did not know her neighbor until the day of the fire. In life, we have so many responsibilities that many of us do not know our next door neighbors name or age as well. The responsibility that she had was to take care of her younger siblings, and do her homework. While she did her homework and took care of her younger siblings, she normally would watch her favorite soap opera called, General Hospital. Being the oldest of my siblings, I had a lot of responsibilities. Parents tend to depend on the oldest child to help to care for the younger children. As a result, the

oldest child tends to pay less attention to their surroundings and devout all their attention to their siblings losing track of time. Unfortunately, the mother of the children involved the fire had left them alone in the apartment as she went to the supermarket down the street to pick up some grocery. As she stated, she did not know the name or the ages of the children involved in the fire. The children involved in the fire had played with matches, in which they lost their life. As a result, Edwidge felt guilty of the occurrence. She felt that if she would have known their name or ages; she would have been able to help them. Secondly, as a child I remember a similar incident, a fire had began in the apartment I grew up in. However, the fire began in the middle of the night and my mother was home with my siblings and I. She took all of us out of the apartment safely, and then she called the fire department. Fortunately, we were familiar to the neighbors and the neighbors knew our age, name. However, as an adult I asked my mother, Why did she wait until we were safe before she called the emergency response? Her response was that as a parent we tend to first get our children to safety, and then we worry about our surroundings. Similar to what was stated in the essay, she wondered if she had locked the apartment and if there was anything valuable that she could have saved. Thirdly, after the fire there were other incidents that had occurred. However, she felt guilt for the fire incident since she did not know the neighbors or was not able to help them. When the apartment where the fire occurred was rented to new tenants, she tends to pay closer attention to their actions. She noticed that they were two blind Haitian brothers and a sister. She also noticed that they were musician that played in a band called, les Frres Parent, the Parent Brothers. She even became familiar with other neighbors, like a

cabdriver that lived down the hall; who was killed on a night shift in Manhattan; another neighbor who died of cirrhosis of the liver. Finally, three years after the fire the family and her moved from the six-story building. However, the painful memories of all the incidents that occurred in the building remained especially the one of the fire. As stated, she always wondered what would have happened if only she would have known the neighbors involved in the fire. She wondered if the children really die, if their mother simply moved away, and if they were boys or girls. As an adult, she had asked her mother if she remembered the children in the fire at the Westbury Court. Furthermore, the response that her mother gave her was, Those poor children, their poor mother. Sometimes its to late to say, I shouldnt have. It is clear that as a child one tends to pay very little attention to their surroundings. Unfortunately, one drastic incident that occurs changes the way they look at their surroundings. They became more attentive and tend to remember the incident very clearly. However, as an adult they tend to wonder of the outcome of the people involved in the incident and tend to feel guilt.

They All Just Went Away

They All Just Went Away Isabel Rosado Engl-108 Professor Barbara Monaghan

Has one ever seen an incident that occurred in their childhood that they would never forget? Has that one incident completely change the way one remembers their childhood? Two essays that I read called, Westbury Court and They All Just Went Away, explains how an incident that occurred in the writers childhood changed the way they approach life and remember their childhood. Although two different writers wrote the two essays, they both had a similar scenario. Edwidge Danticat gave details in the essay the Westbury Court, how she felt guilty for not paying attention to her surroundings. She described the environment in which she grew up in Brooklyn, NY and a certain incident that occurred in her childhood that changed the way she observe her surroundings. The incident that occurred was a fire in her neighbors apartment located across the hallway, in which two children were hurt and unfortunately lost their lives. This incident caused her to feel guilt afterwards. As a result, she felt guilt since she had not known her neighbors children age or name. She believed that if she had known the childrens age or name she would have paid closer attention to them, and the fire may have been prevented. Unfortunately, she never again saw her neighbor or even knew if the children really died. This caused her to wonder about the outcome of the situation and helped her become more aware of her surroundings. She began to notice the violence in the neighborhood and paid closer attention to the new neighbors that moved into the same apartment. She maintained that way until she moved out of the neighborhood with her parents. On the contrary, in the essay, they All Just Went Away, Joyce Oates knew her neighbors. She was very familiar with the neighborhood she grew up in, Lockport, NY. She actually enjoyed to adventure in abandoned house in the neighborhood. She enjoyed

the reward she received when she entered the abandoned houses. However, an incident occurred in her neighborhood when she was a child that changed the way she remember her childhood. Furthermore, similar to Edwidge, Oates witnessed a fire that occurred in the neighbors home. However, unlike Edwidge, she was familiar with the neighbors especially their disruptive behavior. She also witnessed visible bruises that the neighbors wife had in result of the abusive husband. She also saw the husband threaten the wife with a weapon which caused her to wonder why did the wife allowed him to do this to her, and why did she stay with him knowing how abusive he was. Instead, she was known for abusing the two daughters she had. She also witnessed the disruptive behavior of the neighbors oldest son. For example, the son owned a motorcycle, had friends that often visited, who were fellow bikers. They enjoyed loud parties that ended with disputes. The oldest son was eventually similar to the father. As a result, the abusive husband under the influence of alcohol spread kerosene on the first level of the house and caused an immense fire. Unfortunately, the children were taken into foster care since the social worker felt that the children were in danger under the mothers care and the charges were brought up against the father. The oldest son was never seen again or heard of. However, the wife tried to defend the husband with no result. He was indicted on several charges of attempt murder and other charges. The neighbors in the neighborhood were not surprised and expected this outcome due to the husbands abuse to alcohol, the abuse toward his wife and children, and his disruptive behavior.

Moreover, two to three years later in high school Joyce Oates saw one of the child involved in the fire named Ruth. Since she knew the childs background, she felt that she had to protect her from other students so she became her friend. Unlike Edwidge, who never again saw the two children involved in the fire at the Westbury Court. When she had gatherings with her parent and spoke about the memories they had from the neighborhood the children would be the first memory they had. This caused her to relive the whole incident and made her regret the fact that she was not aware of her surroundings or did not know her then neighbors Consequently, if one experiences an incident in their childhood they tend to never forget it, especially if they do not know the whereabouts of the people involved in it. Some would later in life see the people involved in the incident like Joyce did which made her become very protective over one of the children. She tended to sympathize her and tried her best to help the childs old wounds to heal with kindness toward her, with interacting with her. Others are left in the wonder the way Edwidge not knowing where or how the children involved in the fire are. She actually assumed that the children involved in the fire lost their lives since she was to young at the time of the fire.

Culture and Social Class

Culture and Social Class Isabel Rosado Eng-108 Professor Barbara Monaghan

Does the community reflect the culture and social class? Culture and social class are evident in this essay called, Westbury Court written by Edwidge Danticat, They All Just Went Away written by Joyce Carol Oates, Silent Dancing written by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Accordingly, Edwidge Danticat in the Westbury Court described her neighborhood as a very disturbed and very disorganized community. Beneath the building ran a subway station through which rattled the D, M and Q train every fifteen minutes or so.(Danticat, p.80) To live in a community in which the train station is located beneath the building or is elevated in the buildings surroundings tend to be a very disturbed community due to the noise that comes out from the train especially if the train ran every fifteen minutes. The people that lived in the community were lower class due to the rattled noise made by the train; evidently the apartments were low rate. With the knowledge that I have of this type of community, most residence are undereducated and would pay the rent with government help. Middle class parents would have more than one low paying jobs in order to pay for the apartment. These communities are classified as a very low social class, as well as are located in the urban area and called the ghetto. However, due to the high level of crime, the struggle to made ends meet, the absences of both parents, the children have lack of culture. As a result, the children would find a mean of culture in their neighbors or in television shows. As mentioned by Edwidge Danticat, Though there was graffiti on most of the walls of Westbury Court, and hills of trash piled up outside, and though the elevator wasnt always there when we opened the door to step inside and the heat and hot water werent always on, I never dreamed of leaving Westbury Court.(Danticat, p.81)

This shows that they tend to find comfort in this type of environment and make them feel at home. Similar to the neighborhood in the essay Westbury Court is the neighborhood in the essay They All Just Went Away, written by Joyce Carol Oates. They are both of lower class residence and do not live according to their family culture. A gone-to-seed landscape had authority that seemed to me incontestable: the powerful authority of silence in house from human voice had vanished. (Oates, p.245) However, the neighborhoods are located in two different locations. The Westbury Court describes a community located in Brooklyn, NY classified as the urban area or the ghetto. They All Just Went Away describes a community located Millersport, NY in the suburbs area or the country. Joyce Carol Oates lived in a community with a lot of abandoned house. As mentioned by Joyce Carol Oates, You think most immediately of the canvases of Edward Hopper: those dreamily stylized visions of a lost America, houses never depicted as homes, and human beings, if you look closer never depicted as other than mannequins.(p.244) In other words, just poor white trash in the countryside of New York with no thought of improving their life style. They are just contempt with the way they live, similar to the people in the Westbury Court. However, they lost their family culture as well. These predilections are presumably learned acquired but perhaps also imprinted in our genes, of biological fate, predilections that predate culture.(Oates, p.251) On the contrary, in the essay Silent Dancing written by Judith Ortiz Cofer, her family who were middle class, moved to the United State from Puerto Rico to live a better life style since her father joined the military service. Soon after, because of

pressure on our growing family, my father joined the United States Navy. Her father found a tiny apartment in Paterson, NJ. Unfortunately, the apartment that they moved into was not as spacious as the house in which they lived in when they were in Puerto Rico and not as modern. I do remember the way the heater pipes banged and rattled, startling all of us out of sleep until we got so used to the sound that we automatically shut it out or raised our voices above the racket.(Cofer, par.4) However, her father was not contempt with that life style he wanted a better life style for his family. It became my fathers obsession to get out of the barrio, and thus we were never permitted to form bonds with the place or with the people who lived there. However, the mother found comfort in the neighborhood due to other Spanish descendant who lived in the building in which they lived in. She felt surrounded by her language: The walls were thin, and voices speaking and arguing in Spanish could be heard all day.(Cofer, par. 10) Furthermore, they maintained their culture by celebrating the holidays that their ancestor celebrated. We were the only ones in El Building that I knew of who got presents on both Christmas day and dia de Reyes, the day when the Three Kings brought gifts to Christ and to Hispanic children. This is evidence that contrary to Edwidge Danticats family and Joyce Carol Oatess family who was lower class, Judith Ortiz Cofers family who were middle class were able to be a very social class and maintain the family culture. Conclusively, it is evident that a community does reflect the culture and social class. Unfortunately, due to lack of economical stability both parents are obligated to have more than one job which causes their children to be left home alone, learn about their culture through television show or neighbors, and tend to belong to a very distraught

social class. As a result, they are contempt with the life style they live in and would not think of any type of improvement in life.

References Cofer, J. O. (1990). Silent dancing: A partial remembrance of a Puerto Rican childhood. Houston, TX: Arte Pblico Press. Lightman, A. P., & Atwan, R. (2000). The best American essays 2000. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Oates, J. C., & Atwan, R. (2000). The best American essays of the century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Things Are Not What It Seems

Things Are Not What It Seems Isabel Rosado Engl-108 Professor Barbara Monahgan

Does everyone dream of having a mansion as a home? There is a time when one may dream of living in a mansion, but once one lives in a mansion one realized that it is not what one has dream of. In the essay, The Mansion: A Subprime Parable written by Michael Lewis, it explains how things are not what it seems. He explains that not all dreams are fulfilled the way we expect them to be fulfilled. However, as explained in the essay This Old House written by David Sedaris, one only have to feel fit for the home. The home does not have to be a mansion. Michael Lewis, like many, dreams to have a mansion as a home. This house, and everything it represents, stands on the more appealing side of the chasm. Its perfect, I said. (Lewis, The Business Journal, 2008) When one stands in front of a

mansion, one always wishes to live in it. One would dream of how great it would be in the inside, the space it would have, and how happy your family would be to live in it. This is mostly every American Dream, but once the dream comes true you realize that it is not as you expected it to be. Americans feel a deep urge to live in a house that are bigger than they can afford. (Lewis, The Business Journal, 2008) Unfortunately, it is every Americans Dream to live in a house that is bigger than we can afford. However, we would strive to pay the mortgage and live from paycheck to paycheck. We would live in denial from the reality that we cannot afford the mortgage or that we would end up with a bigger debt. But the real moral is that when a middle-class couple buys a house they cant afford, defaults on their mortgage, and then sits down to explain it to a reporter from the New York Times, they can be confident that he will overlook the reason for their financial distress: the peculiar willingness of Americans to risk it all for a house above their station. (Lewis, The Business Journal, 2008)

As a result, the house would go into foreclosure and they would eventually lose the house. Others would try to maintain the mortgage, but in such a mansion would lose the close-knit that they had with their family. If you wanted to find someone, you could run around the house, but that took ages and presupposed that the other person was not similarly wandering in the void. A trek up the Himalayan staircases quickly became the subject of an elaborate cost-benefit analysis. (Lewis, The Business Journal, 2008) The children would try to fit in with their friends and would pretend to be what they really are not. One morning, as Quinn descended the staircases, overdressed for school, she announced, I need to look good. Im the girl who lives in the mansion. (Lewis, The Business Journal,2008) Unfortunately, once reality sets in they realize that looks are not what matters. The children would notice that everything is not as easy as it was before they began to live in a mansion. They notice that their parents are not taking them out as much as they use to since they are so busy trying to make enough money to pay more expenses that they now have. Moreover, the American Dream would eventually come to an end. The family would lose that dream, get evicted from the mansion, and move back to the environment they lived in before or would begin all over again. And so we fled, back to where wed come from: the upper middle class. Obviously this presents new problems. Even as my children grew weary of pretending they were richer than they are, they became accustomed to living as the rich do. (Lewis, The Business Journal, 2008) Unlike in This Old House written by David Sedaris, which explains that an American Dream does not have to be a mansion, but a house that satisfies ones comfort even if it is an old house. I couldnt have dreamed that it would also be old and untouched, an actual boarding house. (Sedaris, p.2) However, a mansion for others is

one in which one feels that they belong or that are part of. I moved in the beginning of January, and throughout that winter my life felt like a beautiful dream. (Sedaris, p.3) Unfortunately, every Americans dream comes to an end similar to the essay called, The Mansion: A Subprime Parable. written by Michael Lewis. With every passing semester, it became more valuable, and she was smart to hold out for as long as she did. I dont what their final offer was, but Rosemary accepted it. (Sedaris, p.6) As a result, one is drawn to face reality and would only have wonderful memories of the place they called, mansion. An apartment of my own was unthinkable at that time of my life, and, even if Id found an affordable one, it wouldnt have satisfied my fundamental need: to live in a communal past, or what I imagined the past to be like-a world full of antiques. (Sedaris. P.7) Therefore, everyone dreams of having a mansion as a home. Unfortunately, many would not think of the consequences that a mansion would cause and would buy a bigger house even if they cannot afford it. However, things are not what it seems. The American Dream is exact what it is called, JUST A DREAM.


Atwan, R., & Gopnik, A. (2008). This Old House. In The best American essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Lewis, M. (2008). The mansion: Subprime parable. The Business Journal.

The Influence Of Space

Isabel Rosado This Old House Enlg-108 Barbara Monaghan

How does the space of the home one grows up in influence ones growth? Majority of the times space does not influence ones growth as long as they are with loved ones. However, it also depends in the persons state of mind. These two essays called, Silent Dancing written by Judith Ortiz Cofer and This Old House, written by David Sedaris, explained the way space influenced them in their growth. David Sedaris in the essay describes the space of the home in which he lived in as a child, to be very pleasant to him. Throughout my childhood, it brought me great pleasure, but then I turned sixteen and decided that I didnt like it anymore. (Sedaris, p.1) Many get influenced during their growth with television shows. What happened was a television show, a weekly drama about a close-knit family in Depression-era Virginia. (Sedaris, p.1) As one grows up one tend to lose their innocence and begin to conclude their likes and dislikes. In the process one tends to either distract from their family. I long for a home where history was respected-and, four years later, I finally found one. (Sedaris, p.2) Once they find the space and the environment they find comfort in, they begin to amend a sense of belonging and would eventually move into that environment. I hadnt even crossed the threshold when I agreed to take the room. (Sedaris, p.2). However, this environment might not be suitable for others, but is suitable for ourselves. It was easy to imagine that the house, set as it was, on the lip of a student parking lot, had dropped from the sky, Dorothys in The Wizard of Oz, but with a second story. (Sedaris, p.2) One would know that they are different from others, but would not be bothered since they are comfortable in the environment in which they are in. The idea was that we were different, not like the rest of the American, with its Fuzzbusters and shopping malls and rotating showerheads. (Sedaris, p.3) One would

even stay in that environment, unless a change occurs. A part of me was sad that the house was being sold, but another, bigger part-the part that loved air-conditioning-was more than ready to move on. (Sedaris, p.6) On the contrary, Judtih Ortiz Cofer in the essay Silent Dancing explains how space would not influence ones growth if ones family or similar heritage are in the environment. Eventually, one would even change the name of certain places to create a comfort. My mother was only twenty years old, I was quite three, and my brother was a toddler when we arrived at El Building, as the place had been christened by its newest residents. (Cofer, p.1) Yet El Building was a comfort to my mother, who never got over yearning for la isla. (Cofer, p.1) Furthermore, one would try to maintain the comfort by only buying products they are able to read. Though my father preferred that we do our grocery shopping at the supermarket when he came home on the weekend leaves, my mother insisted that she could cook only with products whose labels she could read. (Cofer, p.3) Moreover, they would not distract from the environment. However, they would also celebrate the same holidays that they celebrated with their family in their birth country. We were the only ones in El Building that I knew of who got presents on both Christmas day AND dias de Reyes, the day when the Three Kings brought gifts to Christ and to Hispanic children. (Cofer, p.8) Evidently, they would set goals and find a way in which they could improve their lifestyle and would categorize themselves differently. For example, if they were born in Puerto Rico, they would not call themselves Puerto Ricans. Im an American woman, and I will do as I please. I can type faster than anyone in my senior class at Central High, and Im going to be a secretary to a lawyer when I graduate. (Cofer, p.7) Unfortunately, others would make mistakes and

would go back to their native country without being able to persuade their goals or dreams. The only thing you heard was your cousins name, and then you saw your mother pick up your doll from the couch and say: It was as big as this doll when they flushed it down the toilet. (Cofer, p.8) She was sent to a village in Puerto Rico to live with a relative on her mothers side: a place so far away from civilization that you have to ride a mule to reach it. (Cofer, p.8) Therefore, the space of the home in which one grows up in as a child does influence one during their growth. It is evident in the essay called, Silent Dancing written by Judith Ortiz Cofer, that space does not negatively influence one if the loved ones are near and the environment are similar to the one they were born in. Unfortunately, as explained by David Sedaris in the essay called THIS OLD HOUSE, one would feel comfortable in the home in one lived in as a child. However, a television show would influence one to feel different about the home and would become distract from the home. In the end, one would drift away from the family to find the space in which one would feel comfort.

Reflection In the course Engl-108 instructed by Professor Barbara Monaghan, I learn different way to write a summarized essay that explained the writers point. I read five different essays in which I viewed different ways to write reflection essays. She also remind the class to always insert references in an APA style. When the class was confused, she would alleviate the tension with jokes. I actually enjoyed the course as I learn. I would recommend this course to any student that would want to learn, strengthen, and enjoy the course the way I did. Thank you Professor.

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