Poverty in Africa

n African Solution for Africa?s Poverty
November 10, 2004

by Michael Oluwatuyi
Blessed is he who considers the poor. (Ps. 41:1)
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than 1.1 billion people theworld over are living in ???extreme??? poverty. This is a category created bysocial scientists indicating that people at this dire level of need are subsisting on less than US$1 a day. In a recent report from the United Nations Development Programme, Nigeria is ranked 171st on its index of national development, with more than 70 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.

Poverty is not simply about the lack of money. It also means that people do not knowwhere their next meal will come from. They cannot afford decent living conditions. Their incomes are unpredictable and low. Those suffering in extreme poverty lack access to the good things of life and life??™s fulfillment and expectations are greatly threatened. This undermining of human dignity makesthe amelioration of poverty a moral as well as an economic issue. Poverty remains without question the greatest challenge facing African countries.

Many people, in and out of Africa, are quick to blame colonization for the present predicament. But Africa is not unique in this regard. Many countries that were once colonized are today enjoying economic prosperity. For instance, Australia and New Zealand were both British colonies. Estonia was once under Russian and German control. Today citizens of these countries are enjoying a substantial per capita income. Colonialism ended in Africa more than three decades ago. Itis time to look inward, for African solutions, to find ways to ameliorate thesuffering of impoverished people in the continent. In many cases, thosesolutions will be found in morally responsible activity in the market and in government.

Africa ought to be one of the richest continents in the world in terms of mineral resources and arable farmland. So what is the problem Internal factors and self-inflicted problems have been the major causes of poverty in Africa in recent years. For example, the rate of capital flight in Africa is more than any other continent. How can the continent develop when Africans are unwillingto invest their own money in their own countries

Above all, corruption and lack of effective rule of law present huge hurdles to would-be investors. In many countries, much local economic activity is under the control of the state, which necessarily leads to political influence and favoritism. Many government officials, both important and petty, believe that their position allows them to harass business people and extort outrageous feesa nd bribes. This corruption, combined with excessive regulation, deters both local and foreign investment. It is a problem that must be addressed not onlyby legal measures but also by the inculcation of a culture of personal moral responsibility that recognizes the damage done to the common good by corrupt exchanges.

The health care infrastructure in Africa is in a sorry state, and this compounds the economic and development problems. The spread of HIV/AIDS has continued to deplete the productive sector of the society, and has undermined long-term investment and growth. Because of their low level of income, many of the poor cannot afford drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment. This has increased the poverty level as well.

Personal failures and natural disasters do not principally cause poverty. What??™s worse are the inequalities in the social structures occasioned by government attempts to make everyone economically equal. Redistribution of wealth by the government has only increased the misery of the people. Pope John Paul called such problems ???the structures of sin??? because they are the products of human actions and they make the situations of the poor so difficult to change.

In the early 1960s and 1970s in Nigeria, government officials embarked on a mission to make everyone economically equal and many industries were protected from foreign competition. In the end, most of these firms are performing belowexpectations or have folded entirely.

Economic freedom is a route to ending poverty and starting the process of building aprosperous country. A loss or lackof this freedom usually calculates into a lower GDP. A free economy, such as Hong Kong??™s, has given that country opportunity to grow tremendously when compared with a country like Zimbabwe, which has lately witnessed anti-business policies. Despite the obvious benefits of economic freedom, too many African governments are implementing unsound??”even disastrous??”policies.

Success is never accidental. The road to progress and reduction of poverty should include measures that guarantee more economic freedom to the citizens. This must include a transparent privatization, the liberalization trade, lowertaxes, and reduced government intervention. It would also be a great help if trade-distorting policies in developed countries could be eased. Finally, Africans must understand their activity in the economic sphere as morally charged. In this way, we can finally address the problem of African poverty in an honest and practical way.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way is quite large so you would expect it to weigh lot and you??™re right, it does. The Milky Way??™s mass is 200 to 600 billion times that of the sun. This number came about by counting all the stars and assuming they all weigh about the same as our sun. The mass also depends on what you define as the edge of the Milky Way to be. This is nit the only way to determine the mass of it. It is possible to measure the mass by measuring how fast stars are rotating around the disk. The heavier the Milky Way is the more affect gravity will have on the orbit of the stars. Using this way to measure it, the results show the mass would be 1 to 2 trillion times that of our sun. A more recent estimate by measuring the velocity of 2, 400 stars shows that the Milky Way and its halo??™s mass is 1 trillion solar masses. We can??™t see all of the mass because most of it is made up of dark matter. This dark matter makes up 80 to 90 percent of the Milky Way??™s mass, which means we can only see a small 10 to 20 percent of our own galaxy.

The Milky Way Galaxy is a spiral galaxy. It looks a lot like a pinwheel and it is always spinning. Gas and dust rotates at approximately 270 kilometres per second (168 miles per second). At this rate our Solar System will take 225 million years to do one orbit. The last time our Solar System completed its orbit dinosaurs were just starting to appear on the earth.

Some galaxies are blob shaped and some are irregular shapes but our galaxy is spiral shaped. Because of the spiral our galaxy falls into a class called barred spirals. The Milky Way has four main spiral arms. These are the Norma and Cygnus arm, Sagittarius, Scutum-Crux and Perseus. Our sun is in a minor arm or spur. This spur is called the Orion Spur. The galactic disk itself measures a huge 100, 000 light years across and the bar at the centre of the spiral is estimated at be approximately 27, 000 light years long. The Milky Way is a spiral because of its rotation. The stars don??™t stay within the spiral arms but if they did the arms of the spiral would wind in tighter and tighter over time. The spiral is what??™s called a density wave or a standing wave. The wave is at a certain location were the matter piles up and lingers for a while and then moves on and gets replaced by other matter. As dust and gas gets compressed, it heats up and results in the formation of a new star. The birth of these new stars makes the edge of the spiral brighter.

At the centre of the Milky Way, like many other galaxies, there is a supermassive black hole. Our black hole is named Sagittarius A. Although Sagittarius A tries to eat everything that comes near but it is also a great place for new stars to form. A black hole has such a huge pull that it attracts a lot of matter. This matter bunches up around the black hole and heats up. Because of the friction, gas and dust heats up too, emitting infrared light. Earth is situated 26,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way. Sagittarius A measures a large 14 million miles across meaning it could quite easily fit inside Mercury??™s orbit, the supermassive black hole isn??™t the only thing at the heart of our galaxy. There are also massive star clusters, such as Arches, Quintuplet and the CG star cluster.

? The oldest stars in our galaxy are 13.4 billion years old, give or take 800 million years. This is close to the age of the Universe itself. Although scientists have come to the conclusion, the Milky Way is approximately 13.6 billion years old. The age of the Milky Way is determined by the amount of beryllium present found in some of the oldest stars known of in the Milky Way. After the Big Bang, hydrogen, helium and lithium were all present. Beryllium is produced by the collisions of cosmic ray with heavier elements. Because of the way beryllium is formed, it can act as a cosmic clock. The longer duration between the first stars that created heavier elements and the stars that made up the globular clusters, the more beryllium there would be. Scientists could measure the beryllium content of the oldest stars the approximate age of the Milky Way can be determined.

There are many, many stars in our galaxy. 2500 of them are visible to the naked eye and only 5,800 to 8,000 are visible at all. But the Milky Way is thought to have billions more stars that we can??™t see. Astronomers have estimated there are 200 billion to 400 billion stars within our galaxy. There??™s a lot of distance between Earth and the far side of our galaxy. When we??™re looking at the stars we tend to see the brighter stars wash out the dimmer ones. Plus we can only see the stars that are a maximum of 1,000 light years away. Other stars are covered by clouds of dust and gas, which prevents us from seeing the stars they??™re hiding, so we can only see the stars in our vicinity.

The diameter of our Milky Way is between 100, 000 and 120, 000 light years across. This number would be much higher if you included the dark matter. It all depends where you chose to measure the galaxy from. The measurement was of the visible part of the galaxy. But our galaxy also has a halo of dark matter. This dark matter makes up approximately 10 times the visible matter of the Milky Way. No one has accurately determined the size of the halo yet. To measure the diameter of the Milky Way we have to measure the distance to Cepherd variable stars. These stars luminosity changes in a predictable way because they puff up and shrink back down. Knowing the luminosity of these stars allows us to measure the distance.

The Milky Way, of course, has neighbouring galaxies. Andromeda is one but is not the closest. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is actually inside it. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is about 42,000 light years away from the galactic centre of the Milky Way and is only 25,000 light years from Earth. That means we??™re closer to the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy than we are to the middle of our own galaxy. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy was discovered in 2003 when astronomers analysed some pictures of the Milky Way. Canis Major has a lot of red stars that shine very brightly on the infrared images. These stars are called M-Dwarf stars. The Milky Way became such a big galaxy by eating up smaller galaxies. The Milky Way will continue to do this but also by doing this it has made the closest galaxy to the Milky Way part of it. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is rather small and only has a billion stars. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest spiral galaxy to us and although it is gravitationally bound to the Milky Way it is far from the closest galaxy measuring 2 million light years away. All the galaxies within a 4 million light years radius are considered our Local Group. In this group there are more than 30 galaxies.

References: http://www.universetoday.com/64235/the_milky_way

Poverty and Rightful Obligation Comparison of Arthur and Singer

Poverty and Rightful Obligation

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one billion people are currently living in a state of chronic hunger. This means that approximately one out of every six people on earth are undernourished and unable to access enough food to produce the amount of energy needed to lead active lives. Perhaps even more disturbing is that most Americans have access to as much food as they could ever need and many die every year from obesity-related diseases. Thus, we must ask, Do those with an abundance of resources have a moral obligation to give to the less fortunate and, if so, what portion of their earnings are they morally required to give In order to properly address this question, I will first examine the contrasting views of philosophers Peter Singer and John Arthur in regard to this issue. Then, I will argue for my own position that while the affluent are morally required to give a portion of their earnings to those in absolute poverty, they are only morally required to give to the point that they do not affect their own rightful pursuit of happiness.
According to Peter Singer, ??? if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it???(Singer 2). This sounds very uncontroversial until one starts examining what it obligates one to. So, qualifying starvation as a bad thing, it becomes clear that we should do everything we can to stop absolute poverty as long as it does not cause anything comparably bad to happen to us. He goes as far as to say that we should, morally, give everything to the poverty stricken up to the line of marginal utility. Knowing this will strike many as extreme, he does offer a second view which allows for not giving to prevent absolute poverty if it requires sacrificing anything morally significant (Singer 2). Still, this view requires giving up many of the luxuries that many of us have come accustomed to as I think it might be hard to assign moral significance to a coach purse or a carton of Haagen Dazs ice cream. In his view, he does not allow for proximity making a morally relevant difference in one??™s obligation and also does not distinguish from situations in which you are the only one who can help and ones in which you are among many who have the ability to help (Singer 2). Singer also addresses the common view that if we help those in absolute poverty now, then more people will die from absolute poverty in the future due to a massive explosion in population. He does not see this as a reason not to help eliminate poverty, but only affecting what type of aid one should give (Singer 6). For instance, one might support population control methods as a means to end absolute poverty or only give financial aid to countries which have instituted population control policies.
On the other Hand, John Arthur believes that the greater moral evil principle stated in the preceding paragraph should take entitlements into account. One peculiar example that Arthur gives to illustrate entitlements is that quite possibly having sex with a person could prevent numerous rapes and untold amounts of suffering for others (Arthur 3). While this might be a completely unpleasant experience, it must be shown that the unpleasantness is more than the suffering avoided otherwise one must do it according to the greater moral evil principle. While it would be nice, according to Arthur??™s view you are entitled to not granting sexual favors in order to stop rapes. There are two kinds of entitlements: Rights and Desert. There are negative rights which are rights against interference such as property rights and the right to life; and there are positive rights which require a contract or agreement such as the right to not have a business partner back out of a venture or the right for a baby to be fed and clothed when taken home from the hospital by its parents instead of being put up for adoption. The second type of entitlement is a desert which simply means that one has the right to keep what one earns (Arthur 3)While Arthur does not purport these entitlements to reign supreme over any obligation to help those in poverty, he does think that they should be weighed when gauging how much if anything one owes someone else. The ideal moral code, in Arthur??™s view, would combine entitlements and the greater moral principle minus the word ??? comparable??? in it (Arthur 4).
While I do not believe that one is off the moral hook simply because of any types of entitlements, I do think that one in not morally obligated to give until the line of marginal utility. One is obligated to give until the point that giving more would infringe upon one??™s own happiness. According to Aristotle a.k.a. ???the Man???, ???We may safely then define a happy man as one who is active in accord with perfect virtue and adequately furnished with external goods??¦???(Aristotle 54). As an example, I myself am a hobbyist woodworker and wood turner. Buying woodworking equipment and lumber might be seen as a luxury by Mr. Singer, but I contend that this contributes to the final end of happiness as an activity to be virtuous at. Also through this activity, I gain virtuous traits such as understanding and wisdom, especially in regard to patience. In addition, it is an activity which I can pass on to my son in his quest for the virtuous state. While I do think it ridiculous to try and make the case that my pleasure from woodworking outweighs the suffering of someone starving, all people have the right to pursue the final end of happiness. Which brings me to my second point. Mr. Arthur defends entitlements as protecting fundamental values such as fairness, justice, and respect, but what is fair about being born into absolute poverty What justice is their in not even having the illusion of being able to achieve sufficient wealth So as we have the right to pursue true happiness, we also have a rightful obligation to help others obtain the bare essentials to attempt the same up until the point we are affecting our own happiness. The major majority of people in poverty stricken areas work hard, but due to situations outside of their control they do not achieve the same wealth as many. So, when Arthur speaks of deserts or deserving what one earns, remember that the overwhelming majority in absolute poverty deserve to earn the equivalent of what hard work in other geographical areas would afford them.
We must also evaluate rightful obligations in practical terms. If I always give half of my income, then I might myself become economically stagnate. Thus, it might be necessary to give somewhat less when trying to build upon economic independence. For instance, one could give 25% of a $20,000 salary every year or one could give only 5% saving the rest to start a business which will have a manufacturing base in an extremely poverty stricken area. This allows for the propagation of wealth and a long term solution to absolute poverty. It is important to note that once one reaches a point of non-upward movement, meaning no longer actively expanding an economic base to help others, it is essential to return to the rightful obligation principle. Another practical point, is that aid should be focused on providing food needed now, but also on promoting education and independent economic prosperity. This strategy is two-fold: it will lead to population control through a lower birth rate and self-sustainability in economic terms.
Obviously this is a very long-term solution, but absolute poverty has been a long-term problem which we all must face. Everyone has the right to pursue Aristotle??™s final end, and all people should have the ability to do so. If even a decent percentage of people could fulfill their rightful obligation of giving to those in absolute poverty up until the point of infringing on their own happiness, then absolute poverty could be all but conquered. The most important thing to note is that no one is doing all they should and we all need to start doing more to end this unnecessary and unthinkable suffering.

The Midnight Twins

At age 13 Merry and Mally had experienced almost being murdered and fighting a bad guy all while dealing with boy problems. The Midnight Twins, by Jacquelyn Mitchard, is about two twins, Merry and Mally. Mally can see the future and Merry can see the past. In order to over come evil the twins have to learn to trust each other, which was difficult. One of the obstacles the girls had to over come was stopping Merrys friends brother, David, from killing animals by using their abilities to find out where this was occurring. This leads them to follow him to a construction site where they save a girl but almost die. This book had a wonderful structure and a realistic fantasy genre. There is always something exciting happening. The recurring theme of good versus evil and the ability to relate to this book along with the structure and genre of the Midnight Twins is what made this book very entertaining.

the reacuring battle of good versus evil made The Midnight Twins such an enjoyable book. If the twins aren??™t in a roaring fire they??™re stopping the neighborhood boy who murders animals. Merry and Mally represent good in this story while David represents evil. Alex, one of the girls friends lso represents good, while his boss represents evil. An examle of good versus evil is when Merry and Mally were baby-sitting their cousins, David sets off fireworks all around the house then throws a fire starter on the top of the house, this caused Merry to get a scar and gain the ability to see the past. This book had plenty of emotions mixed into this book. There were scary parts, such as when Mary is almost killed by David. There were sad parts such as, David dying when he misses his footing trying to kill Mary. There were happy parts such as when the twins friend Alex saves them from another confrontation with death, when David tries to run them over with a bulldozer. In this book there was never a dull moment. The unexpected obstacles that that the girls faced made the structure entertaining. The authors exciting story line and creative writing style really complimented the realistic fantasy genre.

Although the story was very realistic it also had a fantasy element, which made it more entertaining. I found this book to be easily agreeable because both of the main girls are my age. The girls also both baby-sat, and one is a small cheerleader. This book was enjoyable because it gave an incite to different relationship problems such as friend, sibling and romantic.Another great element in this story was in addition to the girls problems they had life threatening obstacles to overcome. The girls have premonitions and they sometimes get help from ancestors spirits. I also liked that the author gave an explanation for these premonitions. Finally, the book was a balance of real life and fantasy. The author doesn??™t let the book become a documentary of 2 girls lives, and its not just a magic story.

The wonderful structure and realistic fantasy genre of The Midnight Twins, along with the recurring theme of good versus evil made the book a very action packed story. the genre of this book was obvious because of the girls life style. There was never a dull moment in this story, and it was very difficult to put down.All the characters in this story were interesting and complex, because of who they were it added to the complexity of the storys genre and structure. The twins both complimented each others personalities, Merry has a loud personality while Mally had a quiet personality. Throughout the book there is a constant theme of good versus evil. I would recommend this to anyone.

Merry and Mally were born in 2 different years, even though there twins. Merrys best friends older brother, David, likes killing things. then he buries them. Mally and merry see premonitions but when there in a fire, set by David, Merry gets a scar from touching a door nob. she starts seeing the past and only Mally can see the future. they can also talk to each other without being near each other.When Mally sees David killing a dog in a vision she trys to convince Merry what he is going to do but she doesnt believe her untill the dog is dead. they decide they will keep him from killing anything or one else so they follow him. they always prevent him frm killing 2 girls but by then he is mad. He scares Merry out of their house when shes home alone and he tryes to kill her. when she jumps from a ledge he loses his footing trying to see her he falls from a tall ledge and dies. Merys grandmothers diseased twins spirit saves her.

Poverty and Politics

Politics and Poverty

Today there is a split in American politics on how to combat poverty. Throughout history, how America combats poverty has changed depending on what party is running the government. There has been a number of different parties however, Republican, Democrat, The Bull Moose Party, and other various ones. However, these views can be put into two main categories: The Liberal ideology and the Conservative ideology.

If we understand poverty as relational and a product of social processes, this means asking ourselves how did the present situation come about. A poverty analysis needs to comprehend the interaction between structure (historically derived and culturally structured patterns of relationships) and individual or collective agency that sustains or transforms these practices. For some, ???power??™ is normally associated with the state and formal political institutions, in which the issues are framed in terms of ???elites, elections, parliaments, political stakeholders, rule of law, etc.??™ For me, power is understood as dispersed throughout society; operating in all relationships it shapes and is shaped by political and other social institutions. This helps us understand the perpetuation of poverty and exclusion among certain kinds and categories of people. Thus, if we ???de-face??™ power (i.e. do not localize it as a ???resource??™ possessed or not by specific actors), we can enquire into how power operates to sustain inequitable relations and oppression.
Social, economic and political relations do not stop abruptly at national borders and it is a fallacy to imagine that the causes, characteristics and consequences of poverty can be understood and tackled by focusing solely on action within those borders.

Lee, D. R. (2003). Cato Journal. Retrieved from

The Metamorphosis

Abraham Maslow??™s hierarchy of needs is a well-known humanist theory. The concept involves five common human needs that must be satisfied in order to achieve a sense of fulfillment. Maslow??™s theory is organized into a series of five concepts which are represented as a pyramid. The base of the pyramid consists of human physiological needs, such as air and food, without which life cannot be sustained. As the pyramid develops, as does a life, the needs become more complex and self based, leading to the pinnacle of humanity, self actualization. Many theorists have attempted to follow these principles, but the basic concepts remain the same. In the novella, The Metamorphosis, Kafka leads the reader to believe that Gregor has reached a place of self-fulfillment and accomplishment; yet as the book develops, Gregor regresses through the hierarchy of his needs to a point where he can no longer hang on to his life.
Gregor??™s life was built around the other people in his life. He provided for his family and worked to pay off his parent??™s debt. According to Maslow, Gregor had achieved a certain level of self actualization, which was torn down when he could no longer be a productive member of society. In the second level of the hierarchy of needs, it is theorized that one must reach a feeling of accomplishment. By working and providing for his family, Gregor felt a sense of success and triumph. However, as he was incapable of working after his change, his parents and his sister were left to provide for themselves. Guilt set in when Gregor realized the financial issues that arose for his family, despite the fact that he had no influence on his change. This guilt made Gregor feel as though his family couldn??™t rely on him, and well as making it seem as though he didn??™t accomplish anything even when he was capable of working. Before his transformation, Gregor had a close relationship with his family, and he spent time with them when he wasn??™t occupied with work. For a while after her brother??™s change, Grete continued to care for Gregor, providing the care that he needed as well as retaining a sense of love and belongingness. Gregor takes another step down the pyramid as his family begins to see Gregor as a burden, and can??™t find the time to care for him. The fourth stage, or concept, of Maslow??™s theory, is maintaining a sense of safety in one??™s life. Gregor??™s job is essential to his safety. Without the everyday routine of getting up and leaving for work, he feels vulnerable. As the reader discovers in the book, as an insect, Gregor often thinks about work, and while at home, he grows fed up of trying to find something to do with his time. The final stage of Maslow??™s hierarchy of needs, are the basic physiological needs, such as warmth, food, water, and rest. When Grete stops caring about Gregor??™s well-being, as well as whether he is properly fed and nurtured, his physiological needs are no longer fulfilled and he can no longer survive.
Maslow offers us a framework upon which to base the life we lead. Gregor follows a deadly path down the pyramidal theory of human existence, contradictory to the accepted route an individual must take in order to live a happy and fulfilled life. He has lost control over his daily subsistence and cannot accomplish the steps of his life that meant anything to him in his previous years. We can clearly follow the direction of Gregor??™s downfall though the pages, to a place where even basic human needs and desires can no longer be met. Maslow gives us a visitor??™s guide to this sad story, a way in which the reader can watch the gradual decline in Gregor??™s human condition to the point where he passes to the unknown. As humans we need not only food, water and air to keep us alive, but also relationships, love and a feeling of being needed and wanted. Without these, we are nothing but empty shells and will cease to exist; we will fade from existence, just as Gregor did in The Metamorphosis.

Cherry, Kendra. “Hierarchy of Needs – Maslows Hierarchy of Needs.” Psychology – Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2010.

Poverty and Children in the United States

Poverty and Children in the United States

Kimberly Belt
University of Phoenix
January 24, 2009

Poverty and Children in the United States
The United States is known as the richest country in the world. When poverty is mentioned most people think about third world countries and the commercials on T.V advertising for sponsors. Most people do not first think of people in our very own country. Everyone has come across someone in the United States suffering from hunger, homelessness and other forms of poverty, but few people may have realized it. Poverty in the United States is quite different from the images often seen on television in other developing countries (Cole, 2005). The face of poverty in the United States can be considered a child who is not properly nourished because his or her parents cannot afford to buy the necessary food items in order to keep them healthy. The face of poverty in the United States may represent a single parent who works full-time, but still cannot afford to pay for food, shelter, clothing or even a car. Although the United States is the wealthiest nation, poverty is still an issue (Freeman, 2005).
Child poverty is an alarming problem in the United States that affects every person in this country, regardless of economic status, age, race, or gender. In 2001, 11.7 million children, or 16.3% of children in the United States were poor (Freeman, 2005). Children represent a disproportionate percentage of the poor population. They make up 35.7 percent of the poor, but only account for 25.6 percent of the general population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
As with all classes there is certain criterion you must meet in order to be in any certain class. A poverty class is when there is not enough wages or income to meet the basic needs of any living being. Basic needs would be things like food, shelter, and clothes. A child in a family in poverty would also be missing a basic need of children which would be the emotional support of their parents, which would be hard to get since their parents will have to working or looking for jobs a majority of the time.
About half of families that are poor live in low-income neighborhoods (Frank 2006). Many children are struggling to survive in all different types of communities in the United States. In the lower class neighborhoods lack of public resources, economic investment and political power sometimes service to isolate some families from mainstream society. Families are isolated due to crime and violence in low-income neighborhoods. Children who live in poverty may not be able to go to a safe place to stay out of trouble like some of the more fortunate children. Children who live in the lower class neighborhoods are less likely to participate in sports and after school activities or any type of extracurricular activities and are most likely to be involved in criminal mischief. Many children tend to shy away from others because they feel embarrassed about themselves and their situation. The impact of poverty makes it almost impossible for children to grow up in a safe environment. These children are caught in the middle. Some may tend to turn to a life of crime, in hopes of getting a chance to better their living situation (Summers, 2005).
It is hard for a family in poverty to have a choice of what neighborhood they want to live in or what type or school their children will go to, or what their children will be exposed to. Their resources are limited and they basically have to take what is given to them. Some families do not have a choice about healthcare, which means some children may not get the proper healthcare they need (Summers, 2005).
The U.S. measures poverty by a standard developed more than 50 years ago, when data indicated that families spent about one-third of their income on food. The official poverty level was set by multiplying food costs by three. Since then the same figure has been updated annually for inflation but has otherwise remained unchanged. The federal poverty level is adjusted by family size but is the same across the continental United States (Summers, 2005).
The United States Census bureau uses money income to compute poverty status. This is computed before taxes and excludes capital gains and losses. Each person is then assigned one out of the 48 possible poverty thresholds which are the statistical version of the poverty measure and are issued by the Census Bureau. They are used for calculating the number of people in poverty in the United States. Unlike single adults, who are defined as poor when their income falls below a certain level, those individuals under 18, are poor when their families are poor. The Census Bureau maintains the official U.S. definition of poverty: a family is poor when their money income falls below an established threshold. Poverty thresholds are updated yearly and different thresholds apply depending on the total family size and number of children. If the total family income is less than the threshold appropriate for that family, the family is in poverty. If the total family income equals or is greater than the threshold, the family is not in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
The poverty class of America continues to grow on a daily basis. Even thought there are government assistance programs it is often not enough to bring the families out of poverty. Communities all over the world need to help to make a difference in a child??™s life, and it needs to be one from their own country. The government should not have to be responsible for the livelihood of the children in the United States. The government should help the family in general, but at the same time there are many people in this world that could afford to help the poverty class, but they usually don??™t.
There are many ways people can take control and help prevent poverty in the United States. By taking notice of the children in local communities and neighborhoods and staying committed to helping they can make all the difference in their lives. Having a stranger want to help them because they care says so much to a child who does not have much. Having a stranger not criticizes them about what they have and do not have may create a memory that will follow them throughout their lives. Taking the initiative to step forward and help out the public agencies and other organizations in local neighborhoods can be a start. Cleaning up the neighborhood while involving everyone from the elderly to the teens may not seem like much, but it will to that little one who sees an effort being made (Freeman, 2005).
America is known for helping other countries, but there are children and families who are in need right here at home. There must be something that can be done to prevent the hunger, the homelessness, the wondering of whether or not they will be able to go another day at school without being criticized. Americans must work today and come up with a solution that will work for everyone. Let??™s take the time to look at the situation that is going on at home first before we spend so much attention on other countries that are not as caring about the United States. We must remember the children are our future, and a helping hand begins with the United States.
Whether dealing with poverty in the form of food, clothing, shelter, education, or low income. One does not have to travel internationally to hear the cries of poverty for it is right here in America. The cries are loud and clear and begging for acknowledgement (Cole, 2005). Even though poverty cannot be fixed overnight, a dedication and commitment needs to be made now.
Every person in the United States has the human right to healthcare, and a safe and comfortable livelihood and the freedom to not live in poverty. A child should have the freedom to run and play and not have to worry where they will sleep, eat, or if they will have anything to eat. A child should not have to worry about whether or not they will get teased if they go to school with worn out shoes and clothing, or do not have the proper school supplies. America, the children of today are the future of tomorrow. The time has come to stop and look at them and do something about their livelihood of poverty. Take a stand and join the government agencies to make the assistance better. Many say that government assistance is not enough, but no one seems to be doing anything about it.
A stand has to be taken now before it is too late. Children in the United States are looking to those who are more fortunate to help them know what it is to be an American. People complain everyday about how changes need to occur, well now is the time to make those changes happen. It is easy to go and complain about the government to friends and family. Let??™s try an experiment, next time, instead of complaining to friends and family, let??™s ask for help from friends and family. Let??™s ask for assistance in lending a hand in the community to clean up the neighborhoods, make sure the parks are clean for children to play and making sure that neighbor who hardly comes out has enough food to feed their child. Let??™s be kind to one another as it was intended, and watch the face of poverty change forever.

Cole, H (2005). Poverty in the United States. Retrieved April 9, 2008, Web site: http://www.results.org/website/article.aspid=350
Frank, L (2006). Child Poverty in America. Retrieved April 12, 2008, Web site: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-53408461.html
Freeman, W (2005). Children in America. Retrieved April 11, 2008, Web site: http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/vol7no2ART1.pdf
Summers, T (2005). Poverty and Children in the United States. Retrieved April 11, 2008, Web site: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/placeatthetable/uspoverty.shtml
United Census Bureau, (2006). Poverty. Retrieved April 12, 2008, Web site: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html

The Metamorphosis Frank Kafta

The Metamorphosis
The writer of a popular short story titled The Metamorphosis was written by Franz Kafka in 1912.Kafka was born into a Jewish middle-class German speaking family on July 3, 1883 in Prague, Bohemia now known as Czech Republic. Kafka wrote many pieces but was best known for The Metamorphosis, and his creation of literary terms like Kafkaesque, which was inspired by his bizarre impersonal short stories.
Kafka??™s father Hermann Kafka was a successful merchant who ran a shop on the main level and they lived on the top level. Hermann had a bad temper and had high expectations for his three sons to continue running the family business. When Kafka??™s two brothers died the natural strain of being the only boy began. Not approving of his son??™s decision to become a writer, Kafka faced many conflicts with his bath. Knowing that his father didn??™t approve of his wrote Kafka still continued to follow his passion of writing.
In 1919 Kafka wrote Letter to Father, which he never sent. A person feels more at peace with their internal anger when they write down their thoughts on paper, and that??™s what I felt Kafka did when he wrote the letter to his father. Even though he never sent the letter, nor had intensions to send it, there is always the possibilities of his father to find the letter. Many people repress their feelings because they don??™t want to face the truth, or hurt anyone else; it seemed that Kafka was empowered by his escape through literature.
Like William Gibson who story Burning Chrome we read in class, Kafka was also a fiction writer ahead of his time. Work by Kafka often was addressing subjects three decades in advance. Due to isolation from the German community Kafka often wrote about the ghetto before there was urban build-up. Due to his families??™ extreme religious practice Kafka eventually declared himself a socialist atheist. Max Brod became Kafka??™s translator in 1902, with all the time that the two spent together they eventually became intimate friends. In 1906 Kafka received his doctorate degree from the German University in German literature and law. The work of Kafka often consisted of black humor with mixes of meditations, poetic fragments, and sketches which makes it hard to categorize his work. Most of Kafka??™s??™ work falls into the genre of existentialism and modernism.
Most of 1911 Kafka spend his time in spas for ill health. The following year Kafka met and became engaged to Felice Bauer who was from Berlin. In his diary there were many considerations of killing himself. ???I would stand at the window for long periods, and was frequently tempted to amaze the toll collector on the bridge below by my plunge.??? (Kafka??™s quote from his diary written in 1912). All of Kafka??™s work had a twist along with hidden meaning that not many understand, or chose study the words true meanings. Before the Law is a very short story that Kafka wrote in 1914, which has many different interpretations the story. Followed by a short series he wrote in 1916 Kafka wrote The Judgment that sets focus on his struggle with his father. Shortly after writing The Judgment, Kafka broke off his second engagement from Felice in 1917. This can be related to his reflections of his struggles with his father, and wanting to disconnect with any parts of his life that reminded him of his struggles.
After two years of suffering from poor health Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which enabled him to escape his family and move to Berlin where we was able to strictly focus on writing. Even though Kafka was a gifted writer he had low confidence in his work. Kafka requested all of his unpublished work to be destroyed by his best friend Max Brod. Following Kafka??™s death in 1924 Brod didn??™t publish any of Kafka??™s work, but he also didn??™t destroy it. Although they were friends Brod went against Kafka??™s wishes and published his work such as The Trial in 1925, followed by The Castle in 1926, and Amerika in 1927. A few days after Kafka??™s death, Milena Jesenska his assumed lover and also a Czech journalist wrote, ??? He wrote the most significant works of modern German literature, which reflect the irony and prophetic vision of a man condemned to see the world with such blinding clarity that he found it unbearable and went to his death.??? One of Franz Kafka quotes that I found moving was ???Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness; believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it.???
To understand or appreciate the story The Metamorphosis the reader needs to interpret the entire story, and avoid looking at it as a whole. If I was to summarize the story to a person they would just understand that a man went to sleep and woke up to find himself transformed into some sort of beetle. After reading the story and understanding more of Kafka??™s work and background I am able to appreciate this piece, and the fact that there is more meaning to it than reader??™s give it credit for. The Metamorphosis is constructed as a fantasy, when Gregor discovered that he has transformed he thought, “What has happened to me he thought. It was no dream.??? Although this piece is fiction we are to analyze the meaning of the literature, and in my opinion it was a dream. Most people have experienced dreams that have felt so real that when we awake we are confused, and even have a rush of adrenaline. Since dreams can be surreal at times, how does a reader know that this wasn??™t a dream if Gregor??™s throughout the entire story
The story expresses how the family depended on Gregor for financial stability, but once he transformed into a beetle they lost a sense of respect for him. Gregor??™s sister Gretta was the only family member who attempts to take care of Gregor. Gretta even tries to find him food that he would like to eat, since he no longer had the appetite for foods he used to love. The fact that the family trapped Gregor in his own room because of his appearance is beyond words. It made me think what I would do if this happened to a family member of mine, I would allow them to roam the house and be their own person in their own home. Not treat them like they are an unwanted pet.
In the end of the story it explains how Gregor was going to sleep, and it seemed like he was upset more than the other nights. Gregor died that night in his sleep, some may be sad to read that but it??™s the best thing that can happen in his position. He is released from the stress and agony that he was living in, and now has the opportunity to be free in his afterlife.
Most of Kafka??™s writings tend to be depressing but The Metamorphosis sets a different tone at the end of the story. Some readers may find the end of this piece sad because of Gregor??™s death; an optimistic person will see the happiness enclosed. The story has a happy ending when the family is motivated to move on by hoping to find Gretta a husband. Even though Kafka??™s writing was known for not so happy endings, the meaning ???The Metamorphosis??? had different intention. The story consisted of sadness and helplessness for Gregor, in which he died at the end of the piece, but death isn??™t always the end. When the family lost Gregor they managed to grieve in a unusual was by focusing on Gretta. The goal was to help Gretta find a husband, which gives the story hope, and leaves the reader wondering what would happen. This can be the reason why ???The Metamorphosis??? ended up as one of Kafka??™s most popular short stories.
In order to understand Kafka??™s work, the reader needs to be unbiased and but all judgment aside. The beauty of Kafka??™s writing is that he wrote exactly what he was feeling, and anything that came to his mind he was brave enough to compose it on paper. The world would be full of creative writers if people would avoid worrying about what others would think of them or their writing.

Work Cited
www.storybites.com/kafkametamorph2.htm –

Poverty Allevation Through Agriculture Development Potentials and Constraints. a Case of Tomato Farming in Nepal

Background: Two third of Nepalese people (66.6 %) are involved in agriculture exploiting only 21% of cultivable land for their livelihood. Majority of the farm families are semi-literate or illiterate and scattered in rural settlements. An increase in population by 2.2% annually is producing additional labor force in the national labor market. Average size of land holding is small (0.5 ha) fragmented in scattered parcels of three thus limiting agriculture commercialization. Forty five percent of the farmers, having less than 0.5 ha, share only 13% of total land. Owing to modern sophistications and ever-increasing population, meeting peoples increasing and changing needs and aspirations, on one hand, is a major burden to the country. On the other, crop profitability (particularly on cereals) is declining due to aforementioned agri-business related challenges. The consequence is over exploitation of natural and land resources. In Nepal, the process of planned economic development began in 1956. Until the fourth five-year plan period (1970 1975) the major strategy was to build economic and social infrastructures; some concrete achievements were made in that direction. The fifth five year plan (1975-1980) adopted a new approach to setting objectives, such as increasing the production of mass oriented goods, ensuring the maximum utilization of the workforce, and the promotion of regional balance and integration. Although a major portion of public sector expenditure was spent on transport, communications, electricity and industrial development, the country continued to rely on agricultural production. At present also the emphasis has been given on making a prosperous Nepal through bringing revolution and radical change in agriculture sector. For this government has been allocating huge portion of the total annual budget for agricultural sector development. Despite the priority given to agricultural sector and huge money doled out in


the sector for the last many years, the countrys rural poverty and backwardness have worsened over the years. But still agriculture is the principal source of food, income, and employment for the majority, particularly the poorest. Growth in agriculture is, therefore, crucial for reducing poverty. However, agriculture is largely based on low-value cereals and subsistence production, with a mere 13 percent of output traded in markets. The sector??™s current 40 percent share in national GDP is declining, although there is considerable scope for increasing productivity and value-added. The central challenge for rural development in Nepal is to shift from subsistence to a commercial economy in an environment characterized by widespread and day-to-day insecurity and violence. For this the agricultural sector should be commercialized. Fresh seasonal and off-seasonal vegetables have been categorized as high value crops and promotion of commercial production of fresh vegetables are essential for increasing the income of farmers, providing them with employment opportunities including the women farmers, and enhancing their accessibility to food security. Hence, in Nepal vegetables are specific agricultural commodity promotion of which could significantly drive rural growth in some market accessible areas. The Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) has also designated vegetable crops as one of the priority crops for Nepals agriculture development. Thus, efforts need be made to undertake all the necessary measures to develop the crop commercially benefiting the producers at large. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum, syn. Lycopersicon lycopersicum) is one of the important high value vegetable species that has been cultivated in Nepal for ages. Tomatoes are herbaceous, warm season crop and are sensitive to frost. They are usually cultivated in subtropical and warm temperate climatic regimes and thrive well in temperatures 10oC to 30oC.


Optimum range of temperature is 21o-24oC and temperatures below 16oC and above 27oC are not desirable. Temperature affects germination, crop standing and ultimately affects yield, quality and price. The required temperature regime exists in different agro-climatic regions of Nepal at different times of the year and almost year-round production is possible in different geographical regions of the country. Tomato farming is possible up to the height of 2740 meter above the sea level.

Tomato Farming in Nepal In Nepal the tomatoes have been cultivated in a land that ranges from low land Terai to high hills. According to an old data published by Ministry of agriculture and cooperatives (in 2063 B.S), tomatoes have been cultivated in 190,000 hectare (ha) land and the total production was 2,183,000 metric tons. In reference with this data the total production of tomato per hectare land is 11.5 metric ton. The total contribution of vegetables farming in agricultural GDP is 65%. Potato farming occupies the largest vegetable cultivated land whereas tomato occupies significant position. Tomatoes come in a number of varieties with highly standardized cultivation practices. Each variety has its own shape, color, size, timing of cultivation, duration of harvesting, yield, disease resistance, etc. Abinash and Allrounder are the most popular and highly cultivated varities in Nepal. Abinash has a good yield but the fruits are soft and difficult to transport. Allrounder is a hybrid variety and is gaining popularity because the fruits are firm and can be transported easily. Besides these varieties Srijana, Dhanalakshmi and Indra are other popular Nepali varieties. Trishul, an Indian variety is also getting popular in Nepal.


Tomato farming in some of the Hill districts and Terai districts is emerging as a highly profitable and potential enterprise and more and more farmers are attracted towards commercial cultivation of tomato. Tomato cultivation has proved to have a high potential for employment generation at local level in general and for female farmers and rural poor in particular. Despite these encouraging trends, the market is experiencing typical constraints of a growing and immature market. Also there are many constraints with its farming. This paper presents the potentiality, benefits and constraints of tomato farming in our country. Also some recommendations for its high quality production and proper market management & market expansion are suggested.

Production and Trade of tomato Almost all of the Terai and lower parts of Hill districts are climatically suitable for tomato cultivation. However the cost of cultivation is higher in the Hills than in Terai, but the benefits are also higher in the Hills.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Tomato Farming in Hill Districts: Labor and other arrangement for farming comprises the largest cost component (50% of the total cost) indicating that tomato production in the Hills is indeed labor intensive. The only mechanized operation is spraying insecticides and occasional sprinkler or drip irrigation. The next largest cost component indicated as ???others??? in Figure (next page) includes costs for spraying insecticides and for staking the plants. Each individual tomato plant is staked with bamboo strips or sticks collected from the forests. As the plant population is 16,000 to 20,000 per per hectare, an equal number of stakes is also required. The next highest share of the cost


goes for organic manure (13%). The cost of chemical fertilizers is only 3% of the total cost whereas pesticides consume 6%. Eight percent of the total cost goes for seeds. The hybrid seeds are very costly. The seed of Abinash variety, for instance, costs Rs. 1 Lakh per kg and Allrounder costs Rs. 65,000. The seed rate is about 120 grams per ha.

Land Preparation: 16% Land Leveling & OM Application 8% Chemical Fertilizer Application 8% Transplanting 16% Weeding & Staking 24% Pesticide Irrigation Applicationon 4% 8% Harvesting 16%

INPUTS 30% Seed 8% Organic Matter 13% Chemical Fertilizer 3% Pesticide 6%


(Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives/ Department of Agriculture, October 2008)

The weeding and staking take up the largest share of labor in tomato cultivation. The staking operation seems to be the most costly operation in this regard as the cost of the stakes and labor required for staking each individual plant are both fairly high. Moreover, the stakes need to be replaced after two years. Land preparation, transplanting, and harvesting operations use more or less equal proportions of labor (16% each) and land leveling, manure application, and irrigation consume 8% each of labor cost. According to the research carried out by Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in October 2008, the total cost of tomato cultivation in Hill district for 1 hectare is found to be around Rs. 162,540. The research also found out that the total production is 36000 kg per hectare. Assuming Rs. 12 as the average market price of tomato throughout the year total value

of the production is estimated to be Rs. 432,000. The net profit per hectare is calculated to be Rs. 269,460. The financial analysis of tomato cultivation shows benefit cost ratios of 2.66 for hill districts. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Tomato Farming in Terai Districts: Like in the Hills, labor costs the most in Terai as well, but its share at 39% of the total cost is slightly less than that for the Hills. Tractor and sprayer rental, listed under the ???others??? category is the next highest cost component. Seeds take up 15% and pesticides consume 11% of the cost. Although considerably lesser amount of organic fertilizer is used in Terai than in the Hills, it still comprises a significant proportion of the cost at 12% whereas the cost for chemical fertilizers represents only 5%. The pie-chart below shows the cost components for cultivation of tomato in Terai.

Cost Components of Tomato Production in Terai

Chemical Fertilizer5% Organic Manure 12%

Pesticides 11% Labor 39%

Seeds 15% Others 18%

(Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives/ Department of Agriculture, October 2008)


According to the research carried out by Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in October 2008, the total cost of tomato cultivation in Hill district for 1 hectare is found to be around Rs. 86,783. The research also found out that the total production is 36000 kg per hectare. Assuming Rs. 5 as the average market price of tomato throughout the year total value of the production is estimated to be Rs. 180,000. The net profit per hectare is calculated to be Rs. 93,217. The financial analysis of tomato cultivation shows benefit cost ratios of 2.07 for Terai districts.

Analysis: A SWOT analysis for the production of tomato in Nepal is summarized in points below: A. Strengths: ? Many potential areas of Hills and Terai districts are suitable for commercial scale quality production of tomato round the year. ? Tomato has comparative advantage over other cereals and cash crops. Tomatoes are consumed often at regular basis at home, restaurants, hotels, etc. comparative to other cereals and cash crops. ? In recent years, rural and semi-urban communities are highly attracted by the increasing prospect of main and off-season tomato farming and its increasing demand. ? Tomatoes have high local demand. According to the statistics record of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Management Committee, still 40% of the total market demand in Kathmandu for tomato is occupied by the tomatoes imported from India. ? High demand for off season (from May to November) particularly during rainy seasons is fulfilled by import from India.



Farmers are getting quite significant technical support from District Agricultural Development Office.


Tomato farming requires a low initial investment compared with other high value cash and cereals crop.


There is a growing demand of organic tomato in the market. Organic tomato farming is possible in most of the rural areas.

Weakness: ? Rural Farmers have lack of technical knowledge regarding the use of fertilizer, plant protection, seed germination, etc for the commercial quality scale production practices. Still there is a lack of new technology for tomato farming, harvesting, post harvest handling technology, grading and packaging. ? ? ? Excessive use of pesticides. High pest and disease attack There is a difficulty in getting quality seeds. Most of the farmers are facing problems with the low quality hybrid seeds from India. Sometimes they have to face the problems with mixed seeds. ? ? There is insufficient infrastructure, roads, electricity, irrigation and institutional credit. Porter transport cost from farm to road head/collection centre is very high, especially in Hill districts. ? ? Shortage of skilled labors. The input price is very high and difficult so it is very hard to compare to comparatively cheaper Indian and Chinese tomatoes.



Local farmers are not well-informed about the market price so they have to sell their tomatoes to the dealers at very low price. In some cases dealers compel the local farmers to sell their product at unjustifiable price.

? ? ?

High seasonal prices variation Wastage in transportation. Lack of appropriate storage facilities

Opportunities: ? ? ? ? ? Production area can be increased by more than 2 to 3 times Large scale demand from city areas of Nepal, West Bengal and Northern Bihar of India. High demand for processed products such as paste, puree, ketchup, etc. Highly attractive price in India (specially for off-season tomato from hill districts) Government has designated tomato as a high value crop and provides support for its commercialization ? ? ? ? ? NGOs are also providing support for commercialization Potential for employment of women Potential for economic upliftment of small and marginal land holders Potential to employ large number of people Higher yield through adoption of hybrid seed variety like Avinash & Allrounder and by adopting improve production technology ? The demand for organic tomato is increasing.


Threats ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Political instability Very high tax imposed by DDC Tax and threats from so many groups (mostly political sister organizations) Frequent blockades and strikes Increasing price of inputs in Nepal Intense competition from highly subsidized Indian farmers for main season production Large scale commercial production in India and China Dependence on India for inputs (especially hybrid seed, fertilizer, plant protection chemicals and micro nutrients) ? Threats from many new diseases, harmful pests, etc.

Recommendation: ? Farmers should be encouraged to do commercial tomato farming. They should be well informed about the existing market value, demand and benefits of tomato farming. ? ? ? Ensuring the availability of quality hybrid seeds, fertilizers and plant protection chemical Subsidy for inputs, especially fertilizers, seed, sprayers Training to producers and traders on cultivation practices, use of pesticides and fertilizers, grading and packaging, and marketing ? ? Support for nursery bed preparation (greenhouse equipment) Government and other responsible concern institution should focus on introducing new technology ? ? Poor farmers should be provided with financial support at the initial phase. Proper market regulation by the responsible body.

Conclusion: Cultivation of tomatoes in most of the Hill and Terai districts appear to have great potential and the cultivation is growing in terms of area expansion, value addition and market expansion. Moreover, tomato farming in the Hill districts is emerging as a highly profitable enterprise and more and more farmers are attracted towards commercial cultivation of tomato. Tomato cultivation has proved to have a high potential for employment generation at local level in general and for women and rural poor in particular. Despite these encouraging trends, the market is experiencing typical constraints of a growing and immature market. The commercial tomato farming with a proper technical & financial support to poor farmers along with effective market management will surely add up to boost the economy.

References: Government of Nepal, 2008. Tomato Product chain Study, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Department of Agriculture, Kathmandu

Ghimire, Shreeram, ???Environmental Concern in Nepalese Agriculture??™,The Journal of Agriculture and Environment,9:218 (2008)

Karkee,Madhav, ???Nepal economic growth accessment: Agriculture??™, Report,USAID,2008

Nepal: Priorities for Agriculture and Rural Development.
http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/EXTSAREGTOPAGRI/0,,conte ntMDK:20273771~menuPK:548215~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:452766,00.html



The Mercy of Memory the Known and the Unknown in Ted Hughes Birthday Letters and Howls & Whispers

The Mercy of Memory: The Known and the Unknown in
Ted Hughes??™ Birthday Letters and Howls & Whispers

For years after Sylvia Plath??™s death, Ted Hughes, her estranged husband and executor of her literary estate, kept himself away from the critical fray that erupted over Plath??™s legacy. Although he was demonized terribly by Plath??™s fans and scholars over what they saw as his complicity in her suicide due to his infidelity and abandonment of Plath and their children in late 1962, he never sought to correct misconceptions or justify his own actions during that time. He merely continued to write his poetry and raise his children as he saw fit. While he did write several essays during his lifetime about Plath??™s work (such as ???On the Chronological Order of Plath??™s Poems??? (1966) and ???Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, and Ariel??? (1995)), he never sought to provide any intimate details of their life together until 1998 when he published two volumes of poetry about Plath, Birthday Letters and Howls & Whispers.
Hughes used these poems to create a portrait of a deeply complex relationship between the two poets, one in which both secrets were kept and truth exposed. These works were his chance to reveal his side of the story, to answer the charges of critics and scholars, to exorcise the spirit of his long-dead wife. The poems were filled with both knowledge and ignorance, incidents with elements forgotten or only half-remembered, subconscious desires and everyday yearnings for a better, happier life. But such memories are both notoriously painful and unreliable. Within the books, the conflict between the known/remembered and the unknown/forgotten creates an almost unbearable tension and paints a vivid portrait of the man, the woman, and the marriage of two of the giants of late twentieth-century poetry.
Hughes??™ use of vague memory begins in the very first poem in Birthday Letters, ???Fulbright Scholars.??? This poem??™s first line is a question about the event of his first glimpse of Plath in a photograph of the year??™s new crop of Fulbright scholars. ???Where was it, in the Strata??? he asks, regarding where he was when he first saw the photograph. He remembers thinking about which of the scholars he was likely to meet, ???particularly/ The girls,??? but has no memory of seeing Plath??™s picture in particular. Yet the poem contains some very specific sensory details of the day??”how he walked ???[s]ore-footed, under hot sun, hot pavements??? and the taste of the ???delicious??? peach (the eating of the peach recalls a similar incident in Eliot??™s ???Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock??? where the eating of the peach symbolizes taking the chance on love despite enormous risks to his mental stability). His persona in this poem is very much that of the young poet he was at the time: fixated on images, sensory language, but forgetting specific mental details??”where he was, who he saw in the photograph, whether they were photographed with luggage.
The poem ends with a reiteration of his youth (???At twenty-five???) and his innocence and ignorance at the way the world operates (???my ignorance of the simplest things???). He is stunned by the many things he does not know and has yet to experience. This sense of naivete will work against him as he begins his relationship with Plath and must learn to deal with her mood swings and mental illness. This poem represents his understanding of just how ill-prepared he truly is for all of what is to come.
Like ???Fulbright Scholars,??? the poem ???Caratyds (1)??? begins with a question, another sign of faded memory or ignorance. Hughes admits to a memory of reading Plath??™s poem and disliking it. By stating that it was the only poem he disliked ???through the eyes of a stranger,??? he insinuates both that he did not know Plath at this point and that there were other poems of hers that he ???disliked??? but no longer through a stranger??™s eyes. Despite the fact that he does not ???know??? her personally, he seems, in many ways, to know her intimately. Reading her poem, he recognizes her fragility and frigidity. He sees her poem as a trap not yet set, snapping shut on nothing, but, it is insinuated, soon to be shutting on himself. He again emphasizes his ignorance and inexperience, detailing his understanding of being so focused on the outward sensory appearance of the world around him (???oracular assurance???) that he ???missed everything??? of a more subtle and psychological nature. He understood her frailty but misunderstood the deeper reasons behind the frailty. Perhaps this poem is his acknowledgement both of his inability to understand the heaviness lying within Plath??™s heart and also an acknowledgement of his own limitations towards understanding her work. Her understands the surface level but fails to grasp the deeper ???Heaven of granite??? within.
???Caratyds (2)??? also begins with an image of ignorance and inexperience. The poem offers a glimpse of Hughes as he envisioned himself in his college days: an arrogant, haughty, elitist ???poet,??? who believed himself superior to everyone else (with the passage of time and the experience of age, he can now look back on his attitude of the time as ???inane??? and filled with ???airy emptiness???). He recollects in the poem how he and a friend ???concocted an attack??? in written form against Plath for what they perceived to be her poetic shortcomings. However, in retrospect, he sees now that they simply failed to understand her work due to their own ???[a]tmospherics of higher learning/ And lower socializing??? and their ???archaic principles??? in regards to poetry. The member of his group of friends who wrote the attack (???Our Welshman???) is equally as ignorant as Hughes of Plath??™s gift and value as a poet and would come to understand that himself years later when ???the white noise of the elegy??? he would write for Plath after her death ???would fill his mouth and his ear.???
Hughes??™ ignorance of Plath??™s deeply troubled psychological condition is reiterated again in the poem ???Visit.??? Here, he recollects what is for him a silly memory of going with his friend Lucas Myers to find Plath??™s dorm window and then throwing dirt clods at it to get her attention, only to discover they had the wrong window. After Plath??™s death, Hughes is later shocked to discover, upon reading her Journals, her thoughts on that very incident and how, for her, it brought about a ???panic??? and a feeling of ???nightmare.??? Her rather severe reaction to what amounted to an innocent college wooing brings to mind, for him, a similar incident in which their daughter wanders into his study and asks him, ???Daddy, where??™s Mummy??? The innocent childhood question causes him similar panic, which allows him to identify with Plath in a way he never had before and to finally glimpse a brief understanding of the torture she endured throughout her life.
In the poem ???Sam,??? Hughes writes of a lost memory within a memory. His memory of the incident in which Plath was nearly killed while hanging from the neck of a runaway horse named Sam is marred by his inability to remember specific details (???Did you have a helmet???). But, for him, with the distance of time, his amazement at the memory was her ability to hang on so forcefully. She clung to life desperately that day despite her death obsession. He realizes, in the end, that for her the accident that day was a rehearsal, ???practice,??? for her true death. She waits for the unexpected moment to suddenly fling ???yourself off and under my feet to trip me/ ??¦and lay dead.???
The next poem ???St. Botolph??™s??? describes Hughes??™ first meeting with Plath at the launch party for the college literary magazine. He has a very vivid memory of how she looked then, but even that memory is altered by future perception (???Taller/ Than ever you were again???; ???I see you there, clearer, more real/ Than in any of the years in its shadow???). However, he also admits that beyond that ???I remember/ Little from the rest of that evening??? except for the memory of pain which seems to outlast the memory of joy, the pain of his then-girlfriend??™s ???hissing rage in a doorway??? at this flirting with Plath and ???the swelling ring-moat of tooth-marks??? Plath left behind, branding his face as her own.
Although he never made a public statement about Plath??™s death and his own complicity (or lack thereof) in her untimely death, in the poem ???The Shot,??? he does seem to admit some small role in it. Symbolizing Plath??™s pain as a ???bullet,??? he admits in the poem that he never understood her pain or his ability to cause or supplement it until he was struck with it and even then he ???did not even know/ I had been hit,/ Or that you had gone clean through me??”/ To bury yourself at last in the heart of the god??? (suggesting Hughes saw himself as a conduit through which Plath had to force her pain in order to reach the memory of her father, her ???god???). He also admits, in the end, that he was probably the wrong sort of person for her at that time as far as relating to her pain??”???the right witchdoctor/ Might have caught you in flight with his bare hands.??? Ultimately, he finds himself alone with nothing left of her but small remnants of her life; the life itself is gone.
Hughes continues to deal with his youthful inexperience and vague memories in the poem ???18 Rugby Street.??? Here he realizes that he had an advance warning of her suicidal tendencies, but chose to ignore it rather than help her deal with her issues. While Hughes and Plath are kissing, he notices a scar on Plath, evidence of her previous suicidal injury, but instead of addressing it, he continued ???[w]ithout ceasing for a moment to kiss you.??? He has a vision of a ???sober star??? warning to him to ???stay clear??? of Plath. But, in his arrogance, he fails to heed his own good sense because her ???marveled at her??? and what she represented to him, ???beautiful America.??? He becomes so enamored with her and his thoughts of her that he loses concentration (and, with it, memory): ???I cannot remember/ How I smuggled myself, wrapped in you/ Into the hotel.??? The feelings for Plath (and his subsequent failure to understand the consequences of their relationship and her emotional problems) have caused him to suppress certain memories in his mind.
In ???Fate Playing,??? Hughes sees, in Plath??™s frantic agitation within the poem, himself as a ???miracle.??? The taxi driver laughs ???[t]o see an American girl being so American.??? Both fail to truly see or understand the deep fear and force behind her emotional outburst. This inability to understand continues in subsequent poems, such as ???Your Paris.??? In this poem, focusing on their European honeymoon after their marriage in England, Hughes clearly sees, in retrospect, how the two of them were people coming at things from entirely opposing perspectives and that neither of them ultimately truly attempted to understand the other??™s point of view. Hughes sees Plath??™s reaction to Paris as completely ???American.??? She sees a city of art and dreams but with a hidden darkness which she expressed into words ???which I decoded/ Into a language, utterly new to me/ With conjectural, hopelessly wrong meanings.??? He fails to see the pain and torture the city brings to her; her dark memories of betrayal by a former boyfriend who abandoned her there. He only sees what the city means to him. He also sees it as a place of pain, but of physical pain brought about by the war and the Nazi occupation. Wherever he looks, he sees only the bullet wounds on the buildings and the ghosts of the victims of Nazi atrocity.
After Paris, they honeymooned for a time in Spain and again, in the poem ???You Hated Spain,??? Hughes shows us the opposing viewpoints of himself and Plath. For the two, Spain is almost the exact opposite of Paris. In Spain, Hughes ???felt at home???; however, Plath hated it; it ???frightened you.??? She sees Spain as a land of death, ???the land of your dreams.??? She rejects Spain because it represents, to her, the death she has sought for so long and now fights to keep at bay since she is in an apparently happy and stable marriage with a man who understands her desire to be a poet. However, she fails to understand that which Hughes, from the benefit of many years in the future, sees: that Plath is fooling herself into believing that their time in Spain was still ???your honeymoon/ In the happy world, with your whole life waiting.???
The next poem, ???Moonwalk,??? expresses Plath??™s madness and desire for death from Hughes??™ point-of-view and why he could not quite comprehend what was happening to her. The poem??™s imagery is stark, dark, death-laced. The moon frequently appears in Plath??™s poetry as death, sterility, emotionlessness (as in poems such as ???The Moon and the Yew Tree??? and ???Edge???). Hughes references Plath??™s moon imagery here, referring to the moon as a ???raw lump/ Of ore, not yet smelted and shaped/ Into your managed talent.??? Death is the raw material from which Plath formed her poetry, but Hughes does not see this initially; he describes his own lack of understanding as being ???the gnat in the ear of the wounded/ Elephant of my own/ Incomprehension.??? He cannot join her on her ???sacrificial slab,??? for he cannot ???[e]ven imagine the priest.??? He does not see the world the same as she does, cannot imagine being so dominated by death, so he walks with her ???[a]s if seeing you for the first time.??? He finally begins to see the real Plath (???you???): the haunted, suicidal girl beneath the happily married woman.
This dawning realization continues in ???Fever??? in which he sees firsthand the overdramatization for which Plath became well-known. She believes she is going to die from her fever and becomes so dramatic that Hughes himself fears he ???shall not know, I shall not hear/ When things get really bad.??? Hughes offers himself an out here from those who blame him for Plath??™s death, arguing that he had no way of knowing that things had gotten so bad for Plath that she was contemplating suicide since she always acted as if everything was dire and life-threatening. Hughes ends this particular poem with an image of emotional disconnection, suggesting that at this point, he was already beginning to distance himself from her emotionally and mentally. This poem represents, for him, the beginning of the end.
Many of the poems that follow show this further disconnect, as the very universe itself begins to break down, symbolized by gradually increasing forgetfulness, by both Hughes and the world as a whole. In ???55 Eltisley,??? even ???[o]ur first home has forgotten us.??? Yet the house clearly had memories of its former tenants, to the point where Plath becomes ???revolted??? by the history and goes into ???a fury of scouring??? in an effort to remove all traces of the house??™s former life. In the poem ???Chaucer,??? Hughes recounts a memory of Plath reciting Chaucer in a cow pasture and having the cows surround her as she reads as if they are absorbing the literature from her, yet he admits he cannot ???remember/ You stopping??? the recitation. Finally, in ???Ouija,??? Hughes tells the story of the spirit he and Plath conjured using the Ouija board in their home. The spirit quotes his favorite line from King Lear but then admits it ???could not remember what followed./ We remembered but he could not remember.??? The spirit, when pressed by the couple, delivers a shocking statement about the nature of memory: ???Why shall I ever be perplexed thus/ I??™d hack my arm off like a rotten branch/ Had it betrayed me as my memory.??? This statement seems to reflect Hughes??™ own beliefs regarding his memories; he himself feels ???betrayed??? by his memory, perhaps because he cannot remember all that he wants to, perhaps because he remembers too much and that which he does remember haunts him.
After ???Fever??? and the poems of lost memory, Hughes continues to further distance himself from Plath. In ???The Chipmunk,??? Hughes relishes in his first real encounter with an American chipmunk (recalling his inexperience in his memory of the taste of his first real fresh peach in ???Fulbright Scholars???). What follows is an admission by Hughes that Plath (???You???) ???stayed/ Alien to me as a window model.??? Despite their ???intimate weeks??? together, he discovers he knows more about his ???first ever real chipmunk??? than he does about his wife. In another poem, ???The Blue Flannel Suit,??? Hughes again expresses his inability to comprehend the forces at work to destroy Plath??™s life. While in retrospect, he sees in her, for the first time, the ???girl who was going to die,??? at the time all he could do was sit ???stilled,/ Unable to fathom what stilled you.???
In ???Fishing Bridge,??? Hughes reveals a very specific memory he has of Plath on a lakefront as ???the sun??™s dazzle??”and your delight/ Wandering off along the lake??™s fringe.??? The immediate question then becomes is it she herself wandering off (suggesting an exploration of some sort) or her ???delight??? wandering off (suggesting a loss of pleasure and the onset of depression). Suddenly the poem shifts, and they are both wandering within the body of a maze, guided by a mysterious voice who gradually leads them to the center where they find her death waiting. A maze is a symbol of a journey in which we are given the illusion of choice. There is only one way to travel in the maze to get to the end and freedom, but the maze provides you with many alternatives, all leading to dead-ends. It is specifically constructed to provide only a single passage. Once you are in the maze, no matter which way you go, there is only one way out; the path is entirely predetermined. Therefore, as Hughes sees it, in regards to Plath, no matter which way she traveled, no matter what happened to her in her life, her path towards her death was always predetermined and inescapable.
The poem ???The 59th Bear??? tells the tale of a bear that broke into Hughes and Plath??™s car during a camping trip to steal their food. Hughes initially wanted to confront the bear, chase it from the campsite, but chooses to remain with Plath inside the tent instead. The next day, they learned from park rangers that the same bear broke into another couple??™s car at a nearby campsite and the man there did confront the bear and was lethally mauled by the animal. As before, Hughes seems to remember the incident, but cannot seem to remember specific details (???Did we sleep???; ???What time was it???). The incident also reflects the growing distance of their artistic relationship and their opposing ways of viewing the same situation. For Hughes, the incident was a ???dud scenario,??? nothing of any particular interest, but Plath ends up writing one of her most successful short stories about the bear, changing the story somewhat to a tale in which the husband ignores the wife, believing himself superior to nature, and attempts to drive the bear away, only to be killed by it due to his arrogance. He admits in the poem he did not recognize the ???flicker??? within Plath that transformed the incident into a superb fiction or why she even felt the need to write it.
In the other two travel poems, ???Grand Canyon??? and ???Karlsbad Caverns,??? Hughes introduces his belief that he began, during that trip, to detach himself from her and her death-laced philosophies. He blames that trip, and her depression, for driving him away, once again making the claim that it was she that was responsible for her death, not himself. In ???Grand Canyon,??? he focuses on how the couple gradually drifted away from one another, to the point where they are ???sleepwalking??? and have to write notes on where they parked their car in order to remember because their minds are so fogged. They return to their car to find their ???water-bag stolen.??? Since water frequently symbolizes rejuvenation and life, it could be suggested that here, Hughes is saying that the couple??™s quality of life has been taken away and they are left to suffer, to thirst, for what they once had. The memory of the trip sometimes startles him even into his old age, shaking him, making Plath feel close to him again but then it gradually slips away. This slipping away mirrors perfectly the actions of the bats in ???Karlsbad Caverns??? who somehow, ???[u]nlike us,/??¦knew how, and when, to detach themselves/ From the love that moves the sun and the other stars.???
The poem ???Black Coat??? represents Hughes??™ ???sole memory??? of his black overcoat that he wore during his and Plath??™s last winter together. The memory of the coat is a ???good feeling,??? an ???outer-edge nostalgia.??? But the memory of the coat is also tainted in the present by the knowledge that, unknown to him at the time, Plath watched him walking along the beach in that coat and, for the first time, equated him with her father, the vicious Nazi vampire of ???Daddy,??? the living embodiment of her long-sought-after death. The bad memories continue in ???Portraits??? in which he initially loses the memory of where the portrait of Plath ???Howard painted??? is located and how long it took for him to paint it. He seems to want to find the painting, to hold the memory of it in his hands, but as the poem concludes, he recalls seeing the painting itself and how much Plath herself admired it because of the ???evil??? that seemed to possess the painting. Again, the equating of Plath with a pleasant memory from the time of their problems turns the memory dark, causing him to repress it to the point of forgetting.
Hughes soon has an ???Epiphany??? of ???[w]hat I??™d been ignoring.??? An old man in London offers him a fox cub, a representation of a natural element that has been restrained and domesticated for ownership. By buying it, Hughes would have ???owned??? his own wildness, an ability to restrain himself from his overwhelming desire to escape the marriage. Ownership of the wild creature would have allowed his marriage to flourish, to allow him to deal with the issues of Plath??™s mental illness. But he makes the conscious choice to ???let that fox cub go??? and, therefore, ???failed the test.??? This is Hughes??™ most direct acknowledgement of his complicity, his choice (made freely), that led to the disintegration of his marriage. That realization is the true ???epiphany??? of the title. The symbol of the fox cub as Hughes??™ stable alter-ego makes another appearance later in the collection in the poem ???The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother??? in which one of the dogs (symbolizing fans, scholars, and critics who devour Plath??™s writings without ever discovering who she really was) devours the ???windpipe and upper lungs??? of the fox, indicating that he himself has been devoured by the Plath scholars who have stolen his voice, his ability to defend himself against the charges they have brought against him. These two volumes of poetry are nothing less than Hughes??™ attempt to retake possession of his voice and reputation.
???The Pan??? suggests that Hughes did begin at this time to get some real understanding of what Plath was capable of but found he could do (or would do) nothing to stop it from progressing. In the poem, his future ???self??? attempts to warn him of the danger looming for Plath and for his own future reputation. However, he refuses to acknowledge or recognize his ???self.??? This refusal could be a realization of his own youthful inadequacy when it came to addressing his marital problems or the mental issues Plath was suffering from at the time, or it could be yet another example of his youthful arrogance, refusing to believe there is nothing he could not handle and believing love will overcome any obstacle. An older Hughes now knows the illusion that such a belief brought into his mind. He states that this future self is ???infinitely more alive/ Than either of them there in the happy car,??? suggesting two things: that the older self (by virtue of more life experience) has more knowledge of what life holds and, therefore, is able to enjoy it more; or, significantly, that he feels more alive with Plath dead than when she was alive, a shocking, somewhat emotionless statement that appears at odds with the remainder of the text. So what is the purpose of this line Is Hughes revealing his ???true colors??? here Is he making a statement that is attempting to placate the Plath critics that saw him as such a monster Or is he deliberately phrasing a line in such a way that simultaneously mirrors the reactions of most Plath scholars against him and also diffuses that reaction by both acknowledging it and refuting it In all likelihood, the latter is the most obvious choice. Hughes never actually saw himself as a monster (although he did have some guilt over Plath??™s death that he admitted to the closest of friends??”???It doesn??™t fall to many men to murder a genius,??? he told Elizabeth Sigmund not long after Plath??™s death in 1963 (Malcolm 133)) nor did he ever feel the need to justify himself to Plath??™s scholars; however, he was always seemingly concerned about how literary history would view his relationship with Plath and, therefore, would likely feel the need in his work on Plath to acknowledge the bad opinion of him in the scholarly community (particularly among the Feminist critics) and to diffuse that opinion by openly attacking it as he does so here.
In the poem, ???Daffodils,??? we get a reversal of the book??™s trend to focus on Hughes??™ faulty memory of his life experiences with Plath and instead Hughes chooses to focus on something he remembers vividly but ???[n]obody else remembers.??? He wonders in the poem if Plath remembers all the times the family would gather together in the springtime to pick the daffodils in their garden at Court Green. Their daughter, Frieda, has forgotten about the family gathering and has even forgotten her mother. Even the flowers appear to have ???forgot you stooping there.??? But he remembers it all, even the shearing scissors that they received at their wedding that were lost during one of the outings, and he knows that those lost ???wedding-present scissors/??¦remember. Wherever they are.??? Here in this poem he equates himself with the lost, noting that only the lost scissors and he remember. He actively believes that Plath, another lost figure, remembers, suggesting a link between the two of them that has lasted beyond death, indicating he still feels a connection with Plath, a romantic yearning, that is quite at odds with the unfeeling monster the scholars paint him as. Only the innocent daughter, a toddler at the time of her mother??™s death, fails to remember both because of her youth and because she has not become one of the ???lost.??? The daughter is associated with the flowers, the living embodiment of renewal and springtime, a fresh and vivid symbol of life amongst the dead.
Hughes tells us the film in ???A Short Film??? was ???made for happy remembering/ By people who were still too young/ To have learned about memory.??? However, now the film has been recast as a ???dangerous weapon??? because the ???happy memory??? has become corrupted by the horrible memory of Plath??™s death. For Hughes, the memory still hurts each time he sees the film and the memory of that pain lingers even beyond that, not just as ???an idea of horror??? but as ???a bracing of nerves/ For something that has already happened.???
After ???A Short Film,??? Hughes moves on to focusing on Plath??™s death as inevitable, as something he not only had no responsibility for but something he could not have prevented even if he had been aware of how bad the situation was for her. Plath??™s own memories in ???The Rag Rug??? begin to break down at this point, becoming less fluid and more disjoined ???breath-held camera moments.??? Further, in ???The Table,??? he again reiterates his own ignorance of Plath??™s problems: ???I did not/ know.??? In this poem, he blames Plath??™s personal obsession with death and with her father??™s memory for both the disintegration of their marriage and her eventual suicide. He claims he could do nothing, that everything was beyond his control, as if he was following a script and ???the roles were written on my eyelids.??? Plath??™s own mind slips further away; her dreams in ???Dream Life??? are filled with images of death which both alternately frighten and attract her.
Then comes ???The Rabbit Catcher.??? Unlike Plath??™s poem of the same name, a poem of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who seeks escape to allow her voice and vision to express themselves independent of the man, Hughes??™ poem is a poem of misunderstanding and the disintegration of Plath??™s mind and thought processes. Hughes uses the poem to attempt to understand Plath??™s actions of the time. His only vivid memory of the incident in question: ???She??™ll do something crazy.??? He has absolutely no memory of what set her off that day or what he did that caused such a violent reaction in her (and, seemingly, led to the writing of Plath??™s poem). As he watches helplessly, she rages against England and her inability to reach the sea while driving (since, under English law, all of the main beaches prohibit approach by automobile). She spots rabbit snares along the sides of the road and stops to tear them up, believing the killing of the rabbits to be ???cruel.??? But Hughes sees the traps as a matter of survival. Families live off the snared animals when they cannot afford to buy food. He also knows that her fury ???cared nothing for rabbits,??? that her anger is fuelled by her understanding that he ???could not find you, or really hear you,/ Let alone understand you.??? At the end, he questions if she perhaps caught her madness from something inside himself, ???Nocturnal and unknown to me,??? or if it was simply her ???doomed self??? manifesting itself at last. He does not truly endeavor to answer this question within the poem although he relates in other poems in the collection that he believes it was her own inner turmoil that undid her, but here he suggests that even if he did have some part to play in it, that it was something ???unknown,??? unintentional.
Hughes follows up ???The Rabbit Catcher??? with ???Fairy Tale,??? a poem in which he states specifically that he believes Plath??™s suicide was her own responsibility since it was she alone who ???cried out in your sleep??¦/Your lovesickness for that Ogre??? (which symbolizes either death itself or her father). He tells Plath (and the reader), ???(No, it was not me, as you thought./ It was you.)??? The ???you??? of the second line is vague and could perhaps implicate the reader himself in Plath??™s death, suggesting that the reader/scholar/critic, whose sole focus is on Plath??™s work because of its death imagery and relationship to her suicidal impulses, is partly responsible for Plath??™s death because the reader wants her story to end that way to bring closure to the poetry. Hughes seems to believe that if Plath had written happier poetry or had written poetry like she did but had not ended her life in suicide, that her work would not be revered in the way it is today. He further sees that it is Plath??™s ???affair??? with Death and the memory of the father that led to her death, not his literal, extramarital affair with Assia Wevill. But, in the end, he suffers equally because of her death desire, because of his historic legacy tied with her. He ???tripped/ Over your corpse and fell with him [death or the father]/ Into his abyss.???
Like ???The Rabbit Catcher,??? ???The Blackbird??? is a response to one of Plath??™s own poems, in this case ???The Jailer.??? In that poem, Plath creates a scenario in which she sees herself as a prisoner of a jailer who starves her creatively and only allows her to write on subjects and images that he chooses rather than allow her to have her own creative freedom. In ???The Blackbird,??? Hughes argues that it was not him imprisoning her, but she imprisoning him with her death wish and suicide which caused his reputation to suffer due to the images of his failed role as ???your nurse and protector.???
Hughes again stresses his ignorance of his circumstances in relation to Plath in ???Robbing Myself.??? In the poem, he strolls through the couple??™s summer home in Court Green during the winter months when the house is shut up and empty (whether this event occurs before or after Plath??™s death is never made clear). He reiterates again that ???I did not know??? several times throughout the poem and ends with an acknowledgement of Plath??™s death that he claims he did not understand was coming. He does, however, have some understanding of Plath??™s death wish and his relationship to it. In ???A Picture of Otto,??? he acknowledges the connection between Otto, Plath??™s father, and himself within Plath??™s artistic mythology and how she sought to blend the two of them together in her work. He claims this, and not the actual extramarital affair, is why Plath seems to focus her blame on him toward the end of her life. She was actually manifesting the hatred of her father??™s ???abandonment??? of her as a child on Hughes as an adult.
Another poem of memory, ???Fingers??? questions if anyone will remember Plath??™s fingers after he has gone. The fingers represent the physical, tangible action of creating the art (whether writing poetry or playing the piano, two different art forms Hughes mentions in the poem). This poem suggests the error of Plath scholars in focusing on her subject matter rather than her technical gifts as a poet. In the poem??™s end, he acknowledges his memory of her fingers (suggesting his understanding of Plath??™s genius focused more on her technical artistry than her subject matter) and that their daughter remembers Plath??™s fingers with her own, suggesting both the immortality that comes through children and perhaps an acknowledgement of his appreciation for his daughter??™s own artistic development. In both ways, Plath??™s poetic genius continues to live on in the ???fingers??? of her daughter.
The second collection, Howls & Whispers, the last volume of poetry Hughes published during his lifetime, focuses much more on Plath??™s legacy as a poet and his role in promoting that legacy through his own work as her literary executor. In ???The Difference,??? for example, he creates a chilling poem of a man ???out of his depth??? in dealing with a mentally ill wife and her legacy to him. She collapses to the kitchen floor (both a symbol of domesticity and a literal representation of Plath??™s death since she died lying on the floor of the kitchen). He seemingly aids in her recovery only to have Death claim her with such finality and suddenness that he can literally do nothing to stop it. His inability to control Plath??™s artistic ???recovery??? grows to the point where he can ???do nothing??? to prevent critics and scholars from persecuting him for actions that were not his fault (he tries to aid her recovery only to see her die regardless of his actions).
In ???The Minotaur 2,??? Hughes views his life with Plath as a ???plot unfolding,??? a prewritten course over which he has no control and cannot be altered. The ???skein of blood??? she chooses to follow leads her to the ???very centre??? of the labyrinth (again the maze symbolism as in ???Fishing Bridge??? suggests a predestined conclusion where free will and choice are illusionary at best) where the Minotaur waits ???to kill you,??? suggesting that her death was preordained and of her own making, a death over which he had no control or blame. However, in the poem ???Howls & Whispers,??? he does suggest that others are to blame for her death, specifically Plath??™s mother, her analyst, and her friends, by driving her to suicide with their rumors, innuendoes, and bad advice. Hughes says that he has found the letters from these individuals that he believes Plath left him (???waved in my face???) after her death in an effort, perhaps, to get him to understand her reasons for taking her own life, reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with him.
In ???The City,??? Hughes creates a vision of himself searching through a large city (the dark city of her poetic work) looking for Plath. He finds the real Her, the one he believes she really was and would have been had she lived (???sixty years old???). He immediately recognizes her, but the other people journeying through the city (readers, scholars) pass right by her, so intent on studying the work to find her, they miss the true her completely. Hughes knows that Plath sees him, but he is unsure if she remembers who he is anymore or if she is trying hard not to remember him, perhaps she does not recognize him in the city of her work because he (as a literal individual) is not truly there, only a metaphoric representation that does not reveal his true self or the true matter of their relationship to one another, suggesting (as many critics have stated about The Bell Jar) that, despite some autobiographical leanings, all of Plath??™s work is nothing more than fictional approximations to the dark reality of her situation.
In the collection??™s penultimate poem, ???The Offers,??? Hughes believes he sees Plath on a train as he commutes from London to his home in Court Green after her death. She initially ignores him, just as she does in ???The City,??? suggesting his true lack of importance within her work. He becomes ???helpless??¦/ simply a blank, bodiless gaze,??? an interpretation of his feelings regarding her condition while she was alive. He was nothing more than a helpless spectator in her descent towards suicide, not an active participant in her decline. He is haunted by her, however; never able to get free of her influence, she becomes as much (if not more) of a presence in his life dead as she was alive. But now the communication that seemed such a problem in their life (he never had a true understanding of her depression or other mental problems) is even worse, he cannot respond to her as she sits there and she does not even attempt at speaking to him. He feels that she is daring him to speak to her, however, but he does not because he knows such talk will not appease the living. No matter what he reveals in public about their life together or about their happiness, he knows that certain fans and scholars will never believe his innocence in regards to her death; they will always believe that he is the one who killed her. So, instead, he separates the memory of her face (Plath??™s true self that he himself knew personally) from the new face she wears (the self that has been given to her by the scholars and the critics who never knew her beyond her art).
He then sees within Plath the face of Assia Wevill, the rival whom Plath blamed for taking him away from her and their family. He sees the two women as essentially the same. He sees the artistic flare within them both and smells ???the gas??? by which they both died (Wevill committed suicide by gas asphyxiation in 1969). He tries to convince himself all of ???[t]his is coincidence.??? He finds himself fantasizing about Plath??™s still being alive and sending him pretty holiday cards from Honolulu (which can be equated with the Paradise that awaits us in the afterlife). Regardless, he remains her living ???hostage??? (as in ???The Blackbird???), forever punished for his supposed sins of public perceptions and metaphoric image. His final image of her is her speaking to him in ???my helpless moment??? as he stands naked and vulnerable stepping into his bathroom tub, telling him, ???This is the last. This one. This time/ Don??™t fail me.??? This final line represents the ultimate fear for Hughes, that somehow he has failed her in his role as literary executor and his historic role as husband. He knows that he has made mistakes of forgetfulness and ignorance and artistic arrogance, but he hopes ultimately that the poems he has written for her here at the end of his life and his career have made up for his failures in the past.
Hughes was a tortured man, tortured by his own failures as a husband, a father, a lover, and an artist. His claims that he did the best that he could with the little information he had at the time help to assuage his own guilt and, he hopes, grant him some measure of forgiveness by the reading public. The critical reception both Birthday Letters and Howls & Whispers received from the literary community demonstrated that Hughes??™ own artistic gifts were as strong as ever and that most scholars, now given his side of the story of his and Plath??™s life together, were coming to understand the complexity of the relationship and were willing to reserve their judgment in further demonizing Hughes as a villain and murderer. At the end, Hughes cemented forever his own legacy as partner, lover, husband, victim of the Plath legacy, and artistic genius in his own right. His final printed words (in the final poem of Howls & Whispers titled ???Superstitions???) reveals the awful pain of his dredging of the past, the truly dark price of recollection, and a fitting conclusion to this powerful set of poetic works and the art of a most extraordinary poet. The final words of this poem are: ???Remembering it will make your palms sweat,/ The skin lift blistering, both your lifelines bleed.???

Works Cited
Hughes, Ted. Collected Poems. Ed. Paul Keegan. New York: Farrar, 2003.
Malcolm, Janet. The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. New York: Random House, 1993.
Plath, Sylvia. The Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Harper, 1981.