27th August 2018

Significant Connections 1.8

Happiness is constantly lost and then rediscovered but an action needs to take place first. For some people, their life is ruled by depression and happiness seems so out of this world. I have chosen to write about the theme that happiness can be found or re-discovered through an action taken or an object found”. I’ve chosen the book “Private peaceful written by Michael Morpurgo, “the alchemist written by Paulo Coelho, the “character of the happy warrior” written by William Wordsworth, and lastly “the songlines” written by Bruce Chatwin. All these written texts show that through passion, love, bravery, and camaraderie, guidance will come and happiness can be rediscovered, hardships will occur, moments of complete and utter sadnesses and loss but nothing is stronger than the will to have happiness.

“Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clements
I owe you five farthings, Say the bells of St. Martins
When will you pay me?, Say the bells at Old Bailey
When I grow rich, Say the bells at Shoreditch
When will that be?, Say the bells of Stepney
I’m sure I don’t know, Says the great bell of Bow

Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed
Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head
Chip chop chip chop – the Last Man’s Dead.”

Private Peaceful written by Michael Morpurgo, set during the first World War tells the story of a family’s life in the countryside than leading onto two young men fighting in the war and their story of camaraderie and courage. This book shows evidently an action that assists the characters to rediscover there own happiness. The song Oranges and Lemons is that action, it is sung of moments of hardship, sadness, and guilt, especially for Big Joe, and his younger brother Thomas.

The character Big Joe is mentally challenged and has sudden outbursts but the song Oranges and Lemons is a calming mechanism. When Big Joe sings this song it is to make the others around him happy when Big Joe needs to feel better the song is sung back to him.  After the death of Big Joe’s father, the family is forced to move unless the mother can find work, she breaks into tears but Big Joe who is very familiar to people hurting and has the sense to box the sadnesses and uses the song to find the happiness that had once been there, the passage of text ” when Big Joe saw Mother, he ran and knelt down beside her and rocking her gently in her arms, singing Oranges and Lemons until she begun to smile through her tears and join in. Then we are singing together, and loudly in defiance.” shows exactly that through an action happiness can be found or rediscovered. 

Thomas reflects into the past and captures a memory, a gift from a close friend to Big Joe, a mouse. After the pet mouses passes to the brutality of Grandmother Peaceful, Big Joe mourns for the loss of his beloved pet. With the support of his family and the gift of  some blackberries, Big Joe begins to sing, ” Big Joe stopped crying to eat the blackberries and then with blackened mouths we sang Oranges and Lemons over the mouse’s grave.” All through the death of a mouse doesn’t seem important or very poignant, it is to Thomas. The fact that he holds this memory years later down the road suggests how special the song means to him. 

We suddenly jump forward to when Thomas and his older brother Charlie a fighting in the first world war. We a shown a moment in time where Thomas was left for dead but the connection Charlie has with Thomas is too strong. Charlie stays behind disobeying the orders of their squadrons commander, an act of war crime. Their they stay waiting for their escape, surrounded by the enemy in no man’s land. When darkness falls they escape, fighting stops days later.  The passage of text “It’s what I’ll be singing in the mourning. it won’t be god save the ruddy king or all things bleeding Bright and Beautiful. It’ll be oranges and lemons for Big Joe, for all of us.” is sung between Charlie and Thomas, knowingly it will be the last time they sing it together. Death has sprung up upon Charlie. He is shot. As punishment for his war crime, death was the answer. His last words… Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clements

Why the Author choose to use the song Oranges and Lemons is unclear but the reason why could be because of the nursery rhyme is theorized to deal with sacrifice, which is the reason for the Mothers sadnesses but the song was thought to describe public executions which were intended to humiliate the convicted, which for the peaceful family their humiliation is that they can no longer afford to live a “happy life” because there is no working man. 

The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho, set in Egypt is about a Spanish shepherd boy who dreams of searching for his treasure which he believes is his destiny. On his journey, he struggles to find happiness with the sacrifices he’s made to travel from his home to the harsh deserts of Egypt.  In the book, we are told that destinies do not change oneself but only your belief in your dreams can, evidence of this is when Santiago is talking to an old man unknowing it is the King of Salem, Santiago, and the old man talk about the book he is reading,( ‘it’ is referred to as the book)  “It describes people’s inability to choose their own destinies. And it ends up saying that everyone believes the world’s greatest lie… that a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.” This shows that people rather sacrifice who they love, what they do for income just so they can realize their true destiny so they can attempt to live happily.

In the same setting  Santiago and the king of Salem who has told his true identity now talk about the soul of the world in the context that through our emotions, the world around us allows us to manifest what our lives are to become and how we address what we feel and why we feel this way. “The soul of the world is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy.” The king is telling Santiago that through his unhappiness from not knowing his destiny, the envy of those who knew what their destiny was and jealousy for the love of the merchant’s daughter, who he will never marry because he is a simple man, not one who has his own respectable business, or that he does not have a roof over his head.  The conversation ends when the king gives a last piece of advice “The secret to happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” this quote intended to remind Santiago that he knows what his destiny is but never to forget the help, the people who taught him a lesson and that he is capable of achieving his destiny.

The reason for our being is to discover new things, even if we leave the same person we were before, but early in our lives we work out our destiny, and just maybe that’s why we give up on it so early. The Alchemist and Private Peaceful both show that throughout hardships, happiness can be found. Between the books the levels of the action is very drastic, for the peaceful family the simplicity of singing a song like oranges and lemons , is very different to “the alchemist” because for Santiago it is travelling to a faraway land so different to his own which will allow him to find the secret to happiness. The connections between the books are countless. For one, happiness is the main concern and it seems so far fetched to become a reality. Second, both authors focus on addressing the message that their is hope along life’s path no matter how impossible it is to achieve. When reading these books, the authors voice speak through, both written from the heart intended to portray courage and camaraderie but especially hope. The connection that ‘Happiness can be rediscovered through an action or an object found is very well informed in both books. Storys so different from each other tie together so well. This shows in the real world, that even if everyone’s journey to happiness is different we will find it, the only difference will be how simple or how much of a challenge it will be.

The “character of the Happy Warrior ” written by William Wordsworth, a romantic poet which was published in 1807, describes the expectation of a man in the military.  The poem tells the story of the “happy warrior’ and how the scarifies he makes to his life at war and longs for the comforts of a happy home life. The poet writes the characteristics of this hero which protects and gives hope to the people of England during the war against the Napoleon. The “happy warrior” is portrayed as glorious and brave, and the text “Attired with a sudden brightness, like a man inspired” shows exactly that. This warrior is an individual who commands the attention of ‘commoners’ and deserves to be colored with gifts and rewards. The warrior seems very narcissistic and proud and gives the sense that “every man in arms” would want to be him, the only reason they fight for their government is to be rewarded with almighty glory. 

The poet describes that a warrior has to be “happy as a lover” this could mean that they had to be faithful or truthful to their career and that alike a lover, you cherish and hold an undying bond to that significant other. This confirms that he is using the guidance of religion to get his message across about the values of what a man is to be. This shows that happiness could be found through an action taken. Throughout the poem, we follow the ‘happy warrior’ on his journey of good deeds and his obsession with obtaining glory and prestige. But he longs for a more simple way of life. Being back home and finding love.  For example “He, who though thus endued as with a sense and faculty for storm and turbulence, is yet a soul whose master-bias leans to home felt pleasures and to gentle scenes; sweet images! Which, wheresoever he be, are at his heart” His happiness is experiencing what we would expect to be homesickness, the simple pleasures in life we experience every day is much harder for a male who his fighting on behalf of politics in 1803-1815, the happy warrior is longing for his boyhood. Where every day, rustle and tumble, working and experiencing the fun and freedom every child should experience. Even though his adult-hood will be during up a war-torn decade in England the simple pleasures in life aren’t that far-fetched, you just have to look for them.

The ‘happy warrior’ is very much similar to “The Alchemist” in the context that happiness to be found once more involves a long process of going to places where meaning to life is valued. Santiago is not totally alone as he meets the King of Salem, the Alchemist and later on, he finds his one true love. For the happy warrior, it is home, but his duty is in the way, a reminder of what was once was it what he needs. For Santiago in “the alchemist” it was traveling to a land which he has no connections with, a place where bad or good memories don’t stand. This is because a fresh perspective is wanted. On the other hand, the ‘happy warrior’ wants to rekindle with his home life, he wants to connect with the past. In “Private peaceful” happiness is found when familiar faces are seen through a crowd of strangers. We learn from these situations that all people find an extent in happiness in their own solitude or with the people they love. These written texts show the two extremes which people find the most comfort in. For me, the simplicity of my own solitude is what makes me happy, but too much and I lose grasp of what is front of me, I then lose happiness. For many others, it is the same but with the texts I’ve chosen the book(s) focus on solely one action/ object and many consequences but in a real-life scenario the causes of a little or a lot of happiness come from many different scenarios and over many bad and good days, happiness seems to be never sustained but the written texts show the “Happily ever after“, after years there happiness is deserved and they are forever at peace. 

In Songlines written by Bruce Chatwin is a book written about the “invisible pathways” across the Australian outback. The Songlines are pinpoints throughout the aborigines history and are the paths where tales are shared, songs that were sung and the secrets of the past. Chatwin’s experiences in Australia assist the storytelling of Australia’s spiritual history and the truth behind them. The songlines are a metaphor for the trails of invisible pathways across where the myth of ancient beings singing the land into existence. These songs are handed down, for a person who has learned these songs they are a greater being and will be able to be forever in touch with their ancestors.

Songlines tell a different type of Happiness, the beauty of what was created through the act of storytelling. “Aboriginal Creation Myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who had wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path-birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes- and so singing the world into existence” The totem is a symbol of  a being that is  spiritual, and sacred.  It is a reminder of the beauty that can be tracked, allowing divine happiness to shine through, lighting the world for the natives too Australia. The songlines are like ties between the entire universe and man. If man destroys the environment, the land will become unhappy, then comes the chain of reactions. The crops that man plan become unhappy, the creatures and critters of Australia become unhappy then finally, man becomes unhappy. The quote “To wound Earth is to wound yourself, and if the others wound the earth, they are wounding you” gives an example of how special the land is special to the indigenous. Before the colonization of Australia, the indigenous took very little from earth because they believed that “the less they took, the less they had to give back”, the arrival of Europeans changed that prospect, a new prospect lay in place, man is more important than Earth.

Another aspect is that the songs have a story to tell, it could be an ancestor who lived there, a significant moment in history, and finally as we know it the little things that make up the environment. The footprint of these stories gives a reason for the aboriginals to continue with how they once lived and how they can continue to live that way alongside Europeans who do not have the same customs. The character Arkady is very wise, he is very aware in the history of the Aboriginals, he says that “the aboriginals believed that all living things had been made in secret beneath the earth’s crust, as well as the white man’s gear- his airplanes, his guns, his Toyota Land cruises and every invention that will ever be invented; slumbering below the surface, waiting their turn to be called.”  If we think about what the earth is like today, there are many inventions that give us happiness. Like the invention of glasses, for me to be able to see the world in its true glory makes me filled with joy, for deaf people, it could be the advancement of the technology of the hearing aid which gives an object or person a voice. A more simple thing is the invention of a basketball, the screams of joy of a child scoring a basket or the drive the professional athletes receive when the ball touches the hand and the thump is heard on the floor. These things make people happy. The passage of text quoted describes what the stereotypical objects a European man may have or wants versus what the aboriginals want. It is very much different from each perspective. But one thing is in common, happiness is dreamed into existence from both points of views.

The Songlines is very different from all the other chosen written texts,  it shows a very unusual kind of happiness. ‘The Songlines’ is very culturally aware and very important to Australian heritage but what is most important is the story it has to tell. Even if a book or movie wasn’t written or directed to portray an aspect such as Happiness it still comes through. Songlines has similar perspectives to The Alchemist, both texts have a greater outer world meaning, not the belief of religious gods, but the belief of beings which lead to a bigger, wider world. Both texts have a character who is almighty and wise, in The Alchemist it was King of Salem and in ‘The Songlines‘ it was the untold greater being that sung the earth into existence. Both characters or symbols show are very powerful, strong and very in touch with what the earth/universe is telling us to achieve and throughout the story, they assist discovery of what a living being is searching for. Happiness is found along the way or becomes more aware and active during a journey.

The written texts I’ve chosen, “Private peaceful written by Michael Morpurgo, “the alchemist” written by Paulo Coelho, the “character of the happy warrior” written by William Wordsworth, and lastly, “the songlines” written by, Bruce Chatwin. All show a deep in-touch portrayal of what we believe is happiness and how the characters in these texts learn how they may achieve and deserve such a powerful emotion. Through perseverance and a belief in oneself, we are shown that even the simplicity of actions, happiness can be regained. The reader learns from these texts that all though fictitious some elements speak the truth. For example in “The character of the Happy warrior”  would be very true to the time period it was written in but the poet used the language feature hyperbole and lost the truthfulness of what he was writing. “Private Peaceful” showed themes that many families still today are experiencing, the book proves that the most happiness is gained from the little things in your life. Out of the written texts, “Private Peaceful” showed the most difficulties and over a very long period of time but over that period of time happiness was the most cherished and welcomed.  The Alchemist shows the conquest of the character to find happiness. Santiago did not believe he had or deserved happiness because he hadn’t learned of his destiny but I believe out of all the characters/symbols in the four texts, he showed happiness the most but he also had the most help and support from strangers. The Songlines shows how powerful the will to believe in something so beautiful and simple. For the aboriginals, their happiness was from the idea that the Earth was guiding them and they will never be lost and always able to trace back to their families through the art of singing. I believe that all four written texts show the connection that happiness can be found or re-discovered through an action taken or an object found. 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Yasmin, you have completed a lot of analysis in this assessment thus far, and have made some mature personal judgments and connections about the texts. A few thoughts as you finish this assessment:
    1) Make sure that you clearly connect to your theme for all of the texts: “I have chosen to write about the theme that happiness can be found or re-discovered through an action taken or an object found”.
    2) You can extend on this theme and how it is portrayed in your connections across texts, but keep these connections direct and specific.
    * Your connections between “The Happy Warrior”, “The Alchemist” and “Private Peaceful” are a great example of extending your initial theme clearly and specifically.
    2) Leave some time to edit your ideas so that they are clear and accurate.
    Great work thus far!

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