Text: Wolfe, G. (2006). Look!: body language in art. London, England: Frances Lincoln Limited.
Text type: Informational Children’s Book
Synopsis: This book focuses on 18 different artworks from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol, examining how artists use body language to communicate within their artworks. The author focuses on examining how faces, hands, and bodies, overall, deliver messages and tell stories to show how a person or character is feeling or what they may be thinking. This text illustrates how classical art can relate to contemporary times by recognizing universal ways to communicate nonverbally.
Analysis: This book will challenge its readers to evaluate how communication can be delivered through art and through body language by asking thought-provoking questions such as “What do you think will happen next?” and “How would their lives have been different?” Activities are offered to encourage readers to further their exploration of body language in art. For even further research, biographical information is given about each artist within the book as well as where to find the original paintings shown in the text. This book will allow students to improve their literacy and thinking skills while allowing them to explore a new perspective in communicating within art.
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“Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance Man” by Dan Danko
Text: Danko, D. (2012). Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance man. New Delhi, India: Campfire Graphic Novels.
Text type: Graphic Novel
Synopsis: This graphic novel illustrates the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, a Renaissance man who was most famous for his paintings as he experimented with media, his inventions as he tried to revolutionize technology, and his writings as he documented his thoughts throughout his life within many journals and sketchbooks. Focusing on the mystery of the stolen masterpiece, The Mona Lisa, this novel illustrates da Vinci’s life and his impact on the art world today. The reader is given the chance to view da Vinci’s complicated life without missing any details while also following the recovery of the missing painting.
Analysis: This graphic novel is an excellent resource to use in the art classroom, but may be better suited for high school students as it contains dense text and rigorous vocabulary. The storyline of da Vinci’s life is complex and detailed and does not contain any inappropriate or profane material. This text will help introduce or reinforce vocabulary while improving students’ literacy skills as they follow the complex story. It will help demonstrate how Leonardo da Vinci influenced many different subject areas including science, art, aviation, and design by illustrating his inventions, artworks, sketches, and ideas. He also influenced the way that humans view the human body through his incredibly detailed studies of muscles, bones, and skin. This text will allow students to understand more about one of the most influential artists of all time while enjoying a graphic novel that will also help them within their studies of art and design.
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“Then draw to Nature. Then try, like some first human being, to say what you see and experience and love and lose.” Letter One, 16
Born in 1875, the great Germanlyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle of Rilke’s life that shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote them.
“For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.” Letter One, 17
“After all this it is not hard to understand how I determined in that very hour to send my poetic attempts to Rainer Maria Rilke and to ask him for his opinion. Not yet twenty and close on the threshold of a profession which I felt to be entirely contrary to my inclinations, I hoped to find understanding, if in any one, in the poet who had written Mir zur Feier. And without having intended to do so at all, I found myself writing a covering letter in which I unreservedly laid bare my heart as never before and never since to any second human being.” -Franz Xaver Kappus, Berlin, June 1929, Introduction, 12
“If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you…” Letter Four, 27
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“Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth” by Craig Childs
“The sixth mass extinction is well under way. Numbers of lost and declining species are rapidly rising with no end in sight. Some researchers offer outside estimates that as many as half of all remaining species may disappear within the next century.” xvi
The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. Apocalyptic Planet is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving toward its end and how we can change our place within the cycles and episodes that rule it.
In this riveting narrative, categorized in the nature category, Childs makes clear that ours is not a stable planet, that it is prone to sudden, violent natural disasters and extremes of climate. Alternate futures, many not so pretty, are constantly waiting in the wings. Childs refutes the idea of an apocalyptic end to the earth and finds clues to its more inevitable end in some of the most physically challenging places on the globe. He travels from the deserts of Chile, the driest in the world, to the genetic wasteland of central Iowa to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, uncovering the micro-cataclysms that predict the macro: forthcoming ice ages, super-volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles. Childs delivers a sensual feast in his descriptions of the natural world and a bounty of unequivocal science that provides us with an unprecedented understanding of our future.
“The word ‘apocalypse’ from the Greek apokalypsis, originally referred to the lifting of a veil or a revelation. The common definition as a destructive worldwide event is more recent. In this book, it is both.”
“A friend had been traveling in Nigeria, and he came back telling me that one year you’re taking pictures of laughing children and the next you go back and most of those children have died.” 10
Craig Childs is a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. Awards he has won include the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, the Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, and, for his body of work, the 2003 Spirit of the West Award.
“I asked how they found his body, faceup or facedown. Faceup, they said, which was somehow a relief to me. He had not fallen over helpless. He had stopped to rest, chosen the place with what was left of his mind.” 11
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“Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution” by Jennifer Cockrall-King
A global movement to take back our food is growing. The future of farming is in our hands-and in our cities.
“Every minute in the United States, over an acre of agricultural land is lost to commercial and residential development.” 144
“The idea to write a book about urban agriculture-the practice of producing and distributing food right in cities-felt like it came looking for me as much as I went looking for it.
As a food writer with a serious passion for gardening, I had long been in the habit of stopping to talk with anyone watering a few pots of rosemary and basil, for instance, on the patio. (Several minutes later, we’d still be trading stories about what interesting edibles could be grown with the right amount of obsessive coddling.) But about five yeras ago, I started noticing more tomatoes and cucumber vines twisting around condo balcony railings where previously there had only been the usual flowerpot standards of geraniums and lobelia. Then a few maverick homeowners began ripping up their front lawns and replacing them with tidy rows of pole beans, peas, and carrots. Other urbanites were not so subtly defying city bylaws and keeping chickens and beehives in backyards. Finally, it was impossible to ignore how community gardens continued to mushroom in size and quantity, not just in my hometown, but in other cities I visited.” -Introduction, 9
“We weren’t gardening. We were growing food!” 151
Jennifer Cockrall-King is an award-winning food journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Post, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, and other major publications. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, where she founded and runs the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop.
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Writing timeless essays that capture vanished worlds and elusive perceptions, Stephen Harrigan is emerging as a national voice with an ever-expanding circle of enthusiastic readers. For those who have already experienced the pleasures of his writing-and especially for those who haven’t-Comanche Midnight collects fifteen pieces that originally appeared in the pages of Texas Monthly, Travel Holiday, and Audubon magazines and is categorized in General Interest, Travel, Southwestern Studies, and Essays.
The world’s Harrigan describes in these essays may be vanishing, but his writing invests them with an enduring reality. He ranges over topics from the past glories and modern-day travails of America‘s most legendary Indian tribe to the poisoning of Austin’s beloved Treaty Oak, from the return-to-the-past realism of the movie set of Lonesome Dove to the intimate, off-season languor of Monte Carlo.
If the personal essay can be described as journalism about that which is timeless, then Stephen Harrigan is a reporter of people, events, and places that will be as newsworthy years from now as they are today. Read Comanche Midnight and see if you don’t agree.
A former senior editor of Texas Monthly magazine, Stephen Harrigan writes full-time from his home in Austin.
“In assembling a book like this one, there is a natural tendency for the writer to think of it hopefully as more than the sum of its parts, as a solid coherent statement rather than a scattershot collection. I’ve tried not to saddle Comanche Midnight with aspirations it cannot fulfill, but on the other hand I don’t believe that the components of this book came together by accident. For every piece I’ve included, there are two or three others that are still mouldering in the lost-magazine graveyard. Some of them don’t deserve to be resurrected, and in fact it would pain me to think anybody would ever read them again. Others, though, are pretty good. I left them out because, in some vague way, they didn’t belong. There is no great theme to this book that I can decipher, but it seems to me that all the pieces at least share the same frequency. They address my old preoccupations with worlds that have vanished, communication that is sealed off, perceptions that are out of reach. There is an air of mystery about them, and it is that mystery that finally emboldens me to think of them as true essays. They are a record not just of certain events and people and places, but of the mind that witnessed them, and that is still trying to grasp what it beheld.” -Introduction, xi
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Janisse Ray grew up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, hidden from Florida-bound travelers by the hedge at the edge of the road and by hulks of old cars, stacks of blown-out tires, and primeval jumbles of rusted metal. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, published by Milkweed Editions, The World as Home, tells how a childhood spent in rural isolation grew into a passion to save the almost vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South.
This book categorized as a nature memoir includes photos from Ray’s life, each with their own caption.
Janisse Ray was born in 1962 and is a native of the coastal plains of southern Georgia. Naming the Unseen, her chapbook of poetry about biology and place, won the 1996 Merriam-Frontier Award from the University of Montana, where Ray earned an MFA in creative writing in 1997. A naturalist and environmental activist, Janisse has published essays and poems in such newspapers and magazines as Wild Earth, Hope, Tallahassee Democrat, Missoula Independent, Orion, Florida Wildlife, and Georgia Wildlife, among others. She lives on a family farm in Baxley with her son.
The World As Home, the nonfiction publishing program of Milkweed Editions, is dedicated to exploring our relationship to the natural world. Not espousing any particular environmentalist or political agenda, these books are a forum for distinctive literary writing that not only alerts the reader to vital issues but offers personal testimonies to living harmoniously with other species in urban, rural, and wilderness communities.
Milkweed Editions publishes with the intention of making a humane impact on society, in the belief that literature is a transformative art uniquely able to convey the essential experiences of the human heart and spirit. To that end, Milkweed publishes distinctive voices of literary merit in handsomely designed, visually dynamic books, exploring the ethical, cultural, and esthetic issues that free societies need continually to address. Milkweed Editions is a not-for-profit press.
“We have to set to the task of repairing the damage done by and to us.” 103
Child of Pine
Below the Fall Line
Built by Fire
Heaven on Earth
How the Heart Opens
Driving and Singing
The Kindest Cut
Afterword: Promised Land
There Is a Miracle for You If You Keep Holding On
“By day the sun, close in a paper sky, laps moisture from the land, the gives it back, always an exchange.” 3
“Words rise out of the country.”
-Iain Crichton Smith
“There’s just as many fish swimming in the ocean today
luscious and beautiful in every way
than have ever sputtered and spewed in the saucepans of yesterday.
“Don’t take more on your heart than you can shake off on your heels.”
-Walter Lynn Woodard “Pun”
“Through the acres of wrecks she came
With a wrench in her hand,
“Through dust where the blacksnake dies
Of boredom, and the beetle knows
The compost has no more life.”
-James Dickey, “Cherrylog Road”
“The landscape that I was born to, that owns my body: the uplands and lowlands of southern Georgia.” 13
Of what use to humanity, is a man who cannot see beyond his own hurt? 64
What is entity? 109
Where are the eastern bluebirds, winter chickadees, yellow-rumped warblers, white-eyed vireos? 268
Where are tree swallows and savanna sparrows? 268
Where is yellow colic root and swamp coreopsis? 268
Where is bird’s-foot-violet and blue-eyed grass? 268
Where are meadowlarks? 268
What happened to the cougar and the red wolf? 268
Eighty to 95 percent of the metals of vehicles of that era are recyclable, but what do you do with the gas tanks? 268
What about heavy metal accumulations in the soil, lead contamination, battery acid leaks, the veins of spilled oil and gasoline? 268
The topsoil would have to be scraped away: where would it go? 268
What about the rubber, plastic, and broken glass? 268
Would we haul it all to the county dump? 268
Where would we find all the replacement parts for this piece of wasted earth? 268
Might they not come, slowly, very slowly? 268
Winner of the Southeastern Booksellers Association Book Award for Nonfiction
“The forests of the Southeast find their Rachel Carson.”
–New York Times
“Janisse Ray knows that her region’s story and her own story are inseparable; in many ways they are the same story. To tell that story as well as she tells it here is at once to show what has gone wrong and to light the way ahead. This book, clearly, is only a beginning. It is well done and very moving.”
“[Ray’s] tale of growing up poor and white in backwoods Georgia is suffused with the same history-haunted sense of loss that imprints so much of the South and its literature. What sets Ecology of a Cracker Childhood apart is the ambitious and arresting mission implied in it’s title….Heartfelt and refreshing”
-Tony Horowitz, New York Times Book Review
“In this time of unparalleled cynicism, any writer capable of imagining Paradise rebuilt on the ruins of a junkyard ought to command our attention, if not our humble gratitude.”
–Phillip Connors, Newsday
“Ray has given us a gift with Ecology of a Cracker Childhood….This is like the best of Annie Dillard and Dorothy Allison combined.”
–Boulder Weekly (Great Books of 1999)
“A child grows up poor in a junkyard in Baxley, Ga., and writes a terrific book about her life, her family, and the ecology of the longleaf pines.”
–Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)
“The South’s Rachel Carson….Her voice needs to be heard.”
–Greensboro News & Record
“This is no ordinary book that fits into an easily defined category….Ecology of a Cracker Childhood deserves to be out on the main shelves of any bookstore.”
“A tellingly honest tale of a girl who has grown up, against all odds, to become not only a lover of nature, but a spokeswoman for her place of origin and her ‘Craker’ kin.”
-Thomas Rain Crowe, Rain Taxi
“Every page of her book is equally vivid, whether she’s describing the South Georgia junkyard where she grew up or the longleaf pine forests of today.”
-Sharon Rauch, Tallahassee Democrat
“A hauntingly beautiful work that explores the themes of loss and the redemption to be had through connection to family, culture, and nature. Seamlessly weaving memories of her poverty-stricken childhood with musings about the destruction of the longleaf pine forests that once blanketed Georgia, Ray creates a tapestry of the landscape she carries ‘inside like an ache.’ She deftly spins the connections, offering what she’s learned: That her personal story is inseparable from the story of her land.”
–Charleston Post and Courier
“In Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, you can open any page and out will fall words like pressed flowers and autumn leaves, vivid souvenirs of joy and loss.”
-Glenda Burnside, Bloomsbury Review
“She writes poignantly and movingly about herself and her colorful kin, and equally so about the red cockaded woodpecker, the gopher tortoise, the indigo snake and the flatwoods salamander. In the over-tilled fields of memoir and nature writing, Ray has conjured a joyous green shoot of a book.”
-Michael Swindle, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Ray’s descriptions of the idyllic forests capture their beauty….The stories are enthralling.”
“More than her passion for the wilderness, her activism or her outrage, it is her capacity for wonder that wins us to her fervent environmentalism-a capacity born and bred, ironically, not in the college biology lab or the naturalist’s notebook but in the brier patch of a junkyard adrift with car guts, old lawn mowers, broken glass.”
-Amy Godine, Orion
“Ray’s redemptive story of an impoverished childhood brings to mind the novels of Dorothy Allison and the nature writing of Amy Blackmarr, but the stunning voice and vision are hers alone.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Every endangered ecosystem should have such an eloquent spokesman.”
“One theme of this smart book hit me particularly hard: there are no wastelands on this planet, only places that could regain some of the balance and beauty that lies not so far in their past.”
“What impresses me most about this astonishing book is the seamless interweaving of personal memoir and natural history-an interweaving the more remarkable in view of the jolting differences between the junkyard of the author’s childhood and what is left of the natural landscape of her beloved south Georgia.”
-Jim Kilgo, author of Deep Enough for Ivorybills
“Janisse Ray is a role model for countless future rural writers to come.”
“Vivid….In Janisse Ray, the region has found a worthy and eloquent advocate.”
-E: The Environmental Magazine
You can find several videos of Janisse Ray speaking in formal settings on YouTube, but I enjoy the casual setting as she reads from her book in the forest from this video:
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“The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places” by Gary Paul Nabhan Stephen Trimble, Introduction by Rober Coles
The Geography of Childhoood is a collection of essays written by conservation biologists and seasoned naturalists, Nabham, and Trimble. These essays explore the needs of children to experience nature firsthand and deliver surprising statistics, such as the fact that more than half of American children get their environmental information from the media. Included in the book are childhood experiences of the authors and their own personal experiences with their own children. They describe how their own children react to the world of nature and look at cultures that are closely tied to nature. This book is an interesting read, especially for those who live or work with children. It can also bring about questions about your own childhood experiences with nature. Many of these questions will remain unanswered.
This book, categorized in psychology and nature, also includes photographs that were taken by Stephen Trimble. The photographs are speckled throughout the book, generally appearing on each cover page of each new chapter. The photographs generally feature children in nature and show their joyful expressions and contemplative statures. These photographs only enhance the inner message of the book.
Personally, I enjoyed this book as it brought up many interesting thoughts about children and their experiences with nature. I found myself underlining and highlighting as I read and contemplating over what I had just read. Many questions were brought up that I enjoyed thinking over. I enjoyed the scientific research and statistics that this book provided and was intrigued with Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble’s findings. As a future educator, I was very interested on their thoughts on public education and how formal education is often thought to be more valuable than personal experience. As a future educator and possible parent someday, I hope to implement some of what I’ve learned from this book in my teaching and parenting styles. Children need nature in their lives and I hope to preserve that belief.
“Simply put, we are concerned about how few children now grow up incorporating plants, animals, and places into their sense of home.”
Nabhan and Trimble, xi
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People are raised to harbor a natural thirst for power and control and develop a strong sense to protect that authority and preserve their ways of life. With these internal motives and desires, southerners of the newly-formed United States of America were comfortable with the power established within the patriarch and unwillingly to surrender their newfound independence, freedom, and supremacy after breaking ties with Great Britain and signing the Declaration of Independence. Although declaring that all men were created equal and were endowed with unalienable rights, including “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” racism flourished among the antebellum south, and slavery became a part of the white American Dream. As illustrated through Melton A. McLaurin’s biography, Celia, A Slave, “slavery was an institution fundamental to the existence of southern society, a permanent part of the southern way of life” (18.) Through Celia’s eyes, one is enabled a unique view of the hidden secrets and conflicts of slavery that empowered white males and conserved the power of the master.
An ordinary slave, Celia was purchased in 1850 at the age of fourteen by Robert Newsom, a successful, sixty-year old farmer living within Callaway County, Missouri. Although instructed to cook and help his daughters with the daily household operations, Celia’s primary purpose was not to lighten the housework, however. Having been a widower for nearly a year, Newsom required a sexual partner and had deliberately purchased Celia in order to fill that role, just as one of every five female slaves was expected to. For the next five years, Celia would endure continuous sexual exploitation and abuse and even give birth to two of Newsom’s children. While pregnant with a third child, however, Celia’s ordinary slave life would no longer remain common and unnoticed, but enter history through dramatic trials within court.
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Through the innocent act of blackberry picking, Seamus Heaney tells of an experience that creates a deeper understanding. Throughout his poem, Blackberry Picking, Heaney manipulates language to not only convey a literal description, but also bring about philosophical thought. Hidden within allusions, similies, rhymes, and personification, his complex ideas emerge.
Opening the poem with strong imagery, Heaney describes a scene in late August. Using colors, he identifies and describes the ripening blackberries and uses a rhyme to compare the first one, “a glossy purple clot” (Line 3) to its later siblings, “red, green, hard as a knot.” (Line 4) This rhyming imagery also contains a simile that allows the reader to better understand his meanings. His use of simile continues when he uses second person to involve the reader in tasting the sweetness of the berry “like the thickened wine.” (Line 6) This involvement greatly enhances the reader’s comprehension and includes him in the poem, allowing him to experience the events himself. This creates a greater connection between the reader and the poem and makes Heaney’s imagery more lively.
When describing nature, Heaney then personifies summer, allowing it to bleed the sweet blackberry juice into the reader’s mouth demonstrating the importance of the berries and their strong ties with summer. Heaney even involves himself in the poem, introducing his own thoughts and ideas and sharing the experience with the reader. From his firsthand involvement, Heaney can create another simile expressing the top big dark blobs burning “like a plate of eyes.” (Line 15)
With a final allusion, Heaney ends his first stanza, ending the cheerful and innocent act of picking blackberries with an ironic connection. With “palms sticky as Bluebeard’s” Heaney alludes that his hands are covered in summer’s blood as the fairy tale character’s hands were covered with his wife’s blood. This pessimistic line foreshadows the following stanza.
Greeted with striking juice and fermented fruit, Heaney finds an unfortunate ending to his innocent act. Ending his poem with a rhyme, Heaney helps emphasize his poem’s deeper meaning. “The lovely canfuls smelt of rot. Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.” (Lines 23-24)
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Caught in a dystopian world, John the Savage struggles with two conflicting forces that illuminates the meaning of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as a whole. Taken from his primal, native home and placed in an entirely different society, John battles with the desire to fit in and become uniform and his drive to remain true to his motives and ethics and not lose his unique spirit. Demonstrating the conflict that arises from a controlled society, John emphasizes the novel’s purpose and meaning. When faced with foreign opposition, one seeks acceptance, yet clings to the attributes that make him different.
Raised in a different society, John develops different ideals, ethics, and morals from the brave new world he later discovers. He takes pride in his character and does not wish to change who he has become.
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Filled with pride and driven with the false assumptions that the world should be “cleansed,” becoming one unified culture lacking difference and unfamiliarity, imperialists tend to impose their ideas upon others. Often believing their own cultures to be superior, Englishmen have become known for imperialism, and Americans are now infamous for spreading their ways across the globe. With fears of imperialism rising in India, history and media continue to spread messages of concern. From the acts of Gandhi, to the movie, Bride and Prejudice, based off of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, imperialism remains the enemy.
True to their culture, Indians become defensive against imperialism, each in his own individual way. Famous for his nonviolent rebellions and ways of life, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became and Indian leader, defying imposed ideas and spreading his knowledge, wisdom, and peaceful ways. “In the end, you will walk out. Because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate,” he remarked. Sharing these ideas, Lalita Bakshi from the film, Bride and Prejudice, rejected Mr. Darcy, the American businessman. Upset with the American businesses encroaching on India and converting the country from its true Indian roots into an American paradise, Lalita shares her opinions with Mr. Darcy and refuses him from sheer prejudice. Both feeling helplessly attacked, Gandhi and Lalita retaliate against their foreign enemies and eventually succeed.
Upset with the careless ignorance of the Englishmen and the Americans, Indians try to cry out. Against imperialism and frustrated with the changes imposed upon them, Indians create groups and rebel, or create movies and share their opinions. By taking a familiar English book and twisting it to show our faults, the message against imperialism was clearly delivered. With a firm belief and true loyalty to their country, Indians support Lalita’s message about standards, “Don’t force them on others.”
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