The Authors Sedgwick, Gould, and Otto

The Authors Sedgwick, Gould, and Otto

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Sedgwick's Hope Leslie, Gould's Dinosaur in a Haystack, and Otto's How To Make an American Quilt



The authors Sedgwick, Gould, and Otto use structure in their books to get their points across. Sedgwick, author of Hope Leslie, divides her novel into two parts and chapters. Gould, author of Dinosaur in a Haystack, uses his book to present specific, autonomous essays and state his own views through literary snobbery. Otto, author of How To Make an American Quilt, divides her chapters up by first presenting instructions on how to make a quilt and then a story of one of the ladies of the quilting circle. Each book is structured by division of chapters and individual ideas of characters/essays. Although each author has specific moral ideas, each presents his/her ideas to the reader for the him to analyze for himself. Without this insight into the author's mind, one would not be able to relate to what the author writes about, even in some small way.

Through this insight, each author guides the reader in how to think and feel. Sedgwick writes about feelings of love and honor. She describes in her own way what each character believes and how they will respond to changing variables. Gould writes to inform readers about his beliefs. He expresses through "logic and science" how his theories are correct. Otto writes about a quilting circle in a small town, where each individual has an existence comprised of a whole. Telling each feeling that every character has gives the reader a sense of oneness, of openness towards these characters. By writing about these thoughts and feelings, the reader is provided not only with insight into the characters but also insight about the way the author views society.

By expressing their views in each book, the authors compel readers to delve deeper into one's soul, to evaluate each part of it. What each author does in his/her own unique way is point out the flaws of society he/she sees and wants to fix. Sedgwick wants the opinion that females have to marry to be reevaluated and also past events researched to discover what happened in the past (ancestry). Otto wants people to learn from past mistakes, because "life is too short to make your own." Gould wants people to be logical and scientific about everything:


They [creationists] claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science.

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. . . We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but highly probable indication of evolution’s basic truth. (pg. 409)

He also wants people to believe their eyes and understand with their brains, to abandon emotions.

Show one an emotion, and one has a debate. Gould and I do not agree on several topics, but he opened my eyes to some information I did not have before. Thus my half of the debate against evolution is more informed now than it was before I read Dinosaur in a Haystack. Sedgwick shows this also with the difference in the telling of the Indian war. Digby tells the horror of the "savage Indians," while Magawisca relates the monstrous atrocity with which the white men fought to kill her people. Otto presents this emotion/debate theory through the lives of all the women in the quilting circle. When Hy's husband dies, she requires the physical touch of a man. Glady Joe's husband Arthur is the only one she can find for this companionship. Hy's emotions lead to a division between the sisters. The debate is over the broken pieces of stuff Glady Joe uses to decorate her house with, the result of her emotion (anger). Glady Joe and Hy constantly argue about whether or not these emblems should be removed from the house. Thus both sisters’ emotions cause a bridge to be formed and emotions to clash.

Even in the world today, emotions mix or clash causing a debate. Roy Barnes and Guy Millner represent this well. People are one of three things in politics: 1) ardent Democrats, 2) ardent Republicans, or 3) ardent not to express an opinion. One could argue that the governor’s race was solely political, but anyone who watched the debates could see that image and experience was at the heart of each debate. Barnes has more authority over Millner. The structure of Barnes’s campaign was more what the people wanted to hear and more informed than Millner’s was. The people of Georgia recognized this and voted for Barnes. Structure and authority play a major part in debates. These structures will either raise Cain or sooth lions. The key to any debate is to structure it so that emotions are raised and people respond well towards either the topic or the person.

Authors must do the same with the structure of their novels, essays, and such. By presenting an opinion, an author relates both sides, maybe not equally, but both sides are presented. In Hope Leslie, this is shown by the setting up of foils. Master Cradock and Jennett are evident examples of this dramatic foil. Though Master Cradock dotes and adores Hope Leslie, Jennett despises and reproaches Hope for her conduct. Even when Jennett tries to be nice and sweet in front of her employers, the reader sees that that she is really mean and harsh. Master Cradock is seen more than Jennett because Sedgwick prefers her heroine in a more majestic lighting. Both views of Hope’s behavior are expressed throughout the novel, but the one Sedgwick wants the reader to remember is Master Cradock’s. Through this opinion, Sedgwick can sway the reader in the direction she wants to go.

Much like politicians, it is a job requirement of authors to persuade their audience. By debating, inciting an emotion, and structuring their opinions, authors have the ability to say their say, let the reader think about it, and also inspire the reader to ponder what he/she thinks about what the author has just stated. This is the job of a writer: to say something he believes and let the reader determine it for himself. How a writer does this and how well he presents it through his structure gives the reader either a sense of relief or a sense of fear.
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