November 26, 2012

We started Monday’s seminar with an analysis of the music in Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Throughout most of the film, there was little music, making it quite interesting to discuss. Around 1920-1930, George Gershwin composed the opening song, “Rhapsody in Blue.” One of the things Allen wanted to do in Manhattan was pay tribute to the time period of 1930’s Manhattan, featuring classiness and morality. As I discussed in my past blog post, music was used sparingly in the movie. It was used in the opening and closing, when he is running through the city with his son, and in one or two other scenes. Leading up to the ending, as we watch Allen running to catch his love before she leaves, we hear a piece called “Sound up The Band.” As he gets closer, however, the tune changes to a slower, sadder piece, giving a strong emotional subtext. I agree with Allen’s choice to do this. It gives the audience a little bit of a heads up that maybe things might not work out in the end. In addition, that slow final piece also puts emphasis on the final line, “Everyone gets corrupted.” On Wednesday, Professor Diaz is coming into class to give a further analysis of the film.

And now, on to Catcher in the Rye. Everyone had read this book previously in his or her high school career. It is one of my favorites, second to To Kill a Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye is a novel written from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old teenager who has just been expelled from yet another boarding school. Caulfield comes from a very wealthy family. His father is a lawyer and his mother is a doctor. The story is set during a time when everyone strived for “The American Dream” of a family, a house with a white picket fence and a family dog– very cliché. Family life was very much promoted in the media and on television, where, at the end of the show, everyone’s problems were magically resolved. When this book came onto the market, it broke that whole allusion. Even today, people are still fighting to have the book banned due to its content.

The book almost reads like a journal, detailing Caulfield’s every move, what he sees, who he encounters and the conversations that he has with other characters. One of the most notable things about this novel is Caulfield’s excessive use of the word “phony.” Everyone manages to be a “phony” in his eyes, whether it is because of their actions, their opinions, etc. At one point, he even calls his own parent’s “phonies.” Holden chooses to take his teenage uneasiness in this literary form. It is very apparent that Caulfield has no respect for the money or the privilege that he has been afforded– his parents keep sending him from school to school, trying to get him educated so that he can make a successful impact on the world.