Prompt: What do these texts suggest about the impact significant events have on an individual’s ability to determine their own destiny?
Text Chosen: Visual
Theme Statement: When an individual who has experienced a significant event, their ability to determine their own destiny is shaped by the influence of others and the actions one chooses to take to reconcile the conflict.
As a child with an innocent and naive nature, I have always thought that my parents arguing was normal. The problems of my family would slide away, blow over as they always did. But as I grew older, the rainy darkness of humanity set into my mind no matter how many times I pushed it away. I wished for it to be gone, be cleansed by my refusal to accept it, hoping that if I just ignored it, it would go away soon. But the rain of calamity dropped continually down, as I did nothing about it. I thought my destiny was simply one of doubt and self-pity.
Maybe if I waited long enough, the rain would disappear.
But of course, ignoring escalated the problem further. My parents had a huge fight again. But I didn’t really know what it was about. As usual, I got dropped off at school, plastered a smile that I wished was real, and I continued to forget, temporarily. Here, the fake sun shone in my mind, and I could worry about a bunch of others things here. I didn’t need to remember the cloudy atmosphere of the house that I wanted to forget. Here, it was a distraction to the rain that clouded my mind and threw me off course. Here, I could sit and do nothing, just like always.
But artificial light eventually runs out, and I was stuck once again in the street of rainy darkness.
When I got home, I was faced with my mother who refused to speak, and my father who was increasingly stressed over work. I knew that something was wrong, despite all of the naivety of my young age. I looked to my sister and brother, tears in their eyes, as I watched them interact silently at the dinner table. Usually dinner meant family time, but with the absence of my mother, no one dared to mention it. I knew she was upstairs, stubbornly not coming down to eat, else she had to face my father. I looked out the window, watching the rain pour down the dark street of my conscience. I knew the rain would eventually stop, but how long would I have to wait for it to disappear? I looked to the sky, where a few rays of sun peeked out of the clouds, and realized that something should be done. Plagued by all the conflict, I resolved myself to thinking that my destiny was simply one that involved my desperate need to please my parents. Self-care was thrown out; only the resolution of their fighting was needed to be thought of. Self-thought was thrown out; only the stability of my parent’s relationship was necessary. The destiny I had chosen was one of service and self-sacrifice. I alone would become the mediator.
Days passed, and my father came to pick me and my sister up from school. It was a Friday, so we decided to eat fast food for lunch. Today though, my father lost his everlasting patience and exploded. How on earth did a child like me respond to his admitting of leaving the world? I cried as I imagined him standing at the end of a crosswalk, with the rain showering down, much like today. I hoped he would never cross the road, because the other side was a place where no one existed. I imagined him watching the people who walked across the road, and I wondered if he would go there too. With this, I imagined the world without him, and I called him a dumb father to his face. Of course, in his angry and frustrated mood, he screamed at me.
At this point, my resolve broke. The decisiveness that I had when I decided to follow the destiny I chose was forgotten. I alone could not become the mediator. I alone was weak. In the moment my hope broke, my sister opened her mouth to speak. I looked at her as she allowed him to yell, knowing that taking the darkness out of him was for the best. Then I realized that I wasn’t so alone in the rain after all. I had a sister that also became a mediator, holding an umbrella to cover us all from the rain. Following her example, I allowed him to shout, despite my tears, because I became aware that there was a chance that a small ray of light would shine through the clouds.
I pulled through with the knowledge I had collected from the world, despite my naivety, and both me and my sister dragged his frame from the cold shadows of the crosswalk and under the protection of an umbrella. Here, under the umbrella, my father returned to his calm, familiar demeanor. He expressed the happiness he felt when he received our hugs and kisses after work. His face turned to a look of pride as he realized that all the good in the world was right beside him. I imagined him as he walked away from the rainy crosswalk and turned his back from it. I watched as the rain slowly dissipated from his mind, content that the dark street was no longer present.
That day was a rainy day ingrained in my memory; dark, and impossible to forget. We, as daughters, have done our best through this dilemma, and although the rain still trickles through the holes in the umbrella, we can always mend them together with the bandages we hold in our hands. I realize now, that my destiny is not one of self-sacrifice and loneliness; it is a destiny that will be shaped by all the events and people around me. I’ll be pulled through the rain, and out into the sun. And although the rain still exists, now, at least, it is no longer a fake smile that envelops both mine and my father’s face.
4 thoughts on “Umbrella Days – Polished Personal”
First of all–great job with this personal!! I know that sometimes I can find them to be a bit daunting, but it looks like you tackled it head-on–great job!!
-Love the title–great work!
-It was evident, even just from reading the title, what elements of your text (in this case, the picture) you were going to weave into your personal. Right from the beginning it clear that you were responding to the visual–very well done.
-I don’t know what it was about this line: “Maybe if I waited long enough, the rain would disappear.”–I just really loved it.
-Good word choice in: “I looked to my sister and brother, tears in their eyes, as I watched them interact silently at the dinner table.”–‘interact was a very good word, because it outlined almost the ‘going-through-the-motions’ kind of thing that one undergoes after having been part of something stressful.
-Loved this sentence: “That day was a rainy day ingrained in my memory; dark, and impossible to forget.”
-Excellent job at weaving the visual throughout your whole piece–it was there the whole way through, and you didn’t forget about it half-way like I sometimes do. It was very clearly there in your entire personal, and I have to commend you for the way you wove it in. VERY GOOD JOB 🙂
To work on:
-Perhaps adopting a more sophisticated tone would enhance your writing further. You have already grown so much, even just in this past semester, and so approaching your writing with poise and refinement would really take your style to the next level. For example, in a sentence like: “But as I grew older, the rainy darkness of humanity set into my mind no matter how many times I pushed it away.”, something that would elevate your style and voice would be to avoid using the overly-dramatic diction like “rainy darkness of humanity”–it makes it read like a cliche and so different wording would clear that up immediately.
-I don’t know that you are immediately addressing the whole prompt–you mention destiny in the beginning, but the ‘significant event’ is not clear right away unless you look for it. Also–theme statement seems a little bit convoluded, and that could be part of the problem–bringing new things like ‘reconciliation’ and ‘influence’ mean that you just have one more thing to address.
-Watch out for those simple grammar mistakes.
-Perhaps changing up the type of sentences you use would enhance style as well–their are not very many complex sentences, so a variation might be something to play around with.
-Some of your sentences don’t make sense: “How on earth did a child like me respond to his admitting of leaving the world?”–There seem to be some loose ends in your writing, like some of the ideas are coming out of nowhere–maybe just picking through your working with a fine tooth comb would tie up these loose ends?
-be careful that you address the whole prompt, and not just what you added to it in your theme statement, and not just one part of it
Overall, great job with this personal response–you have grown so much in the last semester, and I am excited to see where you go in the future.
Awesome feedback, Hope!
Something that I’ve always respected about your writing is your ability to tell us things as they are. Even when you speak through the voices of others, you show us your truth. With every piece you write, the sincerity of your voice is always so present throughout. You have a way of being really genuine, which makes the writing feel so much more personal and intimate. In this personal, you were really able to utilize this in combination with pathos and emotional openness to create a relatable and empowering story.
I really liked how you carried the symbol of the rain throughout the personal – it was ever present, both literally and symbolically – and I felt that you did a good job of weaving it through in a natural way so it didn’t feel overly forced. The connections to the visual were, through the rain, ever-present – good job with that!!
As for things to work on, I think this personal needed to be reworked for significance to the prompt. I understood that the significant event was the turbulence experienced by the family due to the parents’ arguing. But I felt like the story was largely unrelated to this piece of the prompt: ‘an individual’s ability to determine their own destiny.’ You did speak to destiny at one point, but it felt contrived, as if you were searching for a way to make it work in the context of your story instead of creating a story around the prompt itself.
Another thing for you to work on would be clarity – there were lots of times when I was confused about what you were trying to say; in your writing, you sometimes phrase things in such a way that they don’t make sense. This occurred several times throughout the piece, but most importantly it was an issue in your theme statement – this is easily fixed by simply editing your work before you post it. Same thing goes for GUMPS issues.
But I think the most important constructive criticism I have for you has to do with the simplicity of your writing – the simplicity really is beautiful, and I know it’s an important part of your style. But I think you need to elevate your style to accommodate the more insightful and refined voice that I know you’ve been developing over the course of this year in AP. I’ve seen you use this voice in class, but it hasn’t translated into your writing, so that’s something I challenge you to work on. Think about paying closer attention to your diction; typically, your word choices are fairly simple throughout and your vocabulary comes across as being somewhat basic. Considering more diversity in word choice will add more colour to the composition of your story and your voice in writing. Similarly, using more complex syntax will make your writing more interesting. This personal response suffered from being over-simplified, and as much as I find the simplicity of your style refreshing, it needs to be balanced with sophistication as you move forward with your writing.
I have one last suggestion for you – you repeat throughout the personal that our protagonist is innocent and naïve, and that she rises to the challenge of her ‘significant event’ despite these qualities. However, I would offer that a naïve person would not necessarily be as aware of their naivety as this character seems to be. I think as a writer you were trying to emphasize this quality to give the character dimension, but it ultimately it became repetitive, and it was unrealistic that this ‘innocent’ character would be so forcefully self-aware.
I have to say, though, that I really love the title you chose to give to this piece. Like the nature of the character, it is sweet and simple, and I like that it relates both to the visual and to your rain symbolism that you threaded throughout. I also have to say that your personal had a great flow – never did it feel too choppy or anything – and I think that’s because of the way you chose to divide the story into paragraphs that varied in length but were never so short that they felt unfinished or so long that I couldn’t breathe. You tend to be really good with this!
Thanks for an interesting read, Kelley – now I’m off to go comment on your critical, so stay tuned! 🙂
First things first- I really adore both the title and the visuals that you chose! In particular, parallels between the colourful umbrella in contrast to the gray around it, and the umbrella’s ability to shield and protect one from the rain, played perfectly upon the themes woven throughout your personal.
– I love the little golden phrases you scatter throughout the personal; they really add a sense of maturity and empathy to the piece as a whole, which contrasts the childlike narration quite nicely.
– “Their ability to determine their destiny is determined by the influence of others”- good job incorporating your theme statement into your story; you displayed the shifts through the character’s role first as one steeped in self-doubt and pity, to the role of a mediator, to finally the role of an instigator, which really fleshed out the ideas in your theme statement and the development the character faces.
– Your whole story was centered around the visual, which was a smart move because it ensured that you would constantly have to refer back to the visual and make it all connect.
– I’m a little confused regarding the timing of the story. It feels almost as though the character is looking back on this incident after growing up a bit, which would explain the references made to naivety. There might be a bit of discrepancy in the development of the character’s voice; using a more mature voice would allow you to make some insights into the character without it seeming out of place. Also, the theme statement in itself needs to be applied more thoroughly throughout the piece in order to achieve a unifying effect whilst addressing all aspects of the prompt.
– I feel as though a bit of dialogue would have helped add some more coherence to the piece, so that you didn’t have to explain the finer subtleties of the story; instead, the characters would do it for you!
– I think a quick proofread would really elevate the quality of the piece; there are so many amazing ideas here that require just a little refinement!
All in all, Kelley, I really love this personal response. The imagery of it was woven so beautifully throughout, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but this piece felt like a song- a melancholy melody of rain, woven from memories and nostalgia that we have all forgotten to remember. It’s a beautiful reminder of the simplicity in life, and the overwhelming beauty that can be found within. Amazing work!