Justice is Wrongly Served

After listening to the hit podcast Serial, I have come to the conclusion that Adnan Syed has been wrongfully convicted of his murder charges. They say that you’re innocent until proven guilty, but that was not the case for Adnan.

AdnanSyedMain
Serial’s Adnan Syed seen for the first time

Adnan Syed was found guilty and charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee on February 25, 2000. However, I truly feel that there were many crucial pieces of evidence within the case that were disregarded, and this ignorance led to a possibly innocent man being imprisoned for life.

A major issue I noticed was the lack of reliable sources. Jay Wilds was a close friend of Adnan, but during the trial managed to majorly messed things up for him. There is many inconsistencies in the interviews he gives, including a constantly changing story in relation to phone calls, which was proven to be a lie based on the cell phone records.

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 9.03.50 PM
Cell Phone Call Log

If Jay was unable to tell the truth about the calls that were made, why was there no suspicion that he was not a valid witness? Josh, a character from the 12th episode of Serial, is able to back this up. He says, “Jay sometimes made things up that he didn’t do” (Serial: Season One). Someone who personally knew Jay was able to testify that he is not always truthful, and this is something that can’t be overlooked so easily. Jay pointed all evidence towards Adnan being guilty, but this evidence can not be legitimized when the source is proven to be dishonest.

A major component of my belief in Adnan’s innocence is with his alibi, Asia McClain. Asia was never contacted by Adnan’s lawyers, and therefore was not able to be used as an alibi. However, Asia sent many letters that stated Adnan was in the library at the time the murder was said to have taken place. This is information that could have saved Adnan from a lifetime sentence in prison.

asia-mcclain-letter-typed-1
Real letter to Adnan from Asia

As well, she gave an affidavit in 2015, that gives detailed information on hers and Adnan’s whereabouts on the night of the murder. She swears that she left the school at 2:15, and at 2:30 saw Adnan in the library. She says that she then exited the library at 2:40, and that Adnan was still there when she left. Obviously, if Adnan was still at the library at 2:40, it is impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime during the murder that was said to happen at 2:36 that same day.

asia-mcclain-affidavit-1_0
Affidavit from Asia

All in all, I do not think there was sufficient evidence to label Adnan Syed as a killer. An innocent man is spending his life in prison, for a case that should not have been closed so soon.

Works Cited

“Maps, Documents, etc.” Serial. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.

“Serial: Season One.” Serial. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.

Advertisements

The Alibi

After listening to the first episode of the podcast Serial, narrated by Sarah Koenig, I have become intrigued with the development of this case. It follows the story of Adnan Syed, a high school student accused with the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, another high school student. Lee was found strangled and buried in January of 1999, and Syed was soon after arrested and sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.

Before listening to this podcast, I was skeptical. I am both a visual and kinesthetic learner, and I would generally much rather hold a novel in front of me than have audio to listen to. However, once I adapted to this new medium, I found I really enjoyed listening. The narrator really captured my attention by adding real components of this case such as interviews and phone calls, and I found the case really came to life in my head despite lacking a visual.

 

serial_news.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge
Article heading from February 26, 2000 when the Jury finds Syed guilty

Though I did throughly enjoy listening to this first episode, I naturally have trouble focusing on things being said to me, especially over a long duration of time. I find my mind running off track or daydreaming, which takes away from the full experience of the podcast. However, something I enjoyed that did some mediation of this problem was that my hands were free to take notes or fidget which helped me to concentrate while listening to the audio, which is something that cannot be said for reading a novel.

I think that presenting investigative journalism in this way is generally captivating and effective. As mentioned before, podcasts have the ability to add external sources such as interviews and phone calls that allow the narrator to tell the story more effectively than just words on a paper. These additions made the audio much easier to listen to, as opposed to hearing Koenig’s voice for nearly an hour straight.

A benefit I found with the podcasts, as I mentioned before, is that you can multitask while listening. If there were a set of questions to follow the listening, I would be able to freely take notes without having to set my book down and losing my focus in the text. As well, it is more portable than a novel, as you can just throw headphones on and listen to it wherever you need to go, no matter what you are doing.

Something that I considered was putting myself in the shoes of the victim’s family with the release of this popular series. I think that it would be difficult to listen to, and to have the case brought to question again even after justice has been served. I do however would assume that the narrator had to get permission from the family in order to publish the podcasts. On the other hand, the family of Syed could feel various things depending on the reaction of the audience. If the majority believe he is innocent, they must feel like he has a second chance at proving his conviction was wrongful. But if the majority believe he is guilty, they must feel attacked and under the microscope. Their fate, in that way, is dependant on how the narrator displays the evidence.

serial_3106729b
The accused Adnan Syed (left) and the victim Hae Min Lee (right)

Overall I enjoyed listening to the first episode of Serial, and I am intrigued and ready to listen to the rest of the series.

 

Works Cited

Koenig, Sarah. “Serial: The Alibi.” Thames Valley DSB. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2017.

 

Baby Girl in a Grown-up World

After finishing all of Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill, I have seen protagonist Baby’s life go from bad, to worse. As I have witnessed her journey through adolescence, I have come to find that the feminist literary theory is very prominent throughout the novel.

The way Baby views many of her fellow female characters in the text can be linked to the loss of her mother. Because she had never gotten to know her mother, and undivided attention from Jules was a rare occasion, Baby craved all the attention she could get from adult figures. She thinks to herself, “I’d get excited when grown-ups paid attention to me. It always made me feel special. I didn’t have a mother and my dad wasn’t ever around anymore” (O’Neill 146). She especially desires this attention from female adults, and when she encounters someone who may be able to fill this void where her mother should be, she desperately clings to them. When Jules has to live in the hospital to be treated for tuberculosis, Baby temporarily moves into a foster home, and finds the attention she desires from the caregiver of the home, Isabelle. Right before she is about to return to Jules’ custody, she has second thoughts. She recalls, “Isabelle walked me out, her arm squeezing me to her side. For a second, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted her to let me go. Isabelle was very good about making me not worry about things” (O’Neill 47). During her time in the foster home, she finally has the closest thing she has ever felt to a mother, and she is very reluctant to leave her.

mother-daughter-walking
A daughter looking up at her mother

Baby’s views on her interactions with males shift from the beginning of the storyline to the end. Her timeline with Alphonse really encompasses how she feels about her relationships with men. At the beginning of her interest in love, she was a typical young girl, happy and head over heels. She gushes, “I was a little bit obsessed after that. No one had ever made me feel that wild, unusual way before. I started watching out for Alphonse, trying to bump into him” (O’Neill 162). Through the “honeymoon phase” of her love affair, she is overjoyed with the attention Alphonse gives to her. Later, however, being with a much older man backfires when he begins to pressure her into doing sexual acts with him. After the first time she sleeps with Alphonse she feels awful. She recalls, “I peeled off my clothes and walked to the bathroom naked. I felt as if my insides were cold. I turned on the hot water and stuck my hand under it, waiting to feel warm-blooded again” (O’Neill 210). Though at one point she was thrilled with her budding relationship with Alphonse, she is now feeling very dirty and used, and throughout the remainder at the novel she views other men in the same light.

One of the most prominent ways females are seen in this novel are as sex objects. As mentioned in my previous blog posts, Baby was forced into selling her body for sex at the tender age of thirteen. She was already sleeping with Alphonse on a regular basis, but once he saw her as being “ready” he sent her on her way, offering her a ride home from one of his friends, who in fact turned out to be a random man looking to pay to have sex with her. Slowly feeling less and less like herself, she recalls, “I stank differently. I didn’t smell like myself. I smelled like cigarettes and somebody else’s hands” (O’Neill 222). After a while of this, she has desensitized herself to sex, coming back to the reoccurring theme of losing her childhood innocence. After meeting with another client she says, “I think my body went numb from lack of circulation because I didn’t feel much. Every time I’d had sex before, it had been kind of painful. That time I didn’t feel a thing” (O’Neill 221). Sex is something that is traditionally supposed to be shared between two people that love each other, and Baby is being forced into it at a very young age as a way to make money for Alphonse, who shares minimal amounts of the profits with her.

Prosti
A young prostitute generating business

Women are also confined to gender roles throughout the plot. The are only few women that Baby has been truly exposed to throughout the novel, but all the ones she came across were working women who had jobs that were considered typical of a female in her town. As mentioned earlier, Isabelle is the owner of the foster home that Baby stays in near the beginning of the novel. Isabelle’s job was to provide care for the children as well as maintain the cleanliness of the home, and this demonstrates a woman doing a “traditional” women’s job.

One of the only other women Baby is exposed to is Leelee. When describing Leelee for the first time, Baby says to herself, “It was impossible not to know Leelee if you lived in that neighbourhood. She was skinny, with a big nose and tons of freckles. She was one of those blonde girls who looked as if they’d just been rained on…It was also impossible not to know that she was a prostitute. She would get lazy and try to turn tricks right outside of her building instead of going to the strip. The tenants were always calling nasty things out the window to her” (O’Neill 164). Leelee is another woman who, throughout her time in the novel, is seen as little more than a sexual object to men.

Baby grows up in a town where the women she encounters are viewed in a very sexist manner, and are never seen breaking the “traditional woman” stereotypes. This, combined with the loss of her mother, creates a toxic environment for Baby, which in my opinion is the greatest contributor down her path of self-destruction.

Works Cited

O’Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals: a Novel. HarperCollins, 2006, New York. Print.

A Turn for the Worse

As I have continued my reading of Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill, Baby has lost even more of her dwindling childhood innocence. As her relationship with Jules diminishes, she seeks happiness in other things such as drugs, and her newfound relationship with the local pimp, Alphonse. During this phase of her life I have taken notice to various archetypes in the characters, as well as some symbolic items.

Both Alphonse and Jules represent the trickster archetype throughout the plot. This is someone that uses their knowledge to play tricks and break the rules of common society. Alphonse showers Baby with gifts and affection, something she is not at all used to in her life at home. Despite how this appears to Baby, she is still naive, and Alphonse is using their strengthening “relationship” to convince her to sleep with him. Baby had come to accept this for a while, until Alphonse takes it even a step further, and manipulates her into selling her body to strangers. After her first encounter she notes, “I stank differently. I didn’t smell like myself. I smelled like cigarettes and somebody else’s hands” (O’Neill 222). Baby can feel herself drifting further away from the child she once was, with the help of Alphonse’s trickery.

 

Jules also represents the trickster archetype, but in a different way than Alphonse. Jules heroin addiction is one that continues to get the better of him throughout the plot, even after going to rehabilitation centres. He will consistently bribe Baby to leave the house so he can get high with his rotating crowd of friends. Baby, still being naive, believes this is what is best for Jules, and obeys his wishes. She falls for his bribes continuously and seemingly ignorant to the fact that her father’s drug addiction is increasing in severity by the day.

Another character archetype I observed was Baby as the victim. The victim archetype is represented by the underdogs and the disadvantaged, and typically start with tragic circumstances that they don’t have the tools to process. For Baby, this tragic start began with her mother dying when she was very young, and her teenage father starting on his path towards drug addiction. Because Baby has never had very much affection from Jules, she seeks it from any other person who will give her their attention. However, because she has always lived in run-down areas of town, the people who are giving her the attention she is desperately looking for are addicts, pimps, and other abused children. Her lack of strong relationships leaves her alone more often than not. After getting in a large fight with Jules, she has only herself to turn to for comfort. She says, “I felt so sorry for myself that I hugged myself like a baby. ‘It’s okay. It’s okay sweetie,’ I whispered to myself until I felt better” (O’Neill 157).

1282398_orig
Representation of the Victim Archetype

A symbolic item that I took note of is the rag doll that was given to Baby by her mother before she was born. This doll is the only thing she has to remember her mother by, and she treasures it quite dearly. She explains, “The doll also made me feel sweet inside, too, because it made me feel that at some point, even before I existed, I had been loved” (O’Neill 97-98). As well, this doll in its worn-down state represents the childhood innocence that Baby is still holding on to by a thin thread. It is falling apart in many aspects, but is still surviving, just as Baby is.

Rag_doll_3
“Beth Parson’s Toy”

Another symbol that this doll represents is Baby’s relationship with Jules. The doll starts out tattered and falling apart, but she still loved it, similar to how she loved Jules despite all the rough patches in their relationship. But later in the novel, Baby comes home to find Jules has completely torn apart her doll leaving its remains all over her floor. Suddenly, something that she had loved so dearly made her sad to look at. She recalls sadly, “I’d never get another one. Jules never thought to buy me pretty things like that. That doll had been like a miracle to me. It had reminded me that I’d been loved by a mother. Now I was a nothing, a real nobody” (O’Neill, 119). This represents the beginning of the downfall of her relationship with Jules, as they slowly begin to communicate less and less until their father-daughter relationship is near completely broken.

Baby’s life is currently on a downhill slope, and though it is not looking too promising, I would love to see her pick herself up and out of it.

Works Cited

O’Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals: a Novel. HarperCollins, 2006, New York. Print.

 

 

Lullabies for Baby

The novel I have chosen to read for my culminating task is Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill. This plot follows the challenging life of Baby, a lanky thirteen year old girl who lives with Jules, her young father. Jules is a heroin addict, and the pair live in a run-down apartment in a small Montreal town. Baby’s mother passed away when she was very young, so she has no recollection of her, but Jules manages to change the topic whenever she brings it up. Jules is in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, which often leaves Baby alone to figure out the world for herself. However, she is naive and tries to make the best of her situation, truly believing that it is best for Jules when he is on heroin, to keep him happier.

I have greatly enjoyed this novel so far. The author incorporates a good deal of emotion in to her writing that makes me want to keep reading, as well as uses Baby’s childhood innocence to leave room for the reader to make inferences about details of her life.

fce652cc2449c992cf871448a4c556b6
The cover of “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by Heather O’Neill

The plot and setting of the novel is realistic, and I have been able to connect to many of the things Baby speaks of to scenarios in my life that I have either witnessed or personally experienced. For example, Baby lost her mother when she was very young. This is a situation that I have witnessed multiple times, within my own family and friends, as well as in other novels or shows. This reminds me of another novel I have read, “Room” by Emma Donoghue, where a young boy named Jack is raised in a singular room by his mother. He has never seen the outside world, and this makes me think of Baby’s situation, being raised by just Jules, and not experiencing many things outside of her own apartment building.

9691607._UY200_
The cover of “Room” by Emma Donoghue

O’Neill uses the emotion in her writing to demonstrate how even though Baby does not know her mother, she misses her. For example, she says, “I put the conch up to my ear, as I often did. Sometimes I didn’t hear the sound of the beach at all. Sometimes I was sure that I could hear the sound of my mother laughing” (O’Neill 59). The way the author writes allows the reader to really imagine how Baby must be feeling in that moment, as well as possibly connect to a situation in their own lives.

Jules’ substance abuse problems began shortly after Baby’s mother died. This is another thing I was able to make a connection to, as I have observed many people in my own life and in other novels deal with tragedy in various ways, including with the use of drugs and alcohol. “A Million Little Pieces”by James Frey is a novel that I read that I can connect to this. It goes in depth on exactly how substance abuse affects a person, and gives me a better understanding of what Jules is going through.

A_Million_Little_Pieces
The cover of “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey

However, Baby does not view Jules’ use of drugs as an issue, but rather as something that keeps them both happy. She explains, “When he was stoned, he was honest. I love it when he told me secrets” (O’Neill 18). Because Baby still holds her childhood innocence, she blissfully ignores the major problems of drug addiction, and focuses on what she sees as the positive side: Jules is happier, and their father-daughter relationship is seemingly stronger. She does not have a true parent-figure, so she clings to each little moment she can get with her stoned father.

Another thing I have noticed about O’Neill’s writing throughout this novel is that it is very descriptive, and allows me to really visualize what is being seen or felt. For example, Baby describes “I closed my eyes and the roof was gone. I could see the stars while the piano tinkled. I could see Jupiter and it was blue, and Neptune was silver like a tennis ball sprayed silver. I could reach out and touch it, like cold water” (O’Neill 87). Here the author uses similes as well as detailed description to paint a picture of what Baby is seeing.

About halfway through the section I read, Jules is sent to another rehabilitation centre, and Baby is sent to live with in a foster home. This is where she meets Felix. I believe that O’Neill included Felix to give Baby a companion, and someone she can relate to. Felix struggles with many of the same things as Baby, such as lack of a strong parental figure. They quickly become close friends, and he helps her discuss things that she could not talk about with Jules, such as her mother’s passing. Felix makes Baby feel like she is not truly alone.

The plot line throughout this novel has been intriguing, but it seems to be building up to something bigger. I predict that a major event is going to occur within the next section of the book that I read, that will change Baby’s life drastically. I would like to see her quality of life improve, and possibly find a new companion now that she is not living with Felix anymore.

Works Cited

O’Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals: a Novel. HarperCollins, 2006, New York. Print.

English Class: Laying the foundation for a successful future

Should grade 12 university level English be a mandatory prerequisite to post-secondary education? It is a prerequisite to be admitted into nearly every university or college program, and this poses the question, why? If I’m not going to get a degree in English, why bother taking it all the way through high school?

books-1050x750
N.d. The Brownian Motion. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Personally, I consistently find myself struggling in English class from year to year, finding it very subjective, and specific to the teacher you have. After struggling for an entire semester to finally establish a style of writing deserving of an A from your teacher, the course has come to an end and a new teacher, with new likes and dislikes, awaits you the following year. There is no concise right (or wrong) answer, and no matter how intelligent the student, everyone struggles to achieve high marks. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Despite this, I do truly believe university level English should be mandatory prerequisite to post-secondary education, regardless of what career path you are choosing to pursue.

Here’s why.

The main goal of college and university as a whole is to prepare you for the workplace and everyday life once your educational career has come to an end. Now, when I think about English, the first thing that pops into my mind is essay writing. But when taking a deeper look, the course is important for much more than just learning to write essays (not to discredit the essay writing skills – countless graduate programs require essays to be written throughout their duration, not to mention an essay to even be accepted). But apart from writing essays, when you leave grade 12 university level English you leave with proper spelling and grammar, critical thinking and analysis skills, an increased vocabulary, and overall improved communication skills. When I try to brainstorm a career path that wouldn’t require the use of at least one of these skills on a daily basis, not a single one comes to mind. If two applicants have identical qualifications but one has more refined communication skills, it is obvious which the employer will select.

When you take a step back and consider all the skills taught in grade 12 university level English that can be applied to everyday communication, I believe it becomes evident as to why it should be a mandatory prerequisite for every university program.