Did You Get What You Came For?

Did You Get What You Came For?

When I first got to Lenoir-Rhyne University the one class I was not happy about starting, was English. Coming up through high school, English was always my worst subject. I could never stay focused in class or be engaged, because it was boring to me, I never liked to read and I was not the best when it came to writing. I have always been a good student and always had good grades, even in English, but when it was time for English class I dreaded it. But, as soon as I stepped on campus I could immediately feel the difference, it was not high school anymore and it was time for me to step up and become a better student.  

But, for me, my first English class as a freshman in college would not begin until my spring semester. For me, I knew from the start that I needed to become a better writer. I had always been good when it came to knowing what you were going to write about and how to put it into words, but I had never been good with the grammar part and knowing where to put all of the correct punctuations, and I still struggle a little bit with that. But, I was lucky enough to have some time to get some experience on how college papers needed to be written and how they were graded. Then, I started my English class and it was very different than any other English class I have ever been in before, and it has really changed my view on English and how I feel about the subject as a whole.

So, when we first started the class, we were informed that we were going to be reading two books; Swing Time by Zadie Smith, and Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. After reading both of those books we were assigned to write a critical analysis on the books. For Swing Time, I wrote my critical analysis on one of the novels themes or motifs. So, after thinking about what to write about I decided to write about the friendship between the unnamed narrator and her “best friend” Tracey. After going back and revisiting Swing Time, one of the main things from the book that I really wanted to talk about in my paper was the Sankofa the narrator’s mother mentioned to her, that really hit home about her friendship with Tracey, which was; “It’s a bird that looks back over itself like this.”turning her head around, “From Africa. It looks backwards at the past and it learns from what’s gone before. Some people never learn”. (Smith 30). This quote from the book really helped sum up how the friendship between the two was. Then, for my critical analysis for Serafina and the Black Cloak, I used the quote from the book that said, “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, both dark and bright, and they will ensnare your soul”. (Beatty 60, 61). I used this quote for the basis of my paper because it helped show the horror aspect of the book, because later on in the book, Serafina has to go into that deep forest to save the children of the biltmore who had been kidnapped by the man in the black cloak. After this piece of writing, it really opened my eyes as a writer, that you have to really comprehend what the narrator is telling you in order for you to go more in depth when writing a critical analysis. But, throughout the enter semester in English 131, we have written letters, Journal entries, Workshop essay, blog posts and we were also fortunate enough to create a resume. To me, everyone of these assignments really helped improve me as a student, but, most importantly, helped me become a better writer.

With the letters, it just gave us the opportunity to get away from the screen and write on the paper, and I really liked that because in most classes we do everything electronically and this gave us the chance to get in our journals and write longhand. Just like the letter, our journal entries gave us the chance to also get back to our journals and write longhand, but, it gave me the chance to stay focused and not doze off in class, because we were recommended that when we were done with the assignment assigned for that day or waiting for the assignment and go to our journals and write anything you wanted or whatever was on your mind. The workshop essays gave us the chance to pick our favorite book, film, or tv series and write a little summary on it and draw some some quotes from whatever you chose. But, they also gave us the chance to receive some feedback from our classmates and teacher on how we could improve them and also expand it into a bigger project. Our blog posts allowed us to post an introduction on the blog that we created at the beginning of the semester and get up in front of the class and tell them about our post and the main points about who we were. We also posted our critical analysis to the blog and got up in front of the class and told them what we chose to write about and gave a brief summary about it. The resume we created allowed us to learn the correct way to make a resume and the correct order to put everything you wanted to include in the resume.

                                                    Works Cited

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2015. Disney Hyperion, 2016


Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin, 2017.


Reflective essay                                                     

                                                                  Annotated Bibliography


Twenge, Jean. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”. The Atlantic, September. 2017.

Jean Twenge’s article discusses the different problems and issues that occur from the usage and over-usage of smartphones.Throughout the article, Twenge explores the idea that too much screen time is leading teens to feel isolated and experience more depressive tendencies as well as, sleep deprivation. By using facts and case studies, Twenge brings the problem to real life and a focus we all should realize.


Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2015. Disney Hyperion, 2016

Serafina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty is a New York Times best seller. But, when the children at the Biltmore estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina, who has been hiding ever since her Pa had gotten the job at the estate risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owner. Braeden and Serafina are on the mission to discover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before more children of the estate start disappearing.


Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin, 2017.

Swing Time is a novel by Zadie Smith, which is also a New York Times best seller. The novel is told in a first person perspective of an unnamed narrator. It is divided up into seven sections and goes back and forth between two rough time periods: the narrator’s childhood and adolescence in North London and her adulthood working for a pop star named Aimee, takin frequent trips to Africa to assist with Aimee’s charity project. But, in a whole, the novel focuses on the relationship between the narrator and her childhood friend Tracey, a talented dancer who later on descends into poverty.

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/muscling-in-on-the-term-paper-tradition.html.

In the article “Blogs vs. Term Papers” by Matt Ritchel, several professors and esteemed writers are interviewed on their different perspectives on blog entries and term paper writing. There has been an ongoing discussion amongst writers and teachers as to which of the two is best at improving critical thinking and writing. Duke University’s Cathy Davidson has advocated for shorter pieces of writing in the form of blog entries, while Douglas B. Reeves consider term papers to be more appropriate for higher education writing. Andrea Lunsford of Stanford University argues that both forms of writing should be utilized at the college level, believing that term papers should have a life beyond submission for a grade. She encourages students to turn their academic papers into blog entries, as well as other forms of creative writing.

Collins, Billy. Snow Day. The Poetry Foundation, 2016.

In the poem, Snow Day by Billy Collins, the speaker describes the snowy scenery he is looking at outside of his window, as well as the different activities that will or might take place during the wintery day. The buildings and ground are covered in the snow and the speaker contemplates going outside with his dog to take in the snow, but he also enjoys looking at the snow from the inside while he drinks his hot tea and listens to the radio. On the radio the speaker hears a number of schools being closed and the speaker notices three girls, out in the snow due to the schools being closed, who are whispering about an unknown topic which provokes the speaker to wonder what the children are discussing.

Lewis, Michael. “Chapter One.” The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Norton, 2006, pp. 15–16.

In an excerpt from Chapter One of Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side, the scene of Joe Theismann’s career ending injury is set and described. Lewis describes the event second by second, specifically using the classic phrase for measuring time in seconds, “One Mississippi”. The play begins with a handoff to the running back which turns into the “throwback special” in which the ball comes back to Theismann who then has to avoid a linebacker. He does that successfully, but Lewis writes that he is now “at the mercy of what he can’t see” which is the New York Giants’ star, Lawrence Taylor. Lewis turns three and a half seconds into a descriptive paragraph, painting a detailed picture of the events leading up to Theismann’s career ending injury.




                                      The Friendship Between the Unnamed and Tracey

The novel Swing Time, written by Zadie Smith, is told from the perspective of a narrator who is a child during the 1980’s in London. She was the daughter of a Jamaican mother and an English father. The narrator had a best friend, who’s name was Tracey, and she was the same skin color, or “shade” as it is referred to in the novel, as the narrator. The two of them first come in contact through a ballet class at a neighborhood church. The book is divided into seven sections, while talking about two periods of the narrator’s life: the childhood and adolescent stages in Northwest London, and her adulthood working for a pop star named Aimee. Although, throughout the novel the main focus is on the friendship between the narrator and Tracey.

The two of them become best friends mainly because they had two things in common. Firstly, they both loved dance, but only one of them has the talent to do so. The other thing they had in common was that they both were mixed race, and that is what brought them together. Even though they both loved to dance and both were of a mixed race, they were actually very different. Tracey was the more talented one and thought very highly of herself, on the other side, the narrator was always stuck behind the spotlight. The narrator was not as talented as Tracey when it came to dancing, but she knew all about the rhythm and time, about black bodies, black music, what constitutes a tribe, or what made a person truly free.

Throughout the novel, the narrator gave the perspective that Tracey took the friendship between them for granted, and that Tracey was only self concerned. I believe most of this came from her homelife and getting everything she wanted from her mother. That could have made her feel like she was entitled, and worth more than other people. An example about how Tracey’s homelife was not the best, and how there was not discipline in the household, is shown earlier in the novel during the encounter of Tracey and the narrator playing with dolls at Tracey’s house. Tracey was making the narrator say stuff that basically echoed her life at home when they were playing with the dolls. For example, Tracey said “you slag- she’s not even my daughter! Is it my fault she pisses herself?” and then Tracey would make the narrator repeat her with the other doll (Smith 30). Then later that evening when the narrator went back home, she mentioned to her mom what she had said and then her mom asked her if she had ever heard what a sankofa was. Then her mom said on page thirty, “‘It’s a bird that looks back over itself like this” turning her head around, “From Africa. It looks backwards at the past and it learns from what’s gone before. Some people never learn”’ (Smith 30). I believe that the mother was trying to tell the narrator that Tracey will never learn because she will not look backwards at what has happened in her life and learn from it, because she was not disciplined and taught to do so.

I feel like nowadays our generation is looked at as spoiled, entitled, or not as disciplined as we should be. I believe that this is true in some parts, depending on the parenting. Some parents today do not discipline their kids enough and do not have consequences when they do something wrong. This lack of discipline is why some kids act the way they do, and feel like they can do or say whatever they want and not worry about any consequences. Also, I feel like the lack of discipline is why so much tragedy is in the world, especially with teenagers; because they are not disciplined enough at home, they are not taught to learn from mistakes and see and remember what is right and what is wrong. However, I believe this novel gave a good example of both situations, with Tracey not being disciplined by her mother and feeling like she could do whatever and get whatever she wanted, then on the narrator’s side, her parents disciplined her and told her what was wrong, so she could learn. This crucial difference is why, throughout the novel, the narrator was successful and Tracey’s career ended up falling off, causing her to go into poverty.


Work Czadie smith paper pictureited

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin, 2017.

About Me

Hello, My name is Mason Hawks and I am a Freshman here at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I grew up in a small town called Mount airy, NC, known to the locals as Mayberry. I have lived my entire life in Mount Airy, with my parents and my three sisters. Here at Lenoir-Rhyne I am a part of the men’s basketball team. I have been playing basketball since the age of six. I grew up around sports and fell in love with basketball at the very start. Basketball has played a huge role in my life, it has help keep me out of trouble and helped me stay on course, but more importantly, it has helped me reach my goal in attending a four year university and, hopefully, gaining a degree in Business.