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Aaron Rosales
Professor Lago
Experiences in Literature
5 May 2014
Influences of Internet in Literature
Reading is an essential tool for lifetime learning. It is one of the most important activities
through which we can develop our mind and discover endless possibilities. However, due to
numerous technological developments, reading habits are rapidly shifting. Today, we have the
Internet, the worlds largest and most accessible database. Since its birth, the Internet has opened
up an expansive world of communication and learning, continually evolving to this very day.
With its bountiful resources, one of the prime ways in which the Internet has influenced us is in
the way we read and understand literature through the ease of research on the texts background,
the definitions of words and phrases, and through the collaborative sharing of multiple
interpretation of a text by other individuals.
First, researching the background of the text helps the reader put himself or herself in the
perspective of the author. Knowing the texts background provides basic knowledge needed for
better understanding and interpreting the story and its overall meaning. Consider the following
line from the poem Where Children Live by Naomi Shihab Nye wherein Nye refers to the
living styles of adults compared to children: No lost shoes blooming under bushes. No chipped
trucks in the drive (8-9). These lines relate to the differing lifestyles of adults and children; the
former prefers an organized and neat living space whereas the latter has no such interest and
leaves their living space scattered and messy. The speaker doesnt necessarily consider
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messiness being a negative aspect because children like to leave their belongings that way.
Knowing even a tiny bit of information about the poem can help the reader understand about
what is being portrayed. What if the reader has a question such as why would there be a shoe
under the bush? On many occasions, even a simple question cannot be answered from the text
of the poem alone because some poems are not quite understood until research into the poems
background is done. Another particularly interesting excerpt by Nye describes how children
automatically see happiness and adventure with everything: Ants have more hope (15).
Understanding and being familiar with what a child and adult is like helped me understand what
the poem meant. For example, according to The National Academies, adults often assume that
their children use the Internet in the same way they themselves do. But the truth is that, while
adults shop, bank, and catch up on the news online, kids are gaming, downloading, and just plain
socializing (National Academies). Children use the Internet in different ways and for different
reasons, depending on their age and particular circumstances and interests. Children as young as
two or three can be introduced to the computer, and with my personal experience going through
the same phase, they begin to enjoy the Internet on a more practical level, through activities such
as searching online encyclopedias, downloading pictures for school reports, or writing to pen
pals.
Secondly, researching the definitions and phrases of a literary work makes it easier for
the reader to fully understand what certain parts of the literary work means. The poem Daddy
by Sylvia Plath exemplifies this, as full understanding of the poem may require research on
World War IIs history. The poem is not difficult, however, there are many words and phrases
that are hard to interpret without some knowledge of the context. For instance, in the poem of
Daddy, the speaker describes how the model is similar to her dad: I made a model of you, a
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man in black with a Meinkampf look (65). Meinkampf may not be instantly recognizable to
most readers, but according to Jewish Virtual Library, Meinkampf is an autobiography written
by Adolf Hitler (Jewish Virtual Library). The tittles translation in English is My Struggle.
Since I previously researched what Meinkampf was during high school, the autobiography gives
the context and background of Hitlers aggressiveness in his rise to power to the above quote,
being used as a metaphor for the speakers father, the subject of the poem. Another line from the
poem Daddy also describes what the speakers father is like: And your neat mustache and
your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You (43-45). According to the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum, we find that Aryan is a term that referred to Hitlers
perfect race of blond and blue- eyed people who were seen as superior to Jews (Holocaust
Memorial Museum). Then, I interpreted Line 45 as a reference to German Tank Drivers. Also
with the use of the internet, I found that its another image of the speakers father continue to
describe him as scary and terrible (Shmoop). Certainly not all readers are knowledgeable about
German references, thus making interpretations of the poem hard without the use of the internet.
Before the internet, research was conducted by going to the library and taking out books and
looking information up. Today, that information is accessible with one click of a mouse, putting
a single keyword in a search engine and coming up with thousands of pages with more than
enough information. In todays society, the internet is a great resource that anyone can use to
fully understand and comprehend literary works.
Thirdly, we can find numerous analyses of a text by others by using the internet. Having
multiple interpretations is advantageous because it provides the reader with multiple perspectives
of what the text actually means. Also, the reader can use those interpretations to come up with
new ones. For instance, in the poem Where Children Live by Naomi Shihab Nye, the speaker
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says, Homes where children live exude a pleasant rumpledness, like a bed made by a child, or a
yard littered with balloons (1-2). I interpreted the line as a reference to the playful nature of
children. On the other hand, according to Karminias Poetry Blog, its just describing how the
house is always filthy because of children leaving their toys everywhere. Having access to
multiple, different interpretations allows for a comprehensive understanding of the literary work
and at the same time, extrapolates a variety of ideas from another persons word.
Therefore, the internet, with its tremendous potential and offer in terms of information,
has influenced how people read and understand literature. Knowing a little knowledge about a
literary work makes it easier for readers to comprehend what is being described and help put
himself or herself in someone elses shoes. Then, being able to research definitions and phrases
of a literary work helps the reader to completely understand every part of the entire context. At
times, in order for someone to understand a literary work, they have to be familiar with the
meaning of the words or what its referring to. Also, being able to see or hear other peoples
perspective makes it less difficult to come up with a new interpretation about what the text is
about. In addition, reading on the internet is often not unlike reading the newspaper. I can read a
bit of page one but then a story leads me to page six. Then, I come back to the front page, and I
am again redirected elsewhere in the paper, this time forgetting to come back. Its like a game of
hopscotch, from one story to the next. Across the internet, my reading follows similar trails
through hyperlinks. Admittedly, the internet has the ability to take us along an endless pathway,
something a newspaper or a book cannot do. We can read a shocking article in the paper and
then move onto the next story. Online, it is easy to read the comments, follow the links, Google
for more. Overall, the internet has come to a new level where it is changing almost everything,
especially the way people now read and interpret a text.
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Works Cited
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Daddy Summary." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov.
2008. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
":: Adventures in Daily Living :: : Friday Poetry Where Children Live by Naomi Shihab Nye."::
Adventures in Daily Living :: : Friday Poetry Where Children Live by Naomi Shihab
Nye. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
"Kids and the Internet." The National Academies Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
"Excerpts from Mein Kampf Jewish Virtual Library." N.p., Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
"Victims of the Nazi Era: Nazi Racial Ideology." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
"Karminia's Poetry Blog: What I've learned from "Where Children Live" by Naomi Shihab Nye."
Karminia's Poetry Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.