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January 04, 2009

ANITA SCOTT COLEMAN, “Unfinished Masterpieces”


Artist: Michelangelo. "Slave Awakening." An unfinished sculpture.
Image Source: http://williampcoleman.smugmug.com/photos/223040220-L.jpg

ANITA SCOTT COLEMAN, “Unfinished Masterpieces” (In the Edgar V. Roberts Text)

Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2009 06:30 PM

Readers' Comments:

Unfinished Masterpieces is a short story about Anita Scott Coleman who’s resting on her rickety porch, reminiscing on her childhood life. Mostly about the encounters she’s had with a childhood friend by the name of Dora Jones and a confident old vagabond by the name of Mr. William Williams. Anita goes on to explain her encounters with each person in great detail; she basically talked about what they did with their lives and what she thought about them. The main point of this short story is that one should spend their lives doing something constructive with it. That is important and inspiring instead of just wasting ones god given gifts. So that one can become a finished masterpiece, meaning, that ones life can become whole, from all the great accomplishments ones done before they’re laid down to rest.
Anita starts off her journey with her past childhood with her good friend Dora Jones, who likes to be isolated from the other kids because of her fascination for creating figures out of mud. Which she inscribes detail into every single figure making sure that each one looks exactly like she pictured it in her head. Anita admires her talent and ambition to create masterpieces at such a very young age. Later on, Anita goes into another memory of hers, when she met an old fellow named Mr. William Williams. Anita described Mr. Williams as a man who didn’t work a day in his fifty-one years and who was proud of his one accomplishment, by avoiding all labor. She said this about Mr. Williams, that Mr. Williams was a “Lump of mud. Containing the you, the splendid artist in you, the soul of you, the unfinished you in the ungainly lump of you, awaiting the gathering up to be molded anew into the finished masterpiece.” Which I think she’s trying to say is that, Mr. Williams wasted his life doing nothing important or constructive, that he was a poor soul longing for the meaning of his existence so that he can become whole.

Posted by: dominic hughes at January 19, 2009 08:51 PM

Unfinished Masterpieces is a short story about Anita Scott Coleman who’s resting on her rickety porch, reminiscing on her childhood life. Mostly about the encounters she’s had with a childhood friend by the name of Dora Jones and a confident old vagabond by the name of Mr. William Williams. Anita goes on to explain her encounters with each person in great detail; she basically talked about what they did with their lives and what she thought about them. The main point of this short story is that one should spend their lives doing something constructive with it. That is important and inspiring instead of just wasting ones god given gifts. So that one can become a finished masterpiece, meaning, that ones life can become whole, from all the great accomplishments ones done before they’re laid down to rest.
Unfinished Masterpieces is a story that tells how people really sit back and reflects on their lives, from the past to the present as well as into the future. To see the missing pieces that were missing from our life or to go back and remember great people that inspired us to have the life we have now. Going back and reflecting on ones past helps them better their present and future so they want make the same mistakes they have done in their past. The story also shows that people live their lives differently from each other; one could realize that they have talents and uses them to help the world or just simply follow their dreams. While others just watch their lives go by and not take advantage of the gifts that one was blessed with, so they’re laid to rest without knowing what their true purpose was while they were still living. And it’s sad because people really should do what they love to do and use that in their lives so one want always question their existence. So when one sits down to reflect on their lives, one will see that their life is whole it doesn’t have any missing pieces to their masterpiece.

Posted by: Dominic Hughes at January 20, 2009 07:59 AM

Alicia Roddenberg
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 122 CA16
01-21-09

Coleman, Anita. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006. page 206-08
Coleman’s “Unfinished Masterpieces”
Throughout history, many different discriminations have been made against certain people due to their race, religion or even economic situations. In the excerpt of Anita Coleman’s “Unfinished Masterpieces” many of these different injustices are displayed. The characters within this story are very talented in their own right, yet are unable to commit to their craft due to the transgressions of their situation. The individuals in this story are both African-American, and derived from the memory of the narrator. Racial discriminations and economic standings were often contributing negatives which prohibited African Americans from reaching their fullest potentials through their self expressions.
The first character whom is introduced is a young girl who is named Dora. Dora is very creative with the means she has to work with. Her financial situation is easily portrayed by the description of her yard. “Hand in Hand, unmindful of her muddy ones, we skip around the old ramshackle house, back to the furthest corner of an unkempt yard, impervious to the tin cans, the ash-heap, the litter, the clutter that impedes our way, our eyes upon, our thoughts bent upon one small clean-swept corner, where there is mud” ( Coleman 207). This quote from Coleman’s story is almost ironic since she depicts Dora’s corner of mud as clean-swept. This obsolete corner is the young girl’s only escape, where her creativity is able to soar. She enjoyed working with her hands to manipulate different things, yet her only medium was the mud. The mud is symbolic to Dora’s struggle to express herself; hardship is something which she was unable to overcome.
The next significant figure in this story is Mr. William Williams. Mr. Williams is a man of many words; he creates masterpieces with his lyrical narrations. Regardless of his talent, Mr. Williams is unable to live up to his fullest potential as a writer, because he is forced to work as a “cotton-pickin’ nigger” in the fields (Coleman 208). The life he was dealt was not one of superiority, he is forced to work in the cotton fields with the other indigent workers. It is quite possible to presume that if Mr. Williams would have had the financial support he would have persisted in his aspirations in writing.
These two individuals who are figments of ones memory, were such an influential remembrance for the narrator, it was so powerful that it could have been reminiscent for many more had they pursued their dreams. Dora’s mud holds the potential to allow someone to become something great, to be manipulated into whatever one desires. Coleman expresses her hopes that one day these races will be treated as equals, allowing everyone the same equal opportunities. Until everyone is able to reach their fullest potentials, there shall remain influential people like Dora and Mr. Williams to keep their aspirations vivid.

Posted by: Alicia Roddenberg at January 26, 2009 11:15 PM

Ryan Baumgardner
Dr B. Lee Hobbs
ENGL 122
21 January 2009
Coleman, Anita Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Writing About Literature. Ed. Roberts V. Edgar. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 206-208.
Mr. Williams is a fifty year old man who takes pride is being a bum. At least that is how the narrator makes him out to be, when he is first introduced in the story. Mr. Williams can best be described by this statement in the story, “You were very proud of your one accomplishment, an ability to avoid all labor.” (Coleman 207). Even though Mr. Williams acts and looks like he did nothing through his life, he actually did a lot more than most people.
From the text we can figure out Mr. Williams’s race, he most likely is African American. I saw this inference by seeing things in the reading, such as the land they live in is the South’s black belt. Mr. Williams also calls himself different ethnic terms throughout the short story. The narrator makes Mr. Williams look like a waste of life because he hasn’t accomplished anything so far in his life. I saw it a different way that Mr. Williams has done a lot by going against the norm. I feel like Mr. Williams is part of a group of badly treated cotton picking labor workers, and he goes against the grain to provide hope and laughter for the others.
The story talk about how Mr. Williams gave stories that cheered and revolted the group. He told these stories to provide thankfulness to these groups, and to also help them ease the process of their life. He was different than the average worker, he saw more to life than just doing what he was told to do every day. He states that at one time he wanted to write a book, because he used to read so much. That doesn’t sound a fifty year one old who has only been nothing but a waste of life. It sounds like someone who was much more than just a labor worker.

Posted by: Ryan Baumgardner at January 27, 2009 09:01 AM

Sasha-Ann Jarrett
Dr. Hobbs
English 122-CA17
February 5, 2009
Coleman, Anita Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Roberts, Edgar V. Writing Themes About Literature.
The Diary
“Unfinished Masterpieces” is about a woman, maybe in her late forties, reminiscing about her jubilant childhood and what it entailed. The title of this short story can be viewed as ironic, because of how the narrator tells the story. The irony is brought out by the narrator as he tells us about people and the role they played in her life such as, Dora Johns and Mr. Williams. The irony comes from Dora’s side, where Dora is playing with the mud, contorting it into vases, urns, and dolls. The artifacts that were made by Dora are fragile, and the narrator uses their fragility and compares it to humans, “You are one of the Master’s unfinished shapes” (pg.207). A reason for comparing Dora to an “unfinished masterpiece”, maybe as a result of a war occurring during childhood “deadly missiles seeking to find a mark” (pg. 207). The narrator says indirectly that humans are “unfinished” because they continue to create war and damage the things that are most fragile (humans). The entire story gives the reader a picturesque view of what is happening as the reader uses images to tell the story of her past.
The point of view being told in first person is effective because when reading the story, we envision it through that person’s point of view, allowing us to get a firsthand experience as if it were a simulated experience. This is because of what has transcend in the person’s life and we are hearing it “straight from the horse’s mouth” then the presumption is that it is reliable. The narrator is seen as reliable because she is describing her own life experiences, which becomes increasingly interesting as she recounts in details nearly every moment of her past. The narrator is also made to seem real or probable because of how the narrator tells the sequence of events. The narrator is talking about the past and begins by describing the scenery and then moving on to the things her childhood friend used to do. She continues to recreate the past in her mind, remembering Mr. Williams.
The narrator seems to be writing a dairy of her past, maybe of a past war, as the speaker seems to be thinking to herself. The speaker is a non-participant in her story, as she is not reminiscing about herself, but those who take part in her story. The author allows the narrator not to criticize but rather to speak highly of them. The way the narrator tells the story enables the reader to be able to visualize the sequence of events and how they play out. If the short story was written in second or third person, we might question whether the information is reliable or not, that is, whether in fact it was just a “story”. The reader may question this because they may not explain things as clearly as a first person narrator would, even though they are slightly similar. When first person is not used, the narrator will be speaking more to the audience, as they will be more “behind the scenes”.
The audience does not affect what she is saying because she does not seem to be talking to the reader. The level of vocabulary used in “Unfinished Masterpieces,” is appropriate because the author is now an adult and is matured. Her vocabulary has grown along with her sentence formatting, allowing her to express herself like an educated woman. The writer also writes to suit the audience, as she seems to be targeting high school seniors and college students.
The author did a good job in using the first person point of view to put her thoughts on paper. Writing the story in first person allows the reader to question if the story is related to the author’s life. The fact that the thoughts are so well planned out and every detail being remembered, could mean that she is a good writer of short story or is playing with the readers thoughts. In my opinion, I do not think that this story relates to her, but rather she knows how to organize series of events that were happening during the period she wrote the story.

Posted by: Sasha-ann Jarrett at February 9, 2009 11:41 PM

Brittany Thunberg
Dr. Hobbs
Academic Writing II CA16
11 February 2009


The short story “Unfinished Masterpieces” written by Anita Scott Coleman is a story about a man recapping memories. In this work the speaker, whom readers cannot identify clearly, tells of two memories from his past that he holds dear. The fact that the speaker is merely reciting memories it makes it difficult for readers to understand the conflict within the work.
In “Unfinished Masterpieces” there is no major conflict. The speaker is telling readers about the memories he has of two different people. This is basically the plot of the story, the speaker re-capping old memories for readers. Roberts describes plot as “ the elements governing the unfolding of actions.” ( 93) Roberts also tells us that when writing about plot and structure it is important to dissect characters within a work as well as understanding the conflict. “A conflict is the opposition of two people. Their conflict may take the shape of anger, hatred, envy, argument, fighting, avoidance, political or moral opposition, gossip, lies and many other attitudes.” (Roberts 93-4)
The first person that he talks about is Dora Johns. Dora is a playmate of the speaker when he was younger. Dora is a young African American girl that the speaker remembers playing with in the mud in her backyard. The speaker describes Dora’s backyard as basically a mess except for a small corner that they make solid shapes and toys out of mud. “We skip around the old ramshackle house, back to the furthest corner of an unkempt yard, impervious of the tin cans, the ash-heap, the litter, the clutter that impedes our way.” (Coleman 207)
The second character that Coleman describes is also African American. The second character’s name is William Williams he is a fifty one year old man who claims that “I’ve given no man a full day’s honest work in all my fifty-one years.” (Coleman 208) The way that Coleman describes Williams makes it seem as though he is uneducated and almost annoying with the stories that he is telling.


Works Cited
(Coleman, Anita, Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006. 206-08.)

(Roberts, V, Edgar. Writing about Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006.)

Posted by: Brittany Thunberg at February 17, 2009 07:41 AM

John Winans
Eng. 122 CA16
Dr. Hobbs
!7February 2009
Mud, the Theme and Purpose of Unfinished Masterpieces
The story of “Unfinished Masterpieces” by Anita Scott Coleman addresses the importance of mud in the hands and lives of the characters involved. The ideas and memories of a past childhood can be filled with life long friends, cherished masterpieces, even secret places sometimes christened with mud; a mud although dirty, represents the newness of life molded anew, a mud that is valued more than gold and cherished as much as life itself as in the case of the human masterpiece God himself has created and seen as the pieces created by the children in the story. This is the premise of things to come. Even as the sky holds its magic in the weather over head so too the ground under foot can bring forth surprises. The magical mixture of dirt and water when molded and dried creates childish masterpieces and memories of a lifetime, yet still unfinished even as an adult. As the pieces have aged the value becomes even more precious as it nears its finish and the masterpiece becomes clearer.
Today the weather reminds the author of days filled with this magical mud. More mud and water in a battered tin can. And row after row of mud. No, not mud-not merely mud, but things made out of mud. Row on row, drying in the sun (Coleman, 207). The memories of the now older woman come to mind as vividly as the day itself so many years ago. Childhood friends are so important in putting together these special times of the past and one such friend comes to mind, the best friend of her youth Dora Johns. Even today Dora is remembered with the mud splattered all over her face, hands and dress. She too, is a laborer for the mud, an artist in her own mind creating dried pieces of masterful shapes. One also remembers another whom by no means can be lumped in the category of laborer and proud of it, Mr. William Williams, how he is remembered but just a lump of mud himself. All of the characters are unfinished masterpieces being molded by the creator of the mud itself. These ideas lend to the theme of the story and gives value to the mud, while it is drying, hardening, and becoming more and more real to life it becomes an individual work of art, no two alike. The same could be said of the life in and around us as we too are drying becoming solidified into a masterpiece, each in its own image and of the image of the creator. This is the idea of the mud and the masterpieces that are still unfinished.
Lump of mud. Containing the you, the splendid artist in you, the soul of you, the unfinished you in the ungainly lump of you, awaiting the gathering-up to be molded anew into the finished masterpiece (Coleman, 208). As this idea wraps up the story, it is on this day that all the ideas and memories too converge in the minds and lives of the characters involved, for it is the very human body and soul that is constantly being molded by the hands of God just as the shapes of things created by these children so many years ago. The time has come for some of the unfinished masterpieces to be taken from the children and entrusted to the hands of the master to be finished. The mud is molded, dries to a masterpiece enjoyed for a time then crumbles after years to again be renewed by the touch of the greatest artist of all.


Works Cited


Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed.
Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2005
Coleman, Anita Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces”. 1927
206-208

Posted by: john at March 2, 2009 07:59 PM

Katie Ganning
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 CA17: Academic Writing II
3 March 2009
Theme in Anita Scott Coleman’s Unfinished Masterpieces: Two Lives With Open-Ending’s
Cognition is one of the most important tools humans have that separates us from animals. It gives us the ability to make smarter choices and remember people in our lives. In Anita Scott Coleman’s, “Unfinished Masterpieces”, the character’s thought about the beautiful day ahead has reminded her of the days in the past with a former childhood friend, Dora and Mr. William Williams, a “vagabond” (Coleman 207) of the neighborhood. The theme behind the story is being successful with ones life and the comparison of a man and a girls old lives and her new one. One who has left the world with unfinished accomplishments and another, who feels he has accomplished his masterpiece for life.
According to Roberts’ text, the reader should “Study the Character and the Words of the First-Person Speaker” (Roberts 122). Anita Coleman examined the day ahead of her, “Days whereupon your experiences glimmer before you waveringly like motion-pictures and the people you have known stroll through the lanes of memory […]” (206), with this statement, one is able to draw the story as a memory. As she continued to reminisce, this made her think of her childhood friend, Dora. She enjoyed watching Dora make sculptures in the mud and was extremely dedicated to her masterpieces while other children played together along the opposite side of the fence. While Anita considered this the perfect day, she also recollects how Dora left the world. Dora’s life was left without being able to accomplish her artwork she cherished so much. She left as an unfinished masterpiece.
To counter Dora’s life, Coleman shared the life of Mr. William Williams’, she was a hard working girl whereas Mr. Williams was not, and he was considered the bum of the area. Although he was described being a “vagabond” (207), through his eyes he saw this as an accomplishment, “an ability to avoid all labor.” (207). Mr. Williams was able to read and would tell stories about his “Tales of the road” (208). Anita still thought of him as an unfinished masterpiece, even though she loved to here of his stories and sees his artwork.
Coleman states that she considered Mr. Williams to be an unfinished masterpiece, however if someone is happy about how their life turned out to be, then they are a masterpiece. Mr. Williams accomplished his goal by not working a day in his life and because of this he was remembered by his amazing artwork, “tales of the road” (208) and his readings. Unfortunately, Dora’s life seems to have ended unexpectedly which didn’t give her enough time to finish what she left behind. Luckily, she was still able to leave behind some of her sculptures that left an impression on people, especially the narrator. Coleman’s theme of comparison was able to remind her of her past and the important people in her life who made her who she was able to become later in life.


Works Cited
Coleman, Anita Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006. 206-208.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Katie Ganning at March 3, 2009 09:22 AM

Alicia Roddenberg
Dr. Hobbs
11 April 2009
Eng 122 CA16
Annotated Bibliography
Coleman, Anita. “Unfinished Masterpieces.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief
11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006. page 206-08. Coleman uses the
Inequality of her characters to show the discrimination due to their race as well as their gender. The obstacles they are forced to overcome are far greater than would be expected of any white male.
Hale, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson. What women want. New York: F.A. Stokes Co., c1914. Many
political aspects of feminism are discussed in this book. The feminist movement is discussed as well as the new directions it is taking.
Kundera, Milan. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2008.
The way that Kundera depicts his female characters is easily analyzed from a feminist view point. The Dominance of his male characters is where the bias is noticeable.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing about Literature. Brief 11th ed. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson,
2006. Roberts shows several ways you are able to apply the feminist theory to different styles of literature.
Smith, Paul Jordan. The Soul of Woman. San Francisco: P. Elder, c1916. This book describes in
detail the lengths women have been forced to go to receive the equal treatment that men have. The dissection of Ellen Key’s theories as well as Havelock Ellis.

Posted by: Alicia Roddenberg at April 15, 2009 11:37 PM

Jessica McLean
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 CA17: Academic Writing II
March 4, 2009
Symbolism in Anita Scott Coleman’s Unfinished Masterpieces: Mud
In Unfinished Masterpieces, Coleman uses mud to describe two of her characters. When used to describe Dora it is in a positive way, when describing Mr. William Williams, it is in a negative way. The mud symbolized in this story is a contextual symbol, which Edgar Roberts says, “derive their meanings from the context and circumstances of individual works” (Roberts 130).
When describing a childhood friend Dora, Coleman tells us of how she is always covered in mud and creating little works of art out of it. In this instance, she uses the mud as a positive symbol of an escape from the real world. She says, “Dora seeming not to heed the seething bubbles upon the other side, shaping, shaping marvelous things out of mud” (207). In this situation the mud is a creative outlet in these hard times.
When describing Williams, Coleman calls him “A lump of mud” (207). Now the mud has become a negative symbol, insinuating that he has accomplished nothing in his lifetime and he is a waste of time and space. Williams is a homeless bum that has never worked a full day in the fifty years that he’s been alive. She also says that he is a lump of mud “awaiting the gathering-up to be molded anew into the finished masterpiece” (208). She is stating that he has a lot of potential that he just needs to collect and use to do something useful.
These instances show how Anita Scott Coleman uses mud as a symbol throughout her entire story to describe her characters. In both cases, she uses the mud to describe their potential in life and what they can become if they put forth the effort. I think the mud represents both of these characters very well, even though it has different meaning for each person.

Works Cited
Coleman, Anita Scott. “Unfinished Masterpieces”. Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th
ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. .
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice
Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Jessica McLean at April 27, 2009 06:21 PM

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