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March 20, 2011

Joyce Carol Oates's _The Tattooed Girl_, 2003, U.S

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"Der Herr Gott ist raffiniert aber boshaft is Er nicht [God is subtle but not malicious]"~Albert Einstein

Students,

*DO NOT POST ANYTHING HERE UNTIL YOU HAVE CHOSEN--FROM THE SIGN-UP SHEET TO BE DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS--A CHAPTER OR CHAPTERS FROM THE TEXT FOR WHICH TO FOCUS YOUR DISCUSSION QUESTION/ENTRY-TICKET*

*ALSO: BRING YOUR TEXT TO OUR NEXT MEETING AFTER THE BREAK (MONDAY). WE WILL BEGIN TO DISCUSS THE OATES TEXT*

Using the REVISED directions (Quotation, Page Number, Setup Statement based on quotation, Non-yes/no Discussion question based on interpretation of quotation) I provided in some handouts I gave you previously, please type your entry-ticket discussion questions for this reading in the comment box below. These questions will be . . .

. . . fair game for the midterm and final exam. In addition to submitting the question to English-blog.com, the question must also be submitted to Turnitin.com. You should also have it written in your Course Journal (collected at midterm and at the final), and have a typed, printed hardcopy to bring with you to class on the day the work is discussed (see syllabus). I will not accept late submissions so mind the deadlines.

Posted by lhobbs at March 20, 2011 06:39 PM

Readers' Comments:

Entry Ticket #10 The Tattoo Girl – Chapter 8
“Oh I love you! Love you so much. You saved my life…” Alma Busch tells Dmitri Meatte on page 61. Dmitri though turns out to not be Alma’s savior, treating the tattoo girl like scum when he’s finished having his way with her. It seems that Alma has a way of attracting abusive men. Is the tattooed girl a victim or does she just bring everything that happen to her on herself?

Posted by: William Kopnek at March 22, 2011 03:04 PM

The Tattooed Girl – Entry Ticket: Part III, Ch. 16-18
“She has saved my life.
Yet: of all the words known to me, there are none. Her touch.” (Oates 274)
For most of Part II of the novel, Alma harbors an intense loathing and hatred for Seigl. However, when he is in the hospital undergoing radical chemotherapy for his illness, she softens towards him and becomes his caretaker. Soon after this she rejects Dmitri and asserts herself. What causes Alma's hatred for Seigl to turn into adoration and caring? Can it be attributed to a single instance, or is it a combination of events?

Posted by: Greg Robinson at March 22, 2011 05:03 PM

From The Tattooed Girl, by Joyce Carol Oates:

“I’m the only living person now who loves you.” (109)

Using quotes from Jet’s dialogue, does this statement come from genuine love, desperation, or fear? Does greed play a part?

Posted by: Amanda Butler at March 22, 2011 05:08 PM

Discussion Question: The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
On page 289, Alma says that Jet did not come to her brother’s funeral. “His sister who’d struck her. His sister who had sent the mutilated book. His sister who had peered into the Tattoo Girl’s heart.” The quote suggests that Jet was the only one to have seen Alma for who she really was. Do you think that this quote is true? Or did Jet’s unhealthy attachment to her brother cause her to make accusations about Alma’s character?

Posted by: Tara McLoughlin at March 22, 2011 11:47 PM

From The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates:

“He didn’t know how he felt about the tattoos. They made Alma a novelty, which is good, but they were amateurish, the ink was faded. Like scribblings, some asshole jabbing with a needle. On the back of the girl’s neck, on her right shoulder, belly, buttocks, on the inside of her thighs. On the belly there were what looked like open gashes leaking blood. Or the raw female cunt leaking blood. Sick-o. But some guys would like it, Dmitri knew.” (Chapter 8, Page 60)
Does the amateurish nature of Alma’s tattoos dictate her place in “normal” society? If the tattoos were of professional quality could she have been more generally accepted despite their placement (especially the facial tattoo not mentioned in the quotation)? Is it the nature of the tattoo or the mere presence of the ink that determines how Alma will be viewed and valued by society?

Posted by: Jamison Whitney at March 23, 2011 12:41 AM

When I was reading this book, I got this weird sense of deja’ vu about the Tattooed Girl herself, and then it dawned on me, she is a lot like Frankenstein’s creation in a manner. She seems to have been brought into the world, but was denied things she desired and needed. She doesn’t really know how to approach Seigl in the story as she herself has been harshly hurt by other men in her life
“As in High School she’d tried to make boys love her who’d gone out with her once, twice, three times then dropped by saying weird wild things that flew into her head.” (pg 101), “It was trying to figure out why they’d tattooed her, the guys she’s trusted. Feeding her vodka and some of meth? Crystal? She’d never know, what the fuck difference did she was fucking grateful to wake up afterward… sweating so she’d dehydrated to the point, they would inform her at the ER, her kidneys and liver near about collapsed like sinkholes, leaving her to be found like trash behind a Big Boy Dumpster by the river.” (pg 150).
With these simple relationships, it is no wonder why the Tattooed Girl is so messed up on a personal level. So my question is this: Can she be considered a monster in the story because of her past or because of her actions she choice to live her life? I mean, her actions to Seigl are pretty unjust, and even at the end she regretted what she did as she did love the guy, but with her past, is it any reason WHY her actions need reasons?

Posted by: John Walker at March 23, 2011 01:59 AM

From The Tattooed Girl, by Joyce Carol Oates:

“But she was in love, and wanting to die. Wanting to scream, claw, tear out his throat with her teeth.”(98)

Alma apparently has a distorted view of love. This particular quote shows her hostility toward him, a desire to do him physical harm. She also shows no concern for her own life. If what she feels toward Dmitri isn’t necessarily love, what is it that keeps her desperately clinging to him, despite the cruel treatment she receives and her own feelings of hostility?

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at March 23, 2011 12:35 PM


“She’s shy. Not stupid. Of course she feels intimidated, put yourself in her place.”( Page 86).
The following quote is followed by the line “ Not very likely, though: that Joshua Siegel could put himself in Alma Busch’s place. How is the way Joshua Siegel is portrayed in the beginning change throughout the story (regarding his relationship with Alma).

Posted by: amanda arce at March 23, 2011 12:44 PM

(…And all the papers and crap he has in that house. “Manuscripts”! Like it’s something holy, he’s the messiah and hot shit. Like the world should give a shit about him.” (p. 149)

The tattooed girl obviously has conflicted feelings about Seigl. She admits he is kind, courteous, and a gentleman, yet she feels she despises him. Seigl is not very religious while the tattooed girl seems to have more of a faith. Though she attends church regularly she seems to have problems with religion. What part does religion have in her dislike of Seigl? Does it revolve around her ignorance with religion? If not, is her reasoning for disliking Seigl reasonable?

Posted by: Eric Dirth at March 23, 2011 01:29 PM

Patricia Pothier
ENG 340
Dr. Hobbs

“For Christ’s sake don’t revere me, I’m not worthy of you. You have lived and I have never lived.”
- Seigl says he wants to shout at Alma when he thinks of her meek voice. She reminds him of his students who wrongly revere him, and he is afraid that she too reveres him. Why does he really feel so undeserving of their adoration? He continues to push people away, yet in moments of weakness he loathes himself for it. What does this say about his perception of himself?

Posted by: Trish at March 23, 2011 01:39 PM

Dana Jennings
Dr. Hobbs
ENG-340
3/23/11
Entry Ticket: Oates
“Doctor? I’m calling to cancel our appointment this afternoon…why the hell do you think? Why would one of your ‘nerve disease’ cases cancel an appointment with you except there is no further need of you in his life?” (166).
Seigl is constantly going to the doctor’s office and complaining. He goes so far as to have a “nerve disease” and then miraculously “feels better.” Does this signify a hypochondriac attitude, or does it mirror his moods through his life? After his “recovery,” he feels adrenaline, makes a hot date, and buys a new car, but they don’t go according to plan, why not?

Posted by: Dana Jennings at March 23, 2011 01:40 PM

“He’d become one of those distrustful patients who, intelligent and educated and accustomed to being deferred to, can’t accept the passive role but must press their doctors for information, facts; interrogating instead of listening, like lawyers” (Oates 44). What does the narrator’s hypochondriac personality tell the reader about his personality? Defend your answer with support from the text.

Posted by: Meahgan Jameyson at March 23, 2011 01:43 PM

'once you were accused, there could be no escape. AFor you would be tortured until you confessed, and when uyou confessed you would be executed. And anyone could accuse you. And you could accuse anyone" (189)
In this story, Alma reads a book on witch hunts in the 14th centure that Joshua gave her. she seems to connect with thses women who were tortured as if she was one of them. Does he feel this because of the hate she feels toward the men who tattooed herand her tattoos that "condemn" her or because she feels just as trapped as those who were accused of being witches?

Posted by: taylor Leonard at March 23, 2011 01:53 PM

"Joshua, I can't believe you're so- willfully-ignorant." pg 132 .
When Jet comes to visit Siegl we witness their strange relationship ultimately resulting in Jet having an outburst. Do you agree or disagree with Jet's remark? Is it possible she only said this because she is jealous of Alma's position in Siegls life. Provide examples.

Posted by: Natasha Witter at March 23, 2011 02:00 PM

“He felt a wave of revulsion for the ignorance and cruelty of history; for the fact of his own involvement, as one who chose to know such things.” P. 79
Do you think Seigl is referring to his intensive study of the Holocaust? If so, do you think it is ironic that he is standing in front of a woman, conversing with a woman, whom horrible things have plagued her own history, without his knowing?

Posted by: Sarah Buckner at March 23, 2011 02:29 PM

Katie Ganning
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
23 March 2011
1. In chapter VI of Joyce Carol Oates, The Tattooed Girl, Seigl falls in Mount Carmel Cemetery while running. Oates writes that,
“For philosophers is to wish to believe that the human mind transcends the contingencies of time. To be a philosopher is to believe that the human mind is not yoked to time; philosophy is of the timeless spirit, while history is solidly of the earth.” (49)
If he believes himself to be a philosopher, why is he trying hard to find what is failing his health instead of fulfilling his life?

Posted by: Katie Ganning at March 23, 2011 02:33 PM

In Joyce Carol Oates’ The Tattooed Girl, Joshua Seigl rarely interacts with Ethan, Sondra Blumenthal’s son. On page 218, Seigl has an internal monologue where he states that: “He’s telling himself if he plays chess well, this man who has barged into his life will marry his mother and become his father.” Since Joshua was a chess prodigy himself, he thinks the child is seeking to impress him through chess. Is this thought of Seigl’s the product of him planting his own childhood thoughts and desires onto the child, or is he being honestly insightful, not delusional? How does Ethan’s disappointment at losing affect Seigl’s sense of self-worth?

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at March 23, 2011 03:49 PM


From The Tattooed Girl, by Joyce Carol Oates:

“I’m the only living person now who loves you.” (109)

Using quotes from Jet’s dialogue, does this statement come from genuine love, desperation, or fear? Does greed play a part?

Posted by: Amanda Butler at March 28, 2011 01:30 PM

On page 266, Oates says "Seigl felt ashamed ofhimself, without knowing exactly why." At this moment do you feel that Seigl related with Alma becaue he had created his own contriteness, or do you feel that it was different because Alma's self-confidence level was hindered so much by the people she hd been aroun for her life and not simply by her own pride?

Posted by: Meghan Donovan at March 28, 2011 09:55 PM

Throughout most of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel The Tattooed Girl, Alma blindly hates her employer, Joshua Seigl, because she thinks he is Jewish. When she finds out he is not, her reaction is profound:
“There was a roaring noise in her ears like distant waves. Alma stood as if dazed. Not a Jew! Not a Jew!”
How, then, does one see ignorance demonstrated as dangerous? Do you believe Alma truly repaired her opinion of Seigl after this revelation, or do you feel her change of heart was false?

Posted by: Lindsay Renner at March 30, 2011 08:31 AM

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*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at April 4, 2011 01:06 PM

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