Saturday, December 22, 2007

Angie versus Mia

Angie means my Lovely Star—Dzikrina Angie Pitaloka; while Mia is the nickname of Mia Thermopolis, the narrator of teen-lit novel entitled Princess Diaries written by Meg Cabot.
I bought the first serial of Princess Diaries in 2003, four years ago, when Angie was twelve years ago. In the first book, Mia was fourteen years old. As far as I remember Princess Diaries is the first teen-lit novel Angie read. At first, she complained why I bought here such a book, “Mia is fourteen while I am only twelve,” she said.
“Well honey, only two years difference, that’s not a big deal of course. I do hope you can get a good lesson from this novel.” I reasoned four years ago.
And my guess was right: Angie loved it. And sometimes she even was so absorbed that she saw herself as a “princess to be”. LOL. I assume she mixed it with Cinderella story (with its Cinderella complex!!!) (Un)luckily, in the first serial, Meg Cabot didn’t illustrate Mia as a feminist, only her mother: as a feminist who often did weird things with her weird feminist friends. It was similar to Angie and me: Angie didn’t know much about feminism, and perhaps she also saw me as weirdo: a feminist who was much different from her friends’ mothers, or our female neighbors who seemed to enjoy being full housewives. Unfortunately, in the first series of Princess Diaries, the relationship between Mia and her mother was not as open as my relationship with Angie since Mia seemed not to like her mother’s “weird” things many feminists (probably) do: such as not marrying Mia’s father, although she already got a baby from the man: Mia. One thing I remember (though I don’t remember in which serial Cabot wrote about it): when Mia’s mother offered her to talk about sexuality openly by coming to Mia’s room and encouraging her to talk about it heart to heart: instead of having a lively and comfortable talk with her feminist mother, Mia rejected it, saying to herself: “Sex? Oh no, my mom must be insane thinking that I am already interested in sex.” Well, I don’t remember how old Mia was when Cabot narrated that part. (FYI, I have the complete serials of Princess Diaries, only Angie doesn’t collect them in one bookshelf. Perhaps some books are borrowed by her friends. 
Realizing that as a teenager, Angie is still undergoing unstable mental progress, frankly speaking I often feel worried that Angie will blatantly follow her “role models” in some teen-lit novels she reads, including Princess Diaries. (The era when I bought her some religious collection short stories has been over! It is because in those stories the narration is clearly only between black and white, good and bad, no character is in grey area. In the reality, life is not just black and white like that, oftentimes we are surrounded by “grey things”, moreover I raise Angie as a secular, which in my opinion is often related to grey area.) Mostly after reading some teen-lit novels or watching movies/soap operas on television about teenagers, I wait for Angie to ask me about what she has read/watched, and discuss it together. She seldom does that, though.
In the last serial of Princess Diaries (the title is “Princess in the Brink” if I am not mistaken), Mia was narrated to be thinking of doing lovemaking for the first time with Michael. I assumed, no matter what, Cabot wouldn’t let it happen. (Honestly, as a feminist living in Indonesia, an area called “the Eastern” part of the globe, thinking of Angie will do it before getting married—moreover in a very young age, just like Mia who was still sixteen years old, the same age as Angie at the moment—really scared me, although I DO REALIZE that doing sex is everybody’s right.)
I must admit that there was a relief feeling in me when coming to the part that Mia didn’t do that with Michael. (silly of me! LOL.) Surprisingly, Cabot then wrote the “intimate scene” between Mia and her mother, because Mia needed to confide in someone, and she chose her mother as the first person to release her disappointment knowing that in fact Michael was no longer virgin. 
After reading that, I noticed that recently, Angie loved to be intimate with me on the bed before both of us fell asleep: one thing she used to love doing as a kid, but she seldom did that after she reached teenage.
Two nights ago, while lying on the bed in the dark, Angie was very close to me, kissing my right ears, and whispered, “You smell nice Mama. Will I still smell good like you after I become a mother?” LOL.
As what always happens to anybody else, kids will always be kid, won’t they? Anyway, I still love when Angie does things like what she used to do to me when she was a small kid.  A mother will always be a mother? LOL. LOL.
PT56 15.30 151207

Ayu Utami

Ayu Utami, one feminist writer in Indonesia, is not a supporter of Roland Barthes’ theory of “the death of the author”. She said that when she was invited by the committee of KAMPOENG WEDANGAN, one event to encourage business people in Semarang to improve entrepeneurship. The same occasion was also made use to promote local cultures to public.
What made Ayu Utami negate Barthe’s theory? She said that when her first novel SAMAN was translated to a foreign language—let’s say French—she was usually invited to come to that country, to explain the public there what SAMAN was all about. It clearly showed that Ayu was not considered dead after she had her novel published. Proudly, Ayu said that her novel SAMAN had been translated to six foreign languages. Besides French, SAMAN has been translated into English, Dutch, Czech, French, Russian, and I forgot the other one. 
Referring to the literary polemic that happened some time ago in the internet, I asked her opinion that for some critics in Indonesia—especially those who come from opposite group of Komnitas Utan Kayu—her novel SAMAN was just rubbish, because it contained many vulgar sexual words. Instead of understanding what Ayu wanted to convey to public, they “killed” Ayu. Even when the polemic was very “hot” in the internet, Ayu did not comment anything. She said that she did not mean to close her mind from any criticism. She also welcomed any criticism when she considered the criticism was “on the right path”. When I mentioned name Katrin Bandel who had a book published to criticize Ayu’s ideas on women’s rights to be not virgin (Ayu said it was the main idea of SAMAN), Ayu did not comment anything. Instead she said:

“So far, there have been two criticisms on SAMAN that I consider eligible to pay attention. One of them is from a feminist from Australia. She said that no matter what, SAMAN still talked about men’s superiority on women. Among some leading characters in SAMAN, the most conspicuous one is SAMAN, a male character. Saman is the hero for the villagers in one plantation in Sumatra; he belongs to public creature. On the contrary, the female characters (Laila, Yasmin, Cok, and Sakuntala) are just decorations in the story.”

By the way, the main reason why the committee of KAMPOENG WEDANGAN invited Ayu Utami was to share her experience in writing novels; how to be an entrepeneur by being a writer. She said that one step someone must undergo before being an author is being a writer.
LL 15.35 221207

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Religious ...

When reading one article in Jurnal Perempuan number 54, I remember one friction I had with a very good friend of mine. It was not about gender equality though; it was more on religious pluralism.
I was born in a very strict religious Muslim family, raised by religious parents who happen to have conventional beliefs (such as only Muslim will go to heaven, believe strongly that heaven was created by God only for Muslim, and hell was created for human beings who don’t get ‘enlightenment’ by adhering in Islam.), parents who undergo different spiritual journey from me, either because they intentionally let themselves “closed” from any other possibility (let’s say that God is not a SEVERE CREATOR THAT WILL BLOODY PUNISH GOD’S CREATURES IN A PLACE CALLED HELL AFTER THE JUDGMENT DAY, or God did plan that human beings live adhering different religions/beliefs, God indeed LETS it happen), or because my parents live in a “limited sphere” so that they never come to the ‘enlightenment’ I got.
My spiritual journey eventually made me “convert” to be a secular Muslim. However, my background—used to be in those rigidly conventional Muslim’s shoes—made me easy to understand why those people think that way. I also understand if those people need to do something “important” (according to their way of thinking) in order to “save” me from secularism. And since I am the minority in my family, my struggle is really not easy, is it? (To convince them that I don’t need to be ‘saved’ in their way.)
My good friend said that he would never understand those people—that he said like “frogs in a coconut shell”—who are strongly convinced that only Islam is their ticket to enter heaven. “They let themselves blinded by their strong belief in their religion that they worship as they worship God.” He argued. It is just like he did not understand why I relented to an “imbecile” (quoting one term used by Laksmi in her article “Addicted to Religion” somewhere at to call a religion addict) that happens to be my very own sister.
My good friend does not have the same background as me. Is that why he would never understand why I relented?
Oh, how I often feel painful and broken hearted when talking about religiosity versus secularism.
PT56 22.05 091207

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Celebrating Women's Diversity

“Celebrating Women's Diversity” is the main topic of Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal) number 54. Diversity is indeed something certain that we cannot avoid in our lives. To force a plural society to be homogeneous must be out of question.
What ‘diversity’ is meant in this journal?
The fact that the idea of feminism—that refers to the equality between men and women in all aspects of life—was proposed by the white women is undeniable. However, to say that what has been struggled by the white women can be applied to all kinds of women in the world—that means colored women are considered to have similar problems as well as solutions with the white—is something needs negating. Therefore, then some other kinds of feminisms appear, such as multicultural feminism that is considered more appropriate for colored women.
In Indonesia with its many kinds of ethnic group—with Javanese (read  have dark/light brown complexion, almond-shaped eyes, straight/wavy hair) as the majority—we still cannot categorize all women’s problems to reach equality with their fellow human beings (read  men) into one classification. Women In Java island themselves can be categorized into rural and urban women, metropolitan or small town women. They can have different way of thinking to view equality. Women in other islands—such as those who have dark complexion with kinky hair—perhaps need to struggle something else. Different culture in one ethnic group values different things from others.
I will take one easy example of women who come from low social class. They have to work hard to survive, not just to get self-esteem or reach self-actualization, as what women from high social class pursue in their life. These women probably will not understand why women from high social class have to work if their husbands can provide them everything they need. They even probably want to enjoy lingering at home, without worrying what to eat today. On the contrary, women from high social class who can “enjoy” working to pursue their self-actualization is not guaranteed free from patriarchal society’s oppression.
Therefore it is necessary to accept the diversity.
Several weeks ago, I read an article stating a group of women had a demonstration to refuse women activist’s struggle to reach equality (check this site – in Bahasa though Since the article didn’t mention clear names for the exact places where those women did the demo, including the exact dates, I was of opinion that it was just a misleading writing by someone who did not like the idea of gender equality. However, if it did happen, I think we had better respect each other’s values. We—women activists—appreciate those women who choose to be full housewives, dedicate their whole lives for their husband and children, as well as make themselves subservient before their husbands—the breadwinner. On the other hand, they respect women activists who keep struggling for gender equality. As I wrote somewhere in this blog, feminism also means giving women full choices what to do in their life, whether they want to be a full housewife, or to work in public sphere, either for self-esteem or self-actualization or work to make their ends meet.
God, the Omnipotent, did not create just one race because I believe God also thinks that differences create beauty.
PT56 21.30 091207

Friday, December 7, 2007

Library Thing Website

I recently attended a romance author conference and went to a workshop where a member of my RWA chapter, author and a employee at the King County Library mentioned this website. She stated that libraries in the Pacific Northwest look at this site to see if they want to purchase local authors books or to see what category romance readers are reading.

I have been a member for some time....the membership was free and I wanted to catalogue the books I was reading and share my reviews with others. I recently paid for a lifetime membership and it's a way to share my love of romance reading. Here's some info, if you're interested and my book catalogue is MarilynS. If you see yourself on the website, please add your photo. If you have an admin I would certainly suggest you add your books for others to see.

How can authors use LibraryThing?

Every author automatically has an "author page" on LibraryThing—it's generated by the system as soon as someone adds a book written by you to their library.

Add a photo or picture to your author page.

Add links to your website, your blog, your publisher, interviews, fan sites, etc.

LibraryThing is also a great place for authors to connect on a personal level with their readers. Become an official LibraryThing Author, and showcase some of your personal books for interested readers.

Are you a reader who wants to try your hand at reviewing?

Here's your chance to review for your favorite author. It's free and a place to share with others what you're reading.

How can libraries use LibraryThing?

Fully integrate LibraryThing's social data into your catalog using LibraryThing for Libraries. LTFL lets you add tag-based browsing, book recommendations, ratings, reviews and more to your OPAC, by integrating with LibraryThing and its high-quality book data.


Kindle - Amazon's Reading Device

Are you asking Santa for one? I went on Amazon's website and most people are rating it 3 stars. It seems that most people feel it's over-priced but I would be interested to hear if you have one and what you think?

Product Overview

Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper. Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing. Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed. Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.

More than 90,000 books available, including more than 95 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers.

New York Times® Best Sellers and all New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise.

Free book samples. Download and read first chapters for free before you decide to buy.

Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly.

Top international newspapers from France, Germany, and Ireland; Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and The Irish Times—all auto-delivered wirelessly.

More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post—all updated wirelessly throughout the day.

Lighter and thinner than a typical paperback; weighs only 10.3 ounces.

Holds over 200 titles.

Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.

Unlike WiFi, Kindle utilizes the same high-speed data network (EVDO) as advanced cell phones—so you never have to locate a hotspot.

No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—we take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.

Includes free wireless access to the planet's most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia— Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Polygamy has been quite a boring topic for me actually (you can check how many posts I have written for this topic in this blog of mine). But still this time, I will write something about it again. If I don’t come up with a new ‘finding’ in this article, I do apologize. :)
What inspired me to write this article is the hot debate in one mailing list I join about this topic. JIL (Jaringan Islam Liberal or Liberal Islam Network) is one big Islam organization in Indonesia with very progressive policies and support pluralism and gender equality highly. (Check its site at Therefore when it was found out that one member of the mailing list was a polygamist, some feminist members were upset with this. They opined that JIL was not consistent to fight the gender inequality because letting a polygamist join the mailing list. They believed that having more than one wife is a violent act toward women and children and JIL is therefore absolutely against it.
To defend his polygamous ‘attitude’, the ‘culprit’ (LOL) gave excuse that the verses in Alquran are indeed multi-interpretable. There is no absolute truth of one interpretation, including in polygamy (mostly polyginy). He was supported by some other members saying, “Why should we bother with this case if the women themselves do not mind being the second, the third, or the nth wife.” As one organization that supports pluralism highly, JIL is not supposed to be ‘narrow-minded’ by believing in only one interpretation of Surah Annisa 3 (and some other verses related to it): the practice of polygamy is HARAM.
The ‘opposing’ side responded that human beings were created with brain so that they will use it to THINK. When many facts show that polygamy indeed engenders more problems and violence to women and children rather than positive sides (such as giving aids to the second wife, either in financially, or sociologically, etc) brainy human beings are supposed to take a wise interpretation: polygamy must be condemned and crushed from the world (the latter perhaps is very impossible to happen though).
One thing (quite) hurtful to some people is that in the past, the ‘culprit’ showed his contempt of the practice of polygamy, especially when one polygamist in Indonesia (quite popular public figure) proposed an idea to have POLYGAMY AWARD to encourage men to have more than one wife. He condemned this shameful award because having more than one wife was not an ideal thing, and award was something mostly related to the best thing. And in fact, eventually, he himself also married another woman while his first wife was still healthy, alive. FYI, referring to the Compilation of Islamic Law in Indonesia, a man can marry another woman under the following condition:
1.The wife cannot get pregnant to give the husband children
2.The wife is invalid so that she cannot serve the husband in bed
3.The wife is incapable of doing household chores, especially to serve the husband
My blog visitors can find out my view on polygamy by reading all posts of mine on this topic in this blog. As an additional point, I agree with one member saying that some ‘high profile’ of Indonesian public figures who are polygamists have got social punishment. Instead of making polygamous act accepted more worldwide (especially in Indonesia) by encouraging other men to follow their steps (such as PW who launched a tabloid named POLYGAMY a year ago, and in his chain restaurant he also provided one drink in the menu named POLYGAMY juice), their businesses even underwent loses. To me, it shows that although Indonesian (conventional Muslim) people get difficulty to separate religion from their daily routines, and they easily get ‘blurred’ in viewing things when ulemas influence national issues—such as easily condemning Al-Qiyadah as deviant religious sect, in term of polygamy, there are still many Indonesian people who are against it. My last year worry—that the giving of POLYGAMY AWARD and the launching of POLYGAMY tabloid would fool around Indonesian conventional Muslim people easily—did not come true. At least, until today.
PT56 13.05 191107

Monday, November 5, 2007

Annie West's New Years Contest

THE FANTASTIC NEW YEAR CONTEST will run through November and December, drawn on 30 December (Eastern Australian Time). One lucky reader will receive a gift package to start the new year off in style. The prizes include:

• A signed copy of Untouched by Anna Campbell
• A signed, hardcover copy of The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected
Wife by Annie West
• Notepads and sticky notes from both authors
• A coverflat for Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
• Three other Avon cover flats
• Bookmarks
• A 2008 desk calendar
• Chocolate to enjoy while reading your new books.

What a way to start the new year! Entry is easy. Just email me with 'Contest' in the header and answer these two easy questions:

1. Where is Grace's farm? You'll find the answer in the excerpt of Untouched on Anna's site; and

2. Name one of the things that convinces Stavros that Tessa Marlowe is who she says she is. You'll find the answer in the excerpt of The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife.

The winner will be contacted by email and their name posted on both sites site with permission early in the new year. Please note that by entering this contest, you also agree to Annie and Anna contacting you via email with newsletters or notices of book releases. One entry per person please.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sandra Brown - TV - Murder by the Book

From Sandra's PA:

Set your TIVO!

Sandra will be hosting the season premiere of CourtTV's Murder by the Book this Monday night, November 5 at 10:00 PM EST.

Other hosts this season include David Baldacci, Lisa Scottoline, Jonathan Kellerman, Lee Child, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Wambaugh, Kathy Reichs, and Harlan Coben, among other bestsellers.

Please watch the premiere on November 5th when she'll present one of Texas's most captivating and sensational murder trials -- and that's saying a LOT! Check your cable or satellite provider's local listings for actual station and time.

You can find more information here:

Harlequin Presents Writing Competition

My Australian friend and Presents author Annie West sent this to me.....are you an unpublished author, well here's your chance!

by Tessa Shapcott, Executive Editor


Have you always dreamed of writing for Presents?

The INSTANT SEDUCTION writing competition for original first chapters
is coming!

The old saying goes that first impressions are lasting impressions –
and when it comes to a book, that certainly holds true. If the first
chapter doesn't immediately grip the reader, then they just won't
bother to go on any further.

Regular readers of Presents will know that the hallmarks of all our
stories are pace, passion and intensity – and that they expect to see
them stamped on our novels from the very first page.

So, do you harbor a burning ambition to become a writer for Harlequin
Presents? Do you think that you can grab readers' attention and
instantly seduce them with your characters, dialogue, emotional
conflict and sizzling sensual tension from the moment they begin
turning the pages?

Then we want to hear from you!

The INSTANT SEDUCTION Writing Competition

* The WINNER receives an editor for a year!

*TWO RUNNERS-UP will be given critiques of their first chapter
entries and an editorial telephone consultation!

*Pre-competition writer tutorials on writing for Presents for all
available on the site from November 1st! Look out for advice on:
• Living with and loving the Alpha Male
• Developing a Global Writing Voice
• Generating Emotional Conflict
• How to Write a Synopsis
• How to be a professional writer

When can you enter? Competition runs from 1st January to 14th
February 2008. Look out for the competition guidelines – coming very

My Naivete

To be raised in a very strict religious family and sent to Islamic (although only) elementary school is one of my big burdens in this life, I assume. The bigger burden is when I successfully (I suppose so) gave myself ‘enlightenment’ to get rid of the blind Islamic teachings and doctrines (you can read my post I entitled “My Spiritual Journey” in (in English) or (in Bahasa), I still (have to) live surrounded by those people who are blindly indoctrinated. The most recent case of Al Qiyadah even showed that the majority of Muslim in Indonesia—not only those living around me—is still blindly indoctrinated.
When I involve myself in the lively discussion (especially about religion) with my cyber friends in one mailing list, I feel my burden get lighter. However when I keep in touch with people around me—with their judgmental eyes when looking at me—I always feel like thumped to a very hard rock! And since I lack masculine soul—I don’t like direct confrontation—I would rather be quiet.
Referring to Sobrino, one liberal theologian from Latin America, (cited by one member of JIL), three important aspects in enlightenment are: human agency, critical (and intellectual) thinking, and public reasoning. I somewhat doubt if people around me—and also Muslim people in Indonesia generally—will really be enlightened so that they will respect what other people believe if they keep thinking that religion is not dialectical. Their reasoning has been silenced and will always be dumb with the government (plus the media)’s strong support. When their reasoning is silenced, how can they think critically? That means their role as an agent does not function well either.
And I must say that I am really impatient to wait a miracle to come so that I will really live humanly and peacefully, without being judged unfairly.
PT56 23.50 021107


I have recently been wondering what America would be like now if it had not been ‘colonized’ (instead of ‘rediscovered’) by Columbus at the end of the fifteenth century; if the welfare of people in England had been good after that, if Puritans—and some other so-called ‘deviant’ religious sects—had been welcome well by the country so that they did not need to escape from their homeland.
Todd and Curti in their book “Rise of the American Nation” (1972: 24-25) mentioned five reasons for many English people—as well as other Europeans” to migrate to the New World:

Conflict over religion
Search for religion freedom
Search for political freedom
Widespread unemployment
Economic ferment

The first and second reasons can be categorized into one similar problem, and so can the fourth and fifth reasons; while the third reason shows the hostility of the citizens toward the government. King James I (1603-1625) and King Charles (1625-1640) ruled without Parliament because they believed in “the divine right of kings”. (1972:25)
The recent condition in Indonesia reminds me of the not conducive situation in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The somewhat chaotic situation in adhering religion in Indonesia lately—due to the most contemporary so-called deviant Al Qiyadah Al Islamiyah and some other sects such as Ahmadiyah before—in fact is not far cry from the ugly condition in England several centuries ago. This is also accompanied by the rising poverty line due to widespread unemployment and the soaring prices of anything. The difference is it (still) happens in Indonesia in this “modern” time while “modern countries” are supposed to support tolerance and freedom to choose which religion to adhere. It shows that Indonesia fails to fulfill one of the tenets to be a modern country.
Lately, some newspapers (I read) have headlined Al Qiyadah—that is categorized deviant sect unfairly by the government. The way the newspapers write the news and even in the editorial—the dictions, the tone, etc—shows that they also take side to the government and Al Qiyadah becomes the culprit. That means the government is strongly supported by the media (forgive my limited reading because I don’t read a lot of newspapers published in Indonesia) to dictate the majority of Indonesian citizens’ attitude.
Coincidently not long ago one mailing list I join—RumahKitaBersama—talked about adhering a religion and practicing its teachings blindly—one of its longest thread if I am not mistaken. One of its discussion is about the arrogance of Muslims’ claim that Islam is the most perfect religion, the last one that complete its two ‘older siblings’—Jewish and Christian. I threw a question, “When Christian was believed by its adherents to complete Jewish, this upset the Jewish. When Islam is believed by its adherents to perfect Christian (and Jewish)’ teachings, this offended both religions. Will one day a new religion emerges, and it is said to complete the previous three Abrahamic faiths, will Muslim get angry?” The answer was: “the new religion perhaps will not have time to grow since it will easily and quickly be labeled ‘deviant’ and killed afterwards.”
And there it was: out of the blue Al Qiyadah emerged and its prophet Abussalam alias Ahmad Moshadded became a new celebrity.
When Professor Kenneth Hall—my guest lecturer when I was studying at American Studies Gadjah Mada University—said that the social life of Indonesia was left behind America around 50 years, can we say that Indonesia is left behind England several centuries in the not conducive situation in adhering religions?
PT56 11.11 021107

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chick Lit Club - New Website

Launched in October ’07, a new “ChickLit Website”. Author Interviews, Author News, New Releases and a Forum…….looks like a fun site!


Quote from ChickLitClub.......About the Website:

Chicklit Club - a site especially for anyone wanting to know everything about chick lit books. With more than 250 rated titles, 150 authors and 75 book previews and counting . . . this is the one-stop site for readers needing their fix of chick lit.

If you want to find out about the latest releases and what's about to hit our shelves, head to our

New Releases and Sneak Peek sections.

If you seek the lowdown on which titles to add to your to-be-read piles and which ones to give a miss, check out our Titles A-Z listing where each book has been given a rating out of 10.

1-3 There goes a few hours you'll never get back.
4 Recommend it to an enemy.
5 Average but with some redeeming bits.
6 Will entertain but not rock you.
7 Worth recommending to a friend.
8 You'll find this hard to put down.
9-10 Absolutely brilliant. Why didn't I write this?

If you want to know which authors to try next or uncover other titles a favourite author has penned, check out Authors A-Z.

Want to read about our Top 10 all-time titles, favourite authors, most loved characters and more, then click on the Top 10 section.

Classic Reads looks at those must-read titles that have helped define chick lit over the past decade.

Dream Themes and Take Two are the places to go if you like reading by theme or can't wait for the sequel.

Or try out some of our Club Challenges - as an individual or as part of a book group.

And because we're from Down Under, there's a special Australian Made section for those wanting to catch up with homegrown authors and books.

Keep visiting us as more information is added every week, including author Interviews, industry news and Screen Scene gossip about how chick lit novels are making it big in the TV and movie worlds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

KISS AND TELL - Harlequin and Carly Phillips

Sorry this is late but I just saw it this evening..........

Kiss and tell, win $1,000

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Remember your best kiss? The one that gave you butterflies and made you feel like this was the one guy you'd want to go on kissing forever? Tell HQN Books and author Carly Phillips about that kiss in 25 words or fewer and you might win $1,000.

It's all in celebration of the author's new novel, "Sealed With a Kiss" (HQN Books, October 2007, $7.99). The book focuses on the emotional issues of some of the characters from her 2006 bestseller "Cross My Heart," bringing them together to solve a crime. When Molly Gifford's father is charged with murder, Molly is determined to get the best criminal lawyer available -- even though the best is Daniel Hunter, the ex-boyfriend she dumped a year earlier. Though time has yet to heal his wounds, he agrees to help -- and they seal their pact to free her father with a soul-searing kiss. This is one lawyer who's determined to win -- in love and in law.

Readers can enter the contest by telling Phillips about their best, most life-changing kiss in 25 words or fewer. The winner can use the money to recreate that special moment, go on a romantic getaway -- or any way she pleases to make her life a little better.

To enter online, visit, follow the onscreen entry instructions and send a brief description (25 words or less) of your best kiss. To enter via mail, hand-print (or type) on an 8-1/2-by-11-inch plain piece of paper your full name, mailing address and telephone number and send along with a brief description of your best kiss in 25 words or less to: The Carly Phillips' Sealed with a Kiss Contest 20705, 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 9069, Buffalo, NY 14269-9069. For eligibility, all online entries must be received through 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 15. All mail-in entries must be postmarked by Nov. 15 and received by Nov. 22.

To obtain a copy of these official rules, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: The Carly Phillips' Sealed with a Kiss Contest 20705 Rules, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON M3B 3K9. Limit one submission per person or e-mail address. If more than one entry is received from one person or e-mail address, only the first entry submitted will be considered valid. Entries received from persons residing in geographic areas in which entry is not permissible will be disqualified

Romance Novels Tap Into Hospitals For Storylines

Romance Novels Tap Into Hospitals For Storylines
October 26, 2007 8:33 a.m. EST

Ishita Sukhadwala - AHN News Writer
Dublin, Ireland (AHN) -
Irish physician Dr. Brendan Kelly conducted a tongue-in-cheek study, the findings of which he published in the medical journal Lancet.

Dr. Kelly randomly selected 20 medical romance novels and found that majority leaned towards "brilliant, tall, muscular, male doctors with chiselled features, working in emergency medicine" who were "commonly of Mediterranean origin and had personal tragedies in their pasts", according to The Associated Press (AP).

The female protagonists - mainly working in primary care, obstetrics/neonatology, surgery or emergency medicine - were "skilled, beautiful and determined but still compassionate."

Karin Stoecker, editorial director at Harlequin Mills and Boon, said: "We see exactly the same on televised medical dramas. In these kinds of professions, there is the need to remain emotionally distant, which spills over into private lives - there's nothing more thrilling than a damaged hero", reports BBC News.

Hospital romance is one of the fastest growing sub-genres in romantic fiction. According to the Romance Writers of America, it generates $1.2billion in annual sales and accounts for 39 percent of all fiction sold in the U.S, AP reports.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Housewife, anyone?

“Everything happens for a reason.”
This somewhat wise statement was uttered by one of my workmates yesterday. She told me about one of her cousins who is about the same age with her. Since they were child, they were somewhat competitive to each other; such as in education, beauty, career, and perhaps eventually the success to get rich husband.
My friend said, “She got married at an earlier age that made me envy her because that gave me an idea that she beat me finally. I got married after I reached a so-called ‘crucial age’ for women to get married. Therefore, I felt like I didn’t have many choices whom I would marry. When knowing that her husband is quite successful in his business so that they have a good house and car, I had to say that I even envied her more. She is a full housewife, only sometimes she gets some order to make cakes, one of her capabilities that can make her earn her own money. Sometimes when my kids protest when I am about to go to work, because they want me to stay, they really make me down in the dumps. I want to be a full housewife too so that I don’t need to work. But only depending on my husband’s paycheck, we will not be able to survive.”
I kept listening to her.

“However, she is a bit fussy to her maids so that none of them stands working with her for more than one month. This made her obliged to do all of household chores by herself, including to take her children to go to school. Her husband doesn’t help her do the chores at all because his right hand cannot be used freely due to an accident. And perhaps because he thinks that he is the main breadwinner in the family, he doesn’t need to help his wife to do household chores. It is fully his wife’s responsibility. Not long ago, my cousin’s mother –in-law passed away. And in fact this has made her much busier since the responsibility to take care of her father-in-law who is already elderly becomes hers too. This made me think whether I could change position with her: having a rich husband, two children who are still studying in the elementary school, but no housemaid, and also having to take care of an elderly father-in-law, plus one grandmother-in-law, I think I will give up soon.”

This sounds more interesting, doesn’t it? 

“I have two toddlers, one is two years old and the other one is still six months old, and my husband is really helpful to do household chores, perhaps in return of my helping him earn money. I don’t think I can make it without having a housemaid, as I have told you after Lebaran (Eid Mubarrak Day) my housemaid didn’t go back to work anymore, I am often at my wits’ end. It is not easy to look for a new housemaid who cares and loves my children as to her own kids. I start to realize that everything happens for a reason. I am not supposed to envy my cousin.”

A good ending, eh? LOL.
“I believe that being a full housewife is really a hard task for me. I am not sure if I can make it. Can you?” she asked me.
Recently I must say that sometimes I ask myself that question, a question that in the past I would answer strongly, “NO!” 

“Well, I don’t mind being one as long as I still can do something that will make me reach my self-actualization. The problem is being a full housewife for me doesn’t give me self-actualization. To me, doing household chores doesn’t give me satisfaction.” I responded.
“I opine that being a housewife is really noble for women, because it is hard to do. I cannot make it either.” She went on.

“I am sorry to say that I don’t really agree with you. Women have choices to do what they want to do, things that give them satisfaction, and even self-actualization. No profession is nobler than any other profession. Women who choose to be a housewife perhaps get that satisfaction and actualization by doing household chores, for example by having a neat, and tidy house, without any single spot of dirt, without anything lying not at the right place—just like the women in “The Stepford Wives” movie. Women who choose to do desk job—behind desk from eight to five daily, probably get their satisfaction in it. Women who choose to do dangerous and risky job, such as working in mining sites possibly get another kind of satisfaction. Women who choose to work in glamorous world, such as models, actresses, etc, get different satisfaction too. And they are all equal, in my opinion. Just like some women who are very proud and satisfied when they get ‘label’ as superwomen because they are willing to do both domestic (read => doing household chores) and ‘public’ job (read => having career outside the house) are equal too with other women who choose to do only one of them, domestic or public job; not better not worse.”
It is just a matter of making a choice.
PT56 10.35 261007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Epitaph ...

Several months ago while discussing “epitaph” in Poetry Analysis Class, a student said, “Wah ... it must be very expensive Ma’am. My neighbor has an undertaking business. He told me the longer the name of a person is, the more expensive the tomb is because the cost is counted per letter. Moreover if the family wants to engrave poem on the tomb. I assume this thing is especially only for rich people. Luckily here in Java, people don’t have a habit to engrave epitaph.”
As far as I know, in Indonesia, people can find tombs with epitaph mostly in Manado, North Sulawesi where people know there are many people with mixed blood (Indonesian and Dutch) so that it is concluded that the habit of engraving epitaph comes from Dutch people that used to live in Manado and marry women there. If it is related to the beginning history of America, the Puritans left England to look for a new place to live in where they could embrace any religion and practice the rituals they believed, some moved to Holland. They must have brought this engraving tomb from England to Holland, (and then from Holland, they brought it to Indonesia, especially in Manado) while those migrating to the New World brought it there too.
Around a year ago, someone from one mailing list I joined asked other members to write epitaph he would engrave on his tombstone after he died. I wrote one, and sent it to the mailing list. This in fact attracted one good friend of mine, a member of that mailing list too. He said, “People don’t need to engrave anything on my tombstone later because I will ask my body burned.”
As a Muslim, of course I never have an idea for such a thing. However, his comment made me think more deeply. One habit of Javanese people before Ramadhan month—a sacred month where people fast—is to visit their family members’ graveyard. People do it again after Idul Fitri comes. To do this habit, someone sometimes has to go to a quite far distance, let’s say from Jakarta to Semarang (around 500 km away). To me, it sounds impractical.
What is the point to visit a graveyard? If only to send pray to the deceased, people can do it from anywhere, no need to visit the graveyard, as if the deceased really dwelled there, so that he/she would directly see who come to visit. I suppose we believe that what is buried is only flesh and bones that will quickly rot while the ‘soul’ of the deceased will not dwell there.
I remember when I was in elementary school, my teacher said that it was necessary to visit graveyard so that people would always remember that they would die one day, so that they would behave in the world because later after they die, they’ve got to be responsible with everything they do. I also learn that sending pray to the deceased is more important than just visiting the graveyard bringing bouquet or offerings. And again, to send pray can be done from anywhere, right? no need to go to the graveyard?
Is it right those corruptors (or other criminals) don’t remember that one day they will die and they have to be responsible their crimes in the world in front of God? Is it right that those who regularly go to visit graveyards behave better because it means they always remember one day they will die?
My friend who said that he wanted his body to be burned must belong to the practical type so that he will not bother his offspring to engrave his tombstone that will cost much money, or to visit his graveyard (imagine if his graveyard is in Indonesia while his offspring live in another part of the globe).
Anyway, in studying literature, it is always interesting to learn about epitaph. By the way, around a year ago, a blog friend of mine from England said that people there no longer think of writing an epitaph to be engraved in tombstone (it has been a tradition there anyway), but they start to select what kind of song/music played in their burial.
PT56 17.07 161007

Teaching religions to kids = an abusive act?

Wednesday October 3, 2007 was the first day of this term at my workplace. At 15.00-17.00 I got a quite high level, High Intermediate 2 (there are four levels for High Intermediate). One common thing that happens in a quite high level on the first day of a term is the small number of students coming to class. Out of four students on the attendance list, there were only two students coming, both of them were male; one is a senior high school student, in the second grade, while the other one is a college student, in his fifth semester.
Since not many students came, and it was the first meeting, we had free topic to talk. I started asking where they studied. The senior high school student—let’s call him ‘Ale’—is studying at SMA Kolese Loyola, one very well-known private high school for the good quality in Semarang. He also told me that he graduated from Bernardus elementary school and Domenico Savio junior high school, both are Catholic schools and both are oftentimes favorite schools for Chinese descendants. Referring to his school and his (ex) schools, I easily made a conclusion that he is Catholic. He is Javanese though, not Chinese.
I got surprised when I asked him whether there were some Muslims studying at SMA Loyola because he told me that he was a Muslim. “Loyola is a Catholic school Ma’am but perhaps there are around 30 percents of the students who are not Catholic. They are Muslim, like me, or Buddhist, Christian, or Hindu.”
His ‘consistency’ in studying in Catholic schools (elementary – junior high – senior high schools) reminded me of one family in my neighborhood whose parents sent most of their children to Catholic schools. In fact that made the children convert to Catholic. (I wrote about this family in one of my posts. You can check it at Therefore, I asked whether his parents already anticipated the possibility of his to convert to Catholic. He said, “My parents forced me to study at that Catholic elementary school for the good quality of education although I remember at the very beginning I protested. However, they strongly warned me not to convert. That’s why they also obliged me to learn to recite Alquran, to pray five times a day, and since I am a boy, they encouraged me to pray Maghrib and Isya in the mosque close to my house.”
“Will you tell me whether you have ever been marginalized at school since you belong to the minority group?” I asked Ale. I remember one visitor in my blog who wrote that it was indeed unfavorable condition to belong to the marginalized—whether due to religion adhered or ethnic group—in Indonesia. I have never experienced it since I belong to the majority.
Surprisingly, he said that he never got mocked or marginalized at school. He learned Catholic as one compulsory subject to take at school as knowledge, not different from other subjects, such as Math, Geography, Biology, Physics, etc. It means this ‘knowledge’ about another religion would not threaten his faith is Islam, the religion he has adhered since he was born, not because of choice, but because his parents asked him to follow them. One wise thing he learned from his Catholic teacher was, “There are many ways to get close to God. We are free to choose which way it is, no way is wrong.” That impressed me very much since I remember when I was at elementary school, my teacher said, “Islam is absolutely the only right way to get close to God, to enter heaven later. Other religions—or faiths—will make you go to hell.”
In fact, one (not really—for me) surprising thing was when he was even mocked in his reciting Alquran class. His teacher intimidated him—a little boy who just wanted to obey what his parents asked him to—to study at Catholic school. Sometimes, in the mosque that he visited everyday to pray Maghrib and Isya together with other Muslims, he was also cornered by other kids, “Hey, you are Catholic, aren’t you? So why do you pray here?” Oftentimes mocked by his reciting Alquran teacher and his friends at that class, Ale just kept quiet, didn’t respond. He was split into two, his parents who forced him to study at Catholic schools and his surrounding who did not want to understand his situation. And he was just a little and helpless kid at that time.
Coincidently not long time ago, I read one discussion in one mailing list I join about the possibility of adhering (or teaching) a religion for kids is an abusive act (referring to Dawkins’ accusation). The way parents or teachers teach little children about religion is not much different from the fact that the existence of God is analogous with “Big brother is watching you”. In order to make a kid obey the religion’s teachings, parents or teachers use doctrines, such as “Don’t steal. God is watching you.” “Don’t commit sin because God will always know that. Consequently, you will go to hell—a special place God has prepared for sinful people.” You can name many other DON’TS that are related to “Big brother is watching you.”
Meanwhile, in another mailing list I join, some time ago there was a discussion about adhering a religion and practicing its teachings blindly. Lots of people believe that religion is not dialectical. Therefore, they just swallow any doctrines stuffed into their brain, without questioning because their logic has been silenced during their childhood. They don’t dare to think that those doctrines they learn from ulemas (expert in Islam) are possibly the result of those ulemas’ own interpretation that they daringly say, “These are what God says…”
I will not draw any conclusion in this writing of mine. I invite anybody to share their opinion for this topic: teaching religion to kids is an abusive act that will kill their logic. This will create people who practice their religious rituals blindly if they don’t develop their horizon. (Is there anybody or anything to blame? I assume we had better stop looking for scapegoat, though.)
PT56 23.00 171007

Women's Burden ...

Last Monday 15 October 2007 when reading an article in the local newspaper about a thirty-year-old woman who left her two toddlers in a car parked in the parking lot of one big mosque located in the downtown of Semarang, I remembered one article I posted in my blog more than a year ago. (Here is the link Women who are burdened by patriarchal society’s norm to be “good women” or “good wife” are more apt to get nervous breakdown more often than men.
More than a year ago when my Mom told me about one friend of hers—around sixties—who left her husband and children, I also thought of the same thing. The husband said to my Mom, “We never quarrel, everything is okay between us. That’s why I don’t understand why she left abruptly.” I must say that until this twenty first century, Indonesian women—or perhaps eastern women—are still burdened by “doctrines” to be “good women”, such as: always submit to your husband, listen to anything he says to you and obey it, give him your first priority while yours is the last, etc. That’s why I somewhat doubted with what her husband said. “Never quarrel” did not automatically mean that everything was okay because it was very possible that his wife was practicing those good-women doctrines that unfortunately did not fit her way of thinking. However, she did not have any other choice but obeyed. After she thought that she no longer had patience to live her life, she went away.
On Tuesday 16 October 2007 the same local newspaper informed that the thirty-year-old woman—she was recognized as Diana—was found in one street in the country—between Semarang and one small town nearby. She was diagnosed as suffering from a serious mental depression so that she could not give any explanation of her act. Due to that, she was brought to a mental hospital in Semarang.
Similar to one accident that happened to a mutilated woman body several months ago, the local newspaper started to try ‘making up the background’. Therefore, suddenly Diana became like a new-born celebrity in Semarang. People are made to be curious to know the personal life of Diana (by the continuation of ‘making up the background’ news in that local newspaper daily), her ‘individualist’ lifestyle (read  not get along with the neighbors well), her marriage life, her business, etc. This reached a peak when the local newspaper featured this case in its editorial on Wednesday 17 October 2007 entitled “Ibu yang Tega terhadap Anak-Anaknya” (A woman who is heartless to her children). Apart from what was written in the article, the title itself already gave unfair judgment toward Diana. She was judged as heartless without trying to look into the background of her act first.
The article also emphasized on Diana’s individualist lifestyle and aloof character as “unhealthy socializing’. If only she had been more sociable, perhaps the accident (read  Diana leaving her toddlers in a car in a parking lot of one mosque) would not have happened.
I do agree when people say that human beings are social creatures. They need to get along with other people. To some extent, some people really need someone they trust to confide in, to reduce their mental burden, or to share their happiness and sorrow. However, for aloof people—I am one of them—it is not easy for them to do that. Being friendly to other people—for example neighbors in this case, or workmates—does not always mean it is easy to confide in to them, and automatically it will reduce their burden.
LONGMAN Dictionary defines ‘individualist’ as someone who does things in their own way and has different opinions from most other people. An individualist will not like the idea to bother other people while expecting that other people will let them live their life peacefully too. No one bothers and no one to be bothered. Someone becomes an individualist when they realize that their way of life is different from other people so that they will feel uncomfortable to open themselves, moreover in society in Indonesia, where people will not easily be able to differentiate whether their neighbors care or are nosy.
So, does it mean that an individualist does not need someone to talk to or to confide in? In PRIME the movie, Rafi needs a therapist, a professional “listener’ so that she has to pay some amount of money only to find someone to talk to. In Indonesia, recently there have been some cases of celebrities to go to ‘ustadz’ or ulema that they call as their “spiritual teachers” to talk about their problems and ask for suggestion. The newspaper mentioned that Diana also has one spiritual teacher.
Perhaps it does not sound practical, besides it is also expensive because someone has to spend some money to find someone who is willing to listen to them. However, for aloof people who cannot easily talk to anybody, it is the best choice.
Going back to Diana’s case. I am of opinion that this is closely related to this patriarchal society that are still gender-biased. I am looking forward to the time when women are no longer burdened by “doctrines” to be good woman or good wife.
PT56 22.00 171007


When doing small researches to write a paper I entitled “America – A Dream that Has Not Come True” in African American Literature Class and another paper I entitled “’Salad Bowl’ and ‘Anti Semitism’ in Elmer Rice’s Street Scene” in Modern American Literature class in 2003, I was wondering if racial prejudice portrayed in “Street Scene” and racial discrimination illustrated in Langston Hughes’ poem—Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?—can still be easily found in America at the end of the twentieth century and in the beginning of the twenty first century.
When watching FREEDOM WRITERS, a movie inspired by a real event in Long Beach California that happened at the last decade of the twentieth century, I got the answer of that question of mine. Racial prejudice, racial violence, racial discrimination, or whatever people call it, still exists in the land Langston Hughes mentioned as a dream country for million immigrants with various color skins in his poem “Freedom’s Plow”. The movie starts with live news on TV showing gang violence and racial tension causing more than 120 people killed, following the Rodney King riots. It is followed by a depiction of how a Latino father raises his daughter—Eva Benita, one central character in the movie—to be the next generation of a gangster. The marginalized communities living in Long Beach—say Latino, Asians, and Black—believe that they have to fight each other for territory, kill each other over race, pride, and respect. In short, I can say that Long Beach is the “modern” area of the cheap tenement portrayed by Elmer Rice in his realistic play STREET SCENE (1929). What I mean “modern” here is people using more advanced ‘media’ to show their prejudice and hatred against different races, such as guns. In Long Beach, people are divided into some separate sections, depending on tribes. The Latinos get along with their own tribe, so do the Asians and Blacks. They openly show their hatred to each other. However, they can become united when facing the mainstream of America—the Whites.
For the marginalized tribes’ hatred toward the Whites, Eva said, “White people always want to be respected as if they deserve to get it for free. It is all about colors. It is all about people deciding what you deserve; about people wanting what they don’t deserve; about white people thinking they can get anything … no matter what.”
The amazing aspect from the movie is the way Erin Gruwell, one white English teacher working for Woodrow Wilson High School chosen by the government to be reform school with voluntary integration program to win her students’ hearts—many of them are just out of juvenile prison due to gang fights—to make them want an education and believe that the education will better their future. Failing to get her students’ attention on the first day, slowly Erin succeeds making them united to be hostile to her due to her white complexion. Later on Erin can get their attention and make them interested to read the books she buys for them, although it means she has to have an extra job to get money to buy the books. After making them interested to read the books she provides, Erin eventually succeeds making them realize that education will really change their future to be better. Nevertheless, her hard work and much time she dedicates for her students result in divorce because her husband—feeling neglected—does not agree with her way of living. Besides, Erin realizes that her happiness is gathered when she can help her students aware the meaning of their lives, and not just as a wife of a man.
This amazing movie is produced by Double Feature Films Production. Hilary Swank plays as Erin Gruwell, Patrick Dempsey as Scott Casey, Erin’s husband, Scott Glenn as her father, who always supports anything Erin does for her students, and April Lee Hernandez as Eva Benita.
PT56 13.20 161007

P.S.: You can view my post at for my paper "America - A Dream that Has Not Come True Yet" and my other post at for my paper on STREET SCENE

'Salad Bowl' versus 'Melting Pot'



America is known as a country that consists of many kinds of ethnic groups. People have used the term ‘melting pot’ to illustrate the various kinds of ethnic groups in America for quite a long time. However, recently some new terms come up to substitute that term, such as ‘salad bowl’ and ‘mosaic’.
Street Scene—a drama written by Elmer Rice during the Depression Era shows that the term ‘melting pot’ is no longer suitable to illustrate the various kinds of ethnic groups in America.
Street Scene—a drama written by Elmer Rice during the Depression Era shows that the term ‘melting pot’ is no longer suitable to illustrate the various kinds of ethnic groups in America.
This paper entitled “Salad Bowl and Anti-Semitism in Elmer Rice’s Street Scene” will analyze how a group of people living in a tenement show their prejudice toward other dwellers; how they still praise their native countries where they come from; and how they do not really like American culture, the country where they live at present time.

Key words: drama, melting pot, salad bowl, anti-Semitism, ethnic group


Drama is one of the three genres of literature that is given to students of Faculty of Language and Literature to sharpen their capability to analyze literary works. The material is taken from various sources, starting from classical works, such as The Odyssey by Homer, Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, until more modern works, such as A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. This paper, especially will talk about Modern American Drama.
In Chapter 8: American Drama—An Introduction Reuben divided Modern American Drama into three literary styles—realism, naturalism, and expressionism. Stage realism is the use of ordinary people, in ordinary settings, using commonplace dialect. Realistic plays show aspects of real people playing out conflicts and intrigues which reflect the ordinary experiences of American middle-lower class life. Recognizable heroes and villains were replaced with ordinary character showing ordinary thoughts and weakness.
Naturalism—a commonplace interchangeable with realism—assumes that humans are controlled by their environment, fate, psychology, chance or coincidence. Naturalistic situations are generally pessimistic and deterministic. Trapped and controlled, human behavior is instinctual and animalistic, there is heroism in a human’s desire to survive against insurmountable odds.
While in expressionistic plays, the playwright’s subjective sense of reality finds expression. The characters and the milieu may be realistic, but their presentation on stage is controlled by the writer’s personal biases and inclination (
Street Scene—a play written by Elmer Rice in 1929—obviously falls into realistic play because it tells about ordinary life of people which happens in a cheap tenement in New York where many immigrants from low class society live. The play has more than twenty six characters. None of them has more important role than the others. Street Scene “spoke in the voice of the people, complete with vicious racial and ethnic slurs and raw hatreds on display” ( 0,7621,BIO-P164197,00.html).
Street Scene—from which Elmer Rice got Pulitzer Prize (Gassner, 1949:566)—vividly portrays life in the early twentieth century New York teeming with people of all backgrounds living in a tenement. It portrays racial prejudices and hatred against other ethnics—problems that are always up-to-date until now.
Written in the Depression Era, Street Scene contains some problems faced by ordinary people at that time, such as racial and groups problems caused by a bulk of immigrants coming to New York by the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, domestic conflicts that happened to many families and which were triggered b common problems from outside, etc. However, this paper only focuses on the melting pot—a metaphor used to describe who is an American—and anti Semitisms elements.
Street Scene depicts the life that happened in New York at the beginning of the Depression Era. Besides a bulk of immigrants came to New York from other continents—Europe and Asia—many black people from the Southern part of America also moved there since they considered New York as “the Mecca of opportunity” ( No wonder, New York became very crowded and the dwellers of New York had to struggle to live decently.
In line with the real life portrayal in the play, historical criticism is used to explore Street Scene. Holman in his book A Handbook to Literature stated that historical criticism is criticism “that examines a work and describes and evaluates it in terms of the social, cultural, and historical context in which it was produced (1981:214). Due to the limited time, this paper will deal with the social and historical context only.


This chapter deals with the theoretical background of the analysis of the paper. “Melting pot” and “Anti-Semitism” are chosen here because when reading the play Street Scene, one will see clearly the description of those two elements. “Melting pot” is closely related to the many characters in the play who have various background, while “Anti-Semitism” is portrayed very clearly by Elmer Rice here with the presence of a Jewish family in the play.
This chapter also gives the background of the playwright—Elmer Rice—and the play itself—Street Scene. This chapter is provided here to give clear and complete information of the whole paper.

Melting Pot
The idea of melting pot is as old as the history of the United States itself. In 1782 Hector de Crevecoeur stated in his Letter III What is an American “…a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced … Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men …” (Baym, 1989:561).
From the quotation above, one can conclude that the United States is a country where people from different nationalities come and meet together, leave all their traditions behind and become new people with new manners, behavior, personality, and make up new traditions in their new country. The United States is the refuge for people who suffer from poverty and religious persecution because it offers its vast fertile land and freedom of religion for the new comers.
In 1908, a Jew from England, Israel Zangwill produced a play entitled “The Melting Pot”. One of the characters—David Quixano, a Russian Jewish immigrant—said that, “America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming!” (Glazer, 1970:289).
In the play, Zangwill portrays an intermarriage life between Quixano—a Jew—and his wife who comes from another ethnic. It conveys a message that still holds a tremendous power on the American imagination—the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, “a new alloy forged in a crucible of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility” ( melt0222.htm).
In 1908, when the play “The Melting Pot” opened in Washington, the United States was in the middle of absorbing the largest influx of immigrants in its history—Irish and Germans, followed by Italians and East Europeans. Catholics and Jews—some of 18 million new citizens between 1890 and 1920 ( melt0222. htm). The immigrants envisioned America as a vast land affording unlimited economic and social opportunities in an atmosphere free from harassment and interference. “By the mid-nineteenth century many came to this country with clear intentions of maintaining their separated cultural identities” (Rose, 1997:81).

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://www.wikipedia. org/wiki/Anti-Semitism) Anti-Semitism—opposite Philo-Semitism—is hatred directed against Jews. It typically takes the form of
Hostility toward Jews in a degree that greatly exceeds any legitimate grievances or resulting from no legitimate cause whatsoever, or
Disdain for supposed physical or moral features of Jews.
In the twentieth century, the most visible forms of anti-Semitism were
Racist anti-Semitism. Some people perceive Jews as people of racially distinct origin from other peoples, and claim that discrimination on the basis of such distinctness is valid
Religious anti-Semitism. Like almost every other religion in history, Judaism has faced discrimination and violence from people of competing faiths and in countries that practice state atheism.
In Economic anti-Semitism, many people believed that Jewish people—from medieval era to today—unfairly took away jobs and money from Christians. More commonly, there is prejudice against Jews on account of the fact that Jews are often, in spite of what ethnic and religious differences they have with the population at large, in positions of power and prestige. Hence, anti-Jewish prejudice is very often, by the defenders of Jews and Jewishness, ascribed to envy more than to any sort of religious concern. While racial anti-Semitism, the most modern form of anti-Semitism, is type of racism mixed with religious persecution. Racial anti-Semites believe erroneously that the Jewish people are at a distinct race. They also believe that Jews are inherently inferior to people of other races.
Besides provided by Wikipedia free encyclopedia, explanation about Anti-Semitism is also found in Grolier Academic Encyclopedia, which states that Anti-Semitism is “a form of prejudice towards Jews that may range from mild antipathy to violent hatred (1983:68)

The Background of the Playwright and the Play
Born Elmer Reizenstein in New York in 1892, he was a high school dropout who developed an interest in the legal profession and graduated cum laude from New York Law School at age 20. in 1913, he decided to try his hand at writing plays. The result was On Trial, a courtroom drama that he presented unsolicited to a producer and which proved good enough to get produced on Broadway, where it was a hit ( hc&id=1800077155cf=biog&intl=us).
From the 1914 until the mid 1940s, rice—he changed his last name into Rice in order not to be misunderstood over the telephone—was one of the most prominent playwrights and theatrical directors in America, and made important contribution to motion pictures, both as an author and screenwriter. His most-widely-studies drama The Adding Machine was written in 1923, a strange, expressionist play about a lifelong office worker, Mr. Zero, who loses his job to the device of the title, murders, his boss, is tried and executed, and ends up in heaven operating the very device that cost him his job, until he is returned to earth. (,7621,BIO-P164197,00. html)
Street Scene—Rice’s most famous play—was written in 1928, and produced on Broadway in 1929. in 1931, the King Vidor movie version, based on Rice’s own screen adaptation, utilized a huge set the size of a city block that gave the screen drama a subtly enveloping quality ( person/details/0,7621,BIO-P164197,00.html) Street Scene became an opera in 1947 with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Langston Hughes. In 2002, The Department of Arts of California State University played it March 6-10 directed by Randy Wonzong (http://www.


It has been mentioned before that “the melting pot” is the idea of the melting of all kinds of races to be one new race. This term is used to describe the race “American”. Recently, however, the demographies of the United States are changing in profound and unprecedented ways but so to are the very notions of assimilation and the melting pot that have been articles of faith in the American self-image for generations. There is a sense that, especially as immigrant populations reach a critical mass in many communities, it is no longer the melting pot that is transforming them. In fact, the concept of assimilation is being called into question as never before. Some sociologists argue that the melting pot often means little more than “Anglo conformity” and that assimilation is not always a positive experience—for either society or the immigrants themselves. And with today’s emphasis on diversity and ethnicity, it has become easier than ever for immigrants to avoid the melting pot entirely. Even the metaphor itself is changing, having fallen out of fashion completely with many immigration advocacy and ethnic groups. They prefer such terms as the “salad bowl” and the “mosaic”, metaphors that convey more of a sense of separateness in describing this nation of immigrants. In a salad, a tomato slice does not marry a radish to produce hybrid offspring ( srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0521.htm#TOP).
To describe Street Scene, Randy Wonzong used the term the melting pot, “If you want to see the Walt Disney version of the American melting pot, you’d better forget it. This is the melting pot the way it was (
However, the idea of ‘melting’—people from various nationalities come to America to seek for a better life and leave their heritage of the country behind, and in the new country they blend with people from other races and make up a new race—can be used only after the second, third, etc generation of the immigrants were born. They are more ‘American’ than their parents, grandparents, because of the American culture they face and undergo since born. “The process of assimilating or melting will be much easier when there is intermarriage among ethnic groups” ( edlead/9405/janzen.html). For example, if an Irish man is married to a German woman, there is a big possibility that the Irish man will not stick to his Irish heritage, and his wife will not stick to her German heritage either. It is very possible that they will create “new heritage” in their own family to be adhered by their children.
Furthermore, Peter Rose stated in his book entitled They and We that the melting pot philosophy, while far more democratic in intent, came to be seen by many keen observers as “unrealistic”. People were not about to simply mix together in the great crucible to form one new American type, the result of a blend of the cultural ingredients of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Recognition of this fact encourages the emergence of the “idea of cultural pluralism” (1997:86).
Street Scene tells a story of six immigrant families, the Kaplans, the Russian Jews; the Fiorentinos, the Italians; the Olsens, the Swede, the Maurrants, the Irish; and the other two families whose native countries are unknown—the Buchanans and the Heldebrands. In the tenement also lived the Jones, the New Yorker. The Irish man is married to an Irish woman, the Italian man is married to an Italian woman, etc. No inter-marriage life is portrayed here.
The time when the play was written belongs to the Depression Era. People face many kinds of problems—e.g. economic, social, and political, etc. The New Yorkers blamed the new immigrants for causing the difficult time. “Many Americans of native stock saw the new immigrants as a threat …” (Tindall, 1984:792). This kind of racial prejudice towards the new comers can be seen clearly in the play.
MRS. JONES. What them foreigners don’t know about bringing up babies would fill a book. (Gassner, 1949:57)
In commenting about the Olsens’ way to keep their baby, Mrs. Jones, the New Yorker, used the word ‘foreigners’. It shows that she still saw them not as American. It shows her prejudice toward people coming from other country. That comment of Mrs. Jones was cut by Mrs. Fiorentino, the Italian, “Foreigners know joost as much as other people, Mrs. Jones” (Gassner, 1949:570). As a new comer in that city, Mrs. Fiorentino showed dislike when she was still considered a foreigner and in Mrs. Jones’ statement one can conclude that coming from out of America, the Olsens are considered to have a lower status than those born there, because Mrs. Jones’ comment underestimated her. Mrs. Jones’ comment was for the Olsens, but Mrs. Fiorentino—realizing that she was not native there—felt that the comment was conveyed to her too.
In another part of the play, Maurrant said, “We don’t want foreigners comin’ in, tellin’ us how to run things” (Gassner, 1949:577). Maurrant is an Irish, but he also used the term ‘foreigners’ to talk about other people to show his dislike. And like Mrs. Jones, he was also cut by Mrs. Fiorentino, “It’s nothing wrong to be a foreigner. Many good people are foreigners” (Gassner, 1949:577).
The abovementioned quotations show that those people do not melt together. Mrs. Jones has prejudice towards new comers in New York, and Maurrant also has prejudice towards people coming from other countries. Living in a crammed building like that did not automatically make those people feel like one big family. They still cannot trust their neighbors, even gossiping another dweller in the tenement becomes one favorite pastime.
LIPPO I betcha ‘e’s got ‘nudder woman. He find a nice blonda chicken, ‘e runaway.
MRS. JONES There ought to be a law against women goin’ around, stealin’ other women’s husbands. (Gassner, 1949:576)
Here is another quotation.
MISS CUSHING. (breathlessly, as she comes up the left of the stoop) Say, what do you think! I just saw them together—the two of them!
MRS. JONES. (rising excitedly) What did I tell you?
MRS. FIORENTINO. Where did you see them, Miss Cushing?
MISS CUSHING. Why, right next door, in the entrance to the warehouse. They were standing right close together. And he had his hands up on her shoulders. It’s awful, isn’t it?
JONES. Looks to me like this thing is gettin’ pretty serious.
MRS. JONES. You didn’t notice if they was kissin’ or anythin’, did you?
(Gassner, 1949:573)
Gossiping, talking bad things about other dwellers becomes daily activity. Besides, some of the families still stick to their native country and the traditions. Filippo’s description of the beauty of his native country also strengthens the fact that he does not melt with his new country yet. He still does not feel that he is an American, though he lives in the United States.
LIPPO. Ah, ees bew-tiful!! Ees most bew-tiful place in whole worl’. You hear about Sorrent’, ha?
ROSE. No, I don’t think I ever did.
LIPPO (incredulously). You never hear about Sorrent’?
ROSE. No, I don’t know much about geography. Is it a big place?
LIPPO. Ees not vera beeg—but ever’body know Sorrent’. Sorrento gentile! La bella Sorrento! You hear about Napoli—Baia di Napoli?
ROSE. Oh yes, the Bayof Naples! Is it near there?
LIPPO. Sure, ees on Bay of Napoli. Ees bew-tiful! Ees all blue. Sky blue, water blue, sun ees shine all time.
(Gassner, 1949:591)
While Lippo shows his admiration of his native country’s beauty, Maurrant shows dislike of the tradition in the United States.
MAUTRANT. I’ll give him a god fannin’ when I get hold of him
MRS. MAURRANT. Ah, don’t whip him, Frank, please don’t. all boys are wild like that, when they’re that age.
JONES. Sure! My boy Vincent was the same way. An’ look at him today—drivin’ his own taxi an’ makin’ a good livin’.
LIPPO. (leaning on the balustrade). Ees jussa same t’ing wit’ me. w’en Ahm twelve year, I run away—I don’t never see my parent again.
MAURRANT. That’s all right about that. But it ain’t gonna be that way in my family.
(Gassner, 1949:576).
In another part of the play one can find
MRS. FIORENTINO. (soothingly). Things are different nowadays, Mr. Maurrant, from what they used to be.
MAURRANT. Not in my family, they’re not goin’ to be no different. Not so long as I got somethin’ to say.
(Gassner, 1949:571)
The quotations above clearly show Maurrant’s reluctance to blend with the American culture at that time. He considers the American culture that he faces every day bad so that he does not want his family to be influenced by it. Here is another quotation describing Maurrant’s dislike of the American culture.
MAURRANT. … Look at what’s happenin’ to people’s homes, with all this divorce an’ one thing an’ another. Young girls goin’ around smokin’ cigarettes an’ their skirts up around their necks. An’ a lot o’ long-haired guys talkin’ about free love an’ birth control an’ breakin’ up decent people’s homes. I tell you it’s time somethin’ was done to put the fear o’ God into people. (Gassner, 1949:578).
Rose, Maurrant’s daughter, says of Mrs. Jones’ children, the New Yorker, “She and those wonderful children of hers!” (Gassner, 1949:593). This sentence is ironical because Rose comments about Mrs. Jones’ son—Vincent—who tries to abuse her one night, and Mrs. Jones’ daughter—Mae—who sleeps with a boy in the boy’s friend’s house. It means that, like her father, Rose does not like the American culture that she faces in the place where she and her family live.
From the discussion above, it can be concluded that the people living in that tenement do not make a new race. The characters of the play still show their nativity, they do not blend to make a new race. It is more appropriate to use the metaphor ‘salad bowl’ or ‘mosaic’ than ‘melting pot’ to depict the scenes in this play because one still can see clearly which is the Jew, the Italian, the Irish, and the New Yorkers.

Anti-Semitism—the hatred directly against Jews—can be seen clearly in the play. Some characters in the play show their dislike toward Jews. The following quotation shows mild antipathy toward Jews. Lippo, the Italian, comments on Sam Kaplan, the Jew.
LIPPO. … Look! ‘Eresa da boy. ‘Esa walk along da street an’ reada da book. Datsa da whola troub’; reada too much book (Gassner, 1949:578)
LIPPO (Rising to his feet and yelling after him). Wotsa matter you? … ‘Eesa reada too mucha book. Ees bad for you. (Gassner, 1949:581)
The Jew—due to their bitter background, e.g. pogrom in their native country, Russia, or extermination by Hitler—move to the United States to seek freedom, so that they work hard and study hard too. It is considered something awful by other races.
MRS. JONES. Yeah. Leave it to the Jews not to lose a workin’ day, without makin’ up for it. (Gassner, 1949:571)
That quotation shows Mrs. Jones’ not willing to understand why the Jews still think about working although there is a very crucial thing happens in the office—the owner has just died and will be buried. She thinks it will be understandable if the office is closed without obliging the employees to work overtime the day before when such a crucial thing happens. It shows that the Jews are hard workers, but other ethnic groups do not like that.
LIPPO. No, ees no good-Jew. ‘E’s only t’ink about money, money—alla time money. (Gassner, 1949:592)
In another part of the play, Rice shows more violent hatred than afore-mentioned ones. Kaplan is involved in a serious discussion with some other tenement dwellers that it almost ends up in a violent attack by Maurrant to Kaplan.
KAPLAN. Who’s toking about electing presidents? Ve must put de tuls of industry in de hends of de working-klesses and dis ken be accomplished only by a sushal revolution.
MAURRANT. Yeah? Well, we don’t want no revolutions in this country, see?
(General chorus of assent)
MRS. JONES. I know all about that stuff—teachin’ kids there ain’t no Gawd an’ that their gran’fathers was monkeys.
JONES. (rising ,angrily). Free love, like they got in Russia, huh?
(KAPLAN makes a gesture of impatient disgust, and sinks back into his chair.)
MAURRANT. There’s goddam many o’ you Bolshevikis runnin’ aroun’ loose. If you don’t like the way things is run here, why in hell don’t you go back where you came from?
(Gassner, 1949:577)
The quotation above shows how the dwellers of the tenement do not like their Jewish neighbor. Maurrant, Jones, and his wife argue Kaplan, an elderly Jewish who still sticks to his native country’s tradition. Wonzong described Kaplan as “a political activist, an old Jewish guy who talks about capitalism and the need for some sort of reform against greedy corporations, crooked politicians and the influence of Big Money” (
JONES. Like I heard a feller sayin’: the Eye-talians built New York, the Irish run it an’ the Jews own it.
MRS. FIORENTINO (convulsed). Oh! Dot’s funny!
JONES (pleased with his success). Yep; the Jews own it all right.
MAURRANT. Yeah, an’ they’re the ones that’s doin’ all the kickin’.
(Gassner, 1949:577)
From the quotation above, one can see that no one likes the Jews in the tenement. Shirley, Kaplan’s daughter who is there when that happens does not try to defend her ‘community’, she just said, “It’s no disgrace to be a Jew, Mr. Maurrant” (Gassner, 1949:577). She understands pretty well that many people do not like Jews so that she does not try to argue. Referring to what is stated previously under sub-heading Anti-Semitism, it is universally known that racial prejudice against Jews is understandable. It is alright to have that feeling and Shirley knows that. This play is written in the Depression Era, and Peter Rose says that “the search for scapegoats during the Great Depression often found the Jews … targets for the bitter frustrations felt by many Americans because some Jews were extremely successful financially” (1997:56).
Commenting on Rose’s close relationship with Sam, Kaplan’s son, Mrs. Jones says, “If you don’t mind sayin’ it in front of your daughter, either—I’d think twice before I’d let any child o’ mine bring a Jew into the family” (Gassner, 1949:593). For Mrs. Jones, to marry a Jew is something which is not tolerable for other ethnic groups. She does not support the idea of inter-marriage between a Jew and someone from other ethnic group.
Besides that, from Shirley’s side, it seems that she thinks that to be a Jew even makes her feel to be more than the other race. It can be seen from the following quotation.
SHIRLEY. You’ve got your head so full of that Rose Maurrant upstairs that you don’t want to eat or sleep or anything anymore.
SAM. I don’t feel like eating, why should I eat? (Bursting out) You’re always telling me: “Eat!” “Don’t eat!” “Get up!” “Go to bed!” I know what I want to do, without being told.
SHIRLEY. I don’t see, just when you’re graduating from college, why you want to get mixed up with a little batzimer like that!
SAM. It’s always the same thing over again with you. you never can get over your race prejudice. I’ve told you a hundred times that the Jews are no better than anybody else.
(Gassner, 1949:590)
The quotation above shows that for Shirley other races are worse than the Jew, the Jew is the best. She does not agree when Sam has a special relationship with Rose who is not a Jew. The following quotation strengthens this argument.
ROSE. I haven’t tried to vamp Sam, honestly I haven’t. We just seemed sort of naturally to like each other.
SHIRLEY. Why must you pick out Sam? You could get other fellows. Anyhow, it’s much better to marry with your own kind. When you marry outside your own people, nothing good ever comes of it. You can’t mi oil and water.
(Gassner, 1949:597)
Here, one can conclude that people other than Jews do not like them, and Jews do not like people from other races either. They do not like one another. It this is the case, racial prejudice between Jews and other races will always exist.

From the discussion previously, one can conclude that this play—Street Scene—really shows anti-Semitism. Besides, it also contains another element—that is the metaphor “salad bowl”. Some new immigrants depicted in the play do not show that they blend themselves with the culture they find and face in America after migrating there. The Irish family show their dislike of the culture they are supposed to engage in. The New Yorker family show their dislike to the new comers by calling their immigrant neighbors as “foreigners”. The Italian still worship his native country’s beauty.

Baym, Nina, et. all. eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol. 1, 2nd edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989.
Gassner, John, ed. Twenty Five Best Plays of the Modern American Theater, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1949.
Glazer, Nathan and Daniel P. Maynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press, 1970
Grolier Academic Encyclopedia, vol.2. published by Grolier International, 1983
Holman, Hugh, A Handbook to Literature, 4th edition, Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1981
Rose, Peter I, They and We, 5th edition, New York: The Mc-Graw-Hill Companies, Inc. 1997
Tindall, George Brown, America, A Narrative History, 1984, W.W. Norton Company, New York
Brian, John, Taking it to the Street, ( chico/2002-03-07/finearts.asp accessed on February 25, 2003)
Booth, William, One Nation, Indivisible: Is it History? ( melt0222.htm accessed on March 16, 2003
Branigin, William, Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation, (http://www. accessed on March 16, 2003
Janzen, Rod, Melting Pot or Mosaic? (http://www.ascd/org.readingroom/edlead/ 9405/janzen.html accessed on March 16, 2003),7621,BIO-P164197,00.html accessed on February 25, 2003 accessed on February 25, 2005
Reuben, Paul, “Chapter 8: American Drama—An Introduction” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature—A Research and Reference Guide (http://www.csustan. edu/english/reuben/pal/chap8/8intro.html accessed on February 25, 2003
________, A Historical Background of the Harlem Renaissance, ( accessed on March 13, 2003

America = a Dream



America is popularly known as a country which offers freedom towards its people. Freedom here can mean freedom to speak, freedom to do anything to get success, freedom to do anything people like. It is symbolized with the statue of Miss Liberty in New York. Therefore, America becomes a dream for people who feel constrained in their life in their native country. It makes them migrate to the United States. This paper talks about America as a dream that in fact has not come true yet, especially for African American people which use to be more popularly called Black people.


Authors write to express and perpetuate their intellectual and emotional experiences, their observations and conclusions. They write to relate to others the process of their thoughts, the creation of their imaginings. In expressing their experiences and intellectual processes, authors also want to interpret the meaning contained in them. They search for the meaning of life in the realities of their experiences, in the realities of their dreams, hopes, and memories (Chapman, 1972: 394)
That is exactly what Langston Hughes does through his works—poems, short stories, songs, novels, plays, and autobiographies. In one of his autobiographies entitled THE BIG SEA, Hughes said that he wrote his best poems when he felt worst. When he was happy, he did not write anything (Hughes, 1958:351). He expresses his experiences and intellectual processes in his writings “To explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America” ( accessed on February 21, 2003). The one of his most often reprinted poems in anthologies—“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”—was written on the train during his trip to Mexico just outside St. Louis, as the train left for Texas. When the train crossed the Mississippi, slowly, over a log bridge, he looked out the window at the great muddy river flowing down toward the heart of the South. Hughes began to think what that old Mississippi river had meant to Negroes in the past—how to be sold down the river was the worst fate that could overtake a slave in times of bondage. It made him feel very bad, and it gave him an idea to write a poem (Hughes, 1958:351-352). Written when Hughes felt very bad, the poem became one of his best poems.
As mentioned above that Hughes writes to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America, his works are replete with the condition in America at that time with its Jim Crow Law. Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 and died on May 22, 1967 so that he experienced the bitterness and unfairness of that law. In one of his speeches entitled “My America”, Hughes said that his ancestry went back at least four generations on American soil (Hughes, 1958:500). His background and training was purely American—the schools of Kansas, Ohio, and the East. He was “old stock” as opposed to those who just migrated to America by the end of nineteenth century and the early of twentieth century. However, those newcomers enjoyed more facilities—e.g. accommodations when traveling about the country, better job opportunities, and education—than the native-born but colored Americans. It is only a matter of the color of their complexion.
Three poems are chosen to be discussed in this paper. They are “Freedom’s Plow”, “Let America be America Again”, and “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” The title of this paper is AMERICA – A DREAM THAT HAS NOT COME TRUE YET. The first poem—taken from THE LANGSTON HUGHES READER—describes that America itself is a dream. The last two poems—taken from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LANGSTON HUGES—describe how the dream is only a dream; it has never come to the reality for centuries.


When talking about American Dream, one can come to many kinds of interpretation. In her article entitled “Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation” (1995), Hochschild says that the American Dream consists of tenets about achieving success. People most often define success as the achievement of high income, a prestigious job, and economic security. When doing survey about what Americans dream and what immigrants dream when migrating to the United States, Hochschild finds out that they want to have a good chance of improving their standard of living ( In other words, they want to have a better life.
In his poem entitled “Freedom’s Plow”, Hughes describes that America is built by people who come from various classes of society.

A long time ago, but not too long ago,
Ships came across the sea
Bringing Pilgrims and prayer-makers,
Adventurers and booty seekers,
Free men and indentured servants,
Slave men and slave masters, all new—
To a new world, America!

Different classes of society are they from, but they share the same dream, freedom.

Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom
But the word was there always

In line 142, Hughes writes America is a dream. America itself is a dream, a country that Crevecoeur describes in his “Lettrs from an American Farmer” that “ it is not composed of great lords who possess everything and of a herd of people who have nothing … The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other … because they are equitable … Here man is free as he ought to be” (Baym, 1989: 559). Therefore, America is a dream place for persecuted and poor people who escape from their native country.
America is a dream to which the early immigrants move—a dream to get what they do not have in the country where they are born. Each of them has their own dreams too.

With billowing sails the galleons came
Bringing men and reams, women and dreams

Lines 35-36 above show when they move to their dream place, they also have their own dreams. The early immigrants have a dream to get freedom of choosing religion and getting rid of poverty. The immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century have a dream to achieve success—meaning high income, prestigious jobs, economic security.
In stanza eight, lines 91-95, Hughes quoted Jefferson’s

His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,
But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too
And silently took for granted
That what he said was also meant for them.

Those lines show that America is still a dream place for the black people although they have been enslaved for more than a century. For black people, those amazing words give them a dream that they will be equal with their fellow white citizens.


In the same aforementioned article, Hochschild writes that success can also be connoted as “a right to say what they wanta say, do what they wanta do, and fashion a world into something that can be great for everyone”. In another part of that article, quoting Bruce Springsteen, Hochschild writes, “I don’t think the American Dream was that everybody was going to have an opportunity and the chance to live a life with some decency and some dignity and a chance for some self-respect (
However, the existence of Jim Crow Law made black Americans not be able to have rights to say, do what they want to do, and have an opportunity and the chance to live a life with decency and dignity and a chance for self-respect. In one of his well-known speeches—entitled “I Have a Dream”—delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expresses his dream “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal” ( He dreams that one day black and white children will go playing and eating together at the same table. He dreams that one day black and white people will go studying at the same school. He dreams that one day he sees his children grow up and be respected by other people based on their dignity, and not despised because of the color of their skin.
Again, in his sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia on July 4, 1965, Dr. King again referred to what is stated in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Baym, 1989: 640) as a great dream which is very universal, everywhere in the world people have rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although during those two years (1963-1965) he sees that his dreams are shattered, Dr. King still encourages his congregation to have that dream, expecting that is will come true one day. ( TheAmericanDream.html)
In the poem “Let America Be America Again” (1938), Hughes expresses how the dream—that human beings are created equal—fails to come true. It speaks of the freedom and equality that America boasts, but it never comes true yet.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free”)

What Crevecoeur says in “Letters from an American Farmer”, and the founding fathers write in the Declaration of Independence do not come true yet. In this poem, though, Hughes plead fulfillment of the dream not only for the downtrodden Negro, he also includes other minority groups, such as the poor white and the Indian—people that share the same dream that has not come true yet.

I am the poor White, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dogs eat dogs, of mighty crush the weak

Not only do the Black suffer from inequality, other minority groups feel the same way too. The poor white who do not get what they dream to get when migrating to America, the Negro who have black history during slavery time, and the native who are driven away on their own land—all of them feel that what is stated in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal stays a dream only, that never comes true.

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,

In the above lines, Hughes again emphasizes that America is just a dream, because America never becomes what he thinks it should be. Yet, in the following lines, from the same stanza Hughes writes

And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Those two lines describes Hughes’ firm willing that one day America will be like that people dream it should be. The use of the exclamation mark shows Hughes’ optimism that the dream will come true—America will be a place where everybody is equal, everybody has a chance to live a life with decency and dignity and a chance for self-respect.
The last poem “Will V-Day Be Me-Day, Too?” is written during the World War II. When the U.S. plunged into the World War II, Hughes escaped military service but he put his pen to work on behalf of political involvement and nationalism (
Different from the second poem where he represented all the minority groups in the United States, in the last poem, Hughes represented his own race. Black Americans also went to war to defend their country just like white Americans did. He encouraged his fellow black citizens to support the United States in its goals abroad, and at the same time he also encouraged the government to provide its own citizens at home the same freedom being advocated abroad ( hughes1.htm).
In the second poem, Hughes shows optimism that America will be America to him someday. On the contrary, in the third poem, Hughes questions it whether after the war is over and America wins, the Black will have a better life.

So, this is what I want to know

When we see Victory’s glow,
Will you still let old Jim Crow
Hold me back?
When all those foreign folks who’ve waited—
Italians, Chinese, Danes—are liberated
Will I still be ill-fated
Because I’m black?

In this poem, Hughes does not represent other minority groups anymore, because the others can get the equality easily—even the Chinese who were rejected to enter the United States by the end of the nineteenth century can be liberated more quickly than the Black.
Black Americans join the World War II to show their loyalty to the government, to the land where they are born and raised. Behind this action, there must be a political reason. By seeing their loyalty toward the country and the bravery to fight the enemy, the government is expected that they will change their policy, to make their dream come true—the Black are equal to the White.
While in the second poem, one can feel the optimistic tone—especially in the lines 79-80, in the third poem Hughes keep questioning:

When this war comes to an end,
Will you herd me in a Jim Crow car
Like cattle?

Or will you stand up like a man
At home and take your stand
For Democracy?
That’s all I ask of you.
When we lay the guns away
To celebrate
Our Victory Day
That’s what I want to know.

Instead of using exclamation mark like in the second poem, in the third poem, Hughes uses question mark showing he is not sure whether the Black will be equal with the White. Reading Dr. King’s sermon given in 1965, two decades later after the World War II ends, one can conclude that after the World War II is over, the Black still suffer from inequality. The dream does not come true yet.


Langston Hughes—a Negro author—writes to explain and illuminates the Negro condition in America. In his three poems discussed here, one can see the condition in the United States. The first poem—“Freedom’s Plow—shows that America is a dream. It is a dream place where people migrate to achieve dreams they have in their own mind. The second poem—“Let America Be America Again”—shows that America as a dream land is really only a dream for some minority groups that never comes true. The third poem—“Will V-Day Be Me-Day, Too?”—is still questioning whether the dream will be reality for all people living in the United States regardless the color of their skin.


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Hughes, Langston, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Harold Ober Associates Inc. 1994
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King, Martin L., The American Dream, 650704TheAmericanDream.html February 21, 2003
King, Martin L., I Have a Dream, speech1.htm March 4, 2003
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Reuben, Paul P, “Chapter 9: Harlem Renaissance—Langston Hughes” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature—A Research and Reference Guide, February 21, 2003 February 25, 2003