Never Forever Analysis Essay


First let me state that I am a Vera Farmiga fan. I've noticed her in many obscure films such as 'Quid Pro Quo', 'Joshua', and the 'Hard Easy' and she has always intrigued me. The downside is that her face is so mesmerizing (those eyes!!!) that I sometimes find myself distracted from the film itself. That said, I was not dissapointed with this movie. Though 'Never Forever' was certainly not a perfect film and I could spend a lot of time tearing it apart at the seams I still felt it was WWW and for me, quite thought provoking on numerous levels.
I found the plot itself to be a darn good yarn. It was never overly dramatic, the sex was dead on and never gratuitous, and the main characters were all portrayed with gut wrenching honesty and compassion. I felt that the soundtrack was well matched to the emotions and events and did not attempt to manipulate my responses, something I despise in the majority of mainstream movies. In the end I felt bad for only one character, the Korean girlfriend who got dumped. Otherwise I felt everything turned out as it should. Which brings me to the main reason I chose to discuss this movie on the blog.
I have a very strong almost fanatical belief in fidelity. Because of this I normally have ZERO compassion for any film characters who are cheating on their partners. I dislike them, have no respect for them and therefore usually find it hard to maintain any interest in what they do outside of that. My door is closed to any consequent pain they may feel.
So you can imagine my surprise when I realized that (at least initially) Sophie and her sperm donor's sexual involvement was acceptable to me. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why and have come to understand my reasons and feel comfortable with them. I have learned something new about myself that pleases me. I can truly say now that my negative reaction to infidelity is not just some knee jerk moralistic stance, or an automated response triggered by personal family history but a solid belief that as committed partners we owe each other the respect and dignity to honor the trust we have invoked. Let me say too that I mean emotional fidelity as well as sexual. If we need more than we feel our partners are giving us we owe them the communication that would open up the possibilities of fulfillment WAY before straying outside of the relationship to find what we think we are missing.
In Sophie's case that form of communication was not available to her due to her husband's mental illness and complete lack of ability to connect with her on any level. I think she rightly felt that there was no time to wait for him to recover from his depression so that she could rationally discuss other options with him. It was pretty obvious that he was going to attempt to kill himself again , probably sooner than later. She had tried on her own to find another way to give him the baby that seemed the ONLY way to keep him from committing suicide. To say that she was stuck between a rock and a hard place is an understatement.
So her original arrangement with this man was to me just a business arrangement and one in which she was making an extreme sacrifice for her husband. And ditto for the Korean man who I think rightly felt that this was the only way he could financially reach a place where he could bring his girlfriend to America . He would have been a fool, I thought, to pass up this opportunity. He too seemed to feel dirtied and humiliated by the experience. I found that I could not fault either of them for their choices.
Of course when they began to fall for each other their sex was no longer just a sacrifice for their partners and here things became much more complex and questionable.. It would take me pages to express the reactions I felt from this point on and perhaps I will write more once the discussion gets going but right now I am really interested in hearing from others as to their own responses.
And hey, thanks for listening.

Everybody in college hates papers. Students hate writing them so much that they buy, borrow, or steal them instead. Plagiarism is now so commonplace that if we flunked every kid who did it, we’d have a worse attrition rate than a MOOC. And on those rare occasions undergrads do deign to compose their own essays, said exegetic masterpieces usually take them all of half an hour at 4 a.m. to write, and consist accordingly of “arguments” that are at best tangentially related to the coursework, font-manipulated to meet the minimum required page-count. Oh, “attitudes about cultures have changed over time”? I’m so glad you let me know.

Nobody hates writing papers as much as collegeinstructorshategradingpapers (and no, having a robot do it is not the answer). Students of the world: You think it wastes 45 minutes of your sexting time to pluck out three quotes from The Sun Also Rises, summarize the same four plot points 50 times until you hit Page 5, and then crap out a two-sentence conclusion? It wastes 15 hours of my time to mark up my students’ flaccid theses and non sequitur textual “evidence,” not to mention abuse of the comma that should be punishable by some sort of law—all so that you can take a cursory glance at the grade and then chuck the paper forever.

What’s more, if your average college-goer does manage to read through her professor’s comments, she will likely view them as a grievous insult to her entire person, abject proof of how this cruel, unfeeling instructor hates her. That sliver of the student population that actually reads comments and wants to discuss them? They’re kids whose papers are good to begin with, and often obsessed with their GPAs. I guarantee you that every professor you know has given an A to a B paper just to keep a grade-grubber off her junk. (Not talking to you, current students! You’re all magnificent, and going to be president someday. Please do not email me.)

Oh, “attitudes about cultures have changed over time”? I’m so glad you let me know.

When I was growing up, my mother—who, like me, was a “contingent” professor—would sequester herself for days to grade, emerging Medusa-haired and demanding of sympathy. But the older I got, the more that sympathy dissipated: “If you hate grading papers so much,” I’d say, “there’s an easy solution for that.” My mother, not to be trifled with when righteously indignant (that favored state of the professoriate), would snap: “It’s an English class. I can’t not assign papers.”

Mom, friends, educators, students: We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma: abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training, an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “piece of paper.” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utterwasteof their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.

Most students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares? My fellowhumanistsinsist valiantly that (among other more elevated reasons) writing humanities papers leads to the crafting of sharp argumentative skills, and thus a lifetime of success in a number of fields in which we have no relevant experience. But my friends who actually work in such fields assure me that most of their colleagues are borderline-illiterate. After all, Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook Friendster profile bragged “i don’t read” (sic),and look at him.

Of course it would be better for humanity if college in the United States actually required a semblance of adult writing competency. But I have tried everything. I held a workshop dedicated to avoiding vague introductions (“The idea and concept of the duality of sin and righteousness has been at the forefront of our understanding of important concepts since the beginning of time.”) The result was papers that started with two incoherent sentences that had nothing to do with each other. I tried removing the introduction and conclusion altogether, and asking for a three-paragraph miniessay with a specific argument—what I got read like One Direction fan fiction.

I’ve graded drafts and assigned rewrites, and that helps the good students get better, but the bad students, the ones I’m trying to help, just fail to turn in any drafts at all. Meanwhile, I come up for air and realize that with all this extra grading, I’m making 75 cents an hour.

I’m not calling for the end of all papers—just the end of papers in required courses. Some students actually like writing, and let those blessed young souls be English majors, and expound on George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to their hearts’ content, and grow up to become writers, huzzah. But for the common good, leave everyone else out of it.  

Instead of essays, required humanities courses (which I support, for all the reasons William Cronon, Martha Nussbaum, and Paulo Freire give) should return to old-school, hardcore exams, written and oral. You cannot bullshit a line-ID. Nor can you get away with only having read one page of the book when your professor is staring you down with a serious question. And best of all, oral exams barely need grading: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it is immediately and readily manifest (not to mention, it’s profoundly schadenfroh when a student has to look me in the face and admit he’s done no work).

A Slate Plus Special Feature:

Students hate writing papers, and professors hate grading them. Should we stop assigning them? Listen to the debate on Slate Plus

Plus, replacing papers with rigorous, old-school, St. John’s-style tribulations also addresses an issue humanities-haters love to belabor: Paper-grading is so subjective, and paper-writing so easy to fake, that this gives the humanities their unfortunate reputation as imprecise, feelings-centered disciplines where there are “no right answers.” So let’s start requiring some right answers.

Sure, this quashes the shallow pretense of expecting undergraduates to engage in thoughtful analysis, but they have already proven that they will go to any lengths to avoid doing this. Call me a defeatist, but honestly I’d be happy if a plurality of American college students could discern even the skeletal plot of anything they were assigned. With more exams and no papers, they’ll at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded. In that short while, they may even develop the tiniest inkling of what Martha Nussbaum calls “sympathetic imagination”—the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us. And that, frankly, is more than any essay will ever do for them.

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