Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Silver Chair -- Narnia tales

The story begins with Eustace and Jill runing fro tormenting bullies at school. Previous to his first trip to Narnia, Eustace had been one of the bullies, but his experiences in Narnia had changed him so much that his friends and enemies had noticed and had changed themselves respectively. When Eustace and Jill had gotten a moments respite, Eustace told her about Narnia and suddenly a door in the wall transports them into Aslan's Country on a huge cliff. Jill dares Eustace to go to the edge of the cliff and he falls off. Aslan blows him off to Narnia and then tells Jill why they have been summoned. They are to go find the missing Prince Rilian. Aslan then gives her four signs to remember in order to find the prince. The first sign is to look for an old friend. Aslan then blows Jill to Narnia behind Eustace. When she arrives next to Eustace they are watching a ship embark from Narnia with an aged king on board. They soon realize that the aged king is Caspian and he is the friend they should have contacted, but they missed their chance. This is the first of three signs that they will miss.

Because of the missed sign, the children go on their quest not with supplies or an armed escort, but on the sly with a very unusual guide: a Marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum. Puddleglum seems to suit his name with his overly pessimistic outlook on life but he really becomes a trustworthy and valiant companion to the children. The children learn the circumstances of Rilian's disappearance. His mother had been murdered by a serpent and Rilian had disappeared while searching for her, being taken by an enchantress who was most likely also the serpent. The children and Puddleglum go off to the north to the land of Giants where they first cross a land of dumb but evil giants. Later they come to the land of the gentle Giants and the city of Harfang where they are warmly welcomed. They are invited to stay and are promised a marvelous time at the Autumn Feast. Soon they find to their horror, that "man" is one of the dishes eaten at the feast. They immediately begin planning their escape which goes well untill they are outside the city and are seen. They hide in a hole in the ground and suddenly find themselves falling into an underground country where they are captured by gnomes. They are taken further underground where they are introduced to the Lady of the Green Kirtle who rules the underground land and her knight. The Knight turns out to be Prince Rilian, but he does not remember who he is. However, Rilian remembers his past for a short time each evening when he is bound by the Lady's orders. The children hear him in his supposed ravings and he asks them to release him in the "Name of Aslan". Those words are the fourth sign Aslan had told Jill to seek. The children then release Rilian and later kill the Lady of the Green Kirtle who changes enraged into the green serpent that killed Rilian's mother. They then find that her plan was to bring an army out of the ground into Narnia and place Rilian on the throne as a puppet king. The children find the gnomes were from an even lower underground land named Bism and free them to return home. They then return to Narnia where Rilian is greeted with celebration is is briefly reunited with Caspian before he dies. The children return with Aslan and Caspian to Aslan's country which seems to be the Christian Heaven as Caspian regains his youth there. Eustace and Jill return to their school with Aslan and Caspian and defeat the bullies with the broad sides of their swords, changing the school forever. Then Caspian and Aslan return to their own land.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

When Santiago, a young shepherd boy from the Spanish countryside of Andalusia , has a dream that reveals the location of a hidden treasure buried at the Egyptian Pyramids his simple life is suddenly torn in two. Part of him wants to take the chance to go searching for it and the other part of him wants to continue his easy life as a shepherd.

A mysterious king named the king of Salem in Tarifa convinces Santiago that he has succeeded in discovering his Personal Legend. The old king tells Santiago that following his Personal Legend to its conclusion is a person’s only real obligation in life.

Santiago listens to his heart and decides to go on a dangerous search for the treasure. He sells his flock of sheep and heads to Africa, where he is quickly robbed of all his gold and left despondent on the streets. He decides that he was foolish to believe in his dreams and quickly gets a job with a crystal merchant in order to save up enough money to go back home.

After almost a year working for the merchant, Santiago has made a success of the shop and has plenty of money to do whatever he wants. As he’s walking the streets to go back home he suddenly decides to take a chance and continue his search for the buried treasure.

He joins a caravan to make the dangerous crossing across the desert and as he rides the long, slow days away he begins to listen to his heart and to the desert. He begins to understand what the Soul of the World is, and how he fits in.

When the caravan makes it to the oasis, Santiago meets a girl he falls in love with the moment he sees her. The local alchemist, a mysterious man who reminds Santiago of the old king, helps Santiago continue his journey across the desert and teaches him more important life lessons along the way. Although Santiago does not know it, he is becoming wise, and a master in the art of living to the fullest no matter what. Although he has left his true love back at the oasis, he is resolved to follow his dream to its end.

After many adventures, dangers, and important life lessons Santiago finally reaches the Pyramids. His joy at finally being at journey’s end overwhelms him, and he is grateful that he got the chance to follow his dream.

He begins to dig deep into the sand looking for treasure, but before he can get far a pack of thieves shows up, beating and robbing him. They force him to continue digging, and then leave when no treasure is found. One of the thieves, as destiny would have it, tells Santiago an important clue and when they’re gone Santiago can’t help but laugh, because now he knows where his treasure truly lies.

It ends up being right back where his journey began, under the very tree where he had the prophetic dream years before. He digs and finds a beautiful chest full of gold and gems. His next and last journey will be back to the desert to be reunited with the woman he loves.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amir is the main character in the novel. He witnesses the racially motivated sexual assault of his friend/servant Hassan, perpetrated by a gang of neighborhood bullies. Hassan is a Hazara, a minority ethnic group of Shi'a Muslims. He is attacked by a group of Pashtu boys, lead by Assef, a young boy who heavily identifies with Hitler’s doctrine. After this attack, Amir feels deep guilt and shame, which causes him to shut Hassan out of his life. His father wants him to change his ways and likewise Amir tries to be the son his father always wanted, but is constantly reminded of Hassan. Even after he and his father, Baba, flee Afghanistan during the Russian occupation and find a new home in America, Amir still cannot rid himself of his memories and regret.

Having left Afghanistan, Amir settles down in America, marries an Afghan woman, and becomes a successful writer. Yet, a walk in the park after a phone call from Pakistan, reminds him of the joy he felt as a child in Afghanistan kite running with Hassan.

Like many other inexpensive sports in Asian countries, Kite running, in which children attempt to cut down each other's kite strings, is a popular winter pastime among Afghan children. Kite strings are coated with glue and broken glass, allowing the strings to slice through another kite’s string. A kite runner is a child who runs after and retrieves the kites after they are cut. The greatest prize a kite runner can earn is retrieving the last kite cut during a tournament.

The last happy moment Amir and Hassan share occurs when Amir wins the winter kite tournament as his father watches. He sends Hassan, his kite runner, to fetch the last kite so that Amir can present it to his father. When Hassan goes kite running, he is attacked.

With the progression of time Amir is presented with the opportunity to make things right. He receives a call from Rahim Khan, his father’s friend, who requests that Amir travel to Pakistan to see him. During this meeting he tells Amir that Hassan is his half brother. He also tells Amir that Hassan has been killed by the Taliban. Hassan’s son, Sohrab, is still in Afghanistan, and Rahim Khan asks Amir to return to Kabul to save Hassan’s son.

The past haunts Amir. He decides to travel into Taliban ruled Afghanistan to find Sohrab. Eventually, Amir finds Sohrab and brings him back to America, and his guilty conscience gets rested.

A House for Mr.Biswas By V.S.Naipaul

Mr. Biswas is the protagonist, a very tragic figure. He has ambitions but the means are lacking. He was born with six fingers and it is considered to be inauspicious in the part of the world where the story is set. Mr. Biswas has incomplete education and one can find that his childhood is surely not a happy one. After the death of his father, the joint family splits and the mother is left in poverty. His gloomy childhood presents a very grim picture of deprivation, despair and depression, with no hope of a better future.

As a grown up, Mr. Biswas begins to do the work of painting signboards. In the course of time he meets a girl named Shyama and he marries her. Shyama has many sisters and the family has a tradition of assimilating the sons-in-law into crowded household. Mr. Biswas doesn’t accept the offer and refuses to join the family. Through out his married life, the tensions remain with him. The family tussles confuse and annoy him but, finally, Mr. Biswas succeeds in maintaining his independence. He pulls himself out of the complexities.

During the years with his wife, he takes up many jobs: driving, sub-overseering, working as a government clerk, and then working as a journalist. All his life he remains just above the poverty line. There is a constant struggle in his life.

It is quite evident that the story is not striking from any angle. There are no major twists and turns in this straightforward narrative, and neither are there any surprises that you cannot anticipate. But therein lies the strength of this book. Naipaul tells the story of a simple man from a simple background, but within his characters is the universality of human emotion. Mr. Biswas is the classic loser, with nothing going for him, but within him is the human character the strongest.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Willy Loman has been a traveling salesman all his life. He is sixty-three. Despite his hard work and grueling schedule, the Lomans have always lived on the edge of poverty and Willy has always been an underling in his company. As the destiny would have it Willy has not got any chance of promotion. Yet Willy constantly tells himself and his family that the "big break" he deserves is just around the corner. He has raised his two sons, Biff and Happy. Willy believes that somehow life has cheated them and insists that one day they will get their due. Linda, Willy's dutiful wife, lives under the thin veneer of denial that her husband has so long tried to keep from collapsing. She has never protested against anything and has suffered everything patiently.

The economic conditions suddenly change and Willy finds that the company has no further need for his services. Willy is devastated and is unable to understand how his employer could just cast him aside after so many years of faithful service. In Act 1, Willy states his work ethics clearly when he says that a man who makes his appearance in the business world is the man who gets ahead. Willy’s old boss has died, leaving his son the company. The new owner does not regard the services provided by Willy. He sees Willy as having outlived his usefulness to the company. Willy is terminated and soon discovers that he is unable to find other similar employment.

Willy now feels that he has lost the battle and he can never fulfill the dreams of his children and his wife. Despite his protests otherwise, Willy knows he is a failure. He begins to slowly kill himself by inhaling gas fumes from a hose in the garage, an act that relieves his mental anguish and gives him a brief high. The gas also muddles Willy's mind, conflating past, present, and future. This shifting through time and space helps the reader/audience see how much pressure there has been on this simple man to be accepted in the only way he thinks is valuable: to make money. He wants desperately to be "well liked," and without the status of being a manager who makes more money, the dream is impossible. He dies as he has lived, a failure in the eyes of society.

The Tin Drum (By Gunter Grass)

The story revolves around the major character Oskar. The boy Oskar is telling his life story from the comfort of a mental hospital explaining that from the age of three he decided not to grow up and so remained for many years three foot high. The other event on his third birthday is the drum he is given as a present. He drums his way through most of the next twenty seven years but the landscape around him changes. On the family front his mother, who has two lovers, dies and one of his presumptive fathers dies after defending the Polish Post Office in Danzig. In terms of his education Oskar is unable to fit into a school environment and mainly communicates through his drum and uses his high pitched scream that shatters glass. His life changes after he meets another midget Bebra who advises him how to behave and then after the war starts drafts him into the propaganda company cheering the troops. Meanwhile Oskar has used his third drumstick to get the family shop girl Maria pregnant but she marries his remaining presumptive father and the son Kurt is never acknowledged as being his. Following the end of the war and the Soviet takeover of Danzig Oskar and family head for Düsseldorf where Oskar starts a jazz band that makes him rich and falls in love with a nurse living in an apartment opposite his own. The nurse turns up dead and Oskar takes the blame – hence the mental hospital – but on his thirtieth birthday the news comes through that the real killer has confessed and he might be acquitted and sent out into an uncertain future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The story takes place in a war time, the character wishes to include him into the war. Therefore, he has applied himself into the Government of French. But the French government has declined his application. In his mind, he keep thinks that is the mistake that he has done two years ago causes this. And this has caused him turns toward darkness. A French cruiser moves slowly towards a fortified building and throws bombs rapidly into the battlement on the hill. Light of fire from the air and ground, balls of flame and smoke of blasting bomb are around the fortifications. A searchlight from the fortress of enemy is switched on and found him. The sound of machine of an enemy monoplane is behind the character, the searchlight and bullets of gun are chasing him. He and his motor make a huge turn to avoid the pursuit of the monoplane. The searchlight is circling the sky to search the character. Suddenly, the searchlight catches him and the craft fires a bomb to him. The bomb blasts near him, but does not have any piece of bomb strike him. The decline of his application from the French Government still remembers by him. He smiles unappealing, now, he turn back and rushes to the French Government and the government cannot decline his application again. The bombs blast behind him. The outline of the war has become different from its nature, the world has ended in a crash of blistering whiteness.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Now and Then

In the project Window Movie Maker with title “Compare and Contrast” we have done before, we have chosen to compare and contrast between the first generation of Proton Saga and the latest Proton Saga which is the second generation.

The first Proton Saga that rolled off the production line was presented to the
Malaysian National Museum as a symbol of the beginning of the Malaysian automotive industry. The design of the first generation Proton Saga is based on the design of the third generation of Mitsubishi Lancer - Lancer Fiore. The front view, head lamps, rear lamps, the bumpers and rear view of the Saga are designed square. Due to the lack of experience, all of these are lookalike Lancer Fiore. In the middle of the head lamps, there is a logo of the Saga which is a combination of fourteen sides star above a new moon with blue background. The logo is used because the combination of new moon, fourteen sides star, and blue color background is as same as the national flag of Malaysia. This Saga models were powered by SOHC 8-valve 4-cylinder petrol engines sourced from Mitsubishi available in both 1.3- and 1.5-litre displacements. Both engines were available with a 5-speed manual transmission, but a 3-speed Mitsubishi Tri-matic automatic was available with the 1.5-liter engine in 1987. In the interior of the Saga is also almost the same as the Lancer Fiore. The meter of the Saga is divided into three parts. Meter on the left side is the RPM meter, middle is speed meter and the right side is fuel and temperature meter.

Now, the latest generation of Proton Saga, The new model is an in-house design developed in collaboration with Korea's LG CNS and Lotus Engineering. This model enables the Malaysian company play to its strength in the home market, as an example the three-box sedan. The whole Saga now give people a fresh feeling, not like the earlier Saga give people a feel of hard. The front view, head lamps, rear lamps, the bumpers and rear view now have been well designed and calculated for the aerodynamic. The logo for the new Saga is also changed. Now, there is a golden tiger head and above it is the brand of the car-PROTON. The new Saga is powered by the same 1.3-litre Campro engine which was co-designed with and it has a new Integrated Air-Fuel Module (IAFM) which varies the airflow into the engine to improve efficiency, smoothening out the problematic dip in the torque curve in the lower and middle rev ranges. The 5-speed manual is from Aichi Kikai, Suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar up front with a torsion beam in the rear. The electrical system has also been updated with coil-on-plugs instead of the traditional ignition cable system, eliminating power loss. The interior of new Saga has boot space of (413 l (14.6 cu ft)). The car is also designed to accommodate a compressed natural gas tank without considerably restricting boot space Airbag is also fitted to the medium-spaced models onward. While the meter has just divided into twe part only which is RPM meter and speed meter. The temperature and fuel meter has been changed into digital meter.

As a conclusion, from the big changes in these two Sagas, we can see that, the technology of Malaysia in heavy industry has improved and can compete with the import cars.