When are Numbers More Than Just Numbers?

Amanda Mikeal

Dr. Jane Lucas

Dec, 8, 2016

English 131 .02

When are Numbers More Than Just Numbers?

In the novel John Crow’s Devil, Marlon James writes about a remote Jamaican village by the name of Gibbeah in the year 1957. The village’s two men of God, Preacher Hector Bligh and the recently arrived Apostle York go head to head as they try to rid Gibbeah of sin before judgment day while struggling internally with their own sin. The motif used throughout the book is numbers, specifically the numbers seven and three which come up in patterns and biblical connections.

The first number appearing throughout the book was the number seven, for example when Lillamae was possessed in the church and she had Pastor Bligh pinned up against the wall she said “You should had do this two years ago when we was one, now we is one and seven,”(20). As well as later on in the book when Lucinda is struggling with her unholy thoughts, “she imagined seven priests all in a row; whipping their bloody backs while staring at their hardened penises” (66). Or when Bligh listed the seven deaths that happen before a man actually dies in his head on page 49. The seven demons, seven priests, and seven deaths could represent the seven deadly sins lust, Gluttony, greed, laziness, wrath, envy, pride. According to the Christian faith these are the seven unforgivable sins in Gods eyes. It is taught that these sins are temptations of the Devil and will consume you if you choose to act upon these temptations, much like the seven devils inside Lillamae who consumed her, or the seven priests that that Lucinda pictured as the tried to fight her unholy thoughts she believed where brought on by the devil.

The number seven could be connection the seven pelages of Egypt, a story in which God sent Moses to be his voice and free the Israelites from being enslaved by the Egyptians . However the Egyptians were reluctant to listen to Moses so God sent a pelage everyday (water turned to blood, frogs, biting insects, livestock disease, and fiery hail). “This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water” (Exodus 7:14-11:10) Eventually the Egyptians surrendered and the newly freed Israelites, followed Moses to new land and a better life. The story of the seven pelages of Egypt would be a fitting connection to John Crows Devil considering that the story is how Moses freed the Israelites from slavery, and Gibbeah is a village that was given to slaves after they where freed in 1838.

The other number that appears often throughout the book is the number three. Whenever Marlon James lists thing he lists them in threes, for example: when the preacher was drinking in the bar “he was seven sips away from not giving a damn, fifteen from not remembering who he was, and twenty from pissing on himself ”(52). Or when the apostle beats up the Pastor Bligh and calls him three things: a disgrace, an abomination, and the antichrist. The number three could represent a loss of hope such as when Jesus was crucified and died for three days before he rose again and ascended into heaven. During those three days people were very sad and most were very skeptical that Jesus would rise again, just like how the people of Gibbeah were sad and needed a savior but were very skeptical when the apostle first showed up.

Another example of the motif three came earlier in the book on page 15 “before she went mad there were two faces in the mirror, neither of them hers. After Bligh’s death there were three”(15). This could represent the holey Trinity where God is three consubstantial persons, (the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit), but instead of seeing three versions of herself she is seeing three of her sins that haunt her the most.

Numbers are not always just numbers, They can sometimes be symbols that make important connections throughout a story, just like how the numbers three and seven made important biblical connections throughout John Crow’s Devil.


James, Marlon. John Crow’s Devil. New York, Akashic Books, 2005.

The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments. Trenton: I. Collins, 1791. Print.


“BibleGateway.” BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 150 Versions and 50 Languages., www.biblegateway.com/. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®


Who Killed the Marriage?

Amanda Mikeal

Proffesor Lucus

English 131


Who Killed the Marriage?

Susan Snyder’s a modern perspective starts out with describing when Othello and Desdemona are reunited and listing the struggles that they over came to be together and then described how their marriage fell apart. Snyder analyzed several different approaches to why Othello and Desdemona’s marriage fell apart. Her first answer was Iago and his “plot to poison Othello’s happiness.” Of all the approaches Snyder took to the question “what went wrong with this marriage” Iago seem the most plausible to me as the reader.

In Snyder’s essay she Wrights “It is Iago whom everyone on stage condemns at the end of the plays conclusion” (288)Iago is obviously the villain of the play his lies and manipulation played a big part in the marriage down fall as well as his jealousy for Iago, or rather his need for revenge, which is the motive that led to him become the villain of the stories.

Snyder explains on page 289 one of the manipulations that caused a downfall in Desdemona and Othello’s marriage.”Cassio is his chosen instrument because Cassio is attractive to women and an additional treat to Iagos husbandly rights of ownership over Emilia.” (289) Iago uses Cassio, Emilia, and Desdemona like pons in a game. Just like on the battlefield, Iago strategies to win the war, or in this case his pride back. Iagos motive to destroy Othello’s happiness partly comes from his anger that he did not get promoted to lieutenant event though he believes he has the better knowledge of the battle field and better at strategizing as he announces on page seven lines 8-15 “despise me If I do not. Here great ones of the city, in personal suit to make me lieutenant, off-capped to him; and by the faith of man, I am worth no worse place (1.1.8-12). So I believe that by using Cassio and strategies he would have used on the battle field to destroy Othello’s happiness (if successful) Iogo would have proven that he was smarter and more worthy of the lieutenant rank than Cassio while simultaneously getting revenge for not receiving the rank in the first place.

Another big motive that Iogo had to break up the marriage was his hate for Desdemona’s father (The Moor). Snyder writes about this motive on page 288-290 “Iago suspects that his wife Emilia, has betrayed him with the Moor: Iago wants revenge…” (288-289) A big strain on the marriage was Iago’s telling Desdemona’s father about their love prematurely, describing their love in an dishonoring way on page 13 “sir you are robbed. For shame is put on your gown! Your heart is burst. You have lost half your soul. Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping you white ewe. Arise, arise!” (1.1.94-98) upsetting the moor greatly. Iago’s revenge plans are always very efficient and strategized carefully as to deal with two problems at once, by breacking up the marriage between Othello and Desdemona Othello’s happiness would be destroyed and Iago has a chance to take Desdemona’s hand and get revenge on Moor.

Analyzing the details of the play reveals that the characters in Othello have much more depth than just hero, villain and damsel in distress. Much like when you study a painting, you can study the rush strokes and try to guess how and why the painter used the techniques they did to bring the painting to life, you can also study the details of the play Othello and develop an argument as to why Shakespeare choose to portray his characters the way he did. This is how I choose to perceive that Iago’s “plan to destroy Othello’s Happiness” was the main reasoning behind why Desdemona and Othello’s marriage collapsed.

works cited

Mowat,Barbra A. and Paul Werstine, eds. Floger Shakespeare Library: Othello by William Shakerpeare. Simon and Schuster, 2009.

Snyder, Susan. “Othello: A modern Perspective.”Floger Shakespeare Library: Othello: by William Shakespeare, edited by Barbara A. Mawat and Paul Werstine, Simon and Schuster, 2009.


Assassination Vacation Analysis

In Sarah Vowell’s nonfiction assassination vacation about one-fourth of the way through chapter one she discusses her experience reading in chronological order the two speeches, Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural, on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial. By recounting her readings of these speeches Sarah Vowell shapes and informs the rest of the chapter by foreshadowing connections, setting up how the rest of the chapter will be presented and letting us know why she enjoys these trips so much and why we might like to visit them too.

Tropical trees and sandy beaches, that’s what most people picture when they think about their ideal vacation. How ever Sarah Vowell describes her perfect vacation as full of breath-taking monuments and historical facts such as on page twenty five- twenty-six of her nonfiction

“The Lincoln Memorial is at its loveliest when the sun goes down. It glows. It’s quiet. There are fewer people and the people who are here at this late hour are reverent and sub dued, but happy. The light bounce off the marble and onto their faces so that they glow too, their cheeks burned orange as if they’ve had a sip of that good bourbon with the pretty lable brewed near the Kentucky creek where Lincoln was born.” (Vowell 25-25)

This quote from the book is laid out with an attention getter in the form of imagery and then slips in the fact that the bourbon was brewed near the Kentucky creek where Lincoln was born, connecting Lincolns birth with his death as well as tying together her main point with a modern-day reference beautifully. This provides some insight on how the rest of the chapter is going to be presented i.e luring the reader in with clever attention getter and then making eye-opening connections as well as sparking their attention and then allowing them to make their own connections by stating facts from each side with her sarcastic tone.

The quote above was actually one of the first pieces of Sarah Vowell’s nonfiction that was wrote in a nonsarcastic or positive light, almost promoting these places finally letting us know one of the resins why she likes going to these places so much and subliminally letting us know why we should visit these places too. After making these connections we can foreshadow that the rest of the chapter will be shaped in the same fashion with sublime messages and connections. We can also foreshadow that she will be visiting more monuments because she described the monuments as so beautiful.

Another way that Vowell’s recounting of her reading of those two writings shape the way the rest of the chapter is foreshadowing through connections she makes throughout her recounting. Such as on page twenty-seven of her nonfiction

“The man who came up with that teensy but vast sentence, and the war came, a four- word sentence that summarizes how a couple of centuries of tiptoeing around evil finally stomped into war, a war he says is going to go on “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword”, is the same chief executive who in 1863 sighed the Emancipation Proclamation. I’ve seen that on paper” (Vowell 27)

In this quote Vowell makes the connection that Lincoln predicted the war to come all to well because he wrote the words “and the war to come” “a four letter sentence representing a four-year war” and then connecting it to the fact that Lincoln “the same chief of executive sighed the Emancipation Proclamation.” By connecting two places that she has visited we can foreshadow that the rest of the chapter will not only be organized chronologically but by how Vowell made connections along the way. It can also be foreshadowed that she will make connections to places she ahs previously talking about in the chapter enticing the reader the play attention and follow along with the connections.

I enjoyed the way Sarah Vowell’s recounts of her readings of the Gettysburg Address and second Inaugural speech shaped the rest of chapter one by organizing connections. I found the clever attention getter enticing and sublime foreshadowing and explanations’ on why she loves these trips challenging enough to be entertaining. I would recommend this book to anyone but especially someone with an interest in history

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

The Conflicts

In the passage “wilderness 59-60”of the text “John Crow’s Devil” Marlin James unleashed several internal and external conflicts between two of the main characters, the widow and Pastor Bligh. Years ago Pastor Bligh was caught having sex with his brother’s wife by his brother his brother then suffered an untimely death shortly after catching the two of them in bed together. His death has deeply haunted both the characters, which both tears them apart and brings them closer together. In the passage the widow has taken in Pastor Bligh who has been thrown out of the church by a new Man in town and is trying to get over his alcohol addiction that began after hid=s brother passed. Going through withdrawals the Pastor begins to hallucinate and the widow is trying to consul him without showing any affection.

As the conflicts between these two characters reveal themselves, Marlin James uses diction to keep each conflict ambiguous or open-ended allowing the reader to make their own conclusions, enhancing emotional appeal towards the characters, and drawling the reader deeper into the text and challenging them to put together the pieces.

The main conflict that unfolded was the internal struggle of self-hatred for what happened to Pastor Bligh’s brother each character as well as the external conflict that they both may still have feelings fir each other or at the very least need each other to get through this terrible lose.

“Trying to save you, you ungrateful sum bitch!”(James 59) This contradicting quote was said by the widow who was trying to consul the panicked, and hallucinating Pastor Bligh as he fought against her. By calling him an ungrateful “sum bitch” (slang for son of a bitch) The author is conveying that the widow wants nothing to do with the Pastor and thinks very little of him, but in the first half of the quote, “I am trying to help you”(James 59) the author conveys that the widow is determined to help him. The widow is trying to convince the pastor she’s on his side, this shows that she actually cares whether he is ok or not. Throughout the book the widow is constantly going out of her way for the Pastor appearing as if she cares for him but doing so in a very passive aggressive manner leaving the question, does she still care for him/have feelings for Bligh? or is she simply doing this because she feels obligated to care for her dead husbands brother.

This internal struggle is also happening the Pastor Bligh at the same time and you can see in some of the two characters conversations throughout the book such as,


“You want to kill me like you did you did your husband?” “What?” she said with a bare whisper. “What?” she said again, ever though she knew she couldn’t bear to hear him say it twice. “Nothing. Nothing. I said nothing. Please go. Leave me alone.” She left him. “Mrs. Greenfield?” (James 59)


to start off with some back ground information, The widow did not kill the Pastors brother. The brother’s death was an unfortunate accident, but the fact that Pastor Bligh accused her of killing his brother means that he blames her for his brother’s death. There is no resin you should want to be around someone who you blame for your brother’s death however the pastor has been excepting her care and has neurotic fantasies about her in a hallucination directly after this argument, “not long after he heard the click of the key, his penis grew hard” (James 59) leaving other ambiguous questions does he still have feelings or the widow? Or does he simply have nowhere else to go? Dose the Pastor blame her for his brother’s death or was he just trying to hurt the widow in that moment?

The diction also gives clues and revels some ambiguous questions such as ‘’she left him. ‘“Mrs. Greenfield?’ “What?”’ as the widow walks out the door the preacher addresses he as Mrs. Greenfield” this is incredibly formal of him due to the fact that they are not in public and they have had such close interment relations. It almost seems as if he is being so formal not just out of respect but because he is trying to distance him self from her, keeping their relationship professional. Dose this mean he is fighting the chance that they will ever get back together? Is he doing this out of respect for his brother or so that he won’t get hurt again.

So many ambiguous questions that do not have right or wrong answers, this is what makes Marlin James’s righting so intriguing, because the reader has to read closely to pick up all the details and clues and then make their own conclusion as to what they mean and how they connect together. Also this draws the reader deeper into the emotions that each character is having greatly inducing the empathy towards the characters. This is the authors way of using emotional appeal to hold the reader’s attention throughout the book.

Meet Amanda

Amanda Lee Mikeal

I am from Mooresville NC. I’m a soft-more at LRU (19 years old) And I live on campus.

(2016 at a LRU football game with my roommate at the time.)

I am a nursing major. My plan is to get my 4 year BSN degree and join the Air force to become a flight nurse, combining my 2 favorite things witch are; traveling and helping people.

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(2014 my trip to Europe)

I have traveled to Costa Rica, Paris France, and Barcelona Spain. I am very interested in traveling abroad.

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(My little brother Liam and I spring 2016)

Both my parents where in the Air Force and my father passed away fighting for our country when I was 15 years old, so I hope to falling in there footsteps by joining the Air Force. I have one sibling, a little brother named Liam who is 16 years old and we are very close.

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(2015 when I received my CNA certification)

I work as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at Kingston assisted living here in hickory. I am an armature model in my spare time. Some fun facts about me are that I am left handed, I love watching sports and my favorite football team in the panthers.

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(this picture is from one of my 2016 photo shoots)