Post your excellent paragraphs of insight, essential information, articles, websites, and such here on all other subjects in Joseph O'Connor's novel.



Katie Gurtis, UNL:
The “objectivity” of cataloguing lies in its pretension to list all—not just some—details of the story. If we hear the whole story, we are less likely to feel duped. The extent of cataloguing in this section can be drawn from the variety of different narrative perspectives given, all the way to the amount of physical details given in each scene. For example, in Chapter 23, the account of Merredith’s inability to seize opportunity is presented through a list of his personal failures. An on-looker states, “His journals from those years revealed innumerable beginnings: long walks in the park; unfinished books; abandoned projects; unrealized designs,” (O’Connor 224-225). Even the sentence structure of the excerpt suggests a dark monotony.

Chaise Murphy, UNL:
Captain Lockwood changes his word choice in several repeated phrases, which reveal a shift from his factual report to a personal journal about his increasing concern for his passengers. In the first two entries, Lockwood recalls the deceased’s last moments by saying, “their mortal remains were committed to the sea” (3, 32). But in the third entry, Lockwood instead recalls them with “[they] were buried according to the rite of the sea” (77). This shift from committing or throwing them into the sea to burying them shows an increase in sensitivity to his passenger’s lives and an attunement to his passenger’s financial woes and inability to bury their dead, as in the story recounted by the Fourth Engineer. He also follows that statement with a brief prayer for the dead, which begins as “May God Almighty have mercy upon their souls” (3). By the third journal entry, his prayer has changed to “May God in His forgiveness have mercy upon their souls” (77). This shift burdens Lockwood with their deaths, showing the responsibility he feels for his passengers; he begs for forgiveness for losing so many lives so quickly. He also loses the word Almighty in his revised version due to an acknowledgment that this famine and his ship are terrible evils that cannot be controlled by God. He has more control in his passenger’s lives than God, he thinks, which is why he loses the Almighty attachment and begs for His forgiveness (3, 77).

John "Jack" Thelen, UNL:
The idea that you create your own downfall is heavily present. If you look at the examples in just a few recent chapters, it is staggering how often that theme comes into play. Mulvey is a victim of his thievery. The prison is a victim of its practices. Merridith is a victim of his own lifestyle. Everyone has done something to create the misfortunes they enjoy presently, or will enjoy in coming events. This theme is even further postulated by the fact that Mulvey gets a copy of "Paradise Lost" by Milton, which is about how God cast out Lucifer, and Lucifer rises in Hell and brings sin into the world. Sin wouldn't exist if God hadn't cast out Lucifer. God inadvertently destroyed his own creation. And I don't believe that observation is ill-fitted either, seeing as how the book already drips with religious text and subtext.

Chaise Murphy, UNL:
Josias Lockwood also addresses the deceased passengers with a decreased overall reverence. This may spawn out of need to distance himself from the guilt of dead people on his ship. For the first time, Lockwood notes only the deceased passengers’ last names in the first entry of this grouping. This furthers the idea of distancing himself from the personalities of his passengers for his own sanity. In the second entry, Lockwood decides not to name the seven deceased and instead disregards them with, “Their names have been duly struck off the manifest” (171). The word duly shows us the return of the hardened captain from the first entry, as if they no longer deserve a space on the ship. And if they cannot remain on the manifest, their names have no place in his journal. This idea of striking their names also correlates with Lockwood’s self-entitled God position on the ship. With the abandonment of God and prayers surrounding the deceased, we see Lockwood bear the cross of the grief his dying passengers bring. Striking names off the manifest feels oddly religious and condemning, like striking them off the good list of people going to heaven. All three passages return to the word committed when referencing the dumping of the passengers, which shows a reversion to Lockwood’s indifference. The third entry even returns to the exact original phrasing of, “Their remains were committed to the sea” (217). With the re-shouldering of his cross of responsibility, Lockwood decides these passengers belong in the sea when they die, thus he commits to his decision to dump them in the open water. Towards the end of his third entry, Lockwood states, “I believe that is all I have to say” (221). This Forest Gump-esque statement shows the full return of the indifferent Captain Lockwood who stops short of offering his takes and opinions on the situations he describes.

Chaise Murphy, UNL:
The third entry—the first of a back-to-back pairing—recounts the slow, tortured death of a whale run over by the ship. The factual nature returns somewhat as Lockwood describes the scene with multiple precise measurements like “seventy yards to starboard… in excess of eighty feet… its tortured sproutings were fully fifteen feet” (343-344). This whale, with its large size, may serve as a cumulative symbol of all the death occurring on this ship. The ship killed this animal like it doomed the passengers. This combined with the sharks shredding the whale just as they probably did with the passengers after Lockwood reported them earlier with, “Greater number of sharks than usual” illustrates the parallel between the two (35). In order to explain that Lockwood seems alone in these feelings, O’Connor introduces the Maharajah who insensitively tells the passengers to “rest their gaze on the ocean… if they wanted to see something they would never forget” (344). Captain Lockwood feels disgusted—probably at the Maharajah’s casual use of rest instead of a more horrifying word—illustrated by his comment, “His Imperial Imbecility [should have] considered his advice a little more carefully given the principal use to which the ocean has been put on this voyage” (344). This final point also furthers the parallel Lockwood views between the dying whale and the deceased passengers. The whale “sounds like human screams” as it dies, which continues this connection betwixt the passengers and the beast (344).

Dayton Stange, UNL:
I really wanted to touch base on the usually neglected theme that seems to have a prevalent, looming effect throughout the story. I could have put this paragraph in several different topics due to the adversity of what the theme does for the story, including mood, characterization, and/or plot. The theme that I’m talking about is the aspect of religion throughout the story. There is several hints of it here and there with clever name references such as Pius Mulvey, or Mary Duane. There is even the most outstanding piece of evidence in the ever-intriguing Chapter XXVII. Here, O’Connor lays out the word structure in the shape of a boat, assumingly the Star of the Sea. This chapter brings the boat alive, turning it into a living breathing character of the story, and with the use of Ora pro nobis, or pray for us, the ship even represents the lot of them on board. In this chapter, we see biblical references such as, “wedded to God,” “workshop of incarnation,” “virgin most pure,” and “queen of Africa.” Quite the ties to religion, if you ask me.

Chaise Murphy, UNL: (What O'Connor taught me about writing)
Reading Star of the Sea offers any reader invaluable insight into how to finely tune and craft an elegant, coherent work. Despite switching between a half dozen point of views, that many different forms of prose and writing a book inside a book, O’Connor manages to write his piece coherently and keep the reader right along with him. I never felt lost once reading the piece, even though (from that last sentence), it seems like it would be fairly easy. The idea of telling the reader your ending at the beginning of a story never seemed like an effective page-turner for me, yet again, O’Connor proves why he has a fantastic, unique novel and we are all in college and amateurville. It just goes to prove the points of many great authors in the interviews, “You have to learn, study, understand the rules. And then break them.”

Sarah Widger, UNL: (What O’Connor has taught me about writing)
I feel there is an endless amount of techniques I’ve learned and have yet to learn from O’Connor. As I’ve stated many times, this text is so rich. That in mind, I want to mention just a few things I’ve taken away from this writer. O’Connor does a wonderful job at developing a characters back story, and specifically I enjoyed how he did this through the stories or narration of another character, such as Mary Duane’s character. He taught me, how setting up a page visually can guide the reader. How character’s and what they do to one another can literally send you sailing through a four hundred page story with anticipation and excitement, despite being told the ending at the beginning. How to make effective transitions between point of view shifts. And finally, how characters can create and reveal mystery within a novel.

Ella Worth, UNL: (What O'Connor has taught me about writing)
I've learned how to make my characters selfish. I've never felt comfortable giving them a poor motivation for wanting something they don't deserve. Star of the Sea has taught me that not only can it be done, it can make a story better. People are inherantly selfish. If they want something, why shouldn't they go after it? Morality and social stigmas may hold us back, but what if you have a character like Mulvey who never cared about anything like that? I'm not saying that I'm about to break into a bank, but I think my own morality has prevented me from being able to create characters who can so blantantly ignore the rules. O'Connor also taught me about character who make sacrifices, and that those sacrifices don't have to be great big things. Sometimes a character can make a small sacrifice that still gives the reader a lot of insight as to what type of person they are. O'Connor has taught me how to make characters want better, and the significance of them either taking it or letting it go.

Liz Rahn, CC:

It is amazing to me how O’Connor can fluidly move between perspectives in the novel. He guides the reader from one character to the next, giving insight into past relationships, events, and motivations; then suddenly, we are reminded that Dixon is supposedly authoring the entire book. Even more interesting to me is when O’Connor slips in a bit of his own perspective, however subtly, to remind the reader of the multiple facets of storytelling in the novel. One moment where I perceived O’Connor’s artistic intrusion into the story was in the scene when Mulvey is locked up, looking through the bars of the cell to the night sky: “A full moon was visible in the centre of the frame; around it an aureole that made it look saintly; further out again a couple of stars, but too few to be able to name them…But without the whole picture the stars were anonymous…Everything depended on how much you could see” (276). I think this passage can be interpreted as a nod to O’Connor’s mysterious writing technique. Throughout the entire novel, he is constantly revealing past information that brings about new motives for each suspect, even bringing new suspects into the equation keeping the reader guessing even until the very end. Up until the confession, it is hard for one to be certain of who committed the murder solely based on evidence and motive provided in the novel. O’Connor cleverly places details in what I can only imagine as a meticulous web of planned sequences to constantly change perspectives. Everything depends on how much you can see.


Michael Hansen, UNL: (What O'Connor has taught me about writing)

To simply say I learned how to craft a character would be like saying a tornado is windy. I have been given techniques on how to start when writing a character and how to keep that concept in mind while trying to make that character come alive and interact with their world. I have also learned just how much a character can shape the way the reader understands the piece. A character on the page can make the reader wonder if what they are reading isn't simply a manifestation of some sort of bias or look at the past plot as something completely different. In terms of moving the story, I have learned that manipulating timeframe and not following the story chronologically can change how the actions of characters or the change or plot is viewed. I have learned that a character don't have to have what I thought of traditional roles, and the story doesn't have to resolve itself the way I thought it should, I have been conditioned by what I have read in the past. I have also learned how to change a character dramatically, while still making them and the change believable. As I continue to write I'm sure I'll think of still more examples of how studying O'Connor's work has shaped my own.