“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.
I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind me with the scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blond ring.
When she finishes, she pulls my hair away from my face and twists it into a knot. I note how calm she looks and how focused she is. She is well practiced in the art of losing herself. I can’t say the same of myself.
I sneak a look at my reflection when she isn’t paying attention—not for the sake of vanity, but out of curiosity. A lot can happen to a person’s appearance in three months (Roth, 1)”
In the novel Divergent, by Veronica Roth, Beatrice (Tris) Prior takes a closer look at herself and reflects on her image and how it relates to her mother. Beatrice is not a vain person but does seek out the inflections in her mother’s actions by seeing them together in one act that takes place only at three-month intervals. While her mother takes great measure to assure Beatrice’s hair is in the faction acceptable style, tucked away into a twist and then a bun, Beatrice looks closer at her mother’s ability to keep composure while doing this mundane, yet expected act. Although connected to her mother through birth, Beatrice does not see herself tethered to her mother’s “well-practiced…art of losing herself,” as she knows exactly where she is (Roth, 1).” The mirror is provided by permission for the care of self during hair cutting, but it is without permission Beatrice finds herself stealing a look at what has lost, beyond the dull blonde hair rings that fall to the floor at her mother’s actions.
“This book provides you with the tools to think about how English works. If you were to take apart your watch, you would need the appropriate tools to pull out each part. If you ever wanted to reassemble the watch, you would need not only these tools but also an understanding of how each part functions. You would need to understand the broader framework of how each part relates to the whole (Curzan, 1).”
Studying the English Language can be a daunting process if digested a whole, instead of broken up into digestible bits. Anne Curzan points out that in order to understand the English language, the approach has to be one of a tactile approach that requires tools to mold it into shape for easier comprehension and utilization. Curzan points out that if “you were to take apart your watch,” it would require tools in order to do that (Curzan, 1).” First, you have to take apart the watch, see how it is put together piece by piece and then use the same tools to reassemble the pieces back together in order for them to work properly. The English Language is comprised of many moving parts that appear insignificant as a lonely gear, but when paired with a motor run like a smooth moving watch that can tell time and anchor you to a tangible vehicle that can be driven or used when needed.
Anne Curzan is a professor at the University of Michigan, author of books on language, member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, and co-host of That’s What They Say on Michigan Public Radio. If you have any questions about language and words, she is the resource for it all.
Curzan, Anne. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction. 2009.
Roth, Veronica. Divergent. Harper Collins Publishers. 2011.