Fun, Oh Boy. Fun. You Could Die from It By Suzanne Britt Jordan
Pre-reading • What expectations do you bring to an article entitled “Fun, Oh Boy. Fun. You Could Die from it”? Can ‘fun” actually harm or kill you? In what ways? Do you think that Americans are too much of a “fun” culture? Why or why not? • Do you think we Changsha people have a “fun” culture? Why or why not?
Pre-reading • Consider the contrasts between, and shades of difference within, “puritan” (par. 3). “selfless” (par. 4), and “Licentiousness” (par. 9). Or between “epitome” (par. 11), “reverently” (par. 13), and “blaspheme” (par. 13). What do these words imply about the essay, the author? What do you guess the essay is likely to say?
About the author:Suzanne Britt Jordan • Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and attended Salem College and Washington University. She has been a columnist for the Raleigh News and Observer and Stars and Stripes, European edition, and has written for other newspapers and newsmagazines.
Jordan’s books include a collection of essays, Show and Tell (1982); Skinny People Are Dull and Crunchy like Carrots (1982), an expansion of her essay "That Lean and Hungry Look"; and A Writer’s Rhetoric (1988), a college textbook. This essay originally appeared in the "My Turn" column of Newsweek magazine.
Puritans Puritans refer to a group of radical English protestants that arose in the late sixteenth century and became a major force in England during the seventeenth century. Puritans wanted to “purify” the Church of England by eliminating traces of its origins in the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, they urged a strict moral code and placed a high value on hard work. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, they controlled the new government, the Commonwealth.
Oliver Cromwell, who became leader of the Commonwealth, is the best-known Puritans. Many Puritans, persecuted in their homeland, came to America in the 1620s and 1630s, setting colonies that eventually became Massachusetts. The words puritan and puritanical have come to suggest a zeal for keeping people from enjoying themselves. One who is scrupulous and strict in his religious life; often used reproachfully or in contempt; one who has overstrict notions.
Structural analysis of the Text The essay evaluates the “fun” side of the American culture in an ironic way. The first five paragraphs, which form the introduction to the essay, provide a stipulative definition of “fun”. Then in the main body of the text, the writer gives an extended definition of it by pointing out what it is not. The essay concludes with an anecdote that further explains what fun is. To develop the definition, a number of methods have been employed, among which are narration., comparison and contrast.
In reading • What other rhetorical strategies are used in this essay?(hint: pars. 8 & 14; pars. 6 & 10 • Repetition • Simile • Personification
Vocabulary Building • 1. A. something precious • B. by all-powers • C. she feels terrible • D. Gosh • 2. A. render unimportant or insignificant • B. failing • C. walking aimlessly or idly • D. drinking greedily or excessively • Gaiety, merriment
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 1. In pars. 1-5, she implies that fun is not easily come by; it is not something common; it is not something that necessarily comes daily; and it is not simply pure pleasure. • 2. We would make it into fun, despite the fact that it may not have been so. For example, she cites things that got the reputation of being fun (6): family outings, sex, education, work, Walt Disney, church, staying fit.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 3. By placing “happy faces” on them. • 4. By stepping up “the level of danger or licentiousness or alcohol or drug consumption. • 5. Taking Polaroid picture, swilling beer, buying insurance, mopping the floor, bowing, taking aspirin (10)
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 6. We usually anticipate the fun so much on big occasions that we end up missing it when it finally comes. “It may even come on a Tuesday” means that fun may come when we least expect it, when there is no big occasion.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 7. About fun, Jordan says “not much is” (12). She feels we ought to be more reverent about fun, to feel it more as a mystery than as something to which we are automatically entitled. It may even come when we are working or performing some duty, implying that those things can be the “real fun” in life (13)
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 8. They were about twelve years old. They had just bought candy—Bit-O-Honey, malted milk balls, chocolate stars, Chunkies, M & M’s—and were walking home together. Pam’s gestures were especially funny because they were truly enjoying each other’s friendship—that is, “having fun.”
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 9. She is regretful about “growing up” and feeling, therefore, that she has lost “the kind of day and friendship and occasion” that she had with Pam. It is difficult to say how sad or regretful she really is; she seems more bittersweet than sad, although some readers might logically question why growing up precludes having fun
Understanding the Writer’s Techniques • 1. Fun comes unexpectedly, it is not there for the asking. Par. 13 provides the key elements of the thesis. • 2. The first two paragraphs are, in a way, definitions of “fun.” However, these two sentences, either singly or together, do not sufficiently define the abstract concept which is the subject of the essay: The first (“fun is hard to have”) simply states the quality of the concepts; the second (“Fun is a rare jewel.”) makes a metaphorical comparison.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 3. In the three paragraphs, Jordan mentions all sorts of things that are “supposed” to be fun, but does so in a way to suggest that she certainly does not think of them as automatically being fun. For example, in par. 7 she explains how “happy face” stickers are supposed to make “fun” out of something like a flunked test.
Par. 8 relates a vignette（小插曲）in which a kid does not respond the right way to something which his or her parents are sure would be “fun.” And in par. 9 she becomes more serious in her irony by indicating that drug or alcohol abuse is sometimes a negative way of making “fun” out of times when life is not so thrilling
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 4. The fact that we have accepted some things as fun mainly because, through advertising or cultural assimilation, we have come to think of them as having to be fun although we may not actually derive any pleasure from them. • 5. Jordan attempts to include in her definition and analysis the broad spectrum of objects, products, and activities which we have come to assume are fun, but may, in fact, not be so.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 6. The tone is talky and slightly cynical although essentially it remains a lighthearted irony through the use of conversational words and phrases. Among these are: snakes alive! (3); by Jove (5); flunking (7); this ain’t fun, ma (8); Golly gee (8); those rough-and-ready guys (10)
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 7. As in her use of “everyday” and “everything,” Jordan is attempting to show us just how many things from so many different types of activities we take for granted as having to be fun. In a way, she is trying to point out to us that we are often much too unselective in our evaluations of “fun.” Pars. 6 and 10 are especially effective for their use of multiple examples.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 8. Par. 12 serves as a transitional paragraph, whereas par. 13 is the first one to be mostly affirmative (“It is a mystery.”) The switch turns the tone of the essay from ironic or cynical to more serious and reminiscent of fun times in the past • 9. Disney World (8); Polaroids (10); Bit-O-Honey, Chunky, M & M’s (14). By using specific brand names, she brings specificity and familiarity to her illustrations.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 10. Narration is used to illustrate aspects of the concept of “fun.” Par. 8 is the imagined story of a kid with his or her parents in Disney World. Par. 14 narrates a fun time Jordan had with her childhood friend, Pam. The narration of her childhood memory adds a nice, personal touch to the essay.
Understanding the Writer’s ideas • 11. Perhaps she wants her readers to begin and end this essay with the idea that “fun” is really quite simple—not so complicated and busy as all the “things” she describes in the body of the essay.
Language points • somewhere along the line: inf. During the time when you are involved in an activity or process, e.g. Somewhere along the line, Jack seemed to have lost interest in their marriage. Somewhere along the line, his father became addicted to gambling.
2. deserve: be worthy of (应受奖、罚；值得), e.g. He deserves to be scolded for having broken the precious vase. The composition deserves careful study. deserve + doing = deserve to be done, e.g deserve criticizing
3. overshadow: to make ( sb. Or sth.) less successful, important or impressive by comparison with others; to dominate) e.g. Ben overshadows all his colleagues. She is overshadowed by her younger and more attractive sister.
4. beneficial: producing results that bring advantages, e.g. beneficial effects An agreement has been reached that will be beneficial to both parties.
5. reputation: the opinion that people have about a particular person or thing because of what has happened in the past, e.g. He has a reputation for honesty and efficiency. The man began to establish a reputation as a writer at the age of 19. earn / win / establish a reputation as live up to your reputation
6. flunk: to fail, especially (in) a course or an exam The boy was upset because he flunked (in) an English Exam. Flunk out: to expel or be expelled from a school or a course because of work that does not meet required standards. We spent the day traipsing from one shop to another.
7.very: right (for the sake of emphasis), usu. used with the superlative form of adj. or first and last, etc. e.g. There have been three accidents in this very same place. The very first thing you must do is ring the police. She’s the very worst cook I’ve ever encountered.
8.consumption: consume, consumer This is produced for domestic consumption. There is too great a consumption of alcohol in Britain. We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it. (Bernard Shaw)(如果我们不能建筑幸福的生活，我们就没有权利享受幸福；这正如没有创造财富就无权享受财富一样。)
8. epitome: an ideal; a typical representation • His father is the epitome of goodness. • “He is seen…as the epitome of the hawkish, right-of-center intellectual”. Epitomize: to be an epitome of something • He epitomizes the loving father. • She epitomizes all the good qualities of her family.
10. no matter what: no matter what happens: you will definitely do sth, e.g. • I’ll call you tonight no matter what. • No matter what, he’ll be there on time. • 11. flick: make sth. move away by hitting or pushing it suddenly or quickly, especially with your thumb or finger
12. –dom: 1) the state of being sth., freedom, wisdom • 2) a. a particular rank, an earldom伯爵/ dukedom • b. an area ruled by a particular type of person, a kingdom • 3) inf. All the people who share the same set of interests, have the same job etc., • Officialdom官场, yuppiedom (uncountable nouns)
13. go through: 1) suffer or experience sth. bad, e.g. How does she keep smiling after all she’s gone through? 2) to use sth. and have none left, e.g. Austria was so expensive – we went through all our money in one week. 3) a law was accepted, e.g. The Bill went through Parliament without a vote. (法案未经表决就在议会通过了。) 4) look at or for sth. carefully, e.g. Dave went through all his pockets looking for the keys.
14. damper: something that stops an occasion from being an enjoyable as it was intended to be, e.g. • The bad news put/cast/threw a damper on the party.
15 scan (1)to examine (sth.) carefully, with the eyes or with a machine, in order to obtain information, e.g. She anxiously scanned the faces of the young men leaving the train in the hope of finding her son. (2) To scan a text can also mean to look through it quickly in order to find a piece of information that one wants to get a general idea of what the text contains.
Translation • It goes without saying that Shakespeare overshadows all the other playwrights throughout the ages. • The Great Gatsby is commonly deemed as the epitome of the Jazz Age of the last century in America. • It is advisable for you not to put a damper on his enthusiasm to further his studies at Harvard.