The Instigator
1Historygenius
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Raisor
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Book Debate!

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Raisor
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,305 times Debate No: 22715
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (4)

 

1Historygenius

Pro

Round 1 is just for acceptance! In this debate me and my opponent will present what we think are the best books in each round and explain why. Neither debater can attack each other or their book in this debate. Round 1 is just for acceptance.
Raisor

Con

I accept this debate but wish for the following clarifications:

1) What qualifies as a book? For example does an epic poem such as the Odyssey or a play such as Macbeth count?

2) Am I to understand that we are not allowed to critique the opponent's choice at any point in the debate? Or is it just no attacks in the first round?
Debate Round No. 1
1Historygenius

Pro

By book I mean a novel or short story, nothing like an epic poem or play.

We are both not allowed to critique each other's choice for each round. The voters will decide.

Here is my first book:

To Kill a Mockingbird

The reason why I think To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best books is because of its main theme which is the coexistence of good and evil. The novel has approached this question through the two main characters, Jem and Scout, and their transition from their perspective of childhood innocence where they think everyone is good and then turn it into a more adult perspective when they actually see evil. One of they key characters acting as the moral voice is Jem and Scout's father Atticus who tries to teach his children that many people are not generally good or evil, they just have good qualities and bad qualities and that you should appreciate and understand everyone and see it from their perspective.

The book also talks about the existence of social inequality and how irrational it is. For example, in the town the story takes place in the two main characters and their father a largely at the top of a social hierarchy with most of the people in the town below them and further below them are the poor farmers. Below the farmers are people like the white trash Bob Ewell and even further below him is the black community in the town despite having admirable qualities. This enables Bob Ewell to take advantage of the black community. The book tries to teach that such social divisions are destructive.

A good example of symbols in the book is its title. A mockingbird is supposed to represent innocence so to kill a mockingbird would mean to kill innocence.

http://www.amazon.com...
Raisor

Con

In this round I will defend the L'etranger (The Stranger or The Outsider), the classic novel by the French writer Albert Camus.

1) Philosophical Complexity

The Stranger explores themes of free will, justice, rationality of the external and internal world, the genesis of meaning, and more. These themes are intricately woven together so that in the context of the story they are nearly inseperable. The story centers around a murder committed by the main character Mersault, a murder which was carried out on a beach with a gun and with no apparent motive behind other than the glaring heat of the sun. In asking the classic question "Why did Mersault shoot the Arab?" we are faced with a deluge of uncertainties and perplexities. Mersault had no motivation, from his own psychological vantage point he cannot explain his actions other than citing the heat of the sun. Was this and action of his own free will, then? If it was not how are we to understand the attempted application of a justice system to his crimes? Is a crime a crime if it is committed with no rational explanation? How are humans supposed to relate to a world in which a man can kill another man with no comprehensible reason, not even his own desire? These are the questions that arise from a single event in this book, and all are aptly explored as Mersault is put on trial and sentenced to death.

The complexity of and interconnection of these issues is left in place; these themes are not artificially separated so that Camus may make neat little statements about this or that aspect of society. Camus intend for the reader to come into contact with these issues as they are in the real world: a big ugly tangle of contradictions that we are irresistibly compelled to try and unravel.

2) Ability to Evoke Visceral Confrontation with Absurd

Not only are a variety of philosophical themes explored, they are explored in a manner that impresses upon the reader the relevance and reality of the matters at hand. These are not pie in the sky thought experiments, these are matters of life and death. In reading the book the reader is frustrated in the attempt to make sense of Mersault's murder and trial. This is precisely the frustration that the author Camus wants us to feel as we confront the absurdity of our world. We feel the clash of the color of humanity of our desire for meaning, justice, and beauty with a world that fundamentally contains none of this. The reader feels the weight and burden of the absurd and thus Camus succeeds in imparting his philosophical motivation to his readers through the use of powerful writing.

3) The Stranger Inspired the Song "Bohemian Rhapsody"

For this reason alone the Stranger must be recognized as a great and influential book.
Debate Round No. 2
1Historygenius

Pro

OK so now my next book:

Lord of the Flies

This book also has some good themes to it.

The main theme and conflict to it is civilization vs. savagery. This expressed by two instincts that exist within all human beings: the instinct to live by rules, act peacefully, follow moral commands, and value the good of the group against the instinct to gratify one's immediate desires, act violently to obtain supremacy over others, and enforce one's will. Through this novel it is explored as civilization being good and savagery as evil. This conflict is driven through a group of young British boys who are stuck on an island. They are also stuck between their moral, civilized, and disciplined way of life to the savage and barbaric life on the island. This conflict is represented between the two main characters: Ralph who represents civilization and acts as the protagonist vs. Jack who represents savagery and acts as the antagonist. The question is if humanity will always be doomed to the problems of today which maybe lead to our self-destruction or not. That is one of the reasons why this book is good it debates on an important issue of humanity.

Another theme is the loss of innocence because as the boys progress from being civilized to savages. The story shows this dramatic change as the boys in Chapter 3 who set up a democratic group and elected a leader and act civilized are far different than the ones who had by now turned into savages and had killed animals and humans alike who have no desire to return to civilization. What the author implies is that civilization can mitigate but never wipe out the innate evil that exists within all human beings.

One of the best things you will find in this story is symbolism. There are far too many symbols in this story for me to explain, but all are important so I will explain three:

The Island - The island represents a clean and new path for humanity that has not been touched. Its basically a brand new world that a new group of humans can start on to see how they will react. Will they be violent or will they be peaceful? Eventually the island is destroyed by a fire and this new path is destroyed basic the theme that humanity is doomed to trouble.

The Beast - Early in the story many of the boys are concerned of a beast on the island. Only one of the characters, Simon, comes to realization that the beast they fear only exists within each of them. By the end of the novel they are treating the best as a god and leave sacrifices for it. The boys' behavior is what brought the fear of the beast and the more savage they act, the more real the beast gets.

The Lord of the Flies - The Lord of the Flies is actually the cut off head of a pig on a stake in the ground, placed by the boys as a sacrifice to the beast. Simon walks up to the pig's head and it seems to speak with him. The head says that evil lies within every human. The Lord of the Flies in fact translates to Beelzebub in biblical texts which is the name of a powerful demon that is thought to be Satan himself. The Lord of the Flies is a Satan figure that evokes the beast within each human being.

There are plenty more symbols including one for each character, but that is far too much to go through.

But these ideas are why the Lord of the Flies is considered a classic.
Raisor

Con


Book: Cat’s Cradle


Author: Kurt Vonnegut


1. Symbolism


Ice-9: A fictional form of water (like steam or ice) that is able to replicate its chemical structure when it comes in contact with liquid water. It therefore has the potential to turn all water into unusable solid, Ice-9. This represents the double sided nature of science and human curiosity. Ice-9 is an incredible feat of technology, just as the atom bomb was, but at the same time exists only as a threat to life on earth. Ice 9 has no uses other than the destruction of earth. Additionally, Ice-9 is constantly used by main characters as a means to satisfying their own petty and selfish goals.


Bokonon, Mona, Monzano – These are three characters that represent different ways that society seeks to ameliorate the everyday suffering of individuals. Bokonon represents religious leaders; he recognizes that the suffering will never end and so seeks to come up with comforting lies that will make people feel better. In many ways Bokonon’s religion is successful in this respect. Mona is a national sex symbol, she represents the celebrity, the way that people take great interest in the lives of prominent actors, musicians, and politicians as a way to live vicariously or to forget their own lives. Monzano represents governmental control of society as a means of improving conditions. There are other examples along these lines, and all are successful to some degree but also evoke immediate moral revulsion.



Cat’s Cradle- This is a real children’s game in which string is interwined between fingers to make the shape of a “Cat’s Cradle.” The joke is that nothing about the shape of the string suggests a cat or a cradle. This underscored by the question “See the cat? See the cradle?” to which the answer is “no” because there is no cat or cradle. The game is a pointless illusion and represents a summation of all the activities and motives of the individuals in the book. From the scientist that only values “pure research” to the cab driver that thinks all criminals should be executed, all the characters have their own value systems and goals that are ultimately creations of the imagination with no real existence. But still, Cat’s Cradle is a fun game and the fact that there is no cat and no cradle hasn’t stopped kids from playing it for the past 50 years.


2. Humor and Joy in the Midst of Futility


Kurt Vonnegut is renowned for his sense of humor even in the darkest of material. Cat’s Cradle is in almost every respect a profoundly depressing book. The characters are base and immoral, terrible things happen to the characters, and all the easy answers to the character’s problems are torn apart. And yet Vonnegut is able to use humor and irony to make these characters relatable and sympathetic. With all the awfulness going on, Vonnegut makes the positive aspects of humanity shine through in a very personal and authentic way. Sure it is sort of terrible that after an apocalypse the main character’s main concern is having sex with a woman he “fell in love with” after seeing her picture in a magazine. But at the same time it is pretty funny and pretty relatable- who hasn’t crushed on a celebrity and who wouldn’t be a little horny after several months in a bomb shelter?


Vonnegut brilliantly juxtaposes the existentially devastating with everyday beauty in way that makes you feel paradoxically hopeful, miserable, joyful, and repulsed.


Debate Round No. 3
1Historygenius

Pro

My next book is Moby-Dick.

Among the themes it discusses is the limits of knowledge

As Ishmael, the main character, tries in the opening pages of Moby-Dick, to give through a collection on excerpts that often involve whales he sees that whales have had many different meanings. He makes use of every discipline in his actions to understand the nature of the whale. Each of these disciplines, however, fails to find a good account. The many approaches that Ishmael takes, suggest that human knowledge is always limited and never is complete. When it comes to Moby Dick himself, this limitation takes on allegorical significance. The ways of Moby Dick, like those of God, are unknowable to man and thus trying to interpret them is impossible.

Another theme is the deceptiveness of fate

Ishmael's narrative hints that the whaling ship he is on, the Pequod, has an inevitable doom. Many of the sailors on board do believe in prophecies and there are few who claim to see the future. However, it seems that many of the characters are deluding themselves meaning they have no way to see fate and that fate doesn't exist or that it is something that humans cannot see. Captain Ahab, for example, exploits this by telling them that hunting Moby Dick is their destiny.

One great motif in it is whiteness (Moby Dick is white)

Ishmael sees whiteness as something horrible like creatures that live in inhospitable environments. This is one of several examples that reverses the traditional association of whiteness with purity. Whiteness conveys a lack of meaning and an unreadable excess of meaning. Moby Dick is the pinnacle of whiteness and the characters in the book cannot understand the white whale. Ahab, for example, believes the whale is completely evil while Ishmael tries find its fundamental nature.

In terms of symbolism:

The Pequod - The ship is named after a Native American tribe from Massachusetts that went extinct with the arrival of white Europeans. This means in a sense than the Pequod is a symbol of doom. It is painted in a black and full of whale teeth and bones which are symbols of death in a way. The Pequod eventually does become its own coffin against Moby Dick (Moby Dick being white seems like white Europeans).

Moby Dick - The great thing about the white whale itself is that it symbolizes different meanings to people. As a profitable commodity, it fits into the scheme of white economic expansion and exploitation. As a part of the natural world it represents the destruction of the environment. It can also be read as an allegorical representation of a God. Ahab believes that the white whale represents all that is wrong with the world and that it is his duty to eliminate this evil.

http://www.amazon.com...
Raisor

Con

Please disqualify my opponent for plagiarism.

Here is an excerpt from sparknots.com on the theme of "the limits of knowledge. I have underlined phrasing which appears identically in my opponent's previous round:

As Ishmael tries, in the opening pages of Moby-Dick, to offer a simple collection of literary excerpts mentioning whales, he discovers that, throughout history, the whale has taken on an incredible multiplicity of meanings. Over the course of the novel, he makes use of nearly every discipline known to man in his attempts to understand the essential nature of the whale. Each of these systems of knowledge, however, including art, taxonomy, and phrenology, fails to give an adequate account. The multiplicity of approaches that Ishmael takes, coupled with his compulsive need to assert his authority as a narrator and the frequent references to the limits of observation (men cannot see the depths of the ocean, for example), suggest that human knowledge is always limited and insufficient. When it comes to Moby Dick himself, this limitation takes on allegorical significance. The ways of Moby Dick, like those of the Christian God, are unknowable to man, and thus trying to interpret them, as Ahab does, is inevitably futile and often fatal.

My opponent is not merely summarizing an explanation given elsewhere, he is copying another source nearly word for word, making only minor changes by substituting in synonyms and leaving the overall structure in tact. He offers none of his own analysis on this topic and does not even cite the original source. This is plagiarism plain and simple and I insist that voters vote Con on Sources and Conduct, and determine their argument votes with extreme prejudice.

Pro, I know you are a high school student and I hope when you write papers for your classes this is not the method you take. Not only is this unethical and lazy, but you are failing to learn important skills in synthesizing source material to create your own work.

On to my argument:

Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

1. Dense layers of symbolism and motifs

The novel can be read as a commentary on the American Dream, contrasting difference in behavior between classes and economic locations, studying what that Dream means to differen individuals, and what the pursuit of the Dream can cost.

One of the most easily recognizable symbols in the book is the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. Gatsby views this light from his home on the West Egg, the Egg associated with "new wealth," while the light is located on the East Egg, which is where the "old money" or the established upper class live. The green light then represents Gatsby's hopes. Gatsby wants Daisy (or at least his mental cosntruction of Daisy and what she represents) and he wants to be in the upper class. Yet all of this is just a faint green light across a great body of water. It is out of reach and always will be. Gatsby's (and perhaps all versions of it) American Dream is elusive and a misplaced desire. Gatsby yearns for the gren light in a very literal way- it becomes the things he wants. In the same way many versions of the American Dream are this- misplaced desires. This is a common criticism of materialism, that we come to want things as stand ins for our true desires.

As we can see, this symbol is multifaceted and goes a long way toward providing insight into Gatsby and his situation. Yet this is just one symbol in what many people consider to be the Great American Novel. I could offer similar analysis of the symbols of East and West Eggs in relation to the Westward expansion of the U.S. and traditional understandings of class and Western/Eastern, or how the Valley of Ashes represents a critique of industrialization and materialism.


2. Prose style is poetic and elegant

I would like to quote here a passage from the end of the Great Gatsby to illustrate the poetic qualiy of Fitzgerald's writing. The passage describes the in character looking out over the summer homes where the novel takes place:

"Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."

We see here an incredible description of the forceful beauty of North America in the eyes of European sailors coming from a tamed land into an untamed world. The text superposes this vision of opportunity and natural beauty with the result of this opportunity: homes that lay empty for 9 months of the year, homes built only to be used to satisfy the leisure time excesses of the upper class. The real power of this passage lies simply in the forcefuless of the description of a new world full of possibility. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Fitzgerald's commentary on what we have done with that opportunity, the passage still forces one to reflect on what America appeared to be in the eyes of European sailors and what America appears in the eyes of those sailor's progeny.
Debate Round No. 4
1Historygenius

Pro

Well, to be fair. I officially forfeit.
Raisor

Con

My opponent forfeited.

But y'all should read Game of Thrones etc.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
The Stranger inspired Bohemian Rhapsody??

Makes so much sense now!
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
Oooo plagiarism
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
oh, the bible fits then ;) jk
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
Raisor
16k I actually thought of that, which is why I asked for clarification. The scope of the debate is limited to long form fiction it seems.
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
bible
Posted by 1Historygenius 4 years ago
1Historygenius
Can we agree to disagree?
Posted by Apollo.11 4 years ago
Apollo.11
Iliad was better IMO. But no one agrees with me...
Posted by 1Historygenius 4 years ago
1Historygenius
Oh, I forgot the link to the Lord of the Flies if you want to see it because I like adding a link if people are interested:

http://www.amazon.com...
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
odessy anyone?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
1HistorygeniusRaisorTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro plagiarized, then forfeited. Con's reviews were well done, original, and included sufficient philosophical profundity. I especially enjoyed the review of The Stranger which is one of my favorite books.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
THEBOMB
1HistorygeniusRaisorTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Really Pro, Plagiarism....Con gets 7 points off of that alone.
Vote Placed by Travniki 4 years ago
Travniki
1HistorygeniusRaisorTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Contra 4 years ago
Contra
1HistorygeniusRaisorTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF