Essay topic: Reading is fun

Since young, my parents have always brought me to the library to borrow books. At first, I thought reading was boring. However, I soon learnt to love reading.The first books I read were fairytales. I still remember those delightful tales like “Beauty And the Beast” and “The ugly Duckling”. One thing I like about fairytales is that the kind-hearted always get rewarded in the end.Now I prefer books on adventures like Enid Blyton’s “Famous Give” series and mysteries like “The Three Investigators” series. Once a fortnight, I will visit the library to get some books to read. I always find it difficult to put down a book once I start reading it.Reading has improved my command of English. I also gain a lot of general knowledge, especially from reading non-fiction books. I like reading books on subject that I am interested in. like dogs, horses and outer space.Reading also provides a world where we can experience things which we may never in real life. For example, I may not have the chance to travel in caravan. However, reading Enid Blyton’s “Five go Off In A Caravan” tells me what it is like to stay in a caravan. Therefore, I think reading is both fun and beneficial.

Essay topic: What is your favorite subject and why?

My favorite subject is Art.It is my favorite subject simply because I love to draw. Ever since I was a toddler I remember picking up crayons and colored pencils to scribble on books, pieces of paper and walls. Of course there were instances where I had to be spanked for dirtying the living room walls and making a mess of my big sister’s books. I have learned my lesson and I do not scribble wherever I please any more.There are only four periods of Art per week in school and I find that it is hardly sufficient. I notice that time virtually flies during an Art lesson. Eighty minutes feel more like eight minutes when I am drawing something. One moment I am taking out my Art materials, the next the teacher is asking us to hand in our work.I do not really understand why I love to draw. The fact remains so. Every chance I have in between periods, I find myself doodling or sketching something. My classmates say that I draw very well and I am inclined to agree with them, without bragging about it. Perhaps it is because I spend so much time practicing my skills.I particularly love drawing cartoons. This is one area where my creativity gets regular workouts. I sometimes draw things that amaze even myself, not less my classmates. One could say that I have a fertile imagination. Sometimes though the imagination borders on the absurd, I have to be careful not to get carried away. I have caricatures of all the teachers I know. Some of them are flattering but some cannot be shown to the persons concerned for they will certainly get upset. They are for my classmates and me to see only.I also love to draw still life in color. Coloring is really an art and I have developed considerable skills in it, much to the disbelief of my classmates. Again, as I have had so much practice in coloring, I have a distinct advantage over the rest of the class. Often I show them the finer points in drawing and coloring. I am certain some of them have improved tremendously in their drawing and coloring. In fact most of my classmates are above average in Art. Anyway that is what our Art teacher says.Finally I have to say that I find I always feel good when I am drawing something. Perhaps that is why I love Art. It is because of the good feeling that arises every time I begin to draw. I see drawing as a natural avenue for self-expression so the feeling must be good. There is nothing to remember or work out in Art as in the other subjects. All one has to do is to follow one’s feeling and the result is always pleasing.

Essay topic: My favorite subject

As a secondary student, I had to study many subjects but my friends used to advise me to concentrate more and more on Science and Mathematics. But somehow or other, English has become my favorite subject. My friends, relatives and even my parents were advising me that there is nothing new to learn in the English Language and I was wasting my time on English. Whatever the advice may be, English is still my favorite subject.Reading as a hobby itself is a great pleasure. English has a wealth of literature unsurpassed by any other language. Studying more about Shakespeare, Shaw, Keat and Hardy gives me an insight into human nature. I have come to realize how a man would react to a given set of circumstances or actions. The more I read, the more I learn in between the lines.My love for the subject has inspired me so much that I may one day write my own play. As a scholar rightly pointed out that reading enables man, makes one more tolerant to the follies of others and bridges the gap between countries and cultures, I hope that it will do so for me too.

Essay topic: Things I would like to do but am unable to or do not have time for

First of all, I would like to be able to drive car. Unfortunately I am not able to because I am under aged. I have to wait until I am seventeen years old before I can apply for a license. So I have to be patient and wait until I am eligible.Another thing I would like to do is to participate in the 100 meter in the Olympics, and win it. This is just a wild dream for my physique does not allow me even to win a 100 meter race in my school. So the Olympics is an impossibility.One thing that I can do but have no time for, just yet, is to hitch-hike around the country. Right now I am so busy studying for my examinations that I hardly have time for anything else. Perhaps when I leave school in a year or so, I will get on the road and see things a bit. They say that travel is a good way to learn things. I do not know that for sure, so I am going to find out, that is, if my mother allows me to do so in the first place.Talking of travel makes me dream of traveling around the world to visit interesting places, to meet people and thoroughly to enjoy myself. However, I can see that, for the time being, it is impossible for me to do such a thing simply because I do not have the means. World-travel costs money, lots of it. Right now I do not even have enough for a bus ticket to Penang. So traveling around the world is out of the question. Even if someone were to pay my way, I would not be able to go because I have to finish school first, or incur my mother’s wrath.Finally, I would like to be able to eat everything I fancy and not put on weight. I am one of those less fortunate ones who can put on weight just by thinking about food. I am not exaggerating of course. The point is that it is easy for me to put on weight and I have to watch my diet. I cannot simply eat or I will suffer.I suppose each person has his or her limitations as to what he or she can do or have time for. No pygmy is going o be a high jump champion just as no seven-footer is going to be a limbo dancing champion. No busy businessman is going to have time to relax and no lazybones is going to be a multi-millionaire. We do what we can or have time for. We leave the rest alone.

Essay topic: Things I like to do

I have many interests. The activities I spend most of my leisure on, however, are reading, jogging and painting.I enjoy reading very much. I read widely, ranging from fairytales to nonfiction books on outer space and nature. Reading helps to widen my general knowledge and improve my writing skill. Therefore, my parents think well of my hobby and often buy me books that I cannot find in the library.When my eyes get tired from reading too much, I would go for a slow jog with my dog in the park near my house. Jogging regularly makes one healthier. I have also made a few friends among the regular joggers in the park.Sometimes, instead of jogging, I would stroll in the park, carrying with me my painting equipment. I love to capture beautiful things on paper. I have taken art lessons since I was nine and I am especially good in water-color painting. Besides painting pictures of the park, I also like to draw portraits of my family members.All my interests are fun and useful pastimes. I believe that everyone should spend their time on some useful hobby rather than laze precious time away.

Essay topic: Fruits I like to eat

I like to eat fruits. They are sweet, juicy and rich in vitamin C. I believe in the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Therefore, I always have a slice of fruit after every meal.I love to eat honey-dew melon. As the name suggests, the fruit tastes honey sweet. It comes in two types; the green melon and the orange melon. Both taste just as good but usually only the former is used or making dessert. I can’t help but long for a bowl of icy cold honey-dew sago on a hot day.I also like eating papaya. My mother says it helps digestion because it is a natural mild laxative. I love to drink papaya milk too. It is easy to prepare and it tastes so good when it is chilled. Each time my uncle visits us, he will bring us lots of papayas and other fruits form his orchard.Mango is also one of my favorite fruits. It has a very sweet smell. Mangoes can be made into very tasty mango puddings or cakes. However, too much mango can cause constipation.These fruits that I like can be bought from fruit stalls in wet-markets or at the supermarkets. Luckily, they do not cost as much as fruits like durians or strawberries.

Essay topic: What will I do with my first salary

I am so grateful to God that I have secured a good decent job. I have now completed one month of service. Now I am holding my first paycheck in my hands, feeling a sense of pride in myself. In an hour’s time I shall be home to give the salary to my mother and father. Taking some for my daily expenses I shall give the rest to my parents. For what they have done for me all these years, it is my turn to repay them.I will go to my uncle, sister and other friends’ hose and give them a treat. My father has promised to throw a small but grand party to my friends. This coming Sunday happens to be my birthday. Thus I would treat my friends in a grand manner.I shall buy a fishing line for myself as my favorite hobby is fishing. I shall go fishing with my friends in Changi. As I have so many things to buy, I shall buy one item with each month’s salary. I have to save some money for my future studies as I intend to do a management course at the college in the evenings so that I will get promoted.

Essay topic: My ambition

My ambition is to become a successful scientist. I have always enjoyed attending science lessons in school. I believe it would be life’s greatest joy to establish my career in the scientific field.Becoming a successful scientist involves a lot of hard work and dedication. I admire great scientists like Einstein and Newton who braved a lot of setbacks to become successful. I am very inquisitive by nature. I do not stop asking questions till I thoroughly understand the answer. In class, I always make sure that I perform each science experiment properly. When in doubt, I consult my teachers.As a scientist, I would be able to invent new things for mankind. We would then be able to lead a more comfortable life. Perhaps I can invent cars that are operated by robots or a computer that thinks like a human. My parents think highly of my ambition and are very supportive. They always buy me books on science and take me to science exhibitions.In order to fulfill my ambition, not only must I work hard for it, I must also understand that “Failure is the mother of success”.

Essay topic: An autobiography of a story book

My name is ‘Arabian Nights’. I am a colorful and attractive book. I was printed in New Zealand and was later shipped to Singapore. It was a long tiring journey.As soon as I reached the Singapore harbor, I was taken to a bookshop. I was displayed on a shelf with other new books. There I met and befriended a book entitled “Alice in Wonderland.”One day a few girls entered the shop. They laughed and joked among themselves. They were browsing through the books and one of them picked me up. She was attracted to me and bought me immediately. I was taken to her house and placed on a bookshelf. She took good care of me. After reading me, she would place me carefully on the shelf.One day, her mischievous cousin visited her. He entered her room without her permission and started tearing her books. Then to my horror, he took me from the shelf and flipped through my pages very roughly. Just then, my owner stormed into the room and rescued me. She smoothed out my pages and soon I was as good as new. Till today I am with her giving her delight through my stories. I love her very much.

Essay topic: An autobiography of a dancing doll

My name is Rosita. I am a Spanish dancing doll made in Spain. I am dressed in a red frilled dress and I wear a pair of red high-heeled dancing shoes. My hair is black, long and wavy.My friends and I arrived in Singapore by aeroplane. When we reached our destination, we were taken to a big shopping center and displayed there with many other different dolls. The place was full of toys. I loved looking at the other toys and I enjoyed watching the children playing with them. Some of them would stop to admire me with wide open eyes, but I was too expensive to be bought.One day a rich, grandly dressed lady came to the store. She looked around the place and her eyes felon me. She looked at me in admiration. She at once bought me. I was given as a birthday present to her only daughter Pam.I was very happy with my new mistress but the happy time did not last long. One day Pam’s friends brought along their own dolls to play at her house. They envied me because I looked very attractive. Pam refused to let her friends handle me. When Pam was not attending to me, one of her friends picked me up. Pam was furious and tried to pull me away form her friend. In the tussle they accidentally ripped my pretty red dress. Pam cried and her mother consoled her by promising to buy a new doll.I was given away to the servant’s daughter, who accepted me with great delight. She skillfully mended the tear in my dress. She treasured me and took very good care of me. I am indeed fortunate to have a mistress who loves me despite the fault in my dress.

Essay topic: An autobiography of a butterfly

I am a beautiful Monarch butterfly. My name is Jolly. My mother laid some eggs on the leaf of a milkweed plant. After several days we hatched into tiny black and white larvae. At this stage we were called tiny caterpillars. We moved about the plant and fed on its fleshy green leaves. Since we ate all the time, most of the leaves on the plant were destroyed. We grew so fast and soon, that we were too big for our skin. Then we had to go through a process called molting. When we grew new skins and then crawled out of the old ones.We then turned into large grey, yellow and orange striped caterpillars. My next stage was the pupa stage. I crawled under a leaf of the plant and spun a pod of silk and fastened myself to the pod. I molted once more, but this time instead of getting a new skin. I got a green bag. When the right time came for me to emerge out, the bag changed its color and burst open. I flew out of it into the world. I was a fully grown Monarch butterfly. My wings were beautifully colored. Wherever I flew people stopped to admire me. I felt very proud of myself. I fluttered from to flower feeding on the nectar. I made my home in a beautiful garden. The old garden keeper loves to admire me. His eyes would brighten up at the sight of me.One day I laid some eggs on a hibiscus plant in the garden. My life span is short. Soon I will disappear from the face of the world. But more Monarch butterflies will hatch from my eggs.

Essay topic: An autobiography of a pen

I was manufactured in a factory five years ago. After I was made, the “cross” was engraved on me. I was packed in a pretty box. Then I was put into a large box together with the other pens. We were happy together and spent a wonderful time talking to each other. I was transported to a large department store. I was taken out of my box and placed in the display tray along with other pens of different brands.I was on display for only a short period. A grand old lady came to the store one day. She was looking for a gift. She bought me and presented me to a girl named Mary. Mary is a student and used me daily to do her school work. She took good care of me. She always wiped me clean after using me and placed me neatly in the box. She was very gentle with me and never handled me roughly. I admired my mistress and served her well.My happiness did not last long. One day her grandmother bought her another pen. She stopped using me, and put me in my box. I am now stored away in her drawer. I live in the dark corner of the drawer hoping that one day she might use me again.

Essay topic: An autobiography of a watch

I am a round-faced ladies’ watch. I come from a large family in Japan. A watch merchant bought me together with my siblings and sent us on a plane to Singapore.On arrival, we were comfortably arranged in a showcase of a department store. The salesgirls handled us with care and wiped us with clean dry cloth every day. After each round of cleaning, we would greet our potential owners with brighter smiles.One day, a couple bought me for their daughter. Betty, my little owner, was overjoyed and took good care of me. However, one day, she forgot to take me off her wrist when she went swimming. Poor me, I was badly choked! I was sick and after that and could no longer keep accurate time. Sometimes, Betty was even late for school because of me.Betty’s parents bought her a new waterproof digital watch and sold me to the rag-and-bone man. I was very upset. Fortunately, the rag-and-bone man gave me to his daughter, Xiaozhen. Like Betty, she took good care of me and loved me dearly.I am old and sickly now. I may soon be of no use to anyone. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to have had two such loving owners in my lifetime.

Essay topic: An imaginary encounter

One night, while I was about to sleep, I noticed an extremely bright star in the sky. Its dazzling glow lit the dark night and its beam fell on my bed. To my surprise, a tiny human-like creature walked down the beam. It had wide blue eyes and sharp-pointed ears. A small star shone on its forehead.“Hello, I am Starlet form outer space,” said the little creature in a high and musical voice. From the high voice, I guessed that Starlet is a female.Starlet continued, “Today is my birthday and Star Papa gave me a new spaceships. Would you like to ride in it with me?”I was filled with curiosity and followed Starlet up the beam into her spaceship. Together, we zoomed off to outer space. Looking out of the spaceship, I could see fish-like creatures rushing about in space and looking very busy.“that is the fish market,” Starlet informed me.Soon, we arrived at a restaurant, McSpace, which was floating in space. It served food which looked like starfruits but which tasted like a mixture of mutton and vanilla ice-cream. It was such fun visiting Starlet’s kingdom.Starlet sent me back to earth before dawn. Before she left, she promised to visit me again on her next birthday.

Essay topic: If I had three wishes

If a fairy were to grant me three wishes, I know what I would like to wish for.First of all, I would wish for plenty of money. With lots of wealth, I could help the poor. I could donate lots of money to the orphanages, homes for the aged, schools for the blind and so on. Many would benefit from the money as it could be put to good use.Secondly, I would like to wish for the good health of my parents and my family. Health is very important to man. Without good health, it would be impossible to enjoy a lot of things. With good health, we could travel around the world, do whatever we want to do and live our lives the way we want to.Thirdly, I would like to wish for a book that has everything to know in it. It will be thick and informative. There will be science, mathematics and other topics. I would read it and be a wiser person.

Essay topic: The year 2990

Technology has been progressing at a great rate over the past few decades. I think that in a few centuries’ time, the world will be very different.Perhaps, in the year 2990, the world will be entirely computerized. Every household will have a mainframe which is linked to all other systems. Adults do not have to go to work and children need not go to school as everything can be done at home.Probably, by then, humans will not even have to take food in the form of meat, vegetables and rice to survive. Tablets containing the ideal proportion of the essential nutrients will be enough for us.Robots could become so cheap that every household could afford a few of them. Life will be easy and comfortable with all the household chores being done by the robots.Visiting relatives during Chinese New Year will not be necessary any more. All that the Chinese need to do is to switch on the mainframe and exchange greetings through the big screen. The money will be credited to their bank accounts using the mainframe.All these changes are just my own idea of what life in the future could be like. I wonder if they will come true.

Essay topic: Capsized boat - when we went fishing

It was a lovely evening when John arrived at his uncle Willy’s fish farm. Uncle Willy had promised to take John fishing in a boat. John was very excited at the prospect for he had never been in a boat before.John found Uncle Willy sitting on the bank of a large fish pond. His uncle was preparing some fishing rods. John greeted him, “Hi, Uncle.”“Ah, John, you are here already,” his uncle replied. “Let’s get going. You take that fishing rod there and get into the boat”.“Okay, uncle,” replied John. He picked up the fishing rod and walked towards the boat.The boat was floating gently on the water and John did not have the slightest clue how to get in. He put one foot in the boat and the boat started sliding away from him. Startled he withdrew his foot and nearly fell into the water.“How do I get in?” he asked.In reply Uncle Willy grabbed the boat with one hand and motioned John to get in. Carefully John stepped into the boat and sat down. He felt strange sitting in a boat that kept bouncing up and down and sideways too.Uncle Willy untied the mooring rope and stepped into the boat. He took an oar and expertly steered the boat out into the middle of the lake.John felt both excitement and fear. It was indeed exciting to be in a boat for the first time. It was also fearful because he was afraid he might fall into the water. Anyhow he watched the boat glide smoothly over the water. The view of the pond from the boat was beautiful. It was great.After a minute or so Uncle Willy stopped the boat and dropped a brick tied to a rope over the side of the boat. This was his make-shift anchor and it did its job pretty well. “Let’s fish,” Uncle Willy said to John.So the two of them got about the joyful task of casting their lines into the calm water of the pond.Presently John saw his float jiggle a bit before it disappeared straight into the water. Wow! There must be a big fish on his line! In his excitement John stood up in the boat to pull his line in. that was his undoing. He did not know it was not a good idea to stand in a boat for the boat would become very unstable. Since he had never been in a boat before he did not know that. So as soon as he stood up, the boat gave a mighty heave and capsized dumping both of them into the pond with a big splash.One moment John was grabbing frantically at his line, the next he was grabbing frantically in the water for something to hold on to. It seemed like eternity before his hands found something solid. He held on tightly. It was part of the boat. However he was still underwater and his lungs ached for air. Instinctively he moved upwards still clutching the boat. Just as his lungs seemed like they would burst, John emerged above the water. What a relief it was. He sucked in the cool sweet air. Never before had he realized that the air was so sweet and soothing. My God, was he glad that he could breathe.When John could breathe normally again, he realized that the boat had capsized. He looked around to see where his uncle was. He heard laughter behind him. It was Uncle Willy laughing his head off.“You really look funny, you know?” Uncle Willy guffawed.“What do you mean, uncle?” asked John.“Do you know you gave such a horrible yell when you fell into the water and was spluttering and puffing when you emerged from it. You looked like a clown in a circus!”John realized that he must have presented quite a sight to his uncle when he fell into the water. He laughed in return.“Well, that will teach you not to stand up suddenly in a boat, won’t it? Come, let’s push the boat to the bank and get it upright again,” his uncle ordered.Together they pushed the upside down boat towards the nearest bank.

Essay topic: It was not such a good bargain after all

Sitting at a corner of my favorite coffee-shop one morning, I heard some noises behind me. On directing my view to the opposite side of my table, I saw a crowd holding a few expensive watches. The pieces of diamond on the watches glittered under the sunlight. With the urge to investigate, I dragged my lazy feet towards them.To my amazement, there were about half a dozen Rolex watches costing not less than three thousand dollars each. A slim, well-at-tired man curtly interrupted me and tried to clear my dazed mind with a whisper. “My boy, don’t be fooled by that charlatan or you’ll get into trouble.” Saying so, he left me without giving me a chance to reply. Being easily tempted and influenced, I found myself standing in front of the crowd directly facing the man who was then the center of attraction. In spite of the unidentified man’s warning, I inquired the seller for the price of the watches.He was probably taken aback by the question coming from a young schoolboy like me because he stared at me in disbelief. However, he held out to shake hands with me. He asked me a few questions; I guessed he was trying to see my earnestness at owning the watch. Convinced of my intentions, he told me that he got those watches from his former employer, year after year for he was hardworking and diligent. As he was then financially tight, he had to sell all the watches. I was convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt when the man produced copies of certificates proving the genuineness of the watches.After inspecting the watches thoroughly, I again inquired about the price. To my astonishment, the man was willing to sell the watch for a thousand dollars which was only thirty percent of the cost price. My heart almost leapt into my mouth when I thought of this bargain. “Well, son, seeing that you’re still schooling and not earning yet, I’ll let you have it for $850,” said the man. “Wow! What a bargain! I’ll take it,” I replied without second thoughts.I excused myself and ran to the Cash-On-Line teller across the road. I withdrew the required amount and turned my head towards the watch seller only to find him being held by two police constables. A large crowd has by then gathered in front of the coffee-shop. The police then seized the diamond-studded Rolex watches and led the watch dealer away in their van.I traced my steps back towards the coffee-shop where my coffee which had turned cold by then still patiently in the cup, waiting to be drunk. I was disappointed at what had happened. The young, mysterious man who had warned me before came again and this time he said mockingly. “You see? I told you to be careful. That man was a thief. He stole the watches and some jewelry from a goldsmith shop. Police have been tracking him ever since and thank goodness, at last they found him. The nerve of him was trying to cheat a young boy like you. It was lucky that you didn’t buy the watch.”Without a single word, I nodded and shook hands with the man. I suppose that gesture was worth a thousand words. The man stroked my hair and said, “Well son, it wasn’t such a good bargain after all!”

Essay topic: Dangerous companion

“All aboard!” the loud commanding voice woke me up from my nap. Grabbing my knap-sack I shoved my way through the crowd towards the train. I jumped onto it and hurriedly moved from carriage to carriage trying to locate the one in which Miss Lou was. I could have written to her and asked for the carriage number, but there was no fun in that. I wanted to surprise her.I glanced at my pocket watch that Miss Lou had given me on my last birthday. I plunged into a nostalgia mood, as I recollected how fondly Miss Lou who is actually none other than my dear auntie had taken care of me when I was young.“April, April” a shrill, familiar voice cut my thoughts. I looked up to see the ever smiling face of my Aunt Lou. I was filled with joy at seeing her. I explained that I had, at the spur of the moment, decided to accompany her to Paris. In our excitement, we had forgotten about the other passengers in the carriage. If not for Aunt Lou’s elderly companion and nurse, we would have certainly been carried away during this memorable moment. Miss Prude (a very apt name for her, I thought) interrupted us curtly, saying, “Madame, it’s time for your medicine.”That night, we had a lovely time together. Aunt Lou was proud to show me her fabulous jewelry collection. Among her favorites and most expensive was an exquisite diamond-studded necklace, intricately and skillfully crafted. On seeing these priceless possessions of hers, I raised my doubts about their safety. She told me not worry as she had always kept them in a “poor-looking box” to avoid suspicion.In the morning, we had breakfast together and this time we were not bothered and haunted by Aunt Lou’s companion. It was on my way to the casher that I noticed a young and beautiful woman going into the carriage we had been in a short while ago. I tried to recall the instance I had seen the familiar face before but I failed.When I saw Aunt Lou’s smiling face, I forgot everything about that mysterious lady. Both of us then walked towards our carriage. We knew something was amiss when we saw the door ajar. Aunt Lou turned pale and nearly fainted when she discovered her jewel box was missing.I was suddenly reminded of Miss Prude. She was the only person who had access to the carriage. She might have overheard us talking about the box during the previous night. With the help of some concerned passengers and a train officer, we searched high and low for somebody fitting the description of Miss Prude.We were about to give up our search when my eyes fell upon the beautiful, mysterious lady. Her too-familiar face bore the look of unpardonable guilt. I grabbed the officer’s arm and pointed to her. She tried to escape but was caught with the box in her bag.Aunt Lou praised me for uncovering the disguise. It was later found that before this incident, Miss Prude had used her skills in theatrical makeup to deceive some ten to fifteen rich and lonely old ladies who depended on her for companionship. Miss Prude was indeed their most dangerous companion!

Essay topic: Lost luggage

One fine day, as I was engrossed in my reading, the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and was greeted formally by an unfamiliar voice that asked to speak to me. My hands trembled for a while and strange ideas of imaginary offences shot into my mind.My worries were unfounded as I received the most wonderful news that I could ever dream of. I had been chosen to study on an overseas scholarship. I was told to reply the offer by the next day.When my parents came home that night, I broke the wonderful news to them. My father was overjoyed as it was his dream to send me for studies overseas. My mother was, however, not very pleased as she would miss me and she feared that no one would take care of me in a foreign land. After much comforting from my father and me, my mother was finally persuaded.My father had left the choice of course to me. I chose to take up the course for a Diploma in “Pure Physics” at the Oxford University for duration of three years. The next day, I called the scholarship board, expressed my thanks and informed them of my choice of course. They gave me three weeks for preparation before they would send me off.Preparation began at home without any waste of time. My mother started making a list of the things I would need. She herself went shopping for the necessities. Finally, the day for my departure arrived. My mother had prepared a large suitcase stuffed with all my belongings. She had also put in a ruby brooch which she had bought for me.My parents sent me to the airport. After a tearful farewell from my mother and some encouraging words from my father and relatives, I left for England. The plane trip was not as long as I had expected. The plane touched down in England in the evening. I took my luggage from the airport, walked out and hailed a taxi. I asked the driver to take me to a respectable restaurant near my hostel as I was starving.He stopped in front of a small but clean-looking restaurant. I paid him the fare, grabbed my handbag and hopped out of the taxi. After my dinner, I realized that I had left my extremely valuable suitcase in the taxi’s boot. I was at a loss. I neither knew the taxi’s license number nor anybody whom I could ask for help.I walked slowly towards the hostel, my mind in a mess. I thought of making a long distance to call to my mother but I decided against it. I knew better than to worry her with my own troubles. I walked into the hostel and introduced myself to the lady at the information counter. With tears in my eyes, I told her my plight hoping that she could help me regain my lost luggage.The lady was very helpful. She immediately contacted a few centers and informed them about the loss. She told them to return the lost luggage to the Oxford University Hostel, if it should be found. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart. She then showed me to my room and told me not to worry.I could not sleep that night. I remembered my mother’s advice to me to be careful about the suitcase. I knew that it would break her heart if she were to learn of my carelessness. I cursed myself for being so careless. I began to think of all my documents in the suitcase without which I could not enroll for the course. Not withstanding all the worries, I fell asleep at last, with complete exhaustion, I guess.The first thing I remembered the next morning was my suitcase. I got dressed and rushed down the seemingly endless flight of stairs to the information counter. The lady greeted me with the sweetest smile I have ever seen. She told me to come behind the counter. I did and there, behind the counter stood the too familiar red suitcase. I almost screamed with joy. I squeezed her hands and expressed my deepest thanks.I picked up my suitcase and ran with it to my room. I knelt down and humbly thanked God for having saved me from the mess I was in. I have learned my lesson and promised myself to be extra-careful in future. I was also determined not to let anyone at home know about this incident forever!

Essay topic: Acting as a substitute

Anxious faces peered out fourth storey classroom window. A half of the class were outside the classroom. Some of them were at the balcony; some were waiting at the steps while some went even further to wait at the school-gate. Being the class monitor, I tried to call them back to class. My teacher was at the staff room, walking up and down in front of the telephone. She was waiting for a telephone call from Brenda’s mother.Brenda, the brain of our class, was hospitalized. She had a sudden attack of asthma during the previous night and was immediately rushed to the hospital. She was to be the last speaker for our class at the finals of the interclass debate to be held that very day. We were confident of her. We were sure that her unbeatable ability to summarize and to rebut would win for our class the prize. This was precisely the reason for everybody’s anxiety, waiting for her with hope.A little while later, my teacher walked into the class. By the look on her face, we could immediately guess the outcome. She said in a quivering voice, “Brenda won’t be discharged today. So… I’m afraid… I’m afraid that we will have to find a substitute.” There was dead silence in my class. I was standing at the back of the class. Then, painfully, I felt as if sharp pins were piercing my body, pinning me to the wall. Slowly, my eyes met the eyes of forty-two others.“But… but I… I’m not prepared,” I said stumbling over my words. Suddenly, an idea struck me, “Surely… surely you won’t want m… me to s… stutter like this, do you?” I said, faking the stutter. To my utter dismay, nobody said anything. The forty-two pairs of eyes kept staring at me. My teacher then broke the silence by the sound of her footsteps, walking up to me. She caught hold of my shoulders and said, “Only you can do it. Please don’t let us down.” Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, I nodded quietly. I thought I heard thunder roaring across the sky, but I soon realized that it was a tremendous round of applause by my classmates.There was not much time left. The three other speakers and I rushed to the library. They quickly briefed me on the motion of the debate which was, “Parents should not over-burden their children with home tuition.” We were supposed to propose the motion. I felt that this was the most difficult task as I relied on a lot on my home tutor. It was certainly difficult to argue for something which we ourselves were against.At last, the hour arrived. Everybody assembled in the school hall. Backstage I was sitting at the right hand corner of a semi-circle. Directly opposite me was the last speaker from the opponents. I managed to pass a crooked smile to him. My hands shivered as I held on tightly to the cards which contained the points for my arguments.The curtain parted. Right through the introduction I kept my head down. Not daring to look at the audience. Time seemed to fly, at a tremendous speed. Before I realized it, the debate was open to the floor. I looked up for the first time as I heard a voice from the corner of the hall rebutting a point made by my third speaker. Suddenly, I felt myself on the defensive. I quickly jotted a point on my card. I glanced through the card and realized that I had written quite a lot of points for rebuttal.The moment arrived. I stood up, my knees knocking vigorously against each other. I forced my voice out. Beginning with the formal greeting, I found my self speaking, pouring out argument after argument. I began to enjoy myself especially when the audience clapped at my good points. I did not even want to stop speaking when my time was over, but I had to. I sat quietly, looking at some of the unsaid arguments on my card. I heard the opponent pouring out his final arguments.The chairman said excitedly. “The long awaited moment has come. I will now call out the winner of this debate. The best speaker is… Maria of Secondary 4/2.” The other part of the announcement was drowned in the applause. My classmates rushed up the stage, hugging each other. I knew who had won without even listening to the verdict.I felt elated with pride. My teacher patted me on the back and all the others gathered around me. After the prizes were given away, my classmates again stood up to shout three cheers for 4/2. when every-body else had dispersed from the hall, my teacher unexpectedly shouted, “I knew I had chosen the right substitute.”

Essay topic: Being the odd one out

I took a final look at myself in the mirror before I put on my high heeled shoes. I thought I looked presentable enough. My brother was furiously sounding the horn hurrying me up. I went down the steps with difficulty due to my shoes. The minute I stepped into the car, he sped off, not caring that my heart had leapt into my mouth.He was to meet his friends for a barbecue. He hated to take me along on such occasions. He said that I was a spoil-sport tagging along behind him. However, he had to bring me because my mother insisted. She said that every time he needed to use my father’s car at night, he must take me along. Well, whether he liked it or not, he had to oblige. I was to one who had to bear his deafening nags while we traveled to and fro in the car.He stopped at the East Coast Park and told me to get down. I was nearly in tears because I thought the barbecue was to be held at friend’s house. If I had known that it was to be at the beach, I would have at least put on my pants and flat sandals. I would never dream of going to such an occasion in party skirt and high-heeled shoes. Oh… why didn’t he inform me? Although I was very angry with him, I kept my peace. I knew better than to say anything.I hurried behind him towards the beach. When we reached the location, I was utterly shocked to find that there was not a single female soul around. His friends stared at me. I felt strange, although I still cannot interpret their stare. I looked down shyly, and my eyes met my skirt. At that moment, I felt like tearing it to pieces.The boys did not say anything to me. I realized that my presence was not welcomed. I felt admixed feeling of embarrassment and anger. Who should I blame? I thought everybody was to blame; my mother, my brother and I. My thought was rudely interrupted by a rough voice offering me a seat on an overturned pot. I thanked him and sat, looking at the pitch black, moonless sky against the dark blue, calm waters.I had been in the company of boys for a number of times but the occasions were never as forbidding as this one. At home, my mother and I live among seven males. They are my father, two of his brothers, my elder brother and three younger brothers. I love their company.I was again interrupted by the rough voice. This time he offered me some mutton cubes pierced in an iron skewer. Without thinking, I took it and began to eat. I shouted in pain when the burning skewer touched my lips. My unsympathetic brother turned around to look at me. Instead of doing something, he gave me a threatening look and turned away. I heard him telling his friends that I was a spoil-sport. I felt tears in my eyes but I would not permit them to fall.I waited patiently till 11.30 p.m. At exactly 11.30 p.m. my brother signaled me to go to the car. I walked away alone, without saying goodbye to anybody. This time warm tears really poured down my cheeks. I quickly wiped them away as I heard my brother coming up behind me. Then, I realized that being the odd one out was indeed trying. I thanked God that it was all over.

Essay topic: The day dad decided to do it himself

“Damn this stupid thing. Not again!,” I heard mum say. Even without popping my head inside the kitchen I knew that it was the dish-washer making trouble again. That was the third time this month.I hate it when the dish-washer breaks down, because I would end up doing the washing. Mum had given up hope on the dish-washer. But is not dad! He loves it when something breaks down in the house. He is always out to prove that he is the handy man around the house. After the amount of money he had paid to have the dish-washer repaired, I was sure, he wouldn’t believe in anymore repairs. I was wrong.When he got home and found out about the dish-washer, he was all ready to try out the new too-set my uncle had bought for me recently.He started working on the dish-washer soon after wards. The first thing he laid his hands on was the motor. God knows how he managed to get it out. This was preceded by a lot of banging and hammering. My mum and I spent the evening in the living-room, away from the noise. My mum did not quite mind the mess my dad was making, because the dish-washer was not functioning well anyway, even before it decided to go on “strike” that day for the third time.Dad continued to work through the evening. He was engrossed with the dish-washer and was not distracted by anything else.While preparing dinner, mum and I tried our best to avoid directing our curious eyes to my dad’s working spot. But habit was so deeply ingrained that we found ourselves turning our eyes on him. Believe it or not, it wasn’t so bad. There wasn’t much of a mess. Just screws and spanners of different sizes lying around – apart from the dish-racks and the motor. Dad gave us a mischievous grin.We heard a couple of “ouches” and curses in the kitchen but did not approach him. There were sounds of deafening hammerings. Suddenly, dad shouted for help. He sounded desperate.Mum and I rushed to him. We knew what was coming. It was a disaster! On the kitchen floor was the motor which was somehow working on its own. The door was off its hinges. Dad was surely for the dish-washer’s lid was off too. I was not surprised. Dad was capable of anything!What did my dad have to say after all these? “They do not make tools like they used to anymore!” That’s my dad.The next best thing was to pull him away from the kitchen before he brought down the wires, saying that the wires had caused the trouble. My mum then called the Electric Company to collect the remains of the dishwasher. I went straight for the tools and placed them back in the store room. I was not surprised the least when we did not receive any cash for the junk we sent away.

Essay topic: Grandparents

With faltering steps two loving figures walked, hand in hand. Affection was shining in their eyes. Silhouetted by the morning sun, they painstakingly made their way towards an empty bench. Beyond them, the sun shone bright but the sky was of a pale azure. They sat down close as if afraid of losing each other after what they had been through. Occasionally smiling that little sad smile of his, the old man did not seem to mind the wind teasing the last few strands of his white hair. He was drifting in his dreams. But it was only a second before he looked subdued again lost in his own world. The old woman too felt likewise.Minutes passed in complete silence. Tears of misery trickled down slowly tracing the strained lines on the face contorted with wrinkles. The only thing left for them was their love for each other, which glowed like a flame that will never die.“Damn it! Can’t you take care of yourselves? Do you expect me to do every single thing for you? Look at that mess! God! Can’t you see that I have my own family to take care of? Isn’t it enough that you have wrecked my marriage? Why do you have to do this to me?”The bitter words stung them but they couldn’t do anything about it. They were too old. All they could do was sit and stare at the empty space biting their trembling lips. They hard come to accept the fact that they were a nuisance to their good daughter. As the heart-rending words trailed on, they realized that they were the cause of her shattered marriage. They wanted to say they were sorry but she never gave them a chance.She regarded them as a barrier to a happy life. She had wanted too much and had tried to understand too little. They struggled through life just because they wanted her to be happy and this was their reward for all the hardship they had endured in trying to please her.One day they were forced to pack up and leave for their new home. It was the home for neglected parents. Life was unbearable there, looking at all the old people. They were useless and lifeless as vegetables. They were dependent on others. They felt ashamed but couldn’t help relying on others. “They are so different from us. We don’t need others to spoon-feed us. But they do,” they thought.The old couple have come to accept the reality of life. This is their home now, and it is going to be till the end of their days.They held hands. He squeezed hers, smiling, showing gaps where teeth had once been. She smiled back and assured that everything would be alright. In the solace of mutual love and care they carried on their journey through life.

Essay topic: A mad dog

The road up the hill is long and winding. There is hardly any traffic, in fact it seems to be quieter than usual. Mrs. Foster takes a deep breath with a feeling of gladness and satisfaction. “Thank goodness! There doesn’t seem to be many people camping out up there,” she thinks. She turns to her left to see the little boy sitting patiently beside her with eyes open wide, eagerly looking at the uncommonly peaceful surroundings. The little yellow Volkswagon moves slowly up the hill with Mrs. Foster driving and her little boy Billy on the front seat next to her.“When are we going to see daddy, mum?” asks Billy.“In three hours’ time, honey, at noon, we’re going to have lunch together, remember?” replies Mrs. Foster. Her son nods his head and continues to look at the scenery. They have driven for almost two hours. Suddenly the car moves very slowly. Only then does she realize she’s running out of gas. She manages to drive up to the nearest gas station and presses the horn several times. No one responds, so she decides to get out to look for somebody in the station. The station is deserted but the doors are not locked. “Strange,” thinks Mrs. Foster. Suddenly there is a sound coming from behind her. She turns to see and found only a dog staring at her. She pays no attention to it and starts to walk back to her car. Grrrrrrr! “There’s something strange about the dog,” Mrs. Foster says to herself. Something strange that makes her hair stand. She decides not to turn around but walk quickly to her car. She opens her car door and quickly gets in. as she slams the door, the dog pounces on it with great strength that makes the car shake. Billy screams and Mrs. Foster realizes that the dog is a mad one.She winds up her car windows and locks both door. Just then the dog rams her car again, this time shaking it even more. She realizes that there is nothing she can do to get out of the situation. Her car does not move and there is no way she can get out to make a phone call. As she holds Billy in her arms, there is another bang. This time the dog is on the front of her car looking dangerously at Mrs. Foster and her son through the windscreen. It begins to hit and scratch the windscreen as if to reach to the frightened victims inside the car. Billy’s screams and cries only agitate the dog more and its movements become more vigorous as it begins to hit harder and harder until the windscreen cracks. To her horror, Mrs. Foster realizes what the dog is up to, so she tries to calm Billy down and it works. For almost two hours they sit there quietly, not even daring to breathe properly. The dog lays itself down on the bonnet of the car and keeps a watchful eye on any slight movements.Suddenly there is a sound of a truck. Several men get out of it armed with rifles and shot guns. The dog jumps down from her car and Mrs. Foster gives a sigh of relief. As she closes her eyes, she hears a loud, a gun shot, followed by the cry of the fatally wounded dog.

Essay topic: A vivid dream

I could not sleep. I kept remembering about the awful fright I had had that day. I kept wishing that Aunt Mariam would not tell Mom that I had been to the huge, old house down the hill.I remembered walking down the winding path through the thick woods, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. I kept thinking of Mom cooing softly down at my born baby brother and then turning sharply to scold me for forgetting to do my chores. The rain drops from the drizzle washed my tears. The ground was already wet as it had rained earlier. I slipped many times as I made my way through the winding track to the huge, burnt house.I was panting by the time I reached the front gate of the house. It stood like an empty sheel, black and burnt from that fire long ago. There was an eerie silence about the place secluded from all sides by tall menacing trees. Only my heart throbbed away as I recalled the village children telling tales of the house being haunted by a girl and her brother who had died in the fire.It was very dark inside. I groped around for a while to get used to the dark. The place smelt of dampness and mildew. I stood in the middle of the massive, empty hall and stared at the dusty ruin and decay that had gathered. The place was full of dark, shadowed corners covered with cobwebs. I noticed that the left wing of the house was untouched by the fire. I made my way lightly through the debris toward the left of the house.This room was surprisingly bright. All around there were oil painted canvasses, some hung, others covered with white sheets. I uncovered one to find a water color painting of a girl of about my age, standing pensively, grinning widely by a fountain. It was the sad, wistful look in those expressive eyes that held my attention for a long while. Then carefully I covered it. I was about to uncover another when a dark shadow crossed the room.I looked up sharply in the dim light. Holding my breath I moved back slowly without turning around. I almost expected a vampire to come out among the shadows. There it was again, huge black wings flapped towards me, screeding loudly. I lifted my sweaty palms to cover my eyes, swung myself around and cowered on the floor.Lightning flashed into the dimness of the room, thunder cracked through the walls. I got up slowly. Something must have hit my head when I swung around. There was an awful lump at the side of my head; it throbbed painfully.Outside it was raining heavily and the wind howled loudly. There was something else too. I smelt something strange. It was smoke!The house was on fire again. From inside the room I could see tongues of red flares. I looked around desperately. Lightning flashed again. Then before me was a rocking horse and a cot on fire. I stood there not knowing what to do. Then the fire went out.Before me was the burnt remains of the cot and as I gazed, I was horrified to see what looked like the charred remains of a baby boy, black and lifeless.I sat up, breathing hard, clutching my blanket. Looking around the familiar sights, I sprang out of bed to my parents’ bedroom. There he was, my baby brother sleeping soundly; but my parents were not there. I still smelt smoke and heard fire crackling. I walked into the living room and there it was – the fire.Across the road, the shop-houses were on fire. I stood there, clutching my mother’s hand watching the firemen do battle with the blazing monster for a long while. Then my mom carried me back to bed and tucked me into bed again.

Essay topic: The jealous reactions of one person to the success of a friend

“We used to go to school together, sit together, eat together from a plate, talk over the telephone every night and even spend our weekends together,” thought Diana as she walked sulkily home from school. She was thinking about her closest friend Liza who had suddenly decided to end their established friendship.This was how it happened. Diana was a favorite among her teachers. She was very much respected by her schoolmates. Diana, a very bright student who was always top in standard was befriended by Liza, the school’s best athlete. Everybody knew that both of them were inseparable.It so happened that a student from Primary Six needed to be chosen as the assistant secretary of the school’s sports department. She was to represent the students of primary four, five and six at any meeting held in preparation of the school’s coming sports meet.The teachers had unanimously chosen Diana because of her popularity among the other students. Besides, she could speak very well. Liza was not chosen because the teacher thought that she would be very busy with her practice as she would be running in a few events during the sports day.When the choice was announced, Diana was cheered tremendously by the students. However, Liza’s face became pale; she excused herself and hurried away from the assembly ground. Diana was not able to follow her as she was surrounded by the others. When school was dismissed, Diana waited for Liza at the school gate. When she did not turn up after half an hour, Diana went to look for her. Surprisingly she was nowhere to be found.Thinking that she must have hurried home to attend some personal matters, Diana walked home alone. That night Diana telephoned her friend to inquire about her. However, Liza made up some excuses to hang up the telephone. Diana believed her and readily excused her.In school, the next day, Liza avoided Diana as much as possible. In class, she had to sit beside Diana but she kept quiet all along. During the break, Liza went off to the canteen without waiting for Diana. Diana saw her at the canteen, eating with another girl. Then only did she realize that something must be wrong. The more she thought the more her mind suggested to her the possible reasons. At last she gave up and sat on a bench and ate her sandwiches.As she was eating, two girls passed b and she overheard them talking. The mention of her name made her strain her neck and try to catch a few words from their conversation. What a shock she had when she finally pieced the information together Liza was actually jealous of her position as the student’s representative in the sport department. Diana could not believe that such a trivial matter could cause this heart-aching break.Diana thought about the matter again as she walked home. She decided that Liza had to come to a self realization. She must realize that friendship should be cherished above all. Diana felt that she should give up her new post if that would patch up the hole in their relationship. But… that would only pamper Liza and would not make her realize her folly. She continued her walk deep in thought.

Essay topic: An odd incident

It was very odd. There were no people on the bus, but the engine was running and their belongings were there. But the bus stop was deserted.I had just visited my aunt who lived in the countryside. The bus that would take us back to town came only once every hour. I thought I would miss it so I ran all the way from my aunt’s house. But when I reached the bus stop, this strange sight confronted me. Where were the driver and the passengers?There was a sandy field behind the bus stop and I went there to investigate. I saw footprints on the sand which were probably made by the passengers. The footprints were all leading to one direction – towards the centre of the field.I plucked up my courage and ran towards it. As I was about to reach it, an unusual sight caught my eyes. There was a big crater in the sand, and a bright light, as though from an explosion, shone upwards. People stood at the edge of the crater, looking into it.I continued to run towards it. Then I felt a hand grabbed my arm and I screamed. “Hey, don’t be frightened. Don’t run to the crater, or you will be like them,” said the stranger. I turned to face him, and saw that it was an old man whom I had seen in the village.“Look at those people,” the old man continued. “If you look carefully, you can see that they are not moving. They are frozen like statues.” He told me that when the bus was about to leave, a glowing, bright object crashed into the field and formed the crater. The pull of the light was so strong that everyone seemed drawn and rushed towards it. Even the young children were not frightened by it. The old man could not keep up with the rest of them because of his weak leg. He noticed that whoever looked at the object in the crater became immovable, as though transfixed by it.I asked the old man what we should do. I wanted to run back to the village for help. “Wait,” he said. “I think something is about to happen that will save them. The sky is dark. I hope the gods will bless us with rain.We waited for the rain to fall. I could not help stealing looks at those immovable figures surrounding the bright light. It was very eerie.Then it rained, followed b a heavy downpour. The old man and I watched an incredible sight. The bright light grew weaker and disappeared, and at that moment, the people started to come “alive” again. We approached them and they seemed not to have any knowledge of what had happened to them. They were all busily talking about the crater, and had no memory that some minutes of their lives had been frozen by an alien force.I looked into the crater and saw that there was a smooth globe inside it. But when the rain wiped out the light, it lost its power. The old man looked at me, and I nodded at him. We both understand that we would not tell the passengers the truth about the incident. They were better off not knowing, and besides they might not believe us, anyway.

Essay topic: An Unforgettable Childhood Incident

I was about four or five years old at that time. My family lived in a estate house bordering a coconut plantation. The coconut trees loomed tall and straight. Many animals and insects could be found scurrying up and down the trunks. Occasionally we could see flying lizards gliding from tree to tree.Sometimes the order coconut trees would collapse whenever there was a storm. It was with one of these fallen trees that i had a most unforgettable and painful experience.My brothers, sister and i were playing near the trunk of a tree that had fallen the previous day. As young children we were very curious and wanted to have a close look at it. I was inquisitive than the others. Also i was more foolish. I climbed onto the trunk and started to walk along it. It seemed fun and i had to show off how well i could keep my balance.The tree trunk was not totally straight. It inclined upwards near the fronds. Bravely i walked up along the inclination. I felt very confident and sure. Higher and higher i walked. By then i was so cocksure of my ability that I started to shake the trunk. That was my undoing for the next moment down I came with a thud on the ground.I felt excruciating pain and could not get up. I cried out. My elder brother tried to lift up me but not strong enough. So my sister ran home and fetched my father. My father came hurriedly and carried me back to the house.Quickly my father reversed out the family car, bundled me into it and drove quickly to hospital. My mother could not come for she had to look after my brothers and sister. What anxiety she must have felt.Nevertheless we reached the hospital in double quick time and I was attended to by a doctor in the emergency room. He carefully manipulated my arm and finally put the elbow joint back into place again. All the time I was in a sort of a daze as the pain was really terrible even after the doctor gave me a jab to lessen it.I had to stay in hospital for a couple of days for injury of my elbow to heal a bit. Fortunately there were no bones broken. So after two days i left the hospital and was greeted happily by my family. What a painful but unforgettable experience it had been. I learned not to repeat the foolish climbing act again.

Essay topic: Retelling an old story

The Master SwordsmanIn old Japan, the ultimate weapon was the sword. It was a much respected weapon often carried by a samurai and other people of Japan’s violent past. There have been many stories told about these skilful swordsmen and their incredible feats of valor. The following is about how a man became one of the most skilful swordsmen in Japan.A brash young man approached a renowned master swordsman and beseeched the master to teach him how to use the sword. The master refused and asked him to go away, but the young man was very persistent. Finally the master relented and accepted the young man as a pupil.For the next two years the master forbade the young man to even touch a sword and was given all sorts of chores to do. He had to cut firewood, fetch water, sweep the floor and attend to the master’s every need. The young man did everything as told but as time went on he grew impatient.One day he asked the master why he still never received any sword-fighting lesson. In reply the master took a stick and hit him so hard that he had to run away.From that day on the master would come up on him when he least expected it and beat him with a stick. He could not fight back for the master was far better a fighter than he.The beatings continued while he had to carry out his chores. But gradually he learned to dodge and parry the master’s blows. After a year of this harsh beatings, he became very adept in anticipating and avoiding the blows. Soon he could cope with anything the master threw at him.As his skill in avoiding the beatings increased he realized that this was the master’s way of teaching him how to deal with being attacked! What a strange way the master used, but it worked, for now he could handle any attack.The master, on seeing that this young man had become so adept in avoiding being attacked, then gave him a sword and taught him how to handle a sword properly.After a short time the young man became very skilful in handling a sword. So the master told him that it was time for him to leave. The young man knew now that the master had first taught him to be humble by making him do all sorts of chores. Next he learned how to cope with being attacked and finally he learned how to handle a sword. All these things he learned without really realizing it. So with a heart full of gratitude to the master, he left and continued to be one of the greatest swordsmen Japan had ever known.

Essay topic: My most precious possession

My most precious possession is a bullet. Well, to be more accurate, it is a bullet that has been fired from a revolver. It no longer has the normal shape of a bullet. It looks more like a twenty sen coin now. It became shaped like this after it hit a metal post in the shooting range.Our possessions are usually what we intentionally went out to get. In the case of this misshapen bullet it was not so. I never intended to get it nor think it would become my most precious possession. Things sort of just happened without my trying.It began one day about a year ago when my brother took me to the shooting range. He is a keen member of the local gun club and sometimes I tag along with him when he goes for shooting practice. It was on one of these occasions that I got this precious possession.I was watching him shoot some targets with his 0.38 revolver when he asked me whether I would like to have a go. I grabbed the opportunity. I had never fired a gun before in my life and was always waiting for an opportunity like this. First he showed me the safety procedure. Then he showed me how to shoot the pistol.So I followed his instructions and held the revolver in both hands. I took aim at a man-shaped target some distance away and pulled the trigger. I heard a loud crack even though I was wearing earmuffs. I saw the bullet hit a metal post way off the target. I even heard a soft “ting” as the bullet struck the post and rebounded. My brother reminded me to hold the gun more firmly so that the bullet went where I was aiming at. I corrected myself and tried again. The second time I was more successful. I hit the target. Feeling a bit more confident I fired the revolver until it was empty. Out of five shots I hit the target with three. It was quite good for my first go at shooting.My brother took the revolver back and continued his shooting practice. After the practice we went over to the target to see how well he had done. He did not do too bad at all.While we were examining the target my eyes came upon a tiny grey object on the ground. Out of curiosity I picked it up. It was a flattened bullet, the result of the bullet’s collision with a metal post. I showed it to my brother. He said it was the first one I fired that hit the metal post. I looked at it with disbelief. Here was the result of my first shot with a pistol. How many people get to keep the first bullet they ever fired? Perhaps I was the only one.So I decided to keep the bullet as a memento. It is still with me to this day.

Essay topic: Recalling my first day at school

I am a Primary Six student in De La Salle School. I enjoy going to school because I have many friends. However, I still remember how frightened and lonely I felt on my first day at school.That morning, my mother drove me to school. I felt frightened when I saw so many students running about in the school field.I joined a queue and was brought into Class 1A by my teacher, Mrs. Devi. I was in tears when my mother left. Many of my class-mates were also crying and Mrs. Devil had a hard time pacifying us. She played some games with us to make us talk about ourselves. Soon, I got to know a few friends.Suddenly, we heard a bell ringing loudly and we started packing our things. However, Mrs. Devi told us it was only a break and led us to the canteen. I was glad to see my mother waiting for me with a bowl of prawn noodles. As I ate, I told her about my new friends.After recess, another teacher came into our class and we sang nursery rhymes.At the end of the day, I was no longer frightened or lonely. My parents were glad when I told them I was looking forward to going to school the next day.

Essay topic: An unexpected meeting

There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was surprised to see Huiling. My greetings were so loud that everyone stared at me. Only then did I realize that I was still in the library. Hastily, we went out to the corridor to talk.Huilling is my former neighbor. We used to be very close friends. We were in the same class in school and attended the same church together. But since we shifted to new HDB flats, we had drifted apart. Both of us were busy trying to adapt to our new environment. Hence, we stopped writing to each other and lost contact.I never dreamt that I would meet her in the library. We were eager to know about the well-being of each other’s family. We loaded each other with questions. Sweet reminiscences of the past also came to our minds. We reminded each other of the games we had played – paper dolls and hide-and-seek. We also laughed as we recalled how we both got scolded at the same time when we were naughty. What delightful recollections!After conversing for almost an hour, Huilling had to go because she had to meet a friend. However, before we parted, both of us reached an agreement. We would make an extra effort to renew and maintain our friendship.

Essay topic: A pleasant surprise

The doorbell rang and I went to answer it. At the doorway stood a fair and pretty girl with rosy cheeks.“You Mona? Me Yoko, you pen-pal from Japan,” she said in broken English. I could not believe my ears. What a surprise! Yoko explained with difficulty that her family was stopping over in Singapore for two days before flying off to Australia for holidays. I was glad that my elementary Japanese helped in our conversation.I was also surprised to see the many beautiful presents Yoko had brought for me from Japan. It included a kimono, a Japanese paper lantern, some beautiful badges with faces of popular Japanese singers and lots of delicious Japanese foodstuff.She also took me to Hotel New Otani where her family was staying in a suite. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka, were very friendly and generous. They treated me to a sumptuous Japanese meal in a cozy Japanese restaurant.I took the Tanaka family on a brief tour round Singapore before inviting them to my home for dinner. Meeting Yoko and her parents had certainly been a pleasant surprise.

Essay topic: A priceless gift

I have had this little wooden pencil case with me for about two years. It is the most precious gift that I have because it was made for me by my late grandfather for my tenth birthday.My grandfather was a carpenter. After he retired, he continued to spend his time on woodwork. He liked to work in the garden where it was cooler. I used to sit beside him and watch him while he hammered away.One day, I could not find my grandfather in his usual place in the garden. After hunting high and low, I found him in his room. His head was bent over a rectangular object and his hands were busy carving something. As soon as he saw me, he hid the object behind his back and smiled guiltily, like someone caught in a naughty act.Just before my birthday, my grandfather fell sick. On the eve of my birthday, he passed away.The next day, I found the wooden pencil case in his drawer. There were some words carved on it: “Happy birthday to my beloved grandson.” I was touched. So that was what my grandfather had been so secretive about. Since that day, I have always cherished the birthday gift from my grandfather. To me, it is a priceless gift.

Essay topic: An amusing incident

It was April Fools’ Day. My identical twin brother, Jack, and I thought of a mischievous trick. As we were in different classes, we decided to exchange places and pretend to be each other for a day.I walked into Jack’s class confidently and mingled with his friends. Nobody suspected that I was not Jack. Only our parents could tell us apart. One of Jack’s classmates happened to celebrate his birthday that day and had brought a big ice-cream cake to class. Of course, I took Jack’s share of the ice-cream cake. What a treat!Jack’s classmates tried hard to make one another the biggest fool of the day. However, I was careful not to be tricked. Jack’s closest friends were surprised and remarked, “Jack is strangely alert today.” I almost burst out in laughter but managed to keep a straight face.Pretending to be Jack seemed fun until Jack’s teacher scolded me for failing a maths test. It was so shameful! However, instead of feeling angry, I felt sorry for Jack and decided to help him with his maths in future.At the end of the day, Jack and I told each other what happened. The next day, we laughed at our class-mates for being fools not to smell a rat.

Essay topic: A case of mistaken identity

A strange incident happened to me one year ago.It all started at a fast-food restaurant where I was having lunch with my friends. Suddenly, a woman walked up to us and called, “Lisa”. We all turned and looked at her. I was surprised to find that she was talking to me. She even asked me why I did not go home. When I told her that she had made a mistake, she became agitated and started crying loudly.At that moment, a man came up to her and tried to calm her down. Then, turning around, he saw me and was startled. Gravely, he explained to me why his wife had behaved that way. They had had a daughter who looked like me. She had been killed in a road accident recently. His wife had not learnt to accept the mishap and that was why she insisted that I was her daughter.I felt sorry for her. Therefore, I decided to visit her often, hoping that it would help her recover faster. My parents supported my decision. Since that incident, I have been visiting the couple weekly. They dote on me as if I were their daughter. I believe the woman is getting better.

Essay topic: A treasure hunt

One afternoon, I received a letter which contained a map of the park near my house. A big cross was marked at a corner. Right at the bottom of the piece of paper were two rows of strange words:“Frut eht rednu gidEvresed uoy tahw dnif lliw uoy”It must be a secret code! After looking at it for a long time, I realized that the message could be found if I read it backward. The secret message was:“Dig under the turfYou will find what you deserve”Immediately, I ran to the park. I found the corner where the turf was and started digging with a fallen tree branch. Soon, I saw a small box. In a state of great excitement, I opened it and found a piece of paper. It said: Dig harder!I shouted with frustration and started digging again. I began to perspire and I felt my arms aching. I was about to give up when I spotted another box. Holding my breath in excitement, I opened the box… and found another piece of paper. This time, there was a picture of an idiot and the words: “This is what you deserve. Hee! Hee!”I was mad with anger. However, when I calmed down, I realized that I had indeed been a fool, wasting one afternoon on dreams of getting rich without working for it.

Essay topic: A good deed

There is an overhead bridge in front of the block of flats where I live. An old lady sits there selling sweets and peanuts. She told me that she had been abandoned by her grown-up children. Out of sympathy, I buy a packet of peanuts from her whenever I cross the bridge.One day, as I was crossing the bridge, it started to drizzle. The old lady packed her things and hurriedly went down the stairs. Before I could run forward to give her a hand, she missed a step and fell. By the time I reached her, she had already fainted; I was shocked to see her head bleeding. Unfortunately, there was no one around to help. Thus, I left her and ran to the nearest telephone booth to call for an ambulance.In the hospital, the doctor told me that the old lady would soon be well again as she had not lost too much blood. I was relieved. As her family would not care for her, I asked my father for help. Soon, she was sent to live in an Old Folks Home.I feel glad to have been of help to the old lady. I intend to visit her often at the Old Folks Home.

Essay topic: A lesson learnt

I was shopping for a wallet in a large shopping center. Suddenly, a naughty thought ran through my mind.The counter where the wallets were sold was at a corner of the store. There was nobody around me then. Stealthily, I put one of the wallets into my pocket. I felt guilt written all over my face. As I was about to leave the shop, a pair of arms grabbed me by my shoulders.“We have to refer you to the police for shop-lifting,” the man said. I was horrified. My parents were notified and they were furious to learn what I had done. However, they pleaded with the shop manager on my behalf.The shop manager finally decided to drop the charge against me. I truly regretted stealing the wallet and promised to turn over a new leaf. He nevertheless referred the case to my school principal. I was given a demerit point as punishment and my teachers explained to me the seriousness of shoplifting.It had indeed been a painful lesson. I resolve never to commit the same mistake again.

Essay topic: Honesty is the best policy.

One fine day, while I was on my way to school, I found a wallet. It was lying outside the lift.Opening the wallet, I found two hundred dollars and some coins inside. There were some pieces of paper but no identity card. I was tempted to keep the money, but I remembered what my teacher had taught us. She said, “It is wrong to take things which do not belong to us.” I scolded myself for harboring such dishonest thoughts. Then, instead of going to school, I went to report what I had found to the neighborhood police.The policeman was very kind and listened to me patiently. As I was about to finish my story, I saw my neighbor, Mr. Song, walk into the police-station. He looked surprised to see me. After much explanation, we discovered that the wallet belonged to Mr. Song. What a coincidence!My neighbor thanked me over and over again. The policeman praised me for being an honest boy. He also called up my school to inform my principal of the incident. I am glad that I had not kept the wallet. Indeed, honesty is the best policy.

Essay topic: Courtesy begets courtesy

One afternoon, my cousin and I went for a movie. Before the movie started, I went to the public washroom. It was very crowded; I joined the queue and waited patiently for my turn.When I was about to enter an empty toilet, the girl who was standing behind me asked me if she could use the toilet first. Her face was pale and she seemed to be having a terrible stomach upset.“Sure!” I said without hesitation. I could tell from her face that she was very thankful.After the movie, my cousin and I were supposed to meet my uncle at the airport. We decided to catch a cab there. At the taxi-stand, I saw the girl whom I met in the washroom. This time, she was ahead of me in the queue.We started a friendly conversation while waiting for our cabs. My cousin and I began to get worried when we had waited for quite some time and no cab had passed by. Finally a cab came. We waved good-bye to the girl because she offered to let us go in the cab first.We thanked her for being so considerate. She even helped us carry our shopping bags into the cab. From this incident, I fully agree that “courtesy begets courtesy”. It certainly pays to be courteous.

Essay topic: Daylight robbery

My neighbor Mrs. Wu and her daughter Lily are rather vain. They are fond of wearing expensive jewelries and displaying them in public. Whenever any friends drop in to visit them, Lily enjoys showing them her collection of jewelries.One afternoon as I was returning home from the library, I noticed a strange looking man lurking outside Mrs. Wu’s house. I was curious to find out what he was up to. So I hid myself behind a huge tree. When it was time for Mrs. Wu to go for her stroll, the man quickly hid himself behind some bushes. When she walked to the gate and was about to open it, the man rushed up and pointed a knife at her. Mrs. Wu screamed. When I saw what was happening, I quickly ran to get help.I managed to stop a passing patrol car. When I told them what had happened, two burly policemen followed me. Mrs. Wu was slowly taking off her jewelries and giving them to the robber. The two policemen overpowered and arrested him. Mrs. Wu thanked me for my help. She learned a good lesson. After that terrible incident she never wore her jewelries.

Essay topic: The national day parade

I could hear the fast beating of my heart as I put on the knee-high boots which distinguished me from the other members of my group. As the drum majorette of my school’s brass-band, I felt responsible for the success of our performance in the National Day Parade which is going to begin in ten minutes’ time.As the huge clock at the Town Hall struck three o’clock in the afternoon of the ninth day of August, we were commanded to take our positions at the Padang. Our Prime Minister arrived followed by the President in his stately Rolls Royce. They took their positions at the grandstand and the National Anthem was sung.A pompous display of colors pervaded the Padang. Then the march-past in the earnest began. One by one the contingents represented groups of government servants from various departments. Then came the others such as the groups representing the Post Office Savings Banks, the nurses, the flight stewardess from Singapore Airlines, student teachers from Institute of Education and many more.After these, I eyed a few groups of cadets in green. They marched smartly and in perfect co-ordination. They were the few selected groups of National Cadet Corps members who had won the interschool competitions. Following them were three groups of National Police Cadet Corps members, the Girl Guides in their pleasant blue and the Red Cross and St. Johns in white.My heart beat even faster as I clenched my mace. The Buona Vista combined band group was already half way through their performance. They were loudly applauded; and then a moment of suspense, as I gave the command for my group to move forward to the performing ground. We made three formations and we were applauded by our schoolmates who were sitting together visibly in their dark green uniform. Then came my final performance. I threw my mace high into the air, positioned myself to a half kneel and caught my staff majestically. The round of applause I received was tremendous. After that, we formed our marching rows again and moved on in the procession.We had to march for another two kilometers to the dispersal area. As we marched, we could sense thousands of pairs of eyes looking at us, observing and admiring. I was elated and pleased with the performance that did us credit. I felt rightly proud for having availed myself of the opportunity to represent my school in our country’s most auspicious occasion. I knew that my parents watching the procession over the television must have felt the same way too.We reached the dispersal ground at exactly five thirty in the afternoon. We waited for the other contingents to arrive. The beautifully colored floats came in last. We were told that this year’s procession had been a real success as hardly anybody could sense any flaw. After our refreshments, we went home, feeling proud and happy, not to mention, extremely exhausted.

Essay topic: An evening in a luxurious boat

A journey by boat is a pleasant experience, but think of a journey in the most luxurious boat. I had a chance to enjoy such an experience.My father and his friends decided to go on a cruise with the family. They collected some money between them. The company also paid a share and they booked an evening in the luxury boat named Sealiner. A cruise covering a round trip of Singapore with a dinner and dance was arranged.The invitation allowed for five members of each family. The boat was to leave around 5 p.m. sharp so we were asked to be at the pier before 4 p.m. Entrance was by invitation only. People started gathering at the quay around 4 p.m. One by one, we were allowed inside the boat. Before boarding we were asked to take a lucky number.The boat left the quay exactly at 5 p.m. Light music was played and the guests were asked to help themselves with the drinks. The boat sailed along the coast and we could see Pulau Piani, Sentosa and even Johore from the boat. Dance started at around 6 p.m. and the youngsters danced to their heart’s content. At about 7:30 p.m., the boat anchored in mid sea, and everyone was asked to come to the top deck for a buffet dinner. There were more than ten types of delicious food.When the dinner was over, the boat started to sail again. In the meantime, the lucky numbers were drawn. I won a prize of a hi-fi stereo cassette recorder for my lucky number 12. It was the third prize. The boat arrived at the starting point around 9 p.m. and we went home very happy.

Essay topic: An excursion to nearby islands

Excursions are a part of education. One day we had a pleasant surprise when our teacher told us that we are going on an excursion to the nearby islands around Singapore. The coming Sunday was chosen and we were asked to be at school around 6:30 a.m. We were very happy and waited eagerly for the day. In the meantime we planned the program for the trip.On that day everyone was present as nearly as 6 o’clock. A bus had been arranged to take us to the World Trade Center pier to take the launch of the islands. There was a big crowd of holiday makers buying tickets. But our tickets had been arranged and one launch had already been reserved for us. We all rushed in. My friends and I took seats so that we can have a better view. My teachers cautioned us about the danger of leaning on the boat’s rail and looking over the sea. The boat left the pier around 8 a.m. and we enjoyed scenes of huge ships anchored at the harbor and some big tankers in the deep seas.The boat moved faster into the sea where it was rough. The boat started swinging from side to side. The early morning breeze was so cool and very soon the boat berthed at Kusu island, which is known for its Chinese temple. We then had our breakfast and snacks and we wasted no time to explore the beach.We left the island in an hour’s time and our next stop was St. Johns islands. The sea was clear crystal blue and even at that time we saw many swimmers and some were resting under the tree. Some holiday makers were watching us play and some were irritated by our mischief. We finished our lunch there and our next stops were Pulau Pinane, Sentosa and other islands. Our boat merely passed by the island and we were not allowed to disembark as time was running short.We returned to the World Trade Center pier around 5 p.m., and quickly the bus took us home.

Essay topic: American Sense and Sensibility: Let's Be Realist

Author: Ms. Annmicha Blugh

In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1811), the two female protagonists, Elinor and Marianne, epitomize these respective principles – sense and sensibility. American Realism spans 1865-1910. During this time period, realist writers synchronize in views, objecting to sentimentality and protesting for more texts exemplifying realism. American realist novels, such as House Behind the Cedars (1900), Washington Square (1880), The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), and Ethan Frome (1911) satirize sentimentality, as represented in sentimental fiction, and applaud sensible characters with a firm grip on reality. In American realist literature, the characters who live on the basis of sense comprehend their circumstances and follow good judgment; whereas the characters who live on the basis of sensibility resort to emotionalism and impassioned decision-making. In the realist novel, characters demonstrating sentimentality are incongruous because they apply elements of the sentimental novel in everyday life. They are guided by imagination, impulse, and overpowering emotion. As one explores American local colorist and realist literature, one observes objection against sentimentality, through satire, imitation, and open criticism; thus, confirming contempt for traditional feminine sentimentality.
The reason why these realist works are so stridently against sentimentality is because the realist focus appreciates the representation of the truth in life and everyday existence. The realist style of writing, called verisimilitude, preserves accuracy in the narrative account for sentiments and the romantic often eclipse clarity. Realism offers no embellishment, therefore realist authors oppose the views of sentimental sensibilities. In the sentimental fiction era, "ladies poisoned their minds with novels and the amorous follies of romances" (Brown 5). Thus, a negative construction is placed on sentimentality, gendered feminine, in American realist novels.

In sentimental fiction, sentimental female protagonists typically act irrationally. The pairing of sentimentality and the woman dates back to Greco-roman times, where hysteria is a once common medical condition peculiar to women. Women would demonstrate emotive symptoms such as fainting, irritability, spasms, high excitability, and nervousness. In the Victorian Era, hysteria was a popular diagnosis. Indeed, the etymology of hysteria is self explanatory since it derives from the Latin hystericus which means "of the womb" (Encyclopaedia Brittanica). Realism satirizes hysteria because both hysterical characters because hysteria clouds judgment and incapacitates calculated action. Hysteria also shifts the character flaw from the individual and imputes it to a sickness, rather than a consequence springing from sentimental folly. "Humans control their destinies; characters act on their environment rather than simply reacting to it" (Penrose). The human agent is responsible for making informed decisions; therefore in the realist world, sentimental hysterics are caricatured and satirized.

Realism's discord with sentimentality is evidenced in Washington Square, where the sentimental female protagonist is caricatured in Mrs. Penniman. She is so sentimental that reason is most times completely eclipsed. Mrs. Penniman suggests that her niece, Catherine, "should stay in bed for three days" (James 144) after a bitter argument with her father about her love relationship with Mr. Townsend, her beau. Catherine finds her suggestion ridiculous and does not follow her advice. Her ideas are usually unreasonable and no one respects her judgment. Mr. Townsend finds in Mrs. Penniman a ready agent to do his bidding. As a consequence, enraptured by his charm, and deluded by romantic accounts of the sentimental fiction texts she reads, Mrs. Penniman endangers Catherine, by her emotional excesses and romantic imagination. After a while, penetrating into her true sentimental nature, even Mr. Townsend begins to despise Mrs. Penniman. Catherine rebuffs most of her advice. She is "romantic,..sentimental…and had secrets as unpractical as addled eggs" (James 11). Mrs. Penniman's sentimentality causes her to resort to fixed images in her mind which spring from the sentimental novels she reads. Worse than a passionate adolescent, Mrs. Penniman intervenes in Catherine's love affair with Mr. Townsend and imagines herself as the central character in a web of love. In the end, she is unsuccessful in promoting the love relationship and by her heavy sentimentality only manages to ruin her credibility. According to Dr. Sloper, her brother, Mrs. Penniman is totally "unfamiliar with the alphabet of common sense" (James 90). This derisive, acoustic judgment proceeds from his realistic sense. Dr. Sloper's pointed disharmony with Mrs. Penniman reveals the disparity between realism and sentimentality. "Dr. Sloper speaks to his sentimental sister, Mrs. Penniman, assaulting her with his sarcasm" (Habegger 43). Dr. Sloper's realist view and his intolerance for sentimentality, cause the reader to classify Mrs. Penniman as a character worthy of ridicule. As Mrs. Penniman ages toward the end of the novel, her clothes are gaudier, brighter, and more flamboyant. Mrs. Penniman's risible exterior appearance underscores incongruity with her realist setting, thus confirming the satiric realist view of her female sentimentality.

In The Rise of Silas Lapham, William Dean Howells' realist view objects to sentimental fiction employing satire. At a dinner where the characters discuss literature, Miss Kingsbury condemns "the (sentimental) novel that was making such a sensation ... perfectly heart-breaking; (with) a dear old-fashioned hero and heroine in it, who keep dying for each other all the way through" (Howells 197). As rightly expressed by Ms. Kingbury, mawkish sentimentality carry out no purpose, and her opinion emphasizes the realist's scorn for overwrought sensibilities. In reality, "Tears, Idle Tears" is a sentimental poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, a British Romantic poet. In Tennyson's era, most sentimental poets center on sentimentalism as a means of ennobling the soul and evoking human compassion. Moreover, realism's antagonism against sentimentality is evidenced in Nanny's reaction to "Tears, Idle Tears". Nanny mocks sentimental work, asserting that "it should have been called Silly Silly Slop" (Howells 197). This derogatory title further satirizes sentimentality and gives the realist view on the sentimental fiction. She calls the sentimental novel a silly, mindless, and nonsensical text, while slop describes its maudlin content.

Although The Rise of Silas Lapham is a realist novel, there is a sentimental plot enshrined, where William Dean Howells uses character flaws and irony to express objection to the sentimental novel. Using the plot of "Tears, Idle Tears," a sentimental novel, Howells imitates the sentimental female protagonist, through Penelope, who surrenders her lover to the lady who loved him first, betraying her own feelings, and hurting her lover as a consequence. At first, Penelope condemns the protagonist's action as "silly, wicked, and unreasonable" (Howells 217), yet in the love triangle involving herself, Mr. Corey, and Irene, she gives up Mr. Corey (the man she truly loves) for Irene's sake. Howells speaks through realistic characters to criticize Penelope's sentimental actions. Mr. Corey reproves Penelope's actions, calling them "foolish and wicked" (Howells 257). Also, the minister, Mr. Sewell criticizes Penelope's decision which is founded upon a "false ideal (coming from) the novels that befool and debauch almost every intelligence" (Howells 196). From the mouths of these men proceed rebukes against sentimental novels and sentimentality. Sentimentality is considered feminine and men help in disabusing the public's mind from sentimental illusion, especially since the prevailing school of thought holds that men have greater sense of reason between the sexes. The sentimental novel is blamed for wreaking havoc on relationships, where idealist concepts are transferred from the unreal, literary world to reality.

In House Behind the Cedars, Charles Chesnutt projects his realist view, affecting his characters with emotional excesses, that sentimentality works only to the detriment of sentimental characters. Although House Behind the Cedars is a local color fiction, the realist and local-colorist schools concur on the accurate representation of reality. Rena, the protagonist, passes for white in a local village and for some time, the deception is successful. However, when the truth is revealed and Mr. Tryon, her white suitor, uncovers her racial background, Rena swoons on the pavement, afflicted with illness for days. Mr. Tryon too has a fixed mental image of what a sentimental jilted woman ought to be: "a pale girl, with sorrowful, tear-stained eyes, pining away … for love of him, dying, perhaps, of a broken heart" (Chesnutt 190). Both these sentimental examples are inherent in the consummate damsel in distress. Because of these emotional excesses, the realist despises the sentimental individual because she does not demonstrate real life representation. The sentimental protagonist is either the object of love or the victim of betrayal. "The heroine of sensibility, then, only plays out the instinctual nature of her sex, fostering the cult of female victimization" (Dobson 507). These sentimental female personas cannot survive when faced with adversity because they wallow in anguish. On one hand, in the sentimental novel, the romantic's goal is to touch a chord of commiseration for the tragic character's plight and awaken humanity; on the other hand, the realist mocks such unrealistic behavior. Mr. Tryon's sentimental imagination closely reflects Mrs. Penniman's mental ability to evoke and live out sentimental dreams. Passionate love to the point of sickness is a typical trait of sentimentality. For such illusions, some sentimental characters in the realist novels almost pay with their lives.

In Ethan Frome, another realist text, the reader catches another glimpse of female sensibility, where the lovers almost literally die for love. Mattie, Ethan's illicit paramour, proposes that she and Ethan commit suicide by crashing the carriage into an elm tree. The couple has endured sexual tension, and seeing that their desires can never be legitimately fulfilled, Mattie suggests suicide (crashing their sled into an elm tree) as the only solution. Mattie's sentimental spontaneity is damaging. The elm tree signifies death, seeing that it traditionally served as raw material to construct coffins and gravestones. Consequently, the death metaphor here is confirmed as the main objective. Mattie complains that she has no one to love, that no one loves her, and that she is homeless – for her life is barren. Dying for love is an action which a sentimental, romantic protagonist would perform. Wharton makes Shakespearean parallel to Ethan's and Mattie's attempted suicide and punishes their passionate sentimentality, allowing them to live and suffer. Mattie's sentimental spontaneity is featured in characters who long for love such that they cannot live without it, imitating Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, sentimentality has mortal consequences, where both lovers die because of sentimental illusions and misunderstandings. "There is nothing at all probable in the events which culminate in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet; indeed, improbability – 'misadventured piteous overthrows' is exactly what Shakespeare invites us to consider" (Doody 200). Love induces death in this tragicomedy, where lovers choose to die instead of living apart. Illusion and realism war against each other within realist characters, where sentimentality sometimes beclouds and influences their judgments. Without contemplating bodily ravages, the sentimental characters uncontrollably pour out their feelings and seal their own mortal fate.

Often, sentimental characters unrealistically live in the world of the books they read. As previously established, sentimentality is a weak feminine trait. In House Behind the Cedars, Judge Straight condemns his own sentimentality when he confesses that "in a moment of sentimental weakness and of quixotic loyalty" (Chesnutt 79), he helps John, his friend's son, pass for white. The reason why Judge Straight criticizes himself is because he sees that it is unrealistic to try to change an individual's nature in a prejudiced land, where laws discriminate between Blacks and Whites. The real truth has to be revealed sooner or later, however, Judge Straight feels himself bound to friendship with a deceased man, playing a game of illusion. The harsh reality is that Judge Straight's friend is a dissolute man who neglected his family. The woman is often referred to as the "weaker sex"; therefore, one sees the connections between sentimentality, weakness and the female sex. Moreover, Judge Straight genders sentimentality as feminine in placing a label of weakness. He parallels sentimental weakness with Don Quixote, an absurd, chivalrous knight who has illusions which make him comical and bizarre. The knightly novels which Don Quixote reads absorb and influence him to such a degree, that he fantasizes doing heroic exploits, visualizes non-existent objects, and romanticizes events. "Don Quixote labors under illusions and enchantments … which he cannot rationalize" (Wilkie 206). Don Quixote is the paragon of illusion. He represents the ridiculous because of he is unable to perceive and live in reality. In the same way, the sentimental novel compares sentimentality as quixotic. It glosses events and gilds characters. This example further ridicules sentimentality, casting aspersions on the sentimental novel.

In sum, realism opposes sentimentality in all its forms: published in novels and applied in daily life. Realism advocates an unexaggerated, ungilded portrait of characters and events because of the tendency to go to extremes. The realist era reacts against romanticism which sentimentally idealizes life. Absurd characters, imitation, proverbial wisdom, and caustic reprimands work to undermining sentimentality. Realism and sentimentality are irreconcilable because the characters "of sensibility, energetically courted emotions that then took over, got out of control, and were therefore attributable to the workings of destiny" (Tanner 134). Realism advocates man's ability to rise above his feelings and circumstances and choose, change, and progress.

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