Eminent Introductory Blog Post

          A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise

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Aldo Leopold. The name doesn’t conjure pictures of a billionaire entrepreneur, an Oscar winning actor, or an influential politician. In fact, to most people, Aldo Leopold simply doesn’t create a picture at all. For someone who pioneered and laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement, this seems ironic or perhaps a sad reflection of society’s values.

Aldo Leopold was the author of The Sand County Almanac and various other essays that advocated environmentalism.

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Through his Land Ethic and his eloquent writing, he was able to bring up the philosophy of environmentalism and tell millions about the moral duties humans had to the natural world. Despite passing away over seventy years ago, Leopold is still remembered today, which leads me to believe that his legacy will be remembered even a century from now. In the face of post WW2 American capitalism and emerging concepts, Leopold dared to say that land was an integrated, dynamic community of plant and animal life when nature was viewed as a mere commodity for making everyone richer. His want for wilderness areas to remain pristine, and his fear that in the face of human greed, nature would lose its footing and be used up until none was left for both humans and nature, drove him to poetically contest these ideas through his essays and novels. Leopold’s story is largely relevant today. Recently, the government and most people have taken a turn for environmentalism. From the introduction of Green Bins to straw bans, it is clear that efforts are being made to reduce the human impact on our beloved planet. Unfortunately, carbon emissions from industries and automobiles are still building up in our atmosphere leading to global warming. Despite there being evidence of climate change, such as the melting snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and receding glaciers, no affirmative action is being taken, just like how humanity ignored nature’s changes in the Midwest until the dust storms of 1937 during Leopold’s time.

Snow melt on Mount Kilimanjaro

Snow melt on Mount Kilimanjaro

The Dust Bowl, the cause of environmental indifference

The Dust Bowl, the cause of environmental indifference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leopold’s story teaches us about our moral obligation to nature and why listening to nature’s changes and recognizing our role in promoting the health of the land is crucial in the long run. Additionally, despite his diligence and effort, Leopold’s story is largely unknown. Perhaps it’s the fact the Leopold himself doesn’t look like someone who is “cool” to follow. Perhaps it is a reflection of society’s unwillingness to sacrifice comfort for the betterment of the environment. Nevertheless, Leopold has done a lot and his story deserves to be told. The story of environmentalism is not that long, with the modern environmental movement having only started sixty years ago, but is filled with struggles between environmentalists and industries. Leopold stands out among the myriad of environmentalists because he helped lay the foundation for the environmental movement and influenced many people in his field. Additionally, his story is complete; Leopold’s struggles and work are completed, which makes him preferable over a nascent figure. From Leopold, we can take away many things, but perhaps the greatest thing we can take away is what Leopold preached from the very beginning, to recognize our role in promoting the health of the land and caring for it.

Gila Wilderness, the world's first wilderness area thanks to Leopold.

Gila Wilderness, the world’s first wilderness area, created due to Leopold’s efforts.

Leopold draws me to him for the same reason my eminent last year drew me towards him. Aldo Leopold has done so much, yet compared to billionaire entrepreneurs and politicians, little is written about him online. Additionally, his writing simply captivates my attention. I picked up the Sand Count Almanac expecting to read a series of essays with quotations and piles of evidence, but what I found was so much more. In fact, the first part of the book didn’t even seem to be making a point. Instead, Leopold took me through a journey, a twelve month journey on Leopold’s Wisconsin farm. Leopold turned his surroundings into philosophical statements about nature, such as when he took a journey back in time as he cut into a tree, comparing the environmental and historical changes that occurred during the time each ring of the tree formed. His writing was not what I expected, but it was a pleasant surprise.

These are some of the ways I compare with Leopold.

Aldo Leopold Jerome Cho
Male Male
German-American Descent Korean Descent
German as first language, but gained fluency in English Korean as first language, but gained fluency in English
Spent entire life in North America Spent most of life in North America
Upper-middle class Middle class
Lived within close proximity to nature Lives within close proximity to nature
Did a lot of outdoor activities as a child Does a lot of outdoor activities
Lived through a time of environmental change (Capitalism and exploitation) Lives through a time of environmental change (global warming)
“Prophet” (explained below) Undecided

Leopold and I both have an appreciation for nature, which both us can ascribe to our time spent in North America. For Leopold, the undeveloped sections of the Midwestern United States instilled in him a sense of respect for nature while my immigration to Canada gave me an appreciation for nature, as the wilderness here starkly contrasted the gray skyscrapers and smog of metropolitan Korea. Both of us have determination. Leopold continued to fight for environmentalism while I continue to read books, finish hikes, and continue an assignment until it is finished. I wish to emulate Leopold’s creativity, selflessness, and his philosophy. Leopold doesn’t directly exemplify my own goals in TALONS, but I hope that by emulating him, a great writer, I can improve my own writing skills and write a speech that delivers the message I want to give to my audience. Some obvious barriers prevent me front connecting with Aldo Leopold. Leopold is white, I am Asian. Leopold was alive nearly a century ago where norms and values were much more different. Leopold is also an American who was born in North America. Being an immigrant, I cannot relate to someone who was born in the country they held citizenship in. Also, Leopold is a “Prophet” or someone who seeks to counter the problem of overpopulation and Earth’s diminishing resources by cutting back. Meanwhile, I am still undecided. While I believe in some of Leopold’s ideas, I still believe that the future’s conflicts can be solved through biotechnology that allows us to produce more per acre and use fuels more efficiently rather than making a complete switch by cutting back. Fortunately, I happen to have texts that Leopold wrote himself. By reading and emulating the books Leopold authored, I hope to understand his voic and present an accurate representation of Aldo Leopold on Night of the Notables.

Well, eminent’s here again, and it’s the last one. *DEEP BREATH* Let’s make this one good Jerome.

How might we begin “to reject the single stories” in our lives?

In the era of information we live in, it is easy to be inundated by stories. With so many stories, choosing just one story as our main source can be very tempting, but this leads to us accepting single stories and getting an incomplete picture. If we wish to reject these single stories, we must consider multiple sources before making any kind of conjecture. We start to accept single stories when they are the only stories we are exposed to. Chimamanda did not come to write about white children and British culture because she considered it to be superior, she simply “did not know people like [her] could exist in literature”(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2009). Had she had access to only African literature as a child, she would have most likely only written about African children and African culture. Additionally, not giving into the stereotypes of the people and society around us can help us reject single stories. When Chimamanda was studying in the United States, she heard about the Mexican immigrants south of the border and quickly “bought into the story of Mexican abstract immigrants.”  Much to her surprise, when she visited Mexico, she found hardworking Mexicans, working and behaving just like any American would. This goes to show that accepting the stereotypes of the media and people around us prevents us from seeing the complete picture. It is true that there are some Mexicans who fit the stereotype of the “abstract immigrant”, but listening to a single story might make us assume that is the only kind of Mexican people you would meet; we would be generalizing the entire Mexican populace. Now, this doesn’t mean we should completely avoid single stories. While we can be “impressionable and vulnerable when we are in the face of a story”, remembering that the author of a story can only show what he/she wants to show and consulting multiple sources before making a conjecture can allow us to use single stories to our advantage.

Independent Novel Study: Response #1

Gustad Noble didn’t impress me when he lashed out at his son, Sohrab, for refusing to study at IIT, Gustad’s choice for his eldest son’s higher education. Despite Sohrab telling his father, “IIT does not interest me. It was never my idea, you made all the plans,” Gustad is unwilling to listen to his son(65).  This shows Gustad’s stubbornness and his “father knows best” attitude, but also shows his weaknesses, such as his quick temper. His fear of failure from his father’s bookstore going bankrupt has led him to be overprotective, as he fears his son throwing away his chances of success. Consequently, he wants his son to be successful but finds an external conflict with his son when they argue over Sohrab’s future. There also seems to be an internal conflict. Despite greatly valuing his friendship with Jimmy, Gustad explodes in infuriation when Sohrab brings up the topic of friends, even telling Sohrab that he “must be blind if [he] cannot see [Gustad’s] example and learn from it”(66). This shows how Gustad is constantly clashing with his emotions from Jimmy’s unannounced departure. Gustad’s development so far is exceptionally realistic,  not being drastic while also showing significant changes in his character, such as when he decides to pick up a parcel for Jimmy despite his feelings of betrayal. We should emulate some of Gustad’s traits, such as his diligence, devotion to his children, and his value of friendship, but his quick temper and his conservative views towards his children and wife shouldn’t be followed, as many of them clash with the morals and norms of today. Personally, I can relate to Gustad’s feeling of betrayal, as when I was in elementary, a friend of mine who was moving away made a promise to keep in contact. I eagerly waited for his response, but it never came and realization struck me that my “friend” was never going to contact me back. Personally, I would handle Gustad’s problems differently, as Gustad’s methods tend to ignore the wants of other people, while I try to understand others’ thoughts before enforcing my own.

“Emil” Blog Response

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” (William Sanford Nye, 2017). We can see this in Stuart McLean’s Emil, where Morley, a privileged woman, learns from Emil, a homeless man, that assumptions can strongly influence the way we perceive people and prevent us from seeing the real person. One scene that corroborates this statement is when Emil “[gives] [money] to his regulars – people who gave him money,” after winning the lottery (118). This is the antithesis of what others, such as Dave, thought Emil would do if he ever got money. Previously in the story, Dave states that “if [Emil] gets money (..) he [would] buy cigarettes and lottery tickets” (114). When Emil hands out money to the people who helped him out, he contradicts what Dave thinks, showing that Dave’s assumptions of Emil prevented him from seeing Emil’s real self. Contrary to what most people think, Emil isn’t lazy, value-less and willing to easily live off other people’s donations. He tries to do what he thinks is right or tries to live according to his morals and values, which include giving back to others. Additionally, Morley response to Emil digging up her garden in the early morning sheds light on how throwing away assumptions can allow us to see people as they truly are. When Morley confronts Emil, she throws away all assumptions and genuinely asks him if he has a garden and whether he can show it to her. Her remarks show Emil “that she could see him – the real person” (113). Morley could have easily labeled Emil as a thief, a crook, or someone who the authorities needed to take away, but unlike Dave, she threw away her assumptions and tried to see Emil for who he truly was. By throwing away her assumptions and not letting others’ perceptions of Emil influence her, Morley saw another side of Emil; a hard-working person who was simply trying to share the beauty of her garden with everyone in the community, just in the only way he knew how to. Morley’s lesson shows us that sometimes we need to take a step back and throw away our assumptions, as they may be preventing us from seeing the real picture.

Theory Wars: Final Response

When viewing George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope, the gender lens is the most important lens for a comprehensive understanding of the film because of the portrayal of many gender norms, values, and stereotypes, especially those of women. This is continuously shown throughout the plot, such as when Princess Leia is captured and has to beg the male hero to save her. From this, we can see the film enforcing gender stereotypes, such as women being submissive and helpless, on its female characters. Taking this new lens, allowed me to see many things that I didn’t notice before. One significant observation was the extremely disproportionate female to male character ratio. Only two females, both supporting characters, were portrayed in the entirety of the movie, while a myriad of men made up the rest of the cast. Additionally, stereotypes about women were prevalent in this movie. While one could say that Princess Leia was breaking cultural norms by being rebellious and colloquially said, “bad”, she was still portrayed as submissive and helpless multiple times in the movie, begging Obi-Wan, a male, to help her, even calling him her “last hope”. Other characters only further reinforce this stereotype through their remarks about Leia, which are exclusively restricted to remarks about her appearance. I also noticed that female to female conversations were non-existent in this movie. While men talked to other men throughout the movie, women always conversed with men. To top it off, the women usually spoke only after the man had spoken and any unasked remarks were deemed to be annoying and clueless, such as when Princess Leia told Han of her plan but was only given a condescending response. All of this corroborates my theory that the film is a representation of women in 1977. While women were granted suffrage and the same legal rights as men like Princess Leia who entered politics despite being female, they were still constrained by social norms and values. As we saw in the movie, Leia’s main role in the movie was to be the “Princess Peach”, the woman who gets into trouble and has to wait for the male heroes, Obi-Wan and Luke in this case, to save the day. This relates to the women of 1977 who were still encouraged by social norms and values to be submissive and live up to their stereotype, which prioritizes what women look like externally. We can see this when Luke’s first reaction to seeing Princess Leia is to comment on how she is “a beautiful woman”. Additionally, people in positions of power are all men. This might serve as a representation of the power balance in 1977. Although there were many eminent women, people in positions of power, such as CEOS and presidents were predominantly men. Interestingly enough, one character seems to defy these cultural norms and values. Princess Leia, the renegade of social norms, is portrayed in a way that is progressive and defies some women stereotypes. We have to acknowledge that she isn’t a complete rebel of norms and values; she does have times where she fits the “Princess Peach” stereotype and succumbs to society’s values of a submissive and helpless woman. However, she is shown to be a rule-breaker with her shooting a trooper and stubbornly lying to the governor, traits that contradict the stereotype. Additionally, there are times, such as when Han, Luke, and Leia face a deluge of Stormtroopers that she is shown to be assertive and in control, even ordering Han around, much to his displeasure. Both the idea of women being restrained by 1977’s societal values and norms and the idea of a progressive start serve as a representation of women in 1977. To conclude, when watching a film through the gender lens, it’s important to consider how the different genders are portrayed and what roles they play in the film so that we can get a better understanding of gender roles and values from the film’s time period.

TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse?

My inquiry question was “what is the relationship between how GM crops are made and how they affect us, and can we positively apply GM crops to our lives?” I talk about what a GMO is, how they are made, how they affect us, and explain if they can be positive. I did quite a bit of research on this topic, and trying to make this as concise as possible was quite a challenge. Also, I focused on the science behind GM crops, and tried to avoid any political viewpoints to remain impartial. I hope you enjoy and learn something from clicking the link below!

TED Talk

Bibliography

Image sources are below the images.

Socials Studies Blog Post #8: Independent Investigation #2

Here’s another different video for my Independent Investigation, a bit fancier than my last one.

 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_1812#Indians_as_losers

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/first-nations-in-the-war-of-1812/

https://www.warmuseum.ca/war-of-1812/explore-history/the-native-american-war/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Thames

https://sites.google.com/a/uconn.edu/bav11001/effects-on-native-americans-and-canada#_ftn1

http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/native-nations-perspective/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Ghent

https://lastbesthopeofearth.com/2016/03/12/the-aftermath-of-the-war-of-1812/

http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1338906261900/1338906300039

https://torontoist.com/2013/04/natives-and-the-war-of-1812/

https://www.shmoop.com/war-1812/tecumseh.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny

Primary Source:

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=20&page=transcript

Ecological Footprint

The Plan:

Initially, I had not expected my ecological footprint to be as big as it turned out. I calculated 8.35 hectares. My footprint seemed to be average, however, as compared to Kevin’s ecological footprint of 7.05 hectares, Kimi’s ecological footprint of 12.45 hectares, and Yoonha’s ecological footprint of 7.35 hectares, my footprint fell in near the middle of the range. From calculating my footprint, I was also able to see which actions increased my footprint the most. The top ten actions are as follows.

  1. Buying brand new clothes
  2. Using a shoe box’s worth of garbage everyday
  3. Eating imported, non-local food
  4. Eating non-organic food
  5. Eating a lot of meat every week
  6. Taking the car everyday
  7. Using warm/hot water
  8. Eating factory-raised chicken
  9. Not composting all my fruit and veggies
  10. Watering the garden every week

Some of these actions can be changed for a bit of inconvenience, and the ones I plan to change are as follows.

  1. Using less garbage. Currently my daily garbage fits into a shoe box, but I could easily fit my garbage into something much smaller, such as a cup, or have no garbage at all. I can use less garbage by buying less packaged foods, and by trying to buy food that isn’t packed in plastic. I can also use paper bags instead of plastic bags when shopping. Paper bags are compostable and using them will allow me to use less plastic.
  2. Eating local food. Since I seem to buy a lot of non-local produce, I could try to buy  more local BC produce, such as apples, pears, and peaches. While they might be a bit more expensive, buying local will allow me to lower my ecological footprint substantially. I could also grow some of my food, such as lettuce, corn, and peppers, as there happens to be a plot of land in my backyard.
  3. Walking. Although I walk home most days, it has almost become a morning routine for me to take the car in the morning. With my house only being a 20-25 minute walk away from school, I can definitely try to get up a bit earlier and walk to school. School isn’t the only place to walk to. I can also walk to libraries and grocery stores. While I may lose a few minutes of sleep, walking will allow me to burn less fossil fuels and might even prove to be physically beneficial.
  4. Not using warm/hot water. I will only use cold water for showering, brushing my teeth, washing my hands, washing my face, and washing my clothes. Using less water and using colder water is not very difficult to do, as I can just turn the tap the other direction and the water magically turns cold, so this will be easy to do as long as I stick to the plan.
  5. Eating more organic food. Factory raised food and certain methods of agriculture aren’t very sustainable, and organic farming is relatively sustainable. This would be a pretty easy thing for me to change, as most major grocery stores carry organic produce and I could easily substitute my non-organic veggies for organic veggies. Also, with organic produce becoming more and more affordable, buying organic won’t make a really significant difference in my family.

The Reflection:

After a week of following the plan to the best of my ability, I can say that the experience has had it’s share of ups and downs. First off, the good news. Using cold water proved to be a success. When washing my hands, I’m usually too lazy to turn both taps, so using cold water to wash my hands was very easy. Showering on the other hand was not as easy. The first few days were relatively brutish, as my body was not used to the ice cold water, which was a sharp contrast with the warm, soothing water that relaxed and embraced me every night. The temptation to slightly turn the hot water tap was great and bracing myself to voluntarily be rained on by bullets of cold water proved to be mentally difficult. Eventually, I managed to endure it, and with the weather getting warmer, I found that a cold shower was pretty refreshing. Also, having a cold shower also drastically lowered my shower time to about two minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. I also found using less garbage to be easy, as I was able to buy less goods packaged in plastic. I managed to purchase pasta, rice, and cereal packed in cardboard boxes or paper bags, instead of those packaged in plastic bags, which really decreased my garbage, as I could simply compost the paper bags and the cardboard boxes could be recycled. Some of my changes, however, were only partially successful and were a bit challenging. Waking up early and walking to school was a bit harder than I had initially expected. With extracurricular activities running late into the night and AprilMayJune sinking in, I found that waking up with less than seven hours of sleep was quite difficult. I only managed to walk in the morning to school a few times, but I did walk to grocery stores and libraries instead of taking the car. Eating local and eating organic was a bit difficult, as being an ardent consumer of fruit, I found out that while I was buying more local apples and pears, I was still buying imported tropical fruits that didn’t grow in B.C. Organic milk, tofu and veggies were easy, but the rest, such as meat and tropical fruits were still not organic. The main obstacle to this was availability. Certain meats and tropical fruits, such as starfruit or dragon fruit, were not available organically, and organic food turned out to be a lot pricier than I had initially expected. Since the food was meant for the entire family, buying everything organically for the entire family was financially not possible. To conclude, I managed to accomplish all my goals, either partially or completely, but faced obstacles, such as mentally waking up with little sleep and financial obstacles.

In the future, I plan to improve on these five changes. Walking, eating smarter, and eating local are all things that can gradually be adapted into my lifestyle, and I hope that by doing so, I will be able to decrease my ecological footprint. After improving on these five changes, I plan to start changing the other five actions that increased my ecological footprint.

 

 

Social Studies Blog Post #7: Stay Alive

“Stay Alive” starts with the Schuyler sisters and an ensemble of women wishing for Hamilton to “stay alive”. The song then immediately moves into the Valley Forge encampment. Hamilton explains the unfavourable conditions of the encampment, supplies are low and the men have been pushed to dire measures, such as eating their own horses. Morale is also low. Washington is despondent and many have deserted the Continental army. Despite the unfavourable conditions, however, Congress’ orders are to “attack the British forces”. This leads Washington to turn to guerrilla tactics, relying on stealth and strategy than on brute force. The death toll is high, and Lafayette, Laurens, and Hamilton each work on different tasks with the war still going on. Lafayette continues to request French aid, while Laurens and Hamilton get busy publishing “essays against slavery”. Although previous songs, such as “My Shot”, touched on Laurens’ abolitionist ideas, it was during the war that Laurens started to really turn his ideas into actions.

Hamilton persistently asks Washington to give him command but is constantly refused by Washington. Hamilton’s desire to rise above his station is so great that later he threatens Washington with resignation if he doesn’t get put in command. Charles Lee is promoted, but his command is soon revoked when Lee orders a retreat during Washington’s advance at the Battle of Monmouth. Instead of Hamilton, however, Lafayette is put in command. “A thousand men collapse in hundred degree heat”, but the Continental Army emerges victorious. Infuriated at Washington, Lee proceeds to question and mock Washington, much to the vexation of Laurens and Hamilton. Washington sees the bigger picture, however, and argues that they “have a war to fight”. Hamilton refuses to accept this but is unable to duel Lee because he is under orders from Washington to not duel Lee, so Laurens offers to duel it out on his steed.

Although the Schuyler Sisters and Hercules Mulligan play minor roles in the song, the main cast for this song is Hamilton, Washington, Lafayette, Laurens, and Lee. Hamilton, at this point, is in a relatively low position of power. His want to rise above his station has been prevalent in previous songs, and “Stay Alive” is no exception with Hamilton asking Washington to “entrust him with command (..) ev’ry day”. As commander-in-chief of the Continental army, Washington faces multiple challenges with the dire conditions at Valley Forge and constant attempts by Congress to remove him from power. He wants Congress to send money and reinforcements to back up the troops at Valley Forge. Lafayette, a French aristocrat, plays a large role in Valley Forge as second in command during the latter half of the Battle of Monmouth. He fears that the colonies may be defeated without reinforcements, which leads to him wanting France to send troops to the colonies. Laurens comes from a relatively powerful background with his father being a member of Congress. He wants to abolish slavery, but fears opposition from the south will deter his plans. “Stay Alive” is also the first appearance of Charles Lee. Previously a soldier for the British Army, he decided to help the revolutionaries when war broke out, expecting to be named commander-in-chief due to his seniority. Instead, Washington was given command, much to Lee’s displeasure, and Lee continues to resent and fear Washington’s decisions, even ordering a retreat against Washington’s orders.

“Stay Alive” details the historical encampment of Valley Forge. Conditions during the encampment were terrible. The Continental army struggled to maintain a disastrous supply line while facing a deluge of British Forces at the same time. Malnutrition and disease killed up to two thousand soldiers, and many “resorted to eating [their] own horses”, which wasn’t even the worst part, as some soldiers had been forced to kill their dogs and eat old shoes to fight off starvation. The lack of supplies wasn’t the only burden to the Continental army. During the Battle of Monmouth, “a thousand soldiers died in a hundred degree heat”. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, as less than a thousand soldiers were wounded or killed, temperatures did rarely drop below a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and more soldiers were said to have died from heat stroke than from musket fire. With the rage of war still ongoing, Laurens and Hamilton simultaneously work on publishing essays on the first black battalion, where slaves could serve in the Continental army in exchange for their freedom. Despite getting a proposal approved by Congress through Lauren’s father, the Southern colonies’ strong opposition to the abolitionist movement leads to their idea being dismissed. This gives us insight about the colonies’ perspectives and values, as unlike modern-day America, the colonies still consider slaves to be property and have little value for the slaves’ wants and consider them to be economically valuable to the colonies.

The big idea, “the physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change”, really defines this song. George Washington was given the position of command-in-chief over Charles Lee, as the colonies were reluctant to entrust a position of high power to someone who was born in Britain and had previously served in the British Army. Had Charles Lee been in an environment without a negative perspective towards Britain, he might have been chosen over Washington for his seniority and experience. Additionally, Laurens and Hamilton’s ideas for a black battalion might have become a reality in a different environment where the south didn’t have such a strong support for slavery. Social change wouldn’t have been delayed and the first black battalion might have even been formed during the early stages of the war.

Personally, I find this song to be really interesting, as it has a very different atmosphere from previous songs. Unlike the upbeat and happy tone of former songs, “Stay Alive” has a tense beat to it that takes on a darker atmosphere. Although Hamilton’s want to rise above his station is clearly portrayed in the song, Washington refuses to give him command, calling Hamilton only to tell him to have Lafayette take the lead. Additionally, the song shows the dark side of the revolution, the starvation, death, and the dire measures of the soldiers, such as “eating [their] own horses”, which is a sharp contrast from the glory and honour of revolution that the musical portrays early on.

“The cavalry’s not coming.” On the surface, the line might only be taken for its literal meaning, which basically means that reinforcements are not coming from Congress and that the Continental army will need to depend on foreign intervention or do without reinforcements. To me, however, it also shows the perseverance of the revolutionaries and how they are unwilling to give up even when knowing that backup is never coming. They are willing to fight for their beliefs even if it means death and is united through a single, common belief.

“Don’t do a thing, history will prove him wrong.” Washington stops Laurens and Hamilton from acting out and challenging Lee. Rather than retaliating, Washington calmly dismisses Lee’s irate comments, showing his ability to keep his cool. Additionally, by saying “history will prove him wrong”, Washington corroborates the idea that history only shows the victor’s thoughts and what actually happened, rather than what someone said was going to happen.

“We have a war to fight, let’s move on.” Once more, we are shown Washington’s competence as a leader and his ability to see the bigger picture. While Laurens and Hamilton are squabbling over small insults (which might ultimately lead to their deaths), Washington sees the bigger picture, the war, and is willing to let it go and continue with what’s important, winning the war.

The predominant theme of the song is ambition. The revolutionaries continued to persevere through the catastrophic conditions of the Valley Forge encampment, even while knowing that reinforcements were not going to arrive. This is also seen with Hamilton and Laurens. Despite knowing the southern colonies’ strong opposition to any kind of abolitionist movement, the two men carried out their plans and presented their ideas to Congress, fully aware that there was a high chance that they were going to be rejected.