The idea that struck me the most in chapter 8 was that this trip was important to Hugo, and he had no idea why. Italy served to be the setting of one of the most important times of his life. It only seems natural to come back. The scene that hit me the most was at the very end of the chapter when Vincenzo said " Of all the Americans here during the war, you're the only one who ever returned." This shocked me more than the fact that both men started crying uncontrollably. I understand that many want to forget the war, but only one man returned to that hotel? I can't imagine never revisiting such an important setting as a wartime Italy. I liked Hugo's final comment in this chapter "I still wasn't sure why I'd come back, but I felt it must be the most important reason in the world." That feeling must have been strong to make a poet at such a loss for words.
Chapter 9 threw me off a bit. Hugo seems to jump from idea to idea. I thought it was interesting how he began and ended this chapter. He starts this chapter by talking about how real college is. I can relate to his dislike of the phrase "The real world" As a college student, I work nearly 20 hours a week, spend 17 hours in classrooms, and find time to do the work outside of class. Last semester I tried working 30 hours a week. Forgive me whenever I roll my eyes when you tell me that these are the easiest or the best years of my life. I refuse to accept that as my fate, especially when someone says my best years are spent in youth. I also noticed an irony in Hugo's comments this chapter. While pointing out the hardships that college students endure he says "I've seen people so forlorn that I've sat there praying as only an unreligious man can pray that I don't say something wrong, that I can spare their feelings..." In the second to last sentence of the book, Hugo says "Some of us hope that before we do(go into the dark) we have been honest enough to scream back at the fates." How exactly does a nonreligious man accomplish that? His attitude remains the same throughout this chapter, resembling a hippie-like rebellious attitude.
I enjoyed the workshop experience. I liked how I was able to get a reader response to see what truly are the strong points and weak points of my poem. I liked how I was compared to J.R. R. Tolkien during the workshop. If people are still reading and watching movies based on your book in 1937, you did something right. That comment made my day.
I enjoyed critiquing poems, as well as disagreeing with my classmates as we judged them. If everyone thinks a poem is good, talking about it gets boring. It's also useful to provide people with diverse feedback so that they don't simply change their poem because something wasn't liked by one guy. When I was righting down notes for my own poem I wrote a question mark by every change that I considered. I only made one decision to change the poem on the spot, and that was just to capitalize one word. I look forward to looking over my poem and improving it.