After going through this article, I have made some connections with ideas presented in those times and that of current times. The entire length of the second chapter, it talks about Miss Hepzibah and the disgrace that came with opening a food store. The narrator discusses all the other options that would have been a better choice, but Miss Hepzibah must make money, so opening the food store had to be done. She has no other choice but to lower herself to the position of food store owner.


This disrespect of people working in the food service industry has a correlation with the modern dislike of working in a fast food restaurant. And working in a grocery store isn’t all that glamorous either. It’s funny how even after all this time, working in the food industry is still looked upon with contempt. After all, food is necessary and sustains us, but we look down on those who provide it. It’s funny that this was an idea in this early time; you would think the people who provided food who be highly regarded, but this is not the case. If this was already an idea at those times, then when did this thought become the norm? Maybe the connection between food and slavery puts the negative connotation on being a food store owner. It would be very interesting to explore if the disapproval of people in the food industry was present before slavery or if there’s always been an inherit disliking. The world may never know.

Relevant part (0:00-3:00)

This is a scene from the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.  Ofelia is tasked with opening one of the boxes and retrieving the knife inside.  She is specifically instructed not to eat any of the food.  Of course she ends up eating the food, the temptation proves too much.

This is similar to our reading and discussion last week when we talked about how some slaves would make very poor decisions just to get food.  The difference between these two is the motivation behind their decisions.  In the Frederick Douglass reading, slaves made their decisions because they were starving, whereas Ofelia makes her decision primarily because of the allure of the food.  When she is staring at the grapes it appears as if she is in some sort of trance, even neglecting the warnings of the fairies flying around her. Once she finally eats the grapes it looks as though she is in a state of pure bliss.

Both of these examples show the extremes we sometimes go to for food.  It’s the temptation of food that makes us take one more dessert or forgo the healthy food in favor of an unhealthy alternative.  And sometimes the necessity of food forces us to make a non-ideal decision.


Throughout this read, we link the sale and consumption of food with both social standing, and the main protagonists attitude.  Firstly, Hawthorne begins the preface by stating that the book can be considered a romance rather than a novel, stating that romances can “present that truth under circumstances… of the writer’s own choosing,” meaning he has more liberty to create situation that extend beyond the bounds of normal reality.  He also prefaces that this “romance” is a tale of how sins can be passed from generation to generation.

In Chapter 2, we are introduced to Hepzibah Pyncheon, a woman with good intentions, but a somewhat bipolar attitude, as she constantly struggles between finding the medium between hope and sorrow.  She lives in the House of the Seven Gables, inherited through her family, but she has no money, and thus is forced to reopen the shop within the house.  She is very timid to open the shop, and constantly has doubts as to how it will affect her social status and the name of her family.  This scene documents her most severe struggle, appearance versus livelihood, as she is forced to lose esteem in order to provide for herself.

Chapter 3 shows the contrast between the lifestyles of different classes of people within the New England community.  We have Holgrave, another occupant of the House, who applauds her efforts to be successful, and workers, who cast their doubts on Hepzibah’s success, saying that there are other shops that are more successful, and that hers will probably fail.  Finally, we come in contact with a poor “Jim Crow” child, presumably black, who requests a gingerbread man, and receives it free of charge, then requests another, which he has to pay for.

Throughout these excerpts, food plays a key role in providing context for the social status of the characters of the romantic novel.  Although Hepzibah came from a formerly affluent family, she has been stricken with financial troubles, and is forced to reopen her shop.  The biscuits and stale gingerbread men that she sells show proof of this struggle.  It seems that the use of food throughout the novel also goes along with her mood; she is vibrant when purchasing and cooking the mackerel, which is a delicate fish, but then falls back into a depression when her guest voraciously consumes the well-prepared and affluent meal.

It has been a long time since I’ve read Romantic era literature and I’ve remembered why it was difficult for me to “get into” this narrative style back in high school. The familiar, conventional style of novels contrasted with the introspective, loose narratives of Romantic literature. I could never find myself in the right mindset to appropriately analyze and appreciate such contemplative stories and I partially attribute it to my juvenile mentality towards such classical literature back in the day. While I’ve never personally read the Scarlet Letter (I’ve no idea how I escaped that quintessential high school experience), I’ve heard enough analogous commentary of Hawthorne’s style in that work that I can discern his traits in our current reading. He dedicates an inordinate amount of page space detailing the interior structure of the Seven Gables house, its various rooms, and the multitude of artifacts that reside within those rooms.

“In the way of furniture, there were two tables; one, constructed with perplexing intricacy, and exhibiting as many feed as a centipede; the other, most delicately wrought, with four….” pg 26

However, alongside such tedious descriptions we see Hawthorne introduce and narrate upon on Hepzibah in a distinct manner. His obvious knowledge on Hepzibah’s personal history contradicts his questions that convey a position similar to the audiences i.e. he knows as much as the audience knows. He also breaks the immersion (4th wall?) by noting directly that this is a “story”:

“The maiden lady’s devotions are concluded. Will she now issue over the threshold of our story? Not yet, by many moments.” pg 24

“Can it have been an early lover of Miss Hepzibah? No; she never had a lover- poor thing, how could she?- nor ever knew, by her own experience, what love technically means.” pg 25

“All this time, however, we are loitering faint-heartedly on the threshold of our story.” pg 27

While Hepzibah tends to her shop, we see this writhing conflict within herself as she attempts to make peace with the fact that, despite being born a “lady”, she is forced to become a shopkeeper woman due to the family’s poor financial health. This conflict is constantly drawn out whenever a customer walks into her shop or passerbies discuss her openly outside of it. I felt oddly uncomfortable that Hawthorne so frequently brought up the frailty and flaws on Hepzibah; I assume it is another Romantic trait that his writing adhered to. Again with most of our readings, I attempted to seek out any mentions of cooking and recipes, which was contained within the 7th chapter. Hepzibah’s elaborate, old-fashioned English cookbook, her inability to cook them, and her habit of skipping dinner serves as another reminder of her more dignified past. It can be inferred that she might have had servants who provided for her family in her younger years. Phoebe’s recipe for an easy “Indian cake” illustrates how certain Native cuisines have integrated into English life except Hepzibah’s, again, possibly because of her family’s more aristocratic lifestyle which might have disregarded such cuisine as below their social standing.

At the beginning of this excerpt Walt Whitman identifies an interesting thought. Every one of us, from birth to death across all races, all economies, all geographic regions, every single day we all require food, we all hunger. While each of us experiences a different kind of hunger, it is a commonality among every man and woman that has ever and will ever live. The speaker in “Song of Myself” realizes this and states that all are welcome at his table. Not only does the speaker welcome all but he also offers the best food, meat. This is not bread for the hungry or the leftovers from his meal that he offers for charity. He genuinely invites all to come and partake of a quality meal.

This first mention of food in the excerpt seems out of place, however the next mention of food connects it the larger theme. The speaker questions how the beef he eats gives him strength. How each day he proceeds after the previous day. The speaker is comparing the act of nutrition, which is vital, to vitality. All of us, are partakers of the meal of life, and like the speaker we all question our purpose, what strength we extract from the beef of life?

The answer to that question comes a few lines later when the speaker states “I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones”. The answer is that we should extract as much from every day as we can, from the meal of life we should all get fat. Each man regardless of his situation should be filled with life and should have a never ending “hunger” for it. We all seek to fatten ourselves with “life” and to find fulfillment. The speaker, like all of us desire food each day, desires to be filled.

While searching for articles about Nathaniel Hawthorne, I came across a New York Times piece  that began with a short anecdote where a peer of author David D. Hall asked “Did they serve turkey?,” after he mentioned the importance of food to the early American colonists and natives. Hall goes on to mention the significance of the question, and why it’s important for us to distinguish the significance and the historical accuracy of the traditional dish we serve to celebrate Thanksgiving.

In the article he writes about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s portrait of early Puritans in his writings, a portrait where they simply can’t be envisioned as the “good guys”. References to witch hunts and cruel treatment of the natives were his depictions of how Puritan society was run. In his preface to “The House of the Seven Gables”, Hawthorne asks his readers to take his writing as a work of fiction and to not to take his portrayals as a criticism of the societies of their real-life counterparts. Perhaps this is the reason Hall writes about Hawthorne’s “wrong” depiction of the society. Hawthorne essentially gives himself a free pass in his preface to excuse himself from any of the fictional negative depictions of the settings such as the sympathy-lacking civilians of “The Scarlett Letter”. Yet Hall’s NY Times article describes how people have the idea that Puritan society was authoritarian and lacked sympathy. Perhaps this is the reason why Hawthorne wrote his preface. “But in Hawthorne’s day, some people realized that he had things wrong.” Maybe Hawthorne was simply defending himself from those who considered his writings to be inaccurate descriptions of Puritan society?


When reading “Everything ‘Cept Eat Us” and learning about the metaphor linking chocolate with the “black female body” it was easy to see the correlation with this association. It seems that you can take pretty much any food and it is going to provoke different feelings for everyone. So I thought I would try to find some more information on why Americans have such a strong desire for chocolate. I found this video that gives a brief description of the elements that make up chocolate and how they affect us.

So it seems that we crave pleasure for our senses. I am in no way discounting people’s emotional tie to certain foods and the strengths that these emotions can have on a person. I was more curious to why the masses seem to fed themselves with the foods that bring the most pleasure and the science behind our senses. I think that the majority would agree that the science behind chocolate is of no surprise that it stimulates our senses in a desirable way. If only broccoli had the same effect.

After reading Fredrick Douglass story and realizing how bad the children were living during the slavery period, it made me wonder about the child slavery that was going on in or modern period and how the children were getting treated. Back in the 1850s the children were going days without food and going through the winter without any clothes to actually keep them warm. Not only did they suffer the extreme physical effects they also went through a lot of mental sufferings because of the separation of their families and having to actually grow up and take care of themselves. During the contemporary time period children are forced to work through mental or physical threat. They are owned and controlled by an employer. They control them by mental and physical abuse or even just by telling them they are going to be abused or killed. Children are really dehumanized and treated as a commodity at a young age.  They are even used as a soldier in modern day slavery.  There are a lot of war crimes going on in different regions of Africa and the children were often apart of the war crimes and the children would fight for certain rebel groups. There are over 200,000 child soldiers in Africa. Slavery, AIDS, violence, and war orphan many of these children. These children are as young as 7 years old and are forced to have conflict due to poverty. These children are even sold by their parents into slavery and used as a soldier.  So over time the sufferings of children have greatly expanded to different regions of the world and they have made children agonize in a new way.

After seeing Woodward’s piece on hunger for an optional reading assignment, I assumed that it was referring to the brutality of slave’s diets. A portion of it indeed was, but my main takeaway was the depiction on sexual appetites, and how it drove the majority of the actions by slaveholders. Before reading this, I quickly judged the time period of slavery and the abuse and mistreatment of women as something of the past – an ignorant time. I quickly realized that is an oblivious take on the subject.

One of the main reminders was due to the video that Georgia Tech released on the awareness of sexual violence Even though I knew that sexual abuse still occurred today, I didn’t realize the impact it was having so close to my life! I feel as humans view tragedies as rare or impossible to impact them or someone they know until they truly see how close it is to their own lives. That simple video reminded me that sexual crimes are still committed frequently, even on the college campus that I walk every day. The video’s theme was helping change the world by making a small difference. We all won’t be able to make the impact of Frederick Douglass by writing numerous novels and speeches addressing the issue of equality and human rights. The impact he alone has had and the adversity he overcame to get there is only something to admire. But we can take a second to share a link to raise awareness against sexual abuse, a crime that has been committed since the birth of our country. One of the biggest misconceptions our society portrays today is that small acts cannot make a difference. Every post, comment, or link that you share through social media may not get over one hundred likes, but it will appear on someone else’s screen, and that is enough to make an impact.

Reading some chapters of The House of the Seven Gables, it is interesting to see how food in this story always reminds our main character of her perceived embarrassing situation that she is currently in. In the chapters, there are instances where the foods that Hepzibah sells in her store contributes to her loathing and low self-esteem. In the beginning, Hepzibah Pyncheon is introduced as some sort of a fallen aristocrat who is concerned about the opinions of others and due to difficult financial times, she decides to reopen a store selling certain food items and children’s toys. However, she is not proud of opening the store as she believes that it is a new low for her aristocratic family.

One day, a child comes into her store and wants to buy a gingerbread man. Of course, Hepzibah thinks that receiving pocket change from a child is too ugly of a thing to do plus she also believes that her products are stale and are not good. She eventually caves in when the child returns for a second gingerbread man and accepts his money. As the day went on, Hepzibah encounters more customers in the store which begins to make her realize that the rich society of New England is not what is crack up to be. In the beginning where Hepzibah finds the thought of selling food to be a humiliating task, her mindset begins to change as she accumulates more good experiences in her store through her customers.

The fact that Hepzibah’s aristocratic family has fallen is driven home even more in chapter 7. When Hepzibah’s brother visits her home, Hepzibah spends an enormous amount of energy on preparing the meal for when he arrives. There is a certain amount of hype for Clifford, but unfortunately it is suggested that Clifford is not who he is in the past. During the meal, Clifford eats like he has never eaten before and asks for more and more food. This seems to mean that indulging is a thing of past and that Clifford is only experiencing a meal like this right now. In this story, food is often a symbol of the lost past and serves as a constant reminder of what it used to be.