Here’s Another Option…

Published on: Author: Ms. Allesandrine 13 Comments
"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, 1942

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, 1942

"Snap the Whip" by Winslow Homer, 1872

"Snap the Whip" by Winslow Homer, 1872"


"Piano Lesson" by Romare Bearden, 1983

"Piano Lesson" by Romare Bearden, 1983

Above are three famous paintings.  Select one of the individuals in one of the paintings.  Adopt the persona of that individual and write a monologue from your new point of view.  Challenge yourself to write at least 250 words!
Here are some questions to consider:
What are you hoping will happen in the next few minutes or hours?
*Are you getting along with the other people/person in the scene?
*How often are you in this same setting?
*What can you see outside the boundaries of the frame?
*Do you like being in this painting?



13 Responses to Here’s Another Option… Comments (RSS) Comments (RSS)

  1. I am in the painting “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer. I’m enjoying myself, playing outside with my friends and siblings on a warm, late summer’s day. Two of my friends just got thrown off the end of the whip, and I’m up next. I’m excited. I hope I’ll fly far, and not land on anything sharp. My friends and I enjoy playing Snap the Whip when it’s warm out, and the ground isn’t wet. We’ve been playing it a lot this summer, especially when all our families get together like today. Right now, my parents are showing the other adults around our farm and later will go inside and do whatever adults do. My friends and I will stay outside and have fun. I enjoy playing Snap the Whip because my two brothers and I can’t play it by ourselves, as there isn’t enough of us for it to work right. Having a lot of kids over makes for a really fun game. Now, though, the leaves are starting to change color and fall is coming. Eventually, it’ll be too cold and snowy for us to play this game. Once winter comes, we’ll all skate on the pond near our barn. Now that I think about it, we could play Snap the Whip while we’re skating. What a fantastic idea. That’ll be fun. Someone will probably get hurt. That’s okay though. I’ll just say it was one of my brothers’ idea. My brothers and I usually get along, but they’re really annoying sometimes. I’m thirteen, and the oldest of the three of us. I usually get blamed for everything. It is often my fault though. When friends are over, we get along better. It’s nice having other kids to talk to. When we aren’t playing Snap the Whip, we play football and we explore in the forest. It’s fun. I wish the summer wasn’t going to end soon.

  2. A short story inspired by Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”

    I tried to make small talk with her, but it was obviously a lost cause. Her eyes were rarely focussed on me, and instead were alternating gazes between the bartender, and the man seated on the stool across the room. Perhaps she would have been more interested in me had I been myself, and not so out of my element, but I couldn’t help it. A friend of mine had told me that she liked this place, but it was apparent to me now that she liked coming here to be picked up by guys, not to be brought there so that they could woo her.
    So, now I sit here waiting for the bill. Naturally, I’m the one paying for her meal, even though she was the one who made the night so horrible. I offered to walk her home, but she refused. She’ll probably go find some young-thing to latch onto now, and they’ll go dancing until the sun comes up. I, however, will simply return to my flat and try to figure out if I said or did anything offensive that might have turned her interest in me off.
    Until I can make my flee, though, I just sit here looking out the window onto the dark streets of the city. A young blonde-haired lady in a blue jacket walks through my line of sight, down the sidewalk, and crosses the street. I recognize her profile, and realize it is a friend that I used to know when I was young. I throw my money onto the counter, hoping it will pay the bill, and rush outside to go confront her. Perhaps tonight won’t be as bad as I thought it would be.

  3. “Piano Lesson” by Romare Bearden
    Day by day, I sit hunched over in my chair waiting for the hours to go by. I longingly wish to be doing anything else but playing this piano but this job is forced upon me. My piano feels larger than I do, not even with how big it is in size, but also in the difficulty it takes to make those enchanting sounds come out from the piano. I try to get these concepts my teacher tries to teach me but it is challenging. It also does not help with my pianist instructor breathing down my neck watching my every move. I feel as if I cannot mess up or else I have disappointed not only me but also everyone else who wants me to play this instrument. One time I dare to look out the window that is in the other room and quickly my teacher reprimands me to look back at my keys and booklet. She, my teacher, is close to my face making sure I do not try to sneak another look. I feel trapped in this hopeless talent but also in this house. This may seem odd as this house is not unbearably small but it has so much oppressive energy. I feel as if the time to leave the piano will never come. I just want to be able to spend my time as I want to and feel free, not restricted.

  4. “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer:
    I feel the warm mid summer breeze rush through my hair as I spin continuously, anticipating when the next person will be sent through the air. I try to time it so that no one lands on anything sharp or anyone else. I would assume that it would end badly. Then, Mrs. Smithson would go tell Mama that Johnny and I were playing Snap the Whip, something that she had banned Snap the Whip after my other brother nearly cracked his head open the last time we were playing, and she would storm over here and drag Johnny, my little brother, and me home by the ear, scolding us on the “near death incident”. Just thinking of it made my spine shutter. I hope that it will not happen today. I try to not think about that situation until it was dawning upon me and got back to my game.
    Snap the Whip was the favorite game of the neighborhood children. We would play it every day in the field behind Jack Smithson’s house throughout the summer, and we would travel to the pond near town to engage in a more slippery version during the winter months. Even though our locations changed, our love of the game never did. We would play it for hours every day without fail. Even on school days we managed to play it. I love playing it, but today it felt even more special. Maybe it was that it was the last day of summer vacation, and school would be starting the next day. Or maybe it was be being rebellious and playing it even though Mama banned it after what happened last time.

  5. “Piano Lesson” by Romare Bearden
    As I sat on the rough, wooden stool, one that was far too familiar to me, I tried to listen to my mother’s commands in my ear, and focus on pressing the right white and black keys in front of me. Who was I kidding? I never hit the right ones, and I never listened to my mother; or so she thought. It wasn’t that I couldn’t pay attention, I just didn’t want to. The devotion to piano that consumed my mother had never taken heart in me. I’ve tried to tell her a multitude of times, but it breaks her heart that I don’t share her love for it. So as I sit here on this awful stool, I think about why I sit here so often, doing the same thing again and again. Although the right answer is that I don’t want to hurt my mother, her teachings make me dislike her. When will the last time I sit on this stool be? When will I finally be able to force my mother to understand? Will I be able to do it without upsetting her? The fear of my hurt mother is holding me down from standing up for myself. Perhaps if she weren’t so unhappy all the time, the hurt I would cause her wouldn’t be so heavy. The only time she smiles is during our lessons. Even as she criticizes my posture, the keys I hit, and the peddle I push, her eyes sparkle, and I know she’s thinking about how I must love the music, and the lessons. That sparkle will force me to sit on this stool day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, contemplating that last day that I will rise.

  6. “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer, 1872
    Boy on far left, on ground
    My older brother had said that playing Snap the Whip meant that I wasn’t a kid anymore. It meant that I had left behind the safe life of jumping rope and marbles in exchange for the risky yet rewarding thrill of the new game. I didn’t feel very grown up now, on all fours and with my face inches from the muddy ground that had already covered my knees and hands. Even now I could feel my fingers bleed as the otherwise benign rocks dug themselves into me. I could hear my mother’s voice, chastising my older brother when she discovered he had played the game with the other boys in the neighborhood. I was too young to understand what words like “compound fracture” and “cleaved skull” meant, but I didn’t need to know anymore. The ground, hard after a week without rain, hit me like a bullet as I soared out of Timmy’s hand, which was ripped away from me in an instant. The others had laughed as they flew towards the grass, but I had felt no joy, only fear. I figured they liked it because they had done it before, knew there was nothing to be afraid of. But even as Timmy stumbled behind me, impossibly remaining upright after his flight, I knew that my mother had been right in yelling at my older brother. This was dangerous; the crooked and bent dandelions proof of the damage that could be done if one didn’t land correctly. I could feel the bruises on my knees, my ankle twinge with the pain of a healing sprain, one that was acquired by climbing on the rocks my brother said were safe. Well, I knew one thing for sure: I was going to get him back for this.

  7. “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, 1942
    Solitary man with back turned.

    I’m at Phillies. I enjoy ending my day the same as I start it, with a cup of warm coffee. As I finish my third and final cup of coffee I look at the shopkeeper who has a slightly balding head and an easy smile. He only works there on Thursdays and Fridays. I think cravingly at what he does with his time out of this city. He could be doing anything at eleven at night, but I will always be here drinking my third and final cup of coffee. I stare longingly at the couple sitting across from me. Their hands lazily touch with the confidence that they feel towards each other. I’m jealous of the company that they keep for I only have my musty green chair at my first floor apartment next to the liquor store. The shopkeeper and other man begin conversation and my thoughts move casually towards the woman who makes a stunning resemblance to my late wife. I dream of the loving affair that we could hold and how we could escape to a town in sunny California. As my thoughts sweeten the couple walks out of the shop without a trace besides the twenty cent tip they left on the counter. I slide off my stool and retreated to my first floor apartment next to the liquor store where my musty green chair was waiting, welcoming.

  8. “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer, 1872
    The center boy in the blue coat

    Alas the winter is gone and with it the school year as well. It is the first day of summer and what better to do rather that an energetic game of Snap the Whip with my favorite friends. It is a warm summer day with the lush green forests all around. The sweet green grass has finally awoken from the grasp of winter. I am with nine of my friends all in my front yard, were all having a great time. Off to my right I can see the first two kids fall off “the whip”, oh the adrenaline it brings me! On my left I can see Rodney trying to break the whip in another spot! I yell with all my might, “I will never fall” at the same time gasping for air. But inside I do want to fall, I want to feel the soft green grass underneath me as I roll franticly trying to quickly get up to try and Snap the Whip. This summer has just begun, but if it’s anything like last summer we can all expect hundreds of more games of Snap the Whip while our parents work all day. As a matter of fact, there is only one more year until we have to begin to work, earning the smallest sums of money for the most tiring work. Oh well I think in my head, I have earned these coming months to do whatever I wish, whether it be playing all day or simply relaxing doing nothing. As I ponder this I hear my name called, a familiar voice, it’s my father. I think strangely what is he doing home so early? It is in this thought that I forget where I am and what I’m doing then a simple stumble turns into trip and I Snapped the Whip. Quickly forgetting my name being called I get up chase the others that are still standing, my childhood is still here and I won’t let anything get in the way of it.

  9. “Piano Lesson” by Romare Bearden, 1983
    I seem to find myself here much more often than I would desire. On every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, week after week, and now becoming year after year. Every time I see the same routine, tedious and repetitive practice of pounding on white ivory keys that now make a noise that I can barely stand the sound of. A sound that once caught my attention and that sparked my interest of how such natural sounding music could be created. Now it had all changed, and it feels if I hear one more piano note played I will be driven insane.
    Every lesson I get I am greeted with the same cluttered, cramped, old smelling house. By now I am familiar with the small area surrounding the dusty old grand piano like the back of my hand. I sit down on the creaky old bench with a light groan of dissatisfaction and play the same warm up notes I have come to know by heart. I then jump right into playing the usual sheet music, mostly off memory, and every few bars looking up just to make sure I am staying on track. As the notes flow out of me, I start to slowly realize why I am here. It would not be any different if I played a sport like soccer, or any other sort of musical instrument. Then I finally come to the realization, I love playing the piano.

  10. “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer, 1872
    the boy on the left end in the white shirt

    I am playing Snap the Whip with my friends, and we really like this game. Sometimes it gets really competitive, and people get throw real far. The last people we threw didn’t go so far as they hoped. Of course I’ll be going soon and I can’t wait. There is excitement when people go and everyone can feel it. When I go I’ll be nervous and excited. I do hate it when someone lands on a prickly bush or a ditch, because we’ve all felt that before. I don’t think that will happen my turn, because the grass feels cool underneath my bare feet. I think that’s because of the mountain we’re under. It’s a pretty cool mountain, it overshadows a lot of the pasture we’re in, keeping us really cool. The cabin is usually really cool, even in the deep of summer. I wish I had taken off my hat because my head is now really hot compared to the rest of my body. I can’t though not until after my turn. Which makes me mad because now I have to deal with an itchy head, and I really hate that. So, I’ll wait until after my turn to take my hat off. I love playing Snap the Whip in this painting.

  11. “Snap the Whip”
    The smallest of us stare as our fallen comrades on the end of the line fly off into a heap, their hair ruffled and overalls dirtied. The older ones know better; the boys on the end are always violently tossed, their play cut short. These spring days bring all the joys of recess back; tag, marbles, jumping rope. But not this. This is serious business. We run as fast as our confused legs will carry us, our minds muddied by the constant spinning. The world rotates beneath our feet, and another boy is tossed off of our line; a sacrifice to the gods of dizzy children, playing an innocent game as the girls watch us. Soon we’ll have to go inside the school house and memorize the state capitals, multiply on the blackboard, and, for the unluckiest of us, sit in the corner with the dunce cap on. No pity. Snap the whip. Our feet will tap as we stare out the windows, our hands clasped compliantly enough on top of our worn desks as we struggle to act like civilized human beings. Our teacher will drone on, and soon the feel of the warm spring grass beneath our feet will fade into a memory as our toes try to find room to wiggle in our constricting school shoes. But for now the teacher sits in the schoolhouse alone, and one by one the boys fly off the end of our whip. For now the wind rushes past our ears as we spin. For now, for all we know, recess is eternal and our whip endless. The boy next to me flies off the end and I smile slightly to myself. It’s my turn next. Snap that whip!

  12. “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, 1942
    What have I done with my life? Family and friends have disappeared without a memory in to leave behind. It all happened so quick. I do not know how I could have let the truly most important things in my life slip away. Now I sit here in sorrow, thinking about my career, as it appears to be more important than the ones I truly love. Across from me is a two people who do not look particularly happy, but happy to have each other. The waiter now knows the usual order from me by my appearance after work mostly every day, as I have nothing better to do, as I sit drinking a coffee in shame. The desire for money can ruin a man, as it has ruined my life. Yes i have fancy cars and a town house in the city, but no one to share the elegance with, no one waiting home for me after work. What have I done with my life? One does not know how much they love something until it was gone. What does everything I have done in my life mean? All of my hard work I thought would pay off seems to have disappeared. What are fancy cars and nice houses really worth? Does the expensive suit I bought last night bring back the friends and family that used to surround me? I would give up everything that I thought would buy me happiness for the past. As I sit in this lonely coffee shop, thoughts run in and out of my mind of what used to be and what now is. What have a done with my life?

  13. “Nighthawks”
    I am the nighthawk, he who sits alone at a bar when less weary souls have found their ways to dream land. They sleep because their minds have dreams left to share. I sit because my hopes have run out, because dreams haven’t spilled from my subconscious in forever.

    A comfortable sort of silence takes over the room, night after night, engulfing the strangers that always manage to sit as far away form each other as possible. Tonight, those strangers are a man and a woman who speak in soft voices, soft enough that all I hear is the wispy sound of hopeful plans and ideas for the future, a sound that hasn’t escaped my lips since before time, it seems.

    Maybe it’s why I sit here, night after night. To hear the anticipation, the optimism. To let the brightness pass through my mind—even if it won’t stay—so I can pretend for just a little while that I am young again, looking forward to each new day with a light in my eyes.

    The unfortunate part is that it always ends. When you have hope, when you have vivacity, there’s no end to the contentment. There’re no limits, no ultimatums. But now there are. Ultimatums, limits, endings. Memories instead of realities. Regret instead of confidence.

    There comes a time—when the dark outside gets to be the darkest, when I get deepest into my thoughts and the most comfortable in the shared silence—when I have to leave. I receive the same sympathetic smile from the guy behind the bar, and every once and a while he’ll touch my shoulder as we walk out of the door, trying to evoke emotion from the man he see’s every night.

    I am the nighthawk, he who walks alone every night away from my home, and back to my living space, leaving behind the only place where I think, and the only place where I dream.

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