Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

In the novel The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel, the main character Azucena Martinez, an astroanalyst, helps her patients travel through their past lives in order to heal damage done to their subconscious. The current world, at the time, has gotten to the point where everyone is aware of the existence of their "twin soul", in other words their soul mate. Each person's soul must go through 14,000 lifetimes in order to meet their twin soul.
Due to her job, Azeucena has been allowed to meet her twin, Rodrigo, early. However, Rodrigo is now lost through time and space and Azeucena must go find him. With the help of her guardian angel, Anacreonte, she leaves on her journey to rescue Rodrigo. Throughout the story, Azeucena meets many strange characters that help her find her lost soul mate. I won't tell you how it ends, but I will say the novel has a very complex, exciting plot that made the book an easy read.


1) If you were given the opportunity to go back and fix something in your past that has negatively affected who you are today would you? Why?

2) What do you think about the concept of "twin souls"? Do you think that every person truly has a perfect match for themselves?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Enduring Love

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan is a story beginning on an ordinary Spring day at the park. Joe Rose, a science writer and his girlfriend Clarissa are enjoying a picnic when they spot a disaster. They see a hot air balloon with a child in the basket, and a man being dragged behind it. Several onlookers try to band together in order to stop the runaway balloon, but in the scuffle a man is killed. Another attempted rescuer, Jed Parry shares a look with Joe. Little does Joe know, that this chance meeting is the beginning of an obsession that will attempt to tear apart his life. Later on in the book, Jed begins to appear in random situations in Joe's life. Joe witnesses a man being shot in shoulder and comes to the conclusion that the bullet was meant for him. However, the police do not believe that Jed is the one who orchestrated the hit. Jed's obsession with Joe goes a step farther when he begins to mess with his relationship with Clarissa. Joe receives a call from Jed who is at Clarissa's home. Luckily, he had gone to buy a gun for protection against his stalker. Will Joe be able to rescue his girlfriend and stop the crazy Jed in time?
1 would you be one of the witnesses of the escaped balloon that would join in the rescue attempt?
2 if you came home to a psycho holding a knife to your significant other's throat, how would you try to diffuse the situation? and if you had a gun, would you be able to use it?

Monday, January 31, 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next by Ken Kesey takes place in a mental institution. The narrator of the novel is Chief Bromden, a man who all of the patients think is deaf and dumb. Bromden suffers from hallucinations during which he feels the room filling with a thick fog created by a huge mechanized matrix called The Combine which controls everyone in its grasp. The institution is run by Nurse Ratched, also known as Big Nurse, an impatient and intense woman with calm, cold disposition. When the story begins, a new patient, Randall McMurphy, arrives at the ward. He has just come from a work farm at Pendleton as part of his sentence for statutory rape. He is clearly sane and came to the hospital to avoid working. Others in the ward are Dale Harding, the president of the patients’ council, and Billy Ribbit, a thirty-year-old who stutters and seems to be very nervous most of the time. Ratched immediately sees that McMurphy is a manipulator and a con artist. During the first therapy meeting, McMurphy explains his arrest for statutory rape, saying that the girl was of legal age and certainly more than agreeable. Dr. Spivvey, the main doctor for the ward, questions whether McMurphy is faking insanity to get out of doing hard labor at the work farm. Afterward, McMurphy talks to Harding about the way the inmates submiss to Nurse Ratched so readily. McMurphy complains to Ratched about the loud music that constantly plays on the ward, but she refuses to turn it down. He suggests opening the tub room as a game room, but she refuses. At the next meeting, Dr. Spivey mentions casually that he talked to McMurphy about opening up the tub room as a game room and thinks that it is a great idea. The other inmates agree to carry out the plan while Nurse Ratched's hands begins to shake her hands—her first significant sign of weakness.McMurphy next wants to make a schedule change so the patients can watch the World Series during the day and do their work at night. The patients gradually grow more assertive in their opposition to the nurse boys and Ratched, and it begins clear that McMurphy is creating havoc in his attempts to over throw the ward. During a staff meeting, the doctors discuss McMurphy with Ratched. They believe that he might be dangerous. Ratched, however, claims that McMurphy is not an extraordinary man and is subject to all the fears and timidity of the other men. She is confident that she can break McMurphy, for he is committed to the hospital and they are in control, able to decide when he will be released. Nurse Ratched regains her control over the ward after McMurphy gives up his struggle against her, knowing that she controls whether or not he leaves. McMurphy realizes that Chief Bromden is neither deaf nor dumb. The two grow closer and along with planning the boat trip for the ward patients, plan McMurphy’s escape. Harding and the other patients decide to craft McMurphy's escape when Candy arrives on a Saturday night for her meeting with Billy. They bribe Mr. Turkle, the night watchman, with liquor and an offer of sex with Candy, McMurphy’s lady friend, and the other patients have a party that night. When Nurse Ratched arrives, she gathers the patients together in one room to take roll. She realizes that Billy Bibbit is missing. She finds him in the Seclusion Room with Candy. She chastises him for having sex with such a lowly woman, then tells him that she will tell his mother. Billy begins to stutter and shake, but she takes him into the doctor's office to calm down. When the doctor arrives, he finds that Billy has cut his throat and committed suicide. Ratched blames McMurphy for Billy's suicide, and he reacts by trying to choke her. Although the nurse boys pull McMurphy off of her before he can kill her, he rips her uniform and shows her chest to the patients. Nurse Ratched takes time off to recover, and when she returns, she cannot speak. Many of the patients check out of the hospital. Weeks later, McMurphy returns to the ward, now comatose after having a forced lobotomy. Chief Bromden suffocates McMurphy with a pillow in order to put him out of his misery, then throws the control panel in the tub room through the window and escapes the institution, fulfilling McMurphy's escape plan for himself.
1. McMurphy’s plan for a mental vacation and break from life ultimately end up in the deterioration of his life as he knows it, making him miserable and trapped. Would you take the risk in escaping the troubles and monotony of your life by trying to escape to a mental institution or some sort of hospital where faking an illness could ultimately cause everyone to baby you and give you everything you need for the rest of your life?

2. The way that Nurse Ratched is brutal and mean, and her methodic way of running the ward makes the patients bored, tired, and irritated. If you ran the floor in a mental institution, would you make the patients have the same boring meaningless activities every day or would you try to make their experience somewhat enjoyable even if it meant slightly messing with the stability of their daily pattern and hope that it didn’t interfere with their sickness?

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro, the Man Booker prize winner for his acclaimed novel The Remains of the Day, arrives with another acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go which explores the idea of cloning in a small boarding school near Norfolk, England.
This topic has been all the rage in Hollywood recently, with movies such as The Island and Gattica that show the struggle between natural born humans and organisms that have been genetically created, or for a more common term, clones. Ishiguro explores a deeper meaning when taking on this theme in his novel. He explains how clones have little or no freedom and are left with a loss of individuality.
The narrator of this story is Kathy, a
thirty-something woman who attended Hailsham boarding school in the late 1970's. She is retelling the events her childhood with her two friends, Ruth and Tommy, who also attended the mysterious boarding school that stresses the importance of good health and creativity.
The students at Hailsham are taught at a young age that they will be giving "donations" at one point in their life, meaning they will most likely lose their lives donating their vital organs to "originals" or the receivers who have purchased the clones. The persons in charge at Hailsham are referred to as guardians, who are often feared by students because of their strict dispositions. All of the students are taught how to create physical pieces of art, rather than theatre or music. This allows for the students to express themselves, yet they are not taught any necessary life skills.

Hailsham was essentially an experiment. In the novel, society at that point in time felt that clones were non-human organisms that were merely sources of organs. They felt that clones did not have souls nor possessed the capability to love one another. The creators at Hailsham forced the students to create artwork as a means of knowing whether or not their theories were true.
Ishiguro's novel does not focus entirely about cloning but rather the emotions that are evoked as a result of the predicament the students at Hailsham are subjected to. He uses the character's experiences to show that compassion and companionship truly have an impact on one's life.


The characters in Never Let Me Go are not given many choices in their lives. They are isolated within the Hailsham campus unable to interact with "the outside world". They are told
what to do, and when to do it, inside and outside of school, considering that Hailsham is a boarding school.They have capitulated every ounce of freedom they have to the "guardians" demands. Remember back to your elementary school days. I would assume that many of you followed the rules during the school day, but what about at home? How would you feel if you had no say in your life? You had one goal in life and you were to live isolated from the rest of the world? Would you feel lonely? How would you cope?

Side note:
This novel has been made into a major motion picture, Never Let Me Go [2010], starring Keira Knightley, Carrie Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.