Saturday, March 19, 2011
1. Amory is raised as a privileged child with his mother Beatrice. Do you think that this childhood had to do with his failure to mature and live a successful life?
2. Based on Amory's surroundings and the wealthy company he found himself in, do you think it wsa worth it for Amory to take up an advertisisng job he hated in order to win Rosalind?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Namesake begins with a Bengali couple, Ashima and Ashoke who have recently immigrated to the United States so Ashoke can continue his engineering studies at MIT. The story begins at the hospital, where Ashima has just gone into labor for their first born son. As she prepares to give birth, she realizes how isolated she has become, forced to deliver her baby alone, without the support of her family in Calcutta, India. This isolation she feels only emphasizes the many cultural differences she must overcome. Once she delivers her healthy baby boy, the couple soon realizes they cannot leave the hospital without first giving a legal name to their child. A letter from Ashima’s grandmother was supposed to come with a name, but has been lost in the mail. They decide on the temporary name of “Gogol” for their child, Gogol being the last name of Ashoke’s favorite Russian author, whose work he accredits to saving his life. The letter with the real name never comes and Ashima’s grandmother dies soon after. It is customary in India for children to be given a “good” name to be used in public and a nickname to be used only by those very close to the family, but the name Gogol soon sticks and that becomes the child’s single name. The book brings us through the childhood, adolescence, teenage years, and young adulthood of Gogol. We see the struggles of a Bengali boy growing up amidst the American customs and Bengali customs, but never truly feeling as if he belongs to the United States or India. This personal struggle with his cultural identity begins to spread to Gogol’s namesake in his adolescence. Gogol begins to realize that he has never met another Gogol, he begins to feel hatred towards his parents for giving him such an obscure name and starts to feel self conscious every time his name is mentioned. In his senior year in high school, Gogol begins to go by the name Nikhil. He introduces himself as Nikhil to a girl at a college party and begins to realize that college comes with a chance to completely reinvent himself. This change in name and Gogol's decision to go to Yale, rather than following in his father’s footsteps to attend MIT, sets up the barriers between Gogol and his family. The distance, both geographically and emotionally, between Gogol and his parents continues to increase. He wants to be American, not Bengali. He goes home less frequently, dates American girls, and becomes angry when anyone calls him Gogol. During his college years, he smokes cigarettes and marijuana, goes to many parties, and loses his virginity to a girl he cannot remember. The book goes on to capture the on-going stages of Gogol’s identity and follows his three most serious relationships from beginning to sour end.
How much significance do you feel a name holds over personality? Do you believe that Gogol’s life would have been different if he had started out with a more traditional name?
In The Namesake, it is as if Gogol transforms into an entirely different person when he is using the name Nikhil. Everyone makes mild personality adjustments depending upon the crowd they are around, but do you believe that a person can actually have alternate identities?
(If you are aware of one) What is your namesake? Do you take pride in your parent’s decision to name you what they did, or would you change your name if you had the chance?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
1. Hester Prynne has to wear the letter A on her knowing that everyone can see it and judge her. How would you feel if you had to go through a similar situation. How would it effect you both physically and mentally? Explain.
2. Chilingworth tires to get revenge on Dimmesdale throughout the story. Do you feel if someone did something hurtful to you its ok to get revenge? Explain.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Anse was always a self-centered, lazy husband. He even claims he cannot sweat because if he does, he will die. This prevents him from doing any labor, especially in the sun. When Addie learned of her second pregnancy with Darl, she asked Anse to take her to Jefferson, her home town, to be buried with her father once she died. This was one of the only things he ever did for his wife.
Jewel is the driving force behind the trip. His mother loved him a lot, even though he is an illegitimate child. Jewel loves Addie and speaks his love for his mother through actions. He seems to have a lot of trouble with Darl as a reaction to his mother’s death.
Darl, on the other hand, seems to have gotten no love from his mother. He also believes that he doesn’t truly exist. He reasons that Jewel exists and they have the same mother; therefore, he must exist as well. He spends a lot of the trip trying to get into Jewel’s mind because, if he succeeds, he must then exist since Jewel does. He bothers Jewel a lot and is basically the saboteur of the trip.
Dewey Dell must cope with now being the only girl in the family of five boys. On top of this, she also struggles with being pregnant at the age of seventeen. She does her best to hide it from her family and tries to get an abortion on two occasions when they get into town. Cash, the oldest, seems to throw himself into his work due to his mother’s death. He does a lot of carpentry, including building Addie’s coffin. Vardaman, the youngest by many years, really doesn’t understand much of what is going on. One day, he sees a dead fish and therefore deduces that his “…mother is a fish” (84). Also, because he is so young, he believes there should be holes in his mother’s coffin so she can breathe.
The Bundren family struggles over the course of the ten day trip to Jefferson to bury Addie. They stay overnight at friends’ houses and even get aggravated with each other. They lose their mules to drowning and Jewel sells his beloved horse to obtain more mules. By the end of the novel, they reach Jefferson and I saw no indication of the burial of Addie. The book ends with Anse leaving his family and coming back with a new wife as well as new teeth for himself.
1) Everyone in the Bundren family reacts differently to Addie’s death. How would you feel/react if one of your parents, or a loved one, passed away? How would this differ from your sibling’s, or friend’s, reactions?
2) Brothers Darl and Jewel have a lot of tension between them due to how their mother views them. Do you have any tension with your siblings or friends that is difficult to deal with?
3) Dewey Dell is pregnant at the age of seventeen and doesn’t know what to do. She tries to hide this from her family and deal with it on her own. Have you ever had a problem that was difficult for you to deal with on your own? What did you do?
Sunday, March 13, 2011
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy takes the reader on a the journey of John Grady Cole and his friend Lacey Rawlins. John Grady Cole is a sixteen year old boy who leaves his hometown in Texas when his grandfather dies. Since Cole's parents are already split up and his mother works out of town pursuing a theater career, Cole feels there is no longer a reason for him to stay. Rawlins and Cole ride their horses south into Mexico. On their way down, they are joined by another boy, Jimmy Blevins who is a fourteen year old sharpshooter. The boys end up finding a job on a ranch in Mexico and stay for some time. Cole ends up falling in love with the daughter of the ranch owner, Alejandra. The boys face many challenges on their journey. Cole and Rawlins saw Jimmy Blevins murdered by a corrupt Mexican official. Cole and Rawlins also ended up spending a chunk of time in Mexican prison. While in prison, Cole was forced to kill someone in self defense. On top of those experiences, the boys had to face bandits and bad desert weather. Luckily, the boys are mature for their age and make it back to Texas in one piece.
1) In the novel, Cole is sent to prison and finds himself in a situation where he must kill another inmate in order to save himself. If you were in a similar situation where you had no other choice but to kill or be killed would you be able to kill another person? If you did, how do you think you would cope with the weight of murder on your mind?
2) Cole experienced quite a bit on his trip through Mexico. His experiences and the situations he was put in made him transform from a teenage boy into a young man. If you were in Cole's shoes and had seen death, prison, found love, and did it all on your own, how do you think it would change you?