- Select one question from different readings as specified. Your written response must have substance to it; you must support or explain your viewpoint. Points will be deducted for weak, superficial responses. Your response must be at least 100 words in length, and your views must be clearly expressed.
Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan
- What kind of religious questions does Shen Te’s life raise? If we read the play as a parable, characterize the theological content of it.
- Why does Shen Te fall in love with Yang Sun? Do her feelings for him demonstrate her essential goodness?
- What view of women emerges from the splitting of the good person of Setzuan into male and female halves?
- Compare Shen Te to the other female characters in the play.
- Give examples to demonstrate the view of capitalism expressed in the play. Does Brecht fairly represent the workings of a modern economic system?
- How is judicial practice represented in the play? What definitions of goodness are at stake?
- What solution to poverty is proposed in the play?
Menil, from Concerning Colonial Exoticism
- What is colonial exoticism, how does it differ from regular exoticism, and how does it affect the self-image of the colonized?
Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
- What are some of the effects (cultural, personal) of colonial rule?
- What does Fanon say about a nationalist culture?
Beauvoir, from The Second Sex: Facts and Myths
- What does Beauvoir mean when she says, “One is not born but rather becomes a woman”?
- In what ways have men defined women, according to Beauvoir?
Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism
- What is the definition of “third world,” and what point does Minh-ha make about this definition?
- What point does the anecdote about the Chinatown celebration illustrate?
Lorde, from Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference
- What does Lorde say about difference and the idea of the norm? How do you respond to her claims?
- According to Said, why has the cultural myth of Orientalism failed to be a bridge between cultures?
- Describe how the Orientalist myth has guided public (governmental) policy.
Rushdie, from Step Across this Line
- According to Rushdie, is artistic freedom possible in modern society? Why or why not?
- How can art help us understand a momentous event like 9-11?
Garcia-Marquez, “Death Constant Beyond Love”
- What is the importance of the title? What does it tell us about the story’s central thematic concerns?
- In what ways is the story about solitude?
- What is the symbolic importance of the rose, the chastity belt, the campaign props, and Laura Farina herself?
- Comment on Garcia-Marquez’s fictional technique. How can magic realism be characterized?
- How does Garcia-Marquez link death with nature and illusion with beauty in the story?
- “We are here for the purpose of defeating nature.” What is wrong with this statement? Comment on the interplay of politics and nature.
Silko, “Yellow Woman”
- Is the landscape merely a setting for the story, or does it play a stronger role?
- What do the stolen beef and the Jell-o have in common? How do these elements break the prevailing mood?
- Compare the Cinderella story/theme to the Yellow Woman story/theme.
Munro, “Walker Brothers Cowboy”
- Would this story have the same impact if it were not set during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, in a remote Canadian area? Why or why not?
- How does the family unit function in this story? Comment on the marital relationship of the father and mother.
- How insightful is the narrator? Find examples of points that she understands and those that bewilder her. Would an omniscient narrator tell this story as well?
- Why does the father take the narrator to visit an old girlfriend?
Robbe-Grillet, “The Secret Room”
- What conventional short story elements are missing in this story? What’s the effect of this lack?
- How does a plot form? How is the passage of time conveyed?
- Explain the cinematic quality of the story.
- What is suggested by the word canvas at the end of the story?
Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”
- Explain how the idea of labyrinths is important to the story.
- What is the garden of forking paths?
- What concept of time does this story present?
Achebe, Things Fall Apart
- What are the customs and cultural expectations of Umuofia?
- How does one succeed in this society, and who is left out?
- What are the important crops?
- What is the role of war, of religion, and of the arts?
- How are decisions made in Umuofia, and who makes them?
- What differing roles do men and women play?
- What do we learn from the kola ceremony about hospitality and the taking of titles?
- What do the descriptions of Okonkwo’s success and Unoka’s failure demonstrate about this society/
- What is your understanding of chi?
- What would you say are some strengths and weaknesses of this traditional culture?
- Discuss Okonkwo’s relation to Ekwefi and Ezinma.
- Why is the colonial presence introduced in the last one-third of the novel?
- Why does Nwoye convert to Christianity?
- How does Obierika represent a transitional figure between old and new Ibo society?
- How are the elders of Umuofia more “civilized” than the District Commissioner or Mr. Smith?
- How does Okonkwo represent his society, and what is the significance of his isolation?
- Describe some of the effects of colonial intrusion.
- Discuss Okonkwo as a tragic figure.
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