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Hernandez, J.

Can you pick out a passage that strikes you as particularly profound or interesting—or perhaps something that sums up the central dilemma of the book?

posted Jun 4, 2010, 8:44 PM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated Jun 4, 2010, 9:02 PM ]

One passage that really strikes me as particulary profound in Becoming Madame Mao in the quote "you are peacock among hens". This really is what the whole book is based around. The quote was said to Madame Mao by her grandfather. Which was meaning that she wasn't judged fairly-judged by the way she looks. I think this really revolves around the whole central basis of the book. Because it's Madame Mao who is trying become the ruler of china - but at times didn't get the real respect she deserved. This relates to the quote, the member of the party are judging her and don't treat her as an equal, even though she is the wife of the chairman, Mao Zedong. Really it leads up the main point in her life, her struggle she took. The long journey she took in order to get where she is today. I think it also explains the anger she feels twaords people once she's placed in the position of power. For example, she gets revenge on ex-boyfriends, and people she felt didn't treat her the way she wanted to be treated. Madame Mao pretty much seemed pretty and harsh and cruel. She was sort of seen as someone who had reason to do the things she did. I think that this quote in a way, tries to excuse everything she does right of the bat. So this quote for me, is essentially like a reasoning the author gives, and lets it be known at the start of the story. This passage to me is the most important.

What pictures does the author leave in your mind?

posted Jun 4, 2010, 8:31 PM by jonathan hernandez

They're many pictures from Becoming Madame Mao that the author Anchee Min left in my mind. Every character has is a specific painted picture in my mind. When I first envisioned Madame Mao in the younger stages of her life, I saw a women who was flawless and beautiful face a perfect skin. She seemed like a innocent person in my mind, not very intimitidating looking. The way the author described her was as an angel, so I thought of an angel cliche. She too me, was beautiful beyond comparison.  When I thought of Mao Zedong, I envisioned he a strong looking man, a man with great confidence, and looks like he has power. He stood with posture and had an attitude that was very intimidating.  I think I envisioned him as someone young and handsome. The author shows how much Madame Mao was attracted to Mao, so I guess that's why I saw him as a handsome man. Kang Sheng, too me seemed like a big, "portly" man but also strong and intimidating looking. The author explains him as a big tough scary man. When I thought of Kang Sheng, it made me think of the cliche body guard. Now the setting, I don't think my vision of the settings were anything like the reality. I thought Yenan as a town with many stone houses and caves. I can't really say I put much detail in my mind about the setting. There wasn't much information about the setting of yenan. I think of the house in the Forbidden City as a grand manchant type house. Something grand, but also historical with big ceillings.

Does the mood of the story change? How?

posted Jun 4, 2010, 8:14 PM by jonathan hernandez

The mood of the story Madame Mao changes very frequently in the novel. At one point of the story everything is going great and fine for Madame Mao. But at other times, things are not so good for her. Because of the fact that Madame Mao is in a political setting, the mood obviously changes. At times if it's about her personal life, the mood would be joyous, and on-top-of-moon. The text would convey a mood that is happy and fine. As her relationship progresses, eventually things start to take a turn for the worst. She ends up fighting in her relationship with Tang Nah, and then ends up seeming unfaithful to Yu Qwei. I don't think I saw much neutrual moods in the story, like it wasn't a calm, in-between mood. It was either really bad or not so good. The mood conveyed in the later part of the story with Mao Zedong is mainly sad because Madame Mao desires to have a voice and the same respect as Mao. It changes slightly between those moments. When Mao is state of health chances, the mood is more victorious because Madame Mao is finally getting a voice in the communism party. They're many shifts in the mood. The overall tone of the story is made apparent at the beginning of novel. I think that even in the happy moments that the overall mood of the story is mainly sadness and anger. As it explains despair in the life of Madame Mao.

Is the story plot or character driven? In other words, does the plot unfold quickly or focus more on characters' inner lives?

posted Jun 1, 2010, 8:28 PM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated Jun 1, 2010, 8:44 PM ]

Becoming Madame Mao: I do think in a way that the plot is really revealed kind of quickly. It focus a lot on the inner live of Madame Mao, but it still gives a lot of references to events in the book that haven't occurred yet. It's not structured in chronological order, so it reveals elements of the plot real quickly. I think that in a way though, it does leave a bit of information untold, so they're some things you do have to find out later on the book. It focuses on the inner lives of lots of other people too, maybe just not from the point of view that you would suspect. Mostly third person it speaks of other people’s lives and then if it's an unimportant character, most likely it will give references to the future. The story is a little bit of both plot driven and character driven. It reveals information about characters but then again the characters in this book I have learned are always subject to change. I think that if you tried to predict the next happening in the story based of the characters it would be hard. I think the plot is unpredictable in it's self though because if your like me and don't know a lot of the time and era, it leaves you a little confused. If you maybe had a little more expierence with the events like communism when first starting the book, it would be a little bit more followable.

Overall—how did you experience the book while reading it?

posted Jun 1, 2010, 8:16 PM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated Jun 4, 2010, 9:03 PM ]

BECOMING MADAME MAO: At the beginning of the book, I wasn't really sure what the story was about. I was actually a little confused on what was happening. Mainly because of the shift from 3rd person to 1st person. It was hard to follow at the beginning but you get used too it once you read for a while. I can't say that I was immediately draw to the book but after a while it gets pretty intresting reading into the life of Madame Mao Some emotions I felt twoards charecters were neutrual, no one I can say really irratated me. Just confused by some of the action or choices. I don't think that Madame Moa is fully devoloped emotionally, she's really easily taken. Mostly though was the fact that she came back and killed all of people that she had been a relationship with. That's a little bit immature and crude and harsh. I don't think she had to get revenge or vengeance on all of her old boyfriends. I kind of like the fact that it takes you into a real close and personal perspective on someone who was once in high power and the journey she took to get there. I think this is definitely a book that takes a certain interest in certain books. If you really are interested into ancient history or past time events then it's a good book to read. I don't think I can say that becoming Madame Mao is my absolute favorite but it's a book I'm sure others would enjoy.

Considering he believes he already murdered two people, why is Ram unable to kill Prem Kumar?

posted May 6, 2010, 7:33 AM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated May 6, 2010, 7:44 AM ]


Well they're a lot of reasons why Ram is unable to kill Prem Kumar. Even though he's been through a lot he is still just 18 years old. Not to mention, RAM has been through a lot in his life, I think not wanting to be stuck with guilt of killing three people to be with his conscience is another thing too. But also, Prem Kumar offers him a chance to win money. Money that could help a lot in his life, especially by helping Nita. He's in love with Nita, and wants her to be fine and taken care of so he can marry her. Either way, RAM is tempted by the money and that is what will help  in his life. I remember the point in the book where ram explained how he felt riding on the trains with the rich people and his pride he hide when he was not the one carrying his bags. He felt great having money, whether it can solve all of his problems is another topic. I am though surprised at this fact that Ram didn't kill Prem Kumar. I guess it's just the author makes Ram out to be a more caring-like person. It seems like Ram would've ruined his whole life by killing Prem Kumar, which would've been a sad-filled way to end the story. If he killed Prem Kumar, obviously the whole story would change, because the only reason he is even in this mess is because he won on the show.

What are Ram's ambitions in life? Why does he tell Prem Kumar he doesn't know how he's going to spend the billion rupees?

posted Apr 26, 2010, 8:24 AM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated Apr 26, 2010, 8:34 AM ]

I think that Ram's ambitions are a bit unclear in this part of the story. I do have some theories however on what he will spend the money on. The author makes it pretty clear that he longs for his mother, having all the visions he has of the women in the white sari. I think he'll try his hardest trying to find his mother by spending money on a investigation team to find her. I'm sure he will want to see who his mother is and why she left him. I'm not sure, but I also believe that Ram will help Salim pursue his career in acting, they're a lot of  things I think he will do with the money. I think he's unsure about what he will do because he hasn't seen the more money hungry world, all he knows is the movies, and him trying to survive on the rupees he makes that day. He hasn't really discovered computers, or much electronics in general. If he knew more about the other world's economic systems like all the jobs that have to do with electronics, I believe he would spend money on those type of things. But again, when most of us in the United States are asked what we'd do with one billion or one million dollars, a lot of us say things like buy a big house o manchant r. Some say spend it on pursuing their dreams to become an artist, or producer, or some sort of big cooperate business owner, or maybe even open a small store. Ram doesn't seem to be aware of these kinds of things, so I think that's the reason his unsure about what to do with the money.

How do you feel when reading the book? Why did you feel this way?

posted Apr 8, 2010, 8:28 AM by jonathan hernandez

There were a lot of ways I felt while Enrique's Journey, one thing is I was really excited! I got really into the book at one point and didn’t want to stop reading, too be honest, when Mr.Oskin told the students to stop reading, I couldn’t help myself from reading two more pages. I don’t know what it was but the book really keeps you on edge. I was just waiting for the moment to find out whether or not he makes it into the United States on that attempt. I can relate a little bit to the character, but not completely. I’ve made long journeys on my own, in the hot sun for 10 minutes. He’s been on his own for weeks, and months. It’s just when you get in the book, they’re chapters anymore, or a mark to stop. You just want to keep reading this book, and not stop. I really enjoyed the book, and that’s not a big surprise but this would definitely be one of the books I feel glad reading. Just to discover the hardships and troubles that people around the world experience and that feeling of cliffhangers trying to figure out what’s the next thing that will happen. I’d have to say I felt this way because of the calmness, but it packs excitement in a way. It tells a true story about a kid who will stop at nothing to find his mother. I sometimes imagined myself in the story in his exact place. Through the beatings, the robberies, the train hopping. It really is a sensational story that has some letdowns that you feel personally for the character. 

Summarize Enrique’s early attempts. Why does each fail?

posted Apr 8, 2010, 8:14 AM by jonathan hernandez

I think one of the reasons Enrique fails at some of his early attempts is because he had yet to learn about the tricks and tactics to use. He had yet to learn about what to do in a certain situation. It was almost like he had to practice doing it over and over again trying new things trying to outrun la migra. I believe that once he figured what he should do at a certain point and time, he was able to better get through a certain challenge. He had to figure whether it would be better to run at time, or stay down. What times to board a train and what times to get off of them.  I think that a lot of people trying to migrate using trains had to go through this same procedure. Mainly because they’re so many different areas that you have to focus, the same moves won’t work in the same place. I think that he fact that he’s young, he can’t stay as aware all the time as someone a little bit older then he could. Maybe in a certain time he got tired and fell asleep and that was one or multiple of the ways he was caught by the migration officers. If he was awake and aware maybe he wouldn’t have been caught. Basically a lot of things were equally responsible for his failures trying to escape into the United States, but I just think I had to learn what to do at a point and time.

What does the author mean when she says that for these children, finding their mothers “becomes the quest for the Holy Grail”?

posted Apr 8, 2010, 8:03 AM by jonathan hernandez   [ updated Apr 8, 2010, 8:13 AM ]

What the author means by “it becomes the quest for the holy grail” is comparing how hard people have tried to find the holy grail If I’m not mistaken it has still not been found to this today. She means it becomes almost something impossible to do, because the task he must face is extremely difficult. Also, a lot of people are trying to do the same thing, at the same time he is and they aren’t succeeding either. I believe that the author wants the reader to know just how hard it is for people like Enrique to crossover to United States and try to find their mothers. I believe that the task of finding his mother is just exactly what she said. He must try over and over in story, despite beatings, robberies, and the killings he witnesses. The fact that he is not yet an adult is more to prove the difficulty of the task at hand. Like in the movie DaVinci code, the task they were trying to do was find the holy grail. Now, I can’t completely remember it, but it seems to me like it wasn’t all that easy trying to find the Holy Grail. Also, I think that it speaks in the eyes of Enrique too, to him; his mom is like the Holy Grail. Like the hunters and searchers trying to find the grail and seeing it as this wonderful thing, he thinks of his mom just that way when he is journeying to find her.

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