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Rickard, B.

Blog 15 (06/12/06)

posted Jun 12, 2010, 10:58 PM by Bre R

Who is the most important character in this story? Why?
Answer: As I see it, it is clear that Madame Mao is the most important character in the book. She is the main character, the only one who gets a first-person point of view (considering there is a lot of unbiased 3rd person), and the book is titled Becoming Madame Mao. However, this does not mean her story would be possible without another very important role. Mao himself hold a huge part within the story. If you think, without Mao there would be no story, for there would be no Madame Mao. She would most likely be just another face within China, and so much would be altered. The tale behind Mao is very important too, because without Mao being who he is as a husband (a man whose love and devotion is like a shooting star; lighting the whole sky and there for a moment, then gone just as fast) Madame Mao would never of perhaps grown to focus on her need to gain power. She would of not been the exact same driven woman. Granted, the traits were there in her to begin with, but they would not of blossomed to the extent they did without Mao, and Mao’s personality traits. Therefore, Mao has is own levels of importance in the book, and at times, his importance may override Madame Mao, just as Madame Mao at times is far more important. This goes to show that it is not a matter of who is the most important character throughout the entire book, because this is not an easy question to answer. Both characters hold more importance in certain times.

Blog (06/12/10)

posted Jun 12, 2010, 10:20 PM by Bre R

What is/are the author(s) trying to tell you in the book?

Answer: I believe the author of Becoming Madame Mao is trying to tell us that there are multiple sides, layers, and variations to every story. There is so much in a story that perhaps, no one outside of it can fully understand. I do not believe that the author took Madame Mao’s side fully, though I admit she did favor her, I think it was more meant to show how different views could be. If one read a book in Mao’s point of view, the outlook would have been totally different, and so would the opinions of Madame Mao. In this, the portrayal of how everything is not as it seems is brilliantly expressed. I can get the feelings of Madame Mao and her opinion of how China is going while getting a taste of Mao and Kang Shang’s opinions are too. It is as if to say, “Yes, this is the main character, her views are to be seen the most, and even sometimes glorified, but that doesn’t mean her views are right”. I feel as if the author thought carefully of how everything was said, so she could be have her biased opinions on occasion without the book being biased in Madame Mao’s favor. This possible complex way of thinking brought me to the idea of what the author was trying to say- there are SO many different ways to tell a story. To one, a joyous, glorious time in history; to another, an incredible hardship and struggle. It all depends on what angle you are standing at.

Blog 11 (5/17/10)

posted May 17, 2010, 9:00 PM by Bre R

If you were to talk to the author, what would you want to know?
Answer: If I were to speak to the author of Q&A (Vikas Swarup), I would begin with the most evident question; what drove you to write this book? Was it the interest in lower class life? The idea of blurring the lines between levels of class? The fact that Vikas Swarup and the Ram are in every way (besides living in India) are completely different in the lives they live and it is very intriguing on the fact he has written about a character like Ram. I’d also ask him how he chose Ram’s character traits. I could not throughout the whole book figure out what kind of character Ram was meant to be. He was sometimes a flawed hero, sometime a simple and immature boy, and others a rather perverse and greedy young man. The fact I could never tell what he was frustrated me, but on the other hand that could be the point. Maybe the real question would be to ask Vikas Swarup if he wanted Ram to be equal with all traits, so he could be a normal and average as possible. An average young man living and uncommon life and (an even rarer win), was very inspirational. Also, I wonder why he chose to use a game show to be the connector throughout the story. Why not just tell the take of the man that is Ram? The part of being an explanation for the game show didn’t really connect for me until it connected with the host in the end. Other then that, I would simply ask him if he plans to write any other tales of people like Ram; simply because I would find it an exciting read.

Blog 10 (5/17/10)

posted May 17, 2010, 8:11 PM by Bre R

Overall—how did you experience the book while reading it? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, or irritate, you?

While reading this book, I got many mixed emotions. The beginning however, took me a while to warm up to. I didn’t enjoy they way of writing things in not exactly chronological order, and I was often, and still am rather confused, what parts came first. To add to this, I believe it began rather, boring. Yes, he was being tortured, but I can’t say it really grasped my interest. I warmed up to it at about the 3rd chapter though, and after a couple more chapters, fell in love with the book. I began with emotions of disturbance, while reading about Father John and Father Timothy and their mournful loss, but later felt anger when reading about Gudiya’s abusive and horrendous father. Later, I surprisingly felt sympathy for Prakash Rao for being filled with the burden of his brother’s death, yet was intrigued by the story behind his wife’s culture and rituals. One thing that stuck was the feeling of nervousness when Ram was asked questions. Clearly, I knew he got them right, but I still could imagine the game show in my mind, and had to read furiously to make sure he got them correct. In all, I believe the book left me with an emotion of content and curiosity. It made me happy with how it ended, but left me curious and wanting to learn more about the culture. Is Ram’s tale more then just realistic fiction to some children? How many, and how many feel it worse then he? What about the tales of the other characters? How often are their tales remade in peoples lives? These are the concerns that ran through my mind in this book, but I think that’s what made me keep reading.

Blog Entry 9 (05/13/10)

posted May 13, 2010, 1:43 PM by Bre R

Why does Ran turn in Colonel Taylor? Is this retribution for the colonel's spying, his derogatory comments about Indians, or for the way he treats is family? Or does Ram just want to collect his wages before returning to Mumbai?

Answer:I do not believe Ram turned in Colonel Taylor for any of those reasons. In my opinion, I believe the deciding factor on Ram's decision occurred when Colonel Taylor was watching Spycatcher. Actor and star of the show, Steve Nolan, had a friend from college who was his best friend (not to mention man of honor at his wedding) but was a commie spy. He stated, "Friendship is important. But the country comes first. I am sorry," then shoots him. Now this may not of been the reason alone for Ram's decision, but I think it was the final chapter to it. This made Ram see that what the Colonel was doing was wrong, and that Ram had to put India, or maybe just the law of India, above this man. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and it could not go on. Before this solution though, I think his behavior and spying on his family made Ram see he was a little out of whack with his spying. The truth is a good thing, but the to respecting privacy is also important, in which he did not do. I think Ram became more and more irritated with Colonel Taylor’s disrespect for his families privacy after he found out about his bugging the whole house. Finally, when he saw this quote on the show, he realized that his stealing of top secret documents and such needed to stop, for he was like the commie spy. This, in my eyes, is why Ram chose the Colonel’s fate.

Blog Entry 8 (04/29/10)

posted Apr 29, 2010, 1:35 PM by Bre R

Ram has a reoccurring dream of a tall woman with black hair that obscures her face. At what moment does he have this dream, and why? What does this woman represent? Is she is biological mother? A symbol of hope? Abandonment?

Answer: I believe this tall woman with black hair is a representative of a lot. Mainly however, I feel it is Ram’s feeling of abandonment, appears to him whenever he feels for someone (usually a woman) who is uncared or abandoned. Perhaps, a woman who is about to lose all hope. In all occurrences though, there is a feeling of abandonment, just readjusted. This can be seen as Ram’s traumas going farther than even he realizes. Once Ram was told he was abandoned, not once, but by his biological mother, and then by his adoptive parents, something switches. Suddenly he begins to see his parental figure differently, and then after he is tragically killed, he once again feels this abandonment. Then when he is confronted with Gudiya, and her family struggles. He begins to dream about a woman (his mother) then another woman (his sister) who sees him as a baby and as a brother. I believe this is not a matter of a mother, but the need of love from family, sister, brother, mother father, it would not matter. Whoever is portrayed in his life at the time as someone who could possibly fill that empty spot of love, is reappeared in the face of this tall woman with black hair. He feels the need to protect them, take care of them and have them feel no pain. It is a woman who raises these feelings most likely due to the abandonment of his real mother. In all, the tall woman with black hair represents abandonment, and the need or hope of finding that love again.

Blog 7 (04/20/10)

posted Apr 13, 2010, 4:08 PM by Bre R

What pictures does the author leave in your mind?

There is one particular picture left in my mind when on pg. 50-51, when Ram finds Father Timothy and Father John dead in the chapel. The image of a young boy standing in shock, looking at two lifeless bodies has been burned into my brain. The idea is beyond tragic, especially when beheld by a child. The image of Ram running to the body of the man who raised him, and looking upon the scene, a scene that no one should behold, and having to comprehend what happens is upsetting. To add, it was very descriptive and detailed, from the blood drenched everywhere, to the way Father Timothy was looking like he was praying.  The contrast between savior and sin, light and dark, is made so apparent. To me I saw this as the true sides shown of both men who lay dead. One in his last moment shows his devotion to God, the other shows his back turned (just to contrast of course). Another way shown to contrast the two was Father Timothy dressed in his cassock, and Father Jon wear leather, and revealing his snake tattooed skin. The ideas of his snake tattoos also drew me back to the idea of the serpent in the bible, which made it all seem more ironic. This irony or cliché could also be considered by good being killed by “evil” (or so the setting had clearly shown). In all, I found the scene poetic and filled with emotion, and I think this scene of sorrow will forever be imbedded in my brain.

Blog 5 (4/5/10)

posted Apr 4, 2010, 7:55 PM by Bre R   [ updated Apr 13, 2010, 1:34 PM ]

 Question: Why did the author(s) chose to write this book?

Answer: I believe the author wrote this book, Enrique's Journey  , to show a different side of illegal immigration. In America, the issue has always been severely controversial, and how could it not? U.S. born citizens fear stolen identities and and no confirmation to government law, yet what is never really thought about is why did illegal immigrants leave their country? What did they go through to get here? Would we of done the same given the circumstances? In my point of view, this is exactly what the author has decided to write about. She has answered the questions we as US citizens should be asking. When such a topic is so black and white, the shades of gray can change peoples harsh judgments, and that's what I believe the author wanted to do exactly. To show not only is illegal immigration for some economic, or to run from the law, or freedom, but to unite with family, to pass all tests of family bonds. Each story is different for everyone who has entered the country, but Enrique's is a common one. Many of the young Central American children whose mother's have come to the US, need that closeness to their mothers- and can they be blamed? Shouldn't we all be willing to do whatever is needed to be with those we love most? The authors purpose of this book was to open the eyes of the US citizen, to see that everything had different shades to it, and we need to fully understand all the situations at hand that illegal immigrants face to come to our country.

Blog Entry 6 (04/13/10)

posted Apr 4, 2010, 7:55 PM by Bre R

Question: What lessons have you learned from this story?

Answer: In Enrique’s Journey, There are many themes/lessons that can be interpreted. The one that I believe was the most clear would have to be that family is of the utmost importance, and people are willing to do anything for it. As Enrique struggles for years of being without his mother, it becomes overbearing, and soon enough, he cannot go any longer. Enrique risks it all and travels to America to find the mother he’d been so long without. This was a true example of family love, and how the test of time creates problems, but should not overcome a bond. Secondly, a lesson of this could be how abandonment affects children. Yes, Enrique’s mother left to benefit her children, and it did economically. However, it did a lot of damage on them mentally; especially Enrique. Without his mother, Enrique entered a world of depression, drugs, and self-loathing. If not for his girlfriend Maria, he may not of made it while living in Honduras. His sister, Belky, was much better at handling the pain of their mother not being present, but she too was upset. Until her Aunt did the same, she could not understand fully why a mother would leave a child. Lastly I believe a theme could be the will of people of people. Throughout the book, many trying to go to America go through hunger, violence, and being sent back again and again. The will of one to keep trying when everything is against you is a gift. It takes one of strong will to keep trying after all the risks too, and it Enrique suffered through it all multiple times. I learned from this that one must give there all if they ever want to achieve what they desire most.

Blog Entry #3 (3/15/10)

posted Mar 15, 2010, 7:51 PM by Bre R   [ updated Apr 13, 2010, 2:01 PM ]

Question: What does the African proverb at the beginning of the book, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled” mean to you?
Answer: To me this means that, when those who are in charge fight, parents of a household or government of a nation, those who are under them feel its hardship the most. For example, when parents are yelling, or getting a divorce, the children are the victims. They are the ones feeling the split of a home, feel the change of going back and forth through parents, or maybe even loosing a parent completely. Now when the government is in conflict, like in T.P.F, the people of Sudan felt it most (well, more the people of southern Sudan). Due to the Muslim government trying to wipe them out, and the SPLA pretty much enslaving the lost boys to be grown into soldiers, the Southern people of Sudan were being trampled on in both directions (or, as you say, by both elephants). How is it is fair that those who don't have any say in situations are the ones that feel conflict between bigger powers the most? In situations such as these, you have to wonder if the ones in control even care or about the people- or are they like elephants in that comparison too, to incompetent to see what destruction is occurring. Though incompetence would be less disturbing, I have to say in T.P.F, its beyond clear that they not only don't care for the South, but also want them exterminated. This makes you wonder, how many governments, including our own, would trample on the people they are supposed to protect to get what they want. When it comes down to it, I guess the people are like the grass-they just have to wade out the elephants and hope the stop fighting before all is trampled completely.

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