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Xayasone, M.

What pictures does the author leave in your mind?

posted Jun 14, 2010, 11:35 PM by   [ updated Jun 15, 2010, 12:05 AM ]

While reading the novel Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, we learned about the background history of the book in class. While Mao Zedong was the leader of the communist party, there were many events happening at that time. The main big event was the Cultural Revolution where Mao influenced hundred thousands of students to stop going to school to protest against the c
ommunist party he made. The students became rebels known as the Red Guards, and were fighting for democracy.

In class we saw numerous pictures of the group of students marching in white head bands and signs. We also saw movie clips of a documentary of China during Mao Zedong's ruling. So while reading the book, the image of hundred thousands of students kept popping up in my head. The students would march and protest in Tiananmen Square, a huge open place in Beijing, China. Now every time I hear students protest, Tiananmen Square and the Cultural Revolution instantly come to mind.

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

posted Jun 14, 2010, 9:50 PM by

In the novel Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min focuses more on characters' inner lives. The main character in this novel is Madame Mao. The story begins with a young girl getting her foot bounded. Having prior knowledge with the Chinese culture, I already sensed she comes from a family who wants the most for their daughter. A young girl with her foot bounded shows wealth and beauty, which leads to a prominent man asking for their hand in marriage.

That's only the start of Madame Mao's yearning life. In the first few chapters it seems she tries so hard to find a man to spend her life with, I knew this because of the relationships shes in and out of. I got the impression Madame Mao wanted the best and wouldn't settle for less. That was the main reason why she was so power hungry, and wanted a man with a lot of power that she could also take advantage of. She got that opportunity when she met Mao Zedong and became his wife.

Who is the most important character in this story? Why?

posted Jun 14, 2010, 9:06 PM by

In the novel Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, I would say Mao is the most important character in the story. I say this because Mao had such a great influence on all of China although he wasn't titled as their leader. He started the communist party and even convinced students all over China to start a rebel movement and became known as the Red Guards. The Red Guards rebelled against the communist party, which Mao created. That became known as the Cultural Revolution when the Red Guards rebelled against the communist party. The students even stopped going to school, marched all over China, to fight for democracy. There was even a little red book the Chinese people carried around with Mao's sayings, and even created a Mao dance along with a song that was practiced daily. These factors goes to show how much of an influence Mao Zedong had on China.

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?

posted May 17, 2010, 2:45 PM by   [ updated Jun 14, 2010, 1:06 AM ]

Starting the novel Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, I wasn't immediately drawn to the book, but it did kind of catch my interest after reading a chapter. The event that caught my attention was when the narrator was getting her foot bound at such a young age. Although I am familiar with Chinese girls getting their foot bounded, it still disturbed me. In the past it was a tradition in the Chinese culture for young girls to get their foot bounded. It showed wealth and beauty because they believed noble women weren't meant to work or use their feet. I still don't understand what's so beautiful about a foot being crushed to fit into 4 inch shoes, but in the past, it meant otherwise. The narrator described her feet as being elephant feet, and was in huge discomfort. I'm still in awe that these young girls didn't have a choice for their feet to be bounded or not. Their mothers especially made the decision and thought it was best for their daughter's futures on hopes of marrying a wealthy man.

If you were to talk to the main character, what would you want to know?

posted Apr 29, 2010, 3:16 PM by   [ updated Jun 13, 2010, 11:45 PM ]

In the novel Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, the main character is the narrator herself, Madame Mao. If I had a chance to talk to her, I would ask her all sorts of questions. First how it felt to be married to a man with such great power. Did she herself take advantage of it or was power given to her too? The story of Madame Mao's life is she became Mao's wife who led the communist party. At some point, she herself was ruler of the Chinese's communist party. Even today, it isn't common for a female to rule a country or be in charge of such a biased political party. I would ask what everyday life was for her knowing she had power, and how did that feel. I'm also curious if there were any decisions that were made that she regretted. Since being in that position, Madame Mao spoke for the whole country, and any big decisions were on her. Her husband, Mao had such great influence that he got students from all over China to leave school to become rebels and go against the communist party he built.

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

posted Apr 29, 2010, 8:06 AM by   [ updated Apr 29, 2010, 10:26 AM ]

The novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup is about a young unfortunate boy, Ram Mohammed Thomas who is a winner of a quiz game show. He is accused of cheating because a waiter isn't capable of winning by answering the questions correctly. Personally for me, I don't enjoy reading the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup. Although I hear positive comments about the movie Slumdog Millionaire, I haven't found interest in the book. It might be because I don't understand the novel. I find the chapters are very confusing. Although I do get that the chapters are split up in to the questions that Ram answers on the show "Who Wants To Be A Billionaire". The narrator Ram tells a story that relates to a question that is asked at the end of the chapter.
I think if I continue reading and get deeper in the book, I will have an understanding and connect to the author. I hope I do because over the years I've learned every book has a meaning to it. Thinking over, I think Swarup has a good concept for the book, but I wish it would catch my attention more.

Do you know anyone like a character in this story?

posted Apr 12, 2010, 7:19 PM by

In the novel Enrique's Journey tells a story of a teenage boy who was left by his mother, Lourades when he was only five or six years old. His mother wasn't able to survive financially in their hometown Honduras, Mexico. She fled to America for a better living, to find a decent paying job to send money back home to her son, Enrique. Eleven years have passed since Enrique last seen his mother. In those eleven years, he's always felt something was missing. Enrique turned to his girlfriend, drugs, and escaping Mexico as refuge.

Enrique's story reminds me much of my own father. He was born and spent most of his childhood in his home country, Laos, located in southeast Asia. His mother died in a car accident when he was only three years old. Motherless, his father wasn't around much for him either. His aunt and uncle took the initiative and became his care takers. For a while now, Laos has been a communist country. That was the main reason why my family chose to come to the states. Because of the bad traveling conditions, his father couldn't leave Laos to come to America. My dad chose to leave his father to find a better life and living in another country. His story relates to Enrique's where he too decided to leave his girlfriend Maria Isabel and their child Jasmin back in Honduras.

After reading Enrique's Journey and thinking about my father's story makes me appreciate life so much more. I realized everything is so easy for me and I shouldn't take the little things for granted.

What problems develop almost immediately when Enrique is reunited with his mother?

posted Apr 10, 2010, 2:35 AM by   [ updated Apr 10, 2010, 3:00 AM ]

Afters years of trying and failing to escape his home state, Honduras, Enrique is finally reunited with his mother, Lourdes in the United States. It's been 11 years since Enrique has last seen the women who gave birth to him. In his hometown, Enrique always felt empty without his mother. Enrique was determined to be reunited with her and accomplished it.

When Enrique reaches North Carolina, where his mother has been living, his emotions are all sorts of joy and being anxious. Lourdes was just happy to be with her son again. As time progress, Enrique feels the grudge of his mother leaving him at a young age and acts upon it. He starts disrespecting her, being disobedient, and one day asks her, "How could she stay away?" Enrique continues on by saying, "You left me, abandoned me. You forgot about me" (198). Lourdes is heartbroken by her son's remorseful words and cries herself to sleep because she thought Enrique would be the five-year-old who loved his mother. She thought she made the right decision to be an absent mother to provide more for her children. She chose to be away from Enrique and Belky to work in the states and send money to them. But as Enrique tries to convey, money doesn't replace an absent mother. "A true mother, he tells Lourdes, isn't the person who carries you in her womb. It is someone who raises and nurtures you. 'My mother is my grandmother Maria. You long ago lost the right to tell me what to do,' he says" (198). Throughout Enrique's stay in the states, his relationship with his mother is a mixture of good and bad.

What was the funniest/saddest/strangest thing that happened? Why?

posted Mar 19, 2010, 2:37 PM by   [ updated Mar 19, 2010, 3:27 PM ]


I think overall Enrique's story is just sad. Living your childhood without your mother not being there is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. Enrique was also without his father, but had the rest of his family, his grandmother, uncle, and cousins. Enrique's life is one like no other, because not many teenage boys can tell a story that his life does. 
Finishing up the novel, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky and transitioning into Enrique's Journey gives me all of these rush of emotions. Looking back at the pages I've read, I can't help but compare the character's lives with mine. Enrique's Journey tells a story of a teenage boy who was left by his mother, Lourades when he was only five or six years old. His mother wasn't able to survive financially in their hometown Honduras, Mexico. She fled to America for a better living, to find a decent paying job to send money back home to her son, Enrique. Eleven years have passed since Enrique last seen his mother. In those eleven years, he's always felt something was missing. Enrique turned to his girlfriend, drugs, and escaping Mexico as refuge. 

In order for Enrique to reunite with his mother,he must go through many hard obstacles. Along the way Enrique encounters thugs, bandits, corrupt cops, the risk of getting beat up and being deported. Enrique doesn't have much except his mother's North Carolina telephone number. Although being deported back to where he first started, Enrique is determined to reunite with his mother.

Why did the author(s) choose to write this book?

posted Mar 17, 2010, 8:03 AM by   [ updated Mar 18, 2010, 8:16 AM ]

The authors Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng,and Benjamin Ajak who wrote They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky chose to write this book for many different reasons. All three of them were part of a group known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. Reading their encounters and experiences they had to go through at a young age gives me the chills. At grade school ages, these boys go through things many children, and even adults never have gone through.

Even in the beginning of the book, the boys and their family were going through hard times. Being part of huge families, led to little clothes, food, and shelter. The real story begins when Sudan's civil war begins. The Lost Boys walked for hundreds of miles to escape their country to a neighboring country. They were without their parents, family, food, water, clothes, and shelter. Boys as young as 4 or 5 had to learn to be without their parents and look up to their older brothers for guidance. The hard part was the older brothers didn't know what direction to guide them in. They were all lost, and left hopeless. They lived day to day with the thought of not living another day. They were around killings, bombings, and a torturous life.  Their childhood didn't come close to anyone else's and they wanted to share their story with the world.

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