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Damasco, N.

Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? Was it forced? Was it neatly wrapped up—too neatly? Or was it unresolved, ending on an ambiguous note

posted Jun 15, 2010, 7:02 PM by

    In my opinion the ending of Becoming Madame Mao wasn't surprising or anything; in fact it was expected. At the end of the story someone comes to Madame Mao's house and tells her she's under arrest and she's extremely calm. She knew that after Mao's death, people would be out to get her. There would no longer be a reason for their enemies to back off; they could now punish Madame Mao the way she deserved and she knew it. Therefore, she expected people to come after her; she was waiting for them even. This is known because she states "its about time" when the man comes to arrest her. So she's content with what's about to happen because to her, like everything else its all part of her role. This is what was supposed to happen to her character; in her eyes it was all supposed to work out that way. For that I wasn't surprised; it was clear after Mao's death Madame Mao would be punished for all the chaos she caused. I was expecting her to be arrested or killed and she was. In addition I predicted she'd be okay with it because of the type of person she is. Madame Mao is extremely dramatic; everything to her is part of a role she is playing which is why she gets so into everything that happens to her. I knew she wouldn't resist because she feels that she's done what she was supposed to and this was the ending made for her. Therefore, the ending wasn't a big surprise but I wish it had been. It would of been interesting if the ending was more action filled, intense, and astonishing. 

What motivates a given character’s actions? Do you think those actions are justified or ethical?

posted Jun 9, 2010, 7:49 PM by

    Madame Mao is a woman who's power hungry; she's willingly to do whatever it takes to obtain power. So power is what motivates all her actions and decisions in the story. From the beginning Madame Mao makes it clear that to be on top and looked up to is what she wants for this will make her a powerful figure. If lots of people admire her, she'll have the power to make decisions and sway people to agree with what she believes in. All the power she could have is what was on her mind the moment she married Mao since he was the leader of China and its people. She believed that being his wife would give her the opportunity to be on top and able to run things. Unfortunately, this took awhile to happen because in the beginning of their marriage she wasn't respected or treated any more special than before. Her say wasn't important and she did not have much power at all. Luckily, for Madame Mao things changed when Mao really needed her to help him destroy his enemies. It was then she was seen as a powerful authority figure and able to do the things she wanted. Having all this power turned Madame Mao into a monster. She began doing anything to make Mao happy and keep the position of power she had. She would torture people until they made false accusations against their enemies, as well as hurt and/or kill all who didn't agree with her actions, beliefs, etc. Anyone seen as a threat was on a hit list because Madame Mao didn't want anyone to bring her down. In my opinion her actions were neither justifiable nor ethical because she did it for her own personal benefit. She hurt the lives of thousands of people just to keep the power she had. She didn't consider or care about anyone else who was affected by what she chose to do, as long it would keep Mao happy and her powerful, she was willingly to do it. 

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 29, 2010, 9:55 PM by

    I'm not finished with the book yet, but so far I've felt amused, surprised, bored, and irritated while reading Becoming Madame Mao. When I first began reading, I was extremely irritated with the author's style of writing. The story is told from two perspectives that constantly switch, usually from paragraph to paragraph. This way of writing irritated me because it constantly had me lost within the story. I wasn't sure what was happening and I was confused about everything. Therefore, I soon became bored because I didn't understand anything. I basically was completely clueless about the entire story line. Luckily, though, after I got more into the book my negative feelings of irritation and boredom soon changed. Eventually, I got into the story and used to the author's style of writing. It was then I truly began to enjoy the story about Madame Mao's life. For, I was now aware of the situations she was going through, as well as the third person's input about everything going on. What really interests me about Madame Mao's life though, is the kind of person she is. She's a very dramatic person who does whatever she can to help further her career. In my opinion, she's weird too because she constantly changes her identity as if she's not sure about who she is. These things about her amuse me because I don't think I've ever met or read about a person quite like Madame Mao, it's pretty interesting. In addition, I've felt extremely surprised about some of Madame Mao's decisions when it comes to men. She likes to lure men in who can somehow benefit her and she does whatever she can to get their attention. However, what surprised me more was how many times she's been married and remarried. It's ridiculous; I honestly don't get why she can't just settle down and be with one person. She seems to always look for drama, which isn't smart. So overall throughout the book I've felt many emotions. 

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

posted May 24, 2010, 7:40 PM by


      If I could talk to the author, I'd want to know a couple of things regarding how she decided and came about writing the book, Becoming Madame Mao. First, I'd ask about her unique choice of how the story is told. This book is told from both a 1st person subjective and 3rd person omniscient perspective, switching from paragraph to paragraph. I've personally never read a book told from both these perspectives so I'm really interested in what caused her to make that decision. Did she read a book that told from those perspectives or did she feel that Madame Mao's story would be better understood if told from two different points of views? Her choice really interests me, but I like it. It's a little confusing at first but, once you get the hang of it I think it's pretty cool to get two insights of the story and all that's happening. Another thing I'd like to know is why she decided to write a book about Madame Mao. Madame Mao is seen as a negative person in Chinese history so is that what interested her and subsequently lead her to write a book about her life? Moreover, I want to know the author's personal opinion of Madame Mao, is she a negative figure in her eyes or not? I know that in the book she's portrayed as a good person which in a way leads me to believe the author might not see her as such a negative figure. However, that's something I'd still like to get specifically straight. Lastly, I'd like to know how much research the author put in to learning about Madame Mao's life and role in Chinese history. The book is historical fiction, which means it's not all true but it’s based on real events. Therefore, how much did she have to research in order to write this book and how did she decide what events to change or give a little twist to. It must have taken lots of time to figure out the history behind everything and then change it while still being somewhat accurate. Overall, these are all things I'd really like to know from the author.


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

posted May 15, 2010, 10:13 PM by

    Even though Ram believes that he's responsible for killing two people already, he's unable to kill Prem Kumar because he's really not that kind of person. He couldn’t take out all his anger and just murder someone regardless of what they might have done. Like Ram says, he honestly can't blame everything on Prem Kumar and kill him for revenge. In my opinion that's because Ram is such a genuine person who really isn't capable of murder. Gudiya's father and the robber from the trolley were simply murdered on accident, Ram didn't purposely kill them. In fact, it was more like a panic reaction for both situations because for Gudiya's father he only wanted to protect her so it was the spur of the moment. He didn't mean to have that happen, it just did. Now, when it came to the robber he didn't even realize he shot him because he spaced out and began daydreaming of his mother. In addition the robber had it coming because what he did was wrong. Therefore, you can’t say he’s just a murderer because neither one was intentional. However, when it came to Prem Kumar Ram was close to actually killing him, something he’d been waiting to do. In the end though, Ram couldn't follow through and shoot Prem Kumar even though he had so much anger and revenge inside of him because it really wasn’t who he is. He's a guy with a pure heart and that's shown when he spares Prem Kumar his life even after the horrible things he did to people Ram truly cared about.

Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? Was it forced? Was it neatly wrapped up—too neatly? Or was it unresolved, ending on an ambiguous note?

posted May 7, 2010, 3:07 PM by

    I really liked the ending of Q and A because I felt in the end all things came together, Gudiya being the lawyer, him winning, marrying Nita and helping the people he's always wanted to. Now, there were some things that surprised me about the ending. I never expected the lawyer to end up being Gudiya, the girl he helped years ago from her abusive father. When I read, "I am Gudiya. I am the girl you helped in the chawl" (pg 313), I was completely in shock. It was amazing and sweet to me how she came back in the story and helped him when he truly needed it the most.  Years ago Ram helped her when her father violently abused her so it was nice of her to come back and repay him for all he did for her when they were only kids. Yet, I wasn't surprised that he won the money on the show. I felt that after everything it'd be wrong for him not to win. Not only that but I'm sure many readers wouldn't like that so I figured it had to end that way. Another reason I liked the ending though was because he used the money he won to make himself and others who deserved it happy as well. He finally got to marry Nita, which was really all he wanted which was really cute. In addition, he got to rescue the kids from Maman and get his best friend’s acting career really going. Those were great decisions because those kids needed to be rescued and no one else knew what was really happening in that house. Ram was their only hope and luckily he got to save them. For Salim it was also sweet because that's been his best friend forever and he's been trying to get his career started. So overall I really enjoyed how the author chose to end the book and bring everything together for a happy ending.

What do you think of Salim’s decision to give Ahmed, the hit man a picture of Maman? Did Salim have another choice? Is he guilty of murder? Did Ram have other options besides throwing Shantaram down the stairs? Are these violent justifiable considering the behavior of the victims?

posted May 7, 2010, 2:53 PM by

    I’m actually glad Salim chose to give Maman’s information to Ahmed because Maman deserved to be killed. Maman’s been disabling innocent children for his own personal benefit. He lies and acts like he’s helping these poor children who really have no place to go, by providing them food and shelter. While, he’s really purposely injuring them just to get money. He’s whole idea is that people will feel bad for disabled kids and then subsequently donate money to them. So he deserves to understand how it feels and finally be punished for all his cruel acts. I’m glad Salim did what he did; I personally would have done the same. Now, I don’t think that Salim is guilty of murder though because he wasn’t the actual person who killed him; he just led someone else to do it, which technically isn’t a considered murder. As for Ram, I think he did have other options other than just pushing Shantaram down the stairs, like reporting what was happening or protecting Gudiya in another way. I do understand though that it was like his first instinct. I don’t feel he purposely meant to hurt her father the way he did; he just wanted to protect Gudiya and that was what came to mind first. In my opinion, these actions were justifiable considering the situation and what the people did to cause Salim and Ram to do what they did. In both situations I feel the victims deserved what happened because they were cruel and their actions were unacceptable.

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

posted Apr 26, 2010, 7:42 PM by   [ updated Apr 26, 2010, 8:00 PM ]

     As I'm reading the book I feel completely amazed about how all Thomas' experiences throughout his life are the reasons why he knows the answers the questions that were asked.  Not only that but the fact that everyone thinks he cheated or found some way to cheat the game really makes me mad. They underestimated him because of his background; they can't believe some waiter could know all the answers to those questions. You can't and shouldn't pass judgment about someone though based on their background or anything because their capabilities might surprise you. In this case, Thomas did surprise lots of people. It wasn't because he was a genius, but still it intrigues me how he knows so much because of all the things he's been through. Some of the situations he's been in are frightening and dangerous. So to know that he's made it through and remembered so much is really amazing in my opinion. As I continue to read each chapter and learn about a time in his life that led him to the right answer, I can't help but be so interested and stunned. It’s unbelievable how he’s learned so much just from living his life. He didn’t need to go to school or anything to know lots of cool and important things that many regular people with great occupations wouldn’t have a clue about. The memories he describes are crazy, sad, and mesmerizing to read about. I really enjoy understanding important parts of his life question by question. Therefore, I think the author picked a great narrative style because it truly does hold my attention and continue to amaze me each chapter by chapter and question by question.

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

posted Apr 19, 2010, 6:54 PM by

    The saddest part for me in Q&A so far was when Thomas found out what Maman was really doing to the children. At first, Thomas thought that Maman was really just taking care of and trying to help disabled children but it turned out he was wrong. After talking to some of the boys Thomas realized that Maman was the one who made them disabled in the first place, they weren't already like that. He was hurting the children and then using their injuries to get money. Maman strongly believed that if the children were disabled people would be more likely to give them money out of pity. Regardless if this is true or not, this part really made me sad and mad. I felt sad because it really hurt to know that poor innocent children were purposely being injured for someone else's benefit. Many of these children are orphans, struggling and only hoping for a better life. Therefore, I just don't understand how someone could be so cruel and selfish, it truly disgusted me. Not only that, but it made me angry with Maman and all those that worked with him. The fact that they are pretending to help these children but are really hurting and using them is horrible. No one should be treated that way in any circumstance let alone children. Luckily, Salim and Thomas were able to escape before Maman got a chance to hurt them but that doesn't take away from the children that have already suffered. Yes, those two got away but it still makes me sad to know that lots of kids have already been hurt and will continue to be for Maman's benefit. 

What problems develop almost immediately when Enrique is reunited with his mother? Do these problems surprise you?

posted Apr 5, 2010, 6:56 PM by

    Almost right after Enrique arrives him and his mother are already arguing. They argue because Enrique begins to develop a bad habit of drinking and staying out late. Those were both things his mother, Lourdes thought he left behind in Honduras. Unfortunately, the United States brought those habits back along with sniffing glue. All these behaviors hurt and made Lourdes mad because they had both waited so long to be reunited to only come to this. Not only that but Enrique's bad habits were doing nothing but hurting him and the ones who loved him. It pained his mother to see him come home drunk late at night and waste money that should of been sent to his daughter on meaningless alcohol and late nights. It wasn't only Enrique's poor decisions that caused tension though but also his careless and grudge holding attitude toward Lourdes. He'd often say hurtful things to Lourdes on purpose to make her feel guilty about leaving him. Enrique used this against Lourdes in any argument and constantly told her that she didn't deserve to call herself his mother. Of course, this hurt Lourdes because she knew that her absence and broken promises ruined their relationship. I was really surprised at the fact that Lourdes and Enrique argued so much after being reunited for the first time in years. I thought Enrique would be so happy and appreciative of being able to be with his mother again after everything he's been through. However, that wasn't the case. Instead of being loving and affectionate toward his mother he was resentful and rude. It was as if he was getting revenge for all the hurt and pain she caused him to feel. In my opinion this wasn't right because behaving that way wasn't going to help rebuild their relationship in any way, only make it more difficult. Enrique should of left the feelings of anger go and just enjoyed to once again be with his mother. 

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