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Nguyen, M.

Do you find the characters convincing? Are they believable? Compelling? Are they fully developed as complex, emotional human beings?

posted Jun 13, 2010, 9:14 PM by Mira Nguyen

In the book Becoming Madame Mao written by Anchee Min, I find all the characters in the story to be very convincing. I am completely impressed with how the author accurately captured the personalities, thoughts, and feelings of Madame Mao to fit her actual character in history. The author creates such intense feelings and thoughts for the main character so readers can fully understand what  things were like for her. While r
eading this book, I felt like I really knew Madame Mao as a person, and not just another character in a story. Throughout the book, Madame Mao has many interesting thoughts running through her head. I learned that she has a very unique way of thinking and solving problems. On page 159, Madame Mao thinks to herself, "I am learning to kill. I am trying not to shake. There is no middle ground, I tell myself. Kill or be killed." This specific passage from the story shows that even though it seems like Madame Mao is an entirely bad person, she isn't comfortable with killing others. In this chapter, she tries to convince herself that it's one or the other. If she doesn't kill, she will be killed. The author also gives the character very deep intricate feelings. Madame Mao goes through such intense in-depth feelings that it makes readers like me - feel what she is feeling. When she was in love with Yu Qiwei before she had met Mao, she wrote a letter to her lover saying, "I break down every time I recall how you used to love me. The words you said when we walked along Nan-yang Boulevard in the evenings. It pulls me back, tells me to go on, stick with you until the end of time. It tells me not to allow this pain to spoil my future. The pain is like a fish bone stuck in my throat - can't take it out yet can't swallow it." (pg 85) The feelings expressed in this passage is so incredibly deep, it made me feel like I was suffering alongside with her. I felt sad and hopeless for the character. This is why I believe the characters in this story - especially Madame Mao - are very convincing and believable.

What lessons have you learned from this story?

posted Jun 13, 2010, 8:53 PM by Mira Nguyen   [ updated Jun 13, 2010, 9:13 PM ]

While reading the book Becoming Madame Mao written by Anchee Min, I learned many important themes thahite-boned demon" alongside her husband Mao - who is the chairman of the Communist party. Before Madame Mao married Mao, she was a confident and courageous woman. She was very passionate about becoming an opera singer and actress - she never seemed to give up on her dreams of doing so. "I decide that I s
hall be an opera actress so I will get to live a heroine's life on stage." (pg 15)  However, when she realized how important power was in order to be respected in China, she unknowingly fell in love with power itself - which in this case - is Chairman Mao. As time passed, she was unacknowledged by the leaders of the Communist party and not respected by the people of China. Soon enough, she became addicted to getting more power and respect - even more than her own husband. Madame Mao became so selfish and concerned for her decreasing status in China, she forgot what was really important to her. The strong, brave, and courageous woman she once was had disappeared. While reading this book, I noticed how much she changed from the beginning of the story to the very end of the story - which was a drastic transformation for the worse. This is how I came to learn that too much power can ruin a person and corrupt a nation. Madame Mao was a leader who took advantage of her power only for her own benefit - and not for the well being of the people of China.

Which characters do you admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?

posted Jun 6, 2010, 5:47 PM by Mira Nguyen

In the book Becoming Madame Mao written by Anchee Min, there are many characters that I dislike. Since this story is about the life of an infamous leader of Communism in China, I find it hard to find characters that I admire. A character that I dislike would be the main character, Madame Mao. There are actually times whe
re I quite admire her for her courage and confidence but I dislike the person that she soon becomes later on in her life. At the beginning of the story, I felt like she was a strong woman who fought for what she believed in and never gave up on her dreams of becoming an actress and opera singer. I admired her for being courageous even though woman were looked down upon back then in China. But it all went downhill when she married Mao, who was the chairman/leader of the Communist party - a man that had all the power and respect in the country. When Madame Mao soon became unrecognized and unappreciated for her hard work and effort towards the party, she soon became greedy and went behind her husband's back to secretly achieve more power than he had. She became a mischievous and selfish woman who wanted ALL of the power in China. As a result, she caused thousands of deaths in China and was soon known as the "white-boned demon". Not only is Madame Mao a character I find to highly dislike - her husband Mao is not one of my favorite characters either. Madame Mao becomes the person she is because of Mao's neglectful attitude towards his wife. He becomes too involved in his work and forgets about his wife - leaving him in the dust. Not only does he neglect Madame Mao, he also cheats on her with many different woman each night. Both Madame Mao and her husband are characters I do not like in this story. 

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

posted May 24, 2010, 8:52 AM by Mira Nguyen   [ updated May 24, 2010, 9:23 AM ]

The book "Becoming Madame Mao" written by Anchee Min, is an incredibly emotional story. Every paragraph seems to be filled with some sort of strong feeling - from sadness to happiness. While reading this book, I feel all of the emotions the main character is feeling. The main character of this story is Madame Mao who was a real infamous leader in China. She and her husband Mao were both leaders of the Communist party during the 1900's. Madame Mao went through a tough childhood when she was younger and went through many depressing hardships throughout her life. As the author of this story, Anchee depicted all the feelings and thoughts that Madame Mao most likely  felt and thought during those events in her life. The author presents the feelings of Madame Mao clearly so the readers can be impacted by the emotions the characters are feeling. When Madame Mao did not get cast for a play she wanted to star in the author wrote, "The truth is deeper. They are star-crossed. There is betrayal. And then comes her disappointment. She had expected Junli to cast her. She thought he was Tang Nah's best friend." (pg 81) This passage of the story shows how disappointed and upset she was when she did not get the part in the play. The author also uses figurative language to reveal the characters' feelings. She uses precise words and metaphors to describe the emotions present in the story. When Madame Mao was about to leave her husband, he said "Everyone expects me to be a stone Buddha without desire or feelings, he gasps on top of her. My comrades would like me better if I were a eunuch. But I am a tiger who can't be a vegetarian!" (pg 141). While reading this story, I feel all kinds of emotions!

Ram's Future

posted May 7, 2010, 3:14 PM by Mira Nguyen

Although Ram lacked a formal education, he somehow answered 12 questions correctly on the game show, Who Will Win a Billion? and won a billion rupees. In the book "Q&A" written by Vikas Swarup, Ram is an Indian boy who has been through a series of events that led him to be on the game show where he unexpectedly won the billion dollar prize. However, he got every question right based on only luck - not intelligence. Throughout the story, Ram went through many situations where he heavily relied on luck. Whenever he had to make a decision, he would toss one rupee coin to help him decide - usually it led him to do the right thing. I believe that luck is a huge part of this story. Ram is just a guy who has a lot of bad situations where luck seems to be present. Even though Ram experienced many horrible and tragic events, in the end, Ram still found happiness and ran into a lot of good fortune - a billion rupees! Since he is finally now wedded to the girl of his dreams and is incredibly wealthy with a supportive sister, I envision Ram's future to be very fortunate. Even though he will probably go through more rough times like everyone else in this world - luck will always be present in his life. Although Ram was just a bartender before the game show, this shows that just because someone is uneducated or poor doesn't mean that they are completely clueless and dumb. This story shows that even people who have not been formally educated can know every answer to a game show - just like Ram! So in conclusion, I believe that Ram's future will be very and prosperous despite his shady background and past experiences.


posted May 6, 2010, 8:57 AM by Mira Nguyen

In the book, "Q&A" written by Vikas Swarup, the main character Ram Mohammad Thomas committed countless of crimes throughout the story. Two of his crimes have been murder. Although Ram has a shady history of illegal doings - all of his crimes were done with the best intentions. Both of the murders that Ram committed were not done purposely. His first murder was the murder of Mr. Shantaram who was an abusive husband and father. Since him and his family lived next door to Ram, he could always hear the hurtful words and the beatings that were lashed at the daughter Gudiya, who he cared for like he would care for a sister. Since Ram promised to protect Gudiya from being raped and abused by Shantaram, he killed him by pushing him off the stairs. Ram's second murder occurred when he was on a train to visit his best friend Salim. During that time, Ram had a great amount of money on him since he had just  collected his savings from working for Colonel Taylor - who had just been arrested. On the train, Ram claimed to have seen the love of his life - Meenakshi. When a robbery took place on the train, the man started sexually harassing Meenakshi - and without thinking, Ram tackled him to the ground and accidentally shot him with a gun. Once again, this murder was committed with his best intentions. Both of victims, Shantaram and the dacoit on the train were bad people and were committing crimes themselves. At the end of the book when Ram was about to murder Prem Kumar, the host  of Who Will Win a Billion?, he couldn't pull the trigger. This is because he can not intentionally murder a person. The other murders that he committed were all accidents. Once Ram was holding the gun in front of Prem Kumar's face, he realized how horrible murder was, and was thought of all the consequences and what he would lose if he did kill him. 

Colonel Taylor

posted Apr 30, 2010, 9:23 AM by Mira Nguyen

In the book, Q&A written by Vikas Swarup, the main characther, Thomas, was a servant among a few others at Colonel Taylor's house. Thomas was treated like family and felt comfortable in their home since he was only assigned to do a few chores a day. They paid him a good amount of money every week for his work. However, if he disobeyed and broke the rules,  Colonel Taylor would somehow find out. This was how he came to be known as "The Man Who Knows". Although Colonel Taylor was good to Thomas, he was very strict with his family. Whenever his wife, daughter, or son did anything that he did not approve of or like - they would get punished. Eventually, Thomas discovers that Colonel Taylor is hiding something very big from his family. He finds out that the whole house is filled with cameras - his whole family has no privacy! When Thomas finds out Colonel Taylor is meeting a man named Jeevan Kumar frequently for dynamite - he knows something is wrong. I believe that Thomas turns Colonel Taylor in to the officials because it was the right thing to do.  It was the right thing to do because although Colonel Taylor seemed to always be right and always did the right thing - it wasn't true. He was strict on his family and didn't give them any privacy - which shows that he does not trust them. It also seems like Colonel Taylor was working with something very dangerous that could jeopardize their country if he wasn't stopped. Since he was working with illegal merchandise - Thomas knew that turning him in was the best thing to do. 

Recurring Woman

posted Apr 26, 2010, 9:12 PM by Mira Nguyen

In the novel, "Q&A", written by Vikas Swarup, the main character Ram Mohamad Thomas repeats the same dream over and over again throughout the story. The dream is always the same - a tall woman with black hair
that covers her face. I notice that every time Thomas has this dream, he is in a difficult situation and wants to escape from wherever he's at. The woman seems to represent his biological mother - someone he never knew. Since her hair is always obscuring her face, it means that Thomas never knew her - and if you've never seen a person's face - how are you supposed to dream of them? Although she abandoned him when he was an infant, she still appears in his dreams repeatedly. This could represent how much she loved him and how much she would have supported him if she had the chance to be with him. I believe that Thomas's mother really did love her son because it might have been the best choice to leave him in another person's care. Whenever Thomas is suffering, he seems to automatically want to turn to the mother that he never knew. On page 12, while Thomas is being tortured with electricity, he starts to black out and sees "a tall woman with flowing black hair. The wind is blowing behind her, making her jet-black hair fly across her face, obscuring it. She is wearing a white sari of thin fabric that flutters and vibrates like a kite. She opens her arms and cries, 'My son...what are they doing to you?'  'Mother!' I scream and reach out for her across the chasm of mist and fog, but Godbole grabs me roughly by the neck." From this passage, I can conclude that seeing his mother is a symbol of hope. Although the torture is unbearable, picturing himself reaching out to his mother gives Thomas a slither of hope.

Saddest Thing

posted Apr 19, 2010, 6:00 PM by Mira Nguyen

In the book "Q & A" written by Vikas Swarup, there were many different variations in the moods of the story. So far, many sad, terrible, funny, and happy things have occurred involving the main character Ram Mohammad Thomas - an uneducated waiter in Mumbai who have just won a billion rupees on a game show. Although he won the money fair and square, the owners of the game show want to prove him guilty of cheating to avoid having to pay the one billion rupees that they didn't own in the first place. A sad thing that happened in the story was when Ram experienced the murder of his adopted father who was a loving and caring priest - and his only family. While Ram's father was away on a trip, another man that Ram thought he could trust took over the church. Over time, Ram realized that the man was up to no good. He sniffed drugs,  bullied Ram, and manipulated men and children - a molester. When Ram noticed him sneaking into his room with another man - he made sure his father knew what was going on. When his father burst into his room - he caught the man in bed with his own biological son. In the morning, Ram heard gunshots outside the church where he found both his father and the man who was killed by his own gun after murdering the priest. While reading this part of the story, I felt terrible for Ram and the unfortunate events that were occurring in his life. Being an orphan was hard enough - the priest was his only father who truly loved and cared for him. Now that he was gone, I felt how hopeless he must have felt knowing that his father was gone forever.


posted Apr 14, 2010, 7:37 PM by Taylor Olinski

In the book, Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario, Enrique is finally reunited with his mother. When Enrique was very young his mother, Lourdes had made a decision. She decided to go to the United States to find work. She planned on sending her children money to support them, and when she finally saved enough she wanted to bring them to the United States as well. This decision changed Enrique's life dramastically. He was very sad when his mother had left him at such a young age. And so he reacted poorly to this situation. When he was in school he would act up and soon enough he wouldn't even go at all. He was very disrespectful and he began to sniff glue. But most importantly, he had a loss of hope, that his mother would never come for him. But what he didn't understand was that his mother was struggling. She did all she could and soon she had gotten herself pregnant!

After the many failed attempts of traveling to go to the United States and see his mother, Enrique finally makes it. But the story doesn't end there, the problems are not over yet. At first things are good between eachother. But after a while they suddenly realize that they don't really know eachother, their just strangers. So, Enrique struggles with the same problems he had to face in Mexico. His relationship with his mother wasn't good, the problem was that they didn't know eachother! Enrique starts to drink and sniff glue once again.
Enrique was going to have problems with his life no matter what, but I think that he could have prevented them. Whenever something bad came his way, he would negativley react to it. All he really had to do was stay positive, even though it was hard. He should have understood his mother's purposes. He could have prevented the feelings of loss and being alone, like when he was with his girlfriend.

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