Sunday, May 9, 2010

Angela's Ashes

1. McCourt titles his memoir Angela's Ashes, after his mother. What significance does the phrase "Angela's Ashes" acquire by the end of the book?

2. Despite the McCourts' horrid poverty, mind-numbing starvation, and devastating losses, Angela's Ashes is not a tragic memoir. In fact, it is uplifting, triumphant even. How does McCourt accomplish this?

Song of Solomon

1. What is the significance of flying in the novel? How does Morrison equate the act of flying with death and with freedom? The last sentence of the novel reads: "He leaped. As fleet and bright as a lodestar he wheeled toward Guitar and it did not matter which one of them would give up his ghost in the killing arms of his brother. For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it." Does Milkman die in this final scene? Why does Morrison leave it ambiguous?

2. Milkman's journey south is an odyssey worthy of Homer: he is challenged physically and spiritually, faces death, and emerges a changed and happier man. Discuss this odyssey in terms of its symbolism and what Milkman learns about himself and his past. Why are these lessons so important? How does this journey help tie together the stories of Pilate, her brother, and her father?

The Kite Runner

1. Discuss the significance of the novel’s title? What might the kite fighting tournament symbolize? Does the competition’s combination of physical brutality and aesthetic beauty parallel any other aspects of the book?

2. The novel begins with Amir's memory of peering down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a tragedy. The novel ends with Amir kite running for Hassan's son, Sohrab, as he begins a new life with Amir in America. Why do you think the author chooses to frame the novel with these scenes? Refer to the following passage: "Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end...crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis [nomads]." How is this significant to the framing of the novel?

Final outside reading discussion

In lieu of a final in-class discussion; we will discuss our outside reading books via blog. You can begin by commenting on the question(s) about your book, and then introduce your own idea's questions. You will be graded on the quantity and quality of your posts.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Extreme Sports

Extreme sports are very popular these days. Are these suicide attempts, as some say, or ways some humans come to peace with death?  Krakauer observes that it is not “unusual for a young man to be drawn to a pursuit considered reckless by his elders.” Do you agree with this point? Do you think Chris would agree?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


As a culture, we seem to be fascinated by the chaos of reality TV, and love the voyeurism of looking at the lives of real people. Today we are bombarded with these shows that chronicle people’s life struggles or stories. All the while, shows on the History channel do not attract a young audience, and most students would find them dry and boring. All of these shows fall into the non-fiction category; what is it about this genre that either turns us off or leaves us captivated? How do you feel about this genre either in print or film?

Monday, February 15, 2010

First Reading/ test post

For our first go at blogging as a class, we will read Into the Wild, by John Krakauer. Be sure to check the blog after every class for your homework blog assignment. You must post your comment before class in order to earn credit. As is the case with everything in this class, spelling and mechanics always count so proofread your entry!