Saturday, January 29, 2011

For Tuesday

Since Chris got us started with such a good and interesting post, you can respond by commenting on his idea of a story within a story, which is really interesting, or you can respond to one of the questions below:

1. What do “Stockings” and “Church” teach us about personal faith? You can interpret the word “faith” any way you like.

2. “The Man I Killed” is written in a style that differs from the other sections of the book. Describe what is different. Why do you think O’Brien chooses this particular form for this particular chapter?

3. What are some things O’Brien writes about the man he killed that he couldn’t possibly know, and what does the inclusion of these things reveal about O’Brien as a character? Why are they in the story?

4. What lines from “Ambush” strike you as particularly significant? Why are they significant? Try to tie them into the larger thematic context of the book.

5. Why does Henry Dobbins care about the way Azar is dancing? Why is the chapter called “Style”?

6. Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler argues that every great story must have a sense of yearning; that is, the characters must clearly yearn for something. As you read “Speaking of Courage,” what kind of yearning do you detect coming from Norman Bowker? What does he really want? 

7. “Notes” is written in a very academic, matter-of-fact style. O'Brien references other books of his, If I Die in a Combat Zone and Going After Cacciato (books that do, in fact, exist), and he quotes letters that he supposedly received from Norman Bowker. These things are meant to give the story authenticity. And yet, there are places in "Notes" where O'Brien undercuts this authenticity. For example, he writes, "You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened [. . .] and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain" (152). How does the documentary-esque style of the chapter relate to what O’Brien is saying in that chapter? Is there a disconnect? Do they compliment each other? How is the form related to the content?

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