Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prompts for "The Liar"

I enjoyed our discussion today on the nature of truth and "truthiness." Let's keep those ideas in mind as we discuss "The Liar." For Thursday, please respond to one of the following prompts. Please give your prompt an interesting title ("Response to Question 1" is not an interesting title) and shoot for a response between 200 and 400 words. The blog is meant to be a discussion, so please feel free to comment on the posts of your classmates as well.

1. Why do you think James lies? What possible reasons are suggested in the story?
2. What is the significance of the bear story? Why do you think Wolff includes it as part of the narrative?
3. How does James's relationship with his deceased father inform the story?
4. Why do you think James carries his father's body up to bed, and why is this an important moment in the story?
5. In class today, some of you made the argument that a kind of "truth" can be communicated even when what is communicated may not be factual. Do you see any examples of this in "The Liar"? If so, be specific about where you see this, and explain what "truth" is being communicated. 6. Interpret the end of the story. What happens to James as he pretends to speak "Tibetan"? What do you think it means when he says, "I sang to them in what was surely an ancient and holy tongue"?

Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading your responses. See you on Thursday.

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