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Multicultural Lit Groups: Prompt 2

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatheramana) | 12 comments Mod
Choose a passage that you find particularly beautiful or powerful. What devices (imagery,figurative language, etc.) did the author use to make an impact on the reader? How does this relate to the overall theme, conflict or characterization of your novel thus far?


message 2: by Vianna (new)

Vianna | 16 comments The main character, Ifemelu, writes an article called "To My Fellow Non-American Blacks: In America, You Are Black, Baby" in order to portray life in the United States as a dark skinned individual. Ifemelu is blunt when describing life as she knows it:

Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I'm Jamaican or I'm Ghanaian. America doesn't care...you say "I'm not black" only because you know black is at the bottom of America's race ladder. And you want none of that...What if being black had all the privileges of being white? Would you still say "Don't call me black, I'm from Trinidad"? I didn't think so. So you're black, baby. And here's the deal with becoming black...in describing black women you admire, always use the word "STRONG" because that is what black women are supposed to be in America...And if you are a man, be hyper-mellow, never get too excited, or somebody will worry that you're about to pull a gun...when a crime is reported...stay well away from the crime area for weeks, or you might be stopped for fitting the profile...If you're telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don't complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise you get no sympathy. (Adichie 273-275)

This passage is particularly powerful because of its plain honesty and straightforwardness. Ifemelu lists various ways in which blacks are expected to act and the manner in which they are expected to live their lives. The manner in which she addresses her audience is very direct and commanding, rather than suggesting. For example, Ifemelu says "in describing black women you admire, always use the word 'STRONG'"(Adichie 274). Rather than saying "you should use the word 'STRONG'", Ifemelu uses a commanding tone that leaves no questioning. This shows that there is only one correct way to live in America; if the black people don't abide by the unspoken rules of being colored, then they risk even worse mistreatment by the whites. Ifemelu's perspective on how to act as a black person came through as powerful to me because it revealed some of truths that many people want to avoid because they are "ugly" truths. For instance, Ifemelu says "if you are a man, be hyper-mellow...or somebody will worry that you're about to pull a gun" (Adichie 274). This caught my attention and reminded me about Eric Garner: a black man who had been killed because of his "suspicious" actions. The way in which Ifemelu plainly stated how black men should act caused me to ponder about racism in today's society. This passage relates to the overall theme of the book by depicting the difficulties of adjusting to America. Ifemelu continues learning how to act American throughout the struggles of her daily life.


message 3: by 06kellyk (last edited Jan 25, 2015 01:52PM) (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments In A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, one of the main characters, Laila (as the point of view has now shifted from the beginning of the book), receives the dreadful news that her beloved childhood friend, Tariq, has died.

"She sat on the chair instead, hands limp in her lap, eyes staring at nothing, and letting her mind fly on. She let it fly on until it found the place, the good and safe place, where the water ran clear and the cottonwood seeds danced by the thousands in the air; where Babi was reading a book beneath an acacia and Tariq was napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she could dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams beneath the watchful gaze of the gods of the ancient, sun-bleached rock" (Hosseini 210).

This passage is powerful because Hosseini incorporates multiple literary techniques in it. He uses deep imagery with his highly descriptive word choices. The reader sees how vividly Laila pictures the scene. Not only does she mention that Tariq's hands are across his chest, but that his fingers are laced together, painting an image in the reader's mind. Hosseini also applies personification, with the cottonwood seeds dancing in the air as if they were people. He crafts a beautiful, powerful image, with a dash of cleverness in his style. Not only are these lines beautiful, but also extremely heartbreaking when the reader considers that vivid imagination is the only device that Laila is using to keep her sanity. This passage displays the complexity of Laila's mind with the gorgeous details. These phrases also reflect the concept of applying escapism to endure, with her mind finding comfort as it flees to a happy image. Laila's sanctuary is this beautiful scene, which allows her to delay the rush of grief from her beloved's death. In a man vs. society world, Laila and Mariam, another main character, have rebellious natures, but they escape either physically or mentally to preferable settings in order to deal with real life.


message 4: by 06kellyk (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments Sunanda wrote: "A passage I found beautiful from The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is the scene when Ashoke is explaining the meaning behind Gogol's name.
" Not at all you remind me of everything that followed"( Lahi..."


The emotions that the reader feels when they realize the explanation in this quote are powerful. Your background on the story makes the reader feel the depth that the author intended to capture in the book. Well done!


message 5: by Julia (new)

Julia Fish | 34 comments In The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the main character, Gogol, explains the reasoning as to why he does not like his name. He discusses experiences in which he is embarrassed to have such an odd name when compared to American culture and all the normal names surrounding him.

Lahiri does an amazing job bringing up specific events which embarrass Gogol. She makes the reader think about how much your name is used in everyday life and how others don't realize that there are people out there who really dislike their names. It is something that you don't think about on a day to day basis so it is interesting to read about Gogol's experience. "He hates having to live with it...he hates seeing it on the brown paper sleeve of the National Geographic subscription..." (Lahiri 76). This excerpt provides the times in which Gogol feels awkward at having a name so closely intertwined with his Indian culture.

I find this quote to be perfectly related to the main conflict of the novel. Gogol's constant feelings towards his name are the reason he goes on this adventure to change his name to Nikhil. His experience of trying to change his name is the main part of the plot therefore it is significant towards Gogol himself and the people around him, specifically his father.


message 6: by Josh (new)

Josh Olsen | 20 comments In scene of Valentino Achak Deng’s autobiography, written by Dave Eggers, Valentino is being robbed and beaten in his Atlanta home by an African-American man and woman. While being robbed and beaten Valentino recalls, “It is a strange thing, I realize, but what I think at this moment is that I want to be back in Kakuma. In Kakuma there was no rain, the winds blew nine months a year, and 80,000 war refugees from Sudan and elsewhere lived on one meal a day. But at this moment, when the woman is in my bedroom and the man is guarding me with his gun, I want to be in Kakuma, where I lived in a hut of plastic and sandbags and owned one pair of pants. I am not sure there was evil of this kind in the Kakuma refugee camp, and I want to return” (Eggers 4). This powerful scene illustrates the juxtaposition between his current life in Atlanta and former life in Africa. Eggers uses powerful vocabulary and irony to create a conflict between Valentino’s American and African lives. These devices evoke a sense of empathy in the reader and demonstrate how challenging it can be to adapt to a new society. This quote expresses the theme of internal struggles between different societies by directly showing how Valentino is adjusting to life in America. The quote shows a concrete manifestation of an internal struggle and makes it more real for the reader.


message 7: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 30 comments While Lahiri's The Namesake is littered with beautiful passages, this particular one stood out to me.

"And suddenly the sound of his pet name, uttered by his father as he has been accustomed to hearing it all his life, means something completely new, bound up with a catastrophe he has unwittingly embodied for years. ‘Is that what you think when you think of me?’ Gogol asks him. ‘Do I remind you of that night?’ ‘Not at all,’ his father says eventually, one hand going to his ribs, a habitual gesture that has baffled Gogol until now. ‘You remind me of everything that followed’”(124).

Once beleaguered by his strange name, Gogol finally understands he wasn't just named after his father's favorite author. Even though he has been Nikhil for nearly three years now, he feels differently about his naming now that he knows the true reason for the name Gogol. He also understands why his father seemed sad when he had changed his name. This passage is so important because for the first time, Gogol finally understands his namesake.


message 8: by Alex (new)

Alex Mertens | 5 comments A passage that i found very powerful from Dave Eggers What it the What, is from a scene where the group of walking boys stumble upon a small group of weak soldiers huddled under a tree. Two seemed to be very ill while one appeared to be dead. The boys then talk to the soldiers for some time before continuing on their walk to Ethiopia.
The passage reads, "We sat with the soldiers for some time, and the boys were cheered by seeing them, but their presence was troubling. The men had guns and were part of a unit called The Fist, which to me sounded very capable. But then, the men of the fist were starving, dying. What kind of place were we going to, if the grown men with guns had left there and were starving on their way back to Sudan?"(Eggers 215)
I found this passage to be very powerful because Eggers uses both imagery and irony to further hint at the constantly growing conflict at hand. Eggers uses imagery by naming the group of soldier's unit The Fist. Soldiers are viewed as brave and courageous people who would not give up no matter what. The fact that the soldiers are all ill or dead and choosing to stay put, shows that they are giving up. The soldiers no longer have the fire in them to keep fighting to survive. Also, The Fist is a very strong image. There is a saying "Rule with an iron fist" and it means that you must be tough and strong. So the unit you would imagine would be tough and courageous. But no, we see three men from this unit who are all ready to give up and let their spirits exit their bodies. This also shows a lot of irony. Throughout their journey they keep being told that Ethiopia is the greatest place on earth and that everyone will be happy. But the fact that now they have seen people who should be strong, weak and leaving Ethiopia, you really start to wonder whether Ethiopia really is better than where they are now. You start to think, is this really worth it? This relates to the conflict currently going on, survival. At the moment, survival is getting harder and harder for the group of boys, and now that soldiers, who are supposed to be strong, come back from this so called safe land sick and dying, it will only make survival harder.


message 9: by Julia (new)

Julia Fish | 34 comments Sydney wrote: "While Lahiri's The Namesake is littered with beautiful passages, this particular one stood out to me.

"And suddenly the sound of his pet name, uttered by his father as he has been accustomed to h..."


Sydney, that quote was really beautifully written, I agree. The Namesake has had some really well-written parts to it.I also agree that that part is important since it is a breakthrough in Gogol's lifelong opinion of his name.


message 10: by 06maxwellp (new)

06maxwellp | 9 comments A passage that I found quite powerful from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, was when The scene of Berlioz's death. Prior to his dead a strange man he had mt at Patriarch's Pond had predicted his death in exact detail. While Berlioz's poet friend Ivan was taken aback by this, Berlioz simply thought the stranger was crazy. Little did he know, that stranger was actually Satan himself and because he's Satan, predicting someones death is child's play. Berlioz decides to call the cops on Satan, but while he heads over to the phone he has to cross a tramway and after almost getting hit,"He decided to return behind the barrier,he shifted his hand on the revolving gate, and took a step backward. just then his hand slipped and lost its grip,his foot slid uncontrollably, as if on ice, over the cobblestones that led down to the track, his other leg shot up in the air, and he was thrown onto the rails... He saw the absolutely white, horror-stricken face and the crimson armband of the woman streetcar driver bearing down on him with irresistible force... The streetcar covered Berlioz, and a round dark object was propelled under the railing of Patriarch's Ponds path onto the cobbled slope. After rolling down the slope, it began bouncing over the cobblestones of Bronnaya Street. It was Berlioz's severed head"(Bulgakov 36-37). This scene shows the inevitability of death because when Satan told him how he would die, Berlioz didn't believe him, but through no fault of his, he was killed by circumstance. You even learn this later when you learn someone spilled sunflower oil all over the cobblestone leading to the track, making it slick like ice. It represent's the fact that, even if you want a different fate, doesn't mean you can change it.


message 11: by 06neilm (new)

06neilm | 6 comments Even though "The Namesake" was littered with poignant passages, there was one that stood out to me. At the time, Gogol was two hours late to meet his father; due to an accident on the train. Because of this, Ashoke explains the origins of his controversial name. When Gogol asks "Do I remind you of that night?"(Gogol 124). Ashoke replies, saying, "You remind me of everything that followed"(Ashoke 124). At this point in the book, Gogol realizes the true origin of his name, and everything it meant for his parents. Up to this point in time, Ashoke was under the impression that he was name after his father's favorite author, Nikolai Gogol. For the first time in his life, he fully understands him namesake. *cue dramatic music*


message 12: by Emily (new)

Emily Young | 35 comments A Passage that I found powerful in the book "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri was when Gogol changes his name to Nikhil

"Even more startling is when those who normally call him Gogol refer to him as Nikhil. For example, when his parents call on Saturday mornings, if Brandon or Jonathan happens to pick up the phone, they ask if Nikhil is there. Though he has asked his parents to do precisely this, the fact of it troubles him, making him feel in that instant that he is not related to them, not their child. The substitution sounds so wrong to Gogol, correct but off-key... Gogol feels helpless, annoyed yet unable to blame his mother, caught in the mess he's made" (Lahiri 106). The author uses figurative language to give the reader a sense of how Gogol or Nikhil is feeling about changing his name from his traditional name Gogol. This quote relates to the overall theme of "The Namesake" because it has to do with Gogol trying to fit into an American society where his original name didn't sound like everyone else. This quote represents Gogol trying to fit in as well as trying to figure out who he is as an American. He realizes why his father named him what he did, but decides to change it anyways.


message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily Young | 35 comments Sydney wrote: "While Lahiri's The Namesake is littered with beautiful passages, this particular one stood out to me.

"And suddenly the sound of his pet name, uttered by his father as he has been accustomed to h..."


Sydney, I think it's interesting how his father never told him what his name actually stood for until he changed his name. I also think it's interesting because now that he's changed his name, the name of the book ties into what the title of the story is.


message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily Young | 35 comments Julia wrote: "In The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the main character, Gogol, explains the reasoning as to why he does not like his name. He discusses experiences in which he is embarrassed to have such an odd name..."

Julia, I agree with you on how Lahiri does a great job on connecting what's going on in the book to what happens in real life as well.


message 15: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 20 comments A passage I found powerful in The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is:

“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding" (Lahiri 50). In this passage Lahiri uses figurative language to give the reader a feeling of what exactly its like to be in Ashima's shoes. this quote relates the The Namesake's overall themes because it highlights a struggle of being of a different culture and living in America. As a reader, this quote really helped me realize exactly how hard it is to have two separate cultures being a part of your life and what a burden it can be to balance those two cultures. This is another example of how Lahiri is so good at putting emotion into her writing and really making the reader understand what Ashima and her family are going through.


message 16: by Erin (last edited Jan 25, 2015 11:19PM) (new)

Erin Rochfort | 15 comments A meaningful passage that I found in "Americanah" was when Ifemelu decided to be proud of her Nigerian heritage, and to stop trying so hard to fit in.

"Her fleeting victory had left in its wake a vast, echoing space, because she had taken on, for too long, a pitch of voice and a way of being that was not hers. And so she finished eating her eggs and resolved to stop faking the American accent"(Adichie 216).

This quote is so powerful because it's Ifemelu's realization that she should be proud to be a Nigerian, and shouldn't feel the constant need to fit in to American life. The author uses metaphorical imagery when describing Ifemelu's feeling of faking who she was as "a vast, echoing space"(Adichie 126). This is so effective because it perfectly describes how changing to be "normal" made Ifemelu feel.


message 17: by David (last edited Jan 26, 2015 12:50AM) (new)

David | 8 comments One passage in Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky that shows the theme of insanity.

"Some foolishness, some most trifling indiscretion, and I can give myself away completely! Hm .... Too bad it's so airless hete," he added, "stifling ... My head is spinning even more ... My mind, too ..."(95)

This passage shows the theme of crazy and mental thing going wrong. All though its one small passage it shows what kind of character Raskolnikov is and what the story is about. It shows he is not what others think of him and how he mostly thinks not talks.


message 18: by Nathan (last edited Jan 26, 2015 01:24AM) (new)

Nathan | 11 comments The main character in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov, was observing the desperateness of a few prostitutes when he came upon an epiphany. I found Dostoyevsky's passage in Crime and Punishment below very eloquent:

"'Where was it,' thought Raskolnikov – 'where was it I read about a man sentenced to death who, one hour before his execution, says or thinks that if he had to live on some high rock, on a cliff, on a ledge so narrow that there was only room enough for him to stand there, and if there were bottomless chasms all round, the ocean, eternal darkness, eternal solitude, and eternal gales, and if he had to spend all his life on that square yard of space – a thousand years, an eternity – he'd rather live like that than die at once! Oh, only to live, live, live! Live under any circumstances – only to live! How true it is! Good Lord, how true it is! Man's a scoundrel But anyone who calls man a scoundrel is even a bigger scoundrel himself!' he added a moment later" (Dostoyevsky 498-499).

Dostoyevsky uses powerful imagery to emphasize the severity of conditions that Man is willing to endure to survive, writing about "eternal darkness, eternal solitude, and eternal gales" (Dostoyevsky 499). Raskolnikov's thoughts portrays the general theme in Crime and Punishment that humans will do anything to stay alive, no matter what the moral or living standards. Raskolnikov's thoughts add to the cynical theme of Crime and Punishment while also showing that beneath ethics, emotion, and morality, there are only the primal instincts of humans to survive. The idea paints a bleak picture of humans in the lowest socioeconomic conditions: devoid of dignity and honor, the poor must do everything in their power to survive.


message 19: by Luis-fernando (new)

Luis-fernando Lopez | 6 comments "Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women life us suffer, she'd say. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us."(Pg.82)
I chose this powerful passage becuase throughout the book of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Nana's words have always come off as being firm, but assertive. This is a widely used theme in the novel novel and from the start of the story, readers can begin to infer connections of Mariam's life and see how she grows to become a spitting image of Nana.


message 20: by Josh (new)

Josh Olsen | 20 comments Alex wrote: "A passage that i found very powerful from Dave Eggers What it the What, is from a scene where the group of walking boys stumble upon a small group of weak soldiers huddled under a tree. Two seemed to be very ill while one appeared to be dead. The boys then talk to the soldiers for some time before continuing on their walk to Ethiopia."
Alex I agree with your choice to put this passage in this response. This passage was very powerful, had great irony and great use of language. This section in the book caught my eye and intrigued me. Like you, I find Valentino's journey in Africa and America very interesting and exciting.


message 21: by Isrrael (new)

Isrrael Munoz | 7 comments "You're afraid, Nana, she might have said. You're afraid that I might find the happiness you never had. And you don't want me to be happy. You don't want a good life for me. You're the one with the wretched heart"(Pg.27)
To me this passage is one of the most powerful meanings in this book because of the many conflicts Mariam is going through. Teens these days tend to have much hatred towards their parents and accuse them as being their major problem. We don't realize that they're protecting us so we do not commit the same mistakes they've done in the past. Towards the reading, Mariam starts to become more self learning which I believe will lead to good but ending up in conflict.


message 22: by Hali (last edited Jan 26, 2015 11:06PM) (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments Americanah by Adiche: "This was what he now was... It brought to him a disorienting strangeness, because his mind had not changed at the same pace as his life, and he felt a hollow space between himself and the person he was supposed to be" (33). I love this paragraph because of the visual given, or lack thereof, of a 'hollow space between himself and the person he was supposed to be'. I love the applicability of it, for I am sure many people have felt this very same hollowness. This applies to a major theme of the novel, where external changes surpass the rate of internal change, which causes an uncomfortable and restless discomfort. This happens to many of the characters in the book, and to humanity in general, much of whom are resistant to change and are creatures of comfort and habit.


message 23: by Hali (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments Erin wrote: "A meaningful passage that I found in "Americanah" was when Ifemelu decided to be proud of her Nigerian heritage, and to stop trying so hard to fit in.

"Her fleeting victory had left in its wake a ..."

Beautiful choice of passage! The rawness of the novel is perfectly displayed and summed up. Nice!


message 24: by Hali (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments 06viannav wrote: "The main character, Ifemelu, writes an article called "To My Fellow Non-American Blacks: In America, You Are Black, Baby" in order to portray life in the United States as a dark skinned individual...."
You beautifully captured the essence of the entire novel and the essence of a major social issue through this passage and your analysis. Congrats!


message 25: by Hali (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments David wrote: "One passage in Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky that shows the theme of insanity.

"Some foolishness, some most trifling indiscretion, and I can give myself away completely! Hm .... Too ba..."


Wow, a theme of human insanity... I love that! I really am interested in this book, and I hope I have the chance to read it someday.


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