Discussion Topic #3:
You have read Kate Chopin’s short story “The Storm” on the Ariel CD and “The Story of an Hour” in our textbook. Examine the way Kate Chopin uses landscape and weather as a metaphor for her characters’ emotions in “The Story of an Hour” and “The Storm.” Use specific examples to support your answers.
Discussion Topic #4:
Return to Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” on page 61 of Retellings and answer the seven questions on page 102 under Questions to Ask about Poetry.
Discussion Topic #5:
The absence of a narrator in drama, and the implications of that absence may take some getting used to. In the same way that we sometimes see the protagonist of a piece of fiction as a “hero” whom we are supposed to admire, we may think of the protagonist of a drama as a stand-in for an omniscient narrator.
Valdez’s Los Vendidos provides a good warning piece in this respect. We may be tempted to see Honest Sancho as representing the author, as a kind of narrative voice. After all, he seems to be manipulating the action, just as a stage manager or playwright might: he calls forth the characters and shows off their features. The surprise ending shows us, of course, that that is not the case. We find we have been wrong to invest so much authority in one “character.”
Our sense of when the ending will occur is often determined by our sense of when the resolution of the conflict occurs. In Los Vendidos, (as in many works), our sense of the resolution shifts several times. It is important to acknowledge false resolutions because they often provide important information about a work’s meaning. Only by examining the false resolutions do we see the meaning of the real resolution.
In Los Vendidos, we may think that once the secretary selects a model, that a “happy ending” is insured. We soon realize, however, that our sense of satisfaction identifies us too closely with the Secretary. The Mexican American who seems such a perfect political token in a “diverse” administration harbors the same hostility and activism that the other “models” have. When the Secretary flees from the revolutionary rhetoric, we laugh at her plight, feeling superior to her. But Valdez does not want either our sympathy for the Secretary or our contempt for her to define the resolution of the problem. As a satire, the play asks us to examine ourselves and our own responses to the stereotypes.
In this discussion response address your responses to the stereotypes presented in Los Vendidos.
Discussion Topic #6
Answer two of the following questions for Discussion Topic 6 in relation to the video we saw in class and Elayne Rapping’s essay:
How realistic does Dan and Roseanne’s relationship seem? Do they interact the way couples do in real life?
How do their parenting decisions and parent-child relationships compare to those we see in various segments of American culture? Do they approach their children’s problems and behaviors in ways that reflect American realities?
How realistically does the show portray economic and career realities?
What are the show’s political, social, and moral assumptions and values?
Post to the Discussion Board
Discussion Topic #7
Answer the following question on page 198 as it appears in your textbook:
Consider Connie’s appearance, clothing, facial expression, and body language in this movie still from Smooth Talk. How much does Laura Dern’s representation of Connie match your own sense of how Connie would act when Arnold Friend drives up to her house? What changes, if any, would you make to Connie’s appearance and body language? How would those changes reflect your sense of who Connie is?
Discussion Topic #8
Write about an experience of your own that mirrors the one Joyce portrays in “Araby.” It need not necessarily involve a crush you had a young age. Consider the story’s broader implications—have you ever had a moment of disillusionment, an instant when you suddenly recognized that you had been fooling yourself? Compare your experience to that of the narrator.