Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seniors: Hosseni, McCarthy and Eggers

Hosseini Students: Link to Kabul by Saib-e-Tabrizi to analyze the poem which inspired the title A Thousand Splendid Suns. What makes Kabul a paradox and why do you think Hosseini chose this particular title for his novel? Use quotes. 2. By the time Laila is taken from her novel by Rasheed and Mariam, Mariam’s marriage has crumbled under neglect and abuse. Yet when she realizes that Rasheed intends to marry Laila, she reacts with outrage. Given that Laila’s presence actually squelches Rasheed’s abuse, why is Mariam so hostile toward her?

McCarthy Students: 1. McCarthy is purposely and purposefully ambiguous: his characters are ambiguously labeled; his setting is ambiguous; the apocalyptic circumstances which precede the plot are ambiguous. How does this add to and/or detract from the reading experience? Be specific. 2. Link to Bob Dylan's lyrics to "Ain't Talkin'". Examine the lyrics in their entirety. Note any parallels to The Road and note Dylan's use of literary terms. Use quotes.

Eggers Students: 1. Link to and read the Rolling Stone article on Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal. How are Valentino's and Emmanuel's lives similar? Different? 2. Read to page 5 of the What is the What readers' guide and print yourself a copy of the character list.


Anonymous said...

Question 1 of 2

I feel that McCarthy keeps all of his characters and all of his settings clandestine. In my opinion, I believe that McCarthy tries this technique to make the reader be excited and interested to keep reading more and more. However, I believe that he may have taken the wrong approach. Although I enjoy the book, I feel that McCarthy tries too hard. He doesn't reveal anything about the past. He doesn't mention how the apocalypse occurred or what turned everyone into cannibals. He also never mentions the name of the characters in the story as well. The father simply goes by "papa" and the son doesn't go by anything. There is no destination for where the father and son are going except that they are heading south. To me, I feel it takes away from the readers’ interpretation of the ending. I feel like the ending will just be the father and son reaching the south and nothing more happening. The reader knows that the end won’t be "happy", but McCarthy's writing takes away from how the reader imagines how the story will end.

-John Cummings

Rachael Maggiani said...

Valentino and Emmanuel's lives are similar; they both grew up in Sudan and they both experienced the atrocities that are currently happening over there. They both came from villages that were ravaged by the army, and their houses were bruned.
They are different because Emmanuel took his career in a different direction. He sang and made music to get out the message of what is happeneing in Sudan. Valentino, on the other hand, has worked odd jobs, such as in storage rooms, and doesn't make too much money.

Katrina said...

Emmanuel's and Valentino's lives are similar because the both, obviously, grew up in Sudan. They both experienced their villages being burned and losing family members (and as far as we know now in the book, Valentino has lost his mother, like Emmanuel). They both fled to Ethiopia as well. The biggest similarity, though, is that they both aspired to escape to America (or England). These places were a glimmer of hope for the both of them. They are different because Emmanuel, at age 7, joined the SPLA army and began fighting. Valentino, right now in the novel, is trying to escape to Ethiopia, and has yet to think of joining the army and fighting. Also, Emmanuel is more vocal with letting people know about what is happening in his country while Valentino stays fairly quiet about the whole thing. While the book is a way of spreading the word, his character in the book does not speak much to others about the atrocities in Sudan.

Anonymous said...

1. McCarhty's amibiguity certainly adds to the novel because even though things are vague, it helps to describe the destruction of the world and the human mind. He doesn't want the readers to be caught up on names of characters nor on the specifics of of the setting. It also allows the reader to use one's imagination to create their own opinion of the characters, setting, and the preceding events.

2. Bob Dylan's lyrics and The Road share many similarities. Dylan's lyrics are certainly interesting but somewhat vague. At one point he says, "Ain't talkin', just walkin', through this weary world of woe." This is not only a good example of alliteration but also it describes a sad and weary world. Another example is when Dylan says, "Ain't talkin', just walkin',through the world mysterious and vague, heart burnin', still yearnin', walking through the cities of the plague."
This describes a somewhat mysterious and seemingly destroyed world which is certainly similar to the descriptions in The Road.

Brianna Cote

Anonymous said...

McCarthy 1&2

1) In my opinion, I feel that the ambiguity of the characters adds to the suspense of the novel. It keeps the reader asking questions and gives the reader the opportunity to have an imagination which I like. I also don’t feel like the characters “Papa” and “The Boy” need direct names like they would in most books. I think the fact that they don’t have names actually fits the book, they are alone and lost and the world is deserted, therefore I feel as though names are insignificant. It’s very different from any other book I have read. As I read about the burned houses, and uninhabited forest, I can really picture the destruction solitude. Because the book is so vague on details you can make up your own interpretation of what you think happened and will happen. 2) I do feel as though the song Ain’t Talking has some parallels to The Road. The lyrics of the song remind me of the man, I feel as though these would be his thoughts if he could write them down on paper. The lyrics remind me of the end of the world, and complete loneliness like in the Road. One quote that reminds me of The Road the most is: "Ain't talkin', just walkin'Up the road around the bend Heart burnin', still yearnin'In the last outback, at the world's end." and also "Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through the world mysterious and vagueHeart burnin', still yearnin'
Walking through the cities of the plague."

-Melissa Graham

Anonymous said...

1. I think that McCarthy's ambiguity adds to his novel of The Road. I think he is so vague with the characters and the setting because he wants the reader to create their own vision of the story and use their imagination. Although, McCarthy's technique may also not interest the reader and leave them confussed and bored. I personally don't like how McCarthy did not mention how the world came to an end and why these two characters in particular are the only ones left living. I also am displeased with the fact that the reader is left with no idea where the characters are destined to and where the road is going to take them. I feel that the reader has to make up their own ending and while many readers may like this style of writing, I do not. Judging from McCarthy's grim, dark descriptions and previous events from the beginning of the novel, the reader already knows that the ending will be the same so really this takes away from how the reader can use their imagination and creativity.

2. The Road and Bob Dylan's lyrics in his song "Ain't Talking" are very similar. For example, "Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback, at the world's end." This quote from the song relates to The Road because it's very vague and describes a bleak, barren world.

-Brielle Bowman

Anonymous said...

1. I can honestly say this is one of the best/worse novel that I’ve ever read. These two people are “carrying the fire” as well as “each the other worlds entire” they both show love, hope and companionship. This expresses McCarthy’s view on family, here a father and his son, both knowing there going to die, but their love for each other keeps them alive. Throughout the book the father contemplated killing his son if the “bad guys” ever caught up to them, but as soon as the boy got sick the father really cared for him every second of everyday he realized that he could never kill his son. Now the reason why I didn’t enjoy the book. At the time I was reading it, I never knew and was always hoping on the next page McCarthy would "recall" and let me know why the world was in such destruction, how it all began... The ending was cut short.... I didn't believe the whole book would be "I'm cold, should we go in? okay, you never talk, all small one word conversations.

2.After examining the lyrics “Ain’t talkin” it looks like it reflects the on the book.

Ain't talking, just walking –The son and the father barley talk
Hand me down my walking cane – The pistol
Heart burning, still yearning----They keep going and never giving up
Got to get you out of my miserable brain--- Wanting to just give up and if he can kill his son if he had to

All my loyal and my much-loved companions--- The son and the father
They approve of me and share my code--- Father loyal to the son when he is sick
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned--- They stick together
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road--- God cant help them at this point just keep on walking.

Josh Spilewski

Anonymous said...

1. The way that McCarthy uses ambiguity throughout the novel is what makes the novel appealing and exciting to read. Although the world is ultimately at its end and a better description would help develop a better setting, his ambiguity helps describe what someone must feel in a situation like this. Not describing names, places, or times might frustrate the reader, but it also helps develop the mood of the story much better. This style of writing also helps the reader discover their own interpretation of the end of the world and what it would be like to them.

2. The lyrics in Bob Dylan’s “Ain’t Talkin” draw many similarities to the ideas raised within The Road. Dylan’s lyrics are hard to understand, but are relatable to events that are portrayed within The Road. One quote that really stuck out to me was “Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’ I’ll burn that bridge before you can cross Heart burnin’, still yearnin’ They’ll be no mercy for you once you’ve lost.” This quote displays the fact that survival is the number one thought on your mind when the world has essentially come to an end, and that you may even have to kill a man to stay alive. Another quote that stuck out to me was, “Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through the world mysterious and vague, Heart burnin’, still yearnin’, Walking through the cities of the plague.” This quote is in direct comparison with the beginning of The Road. Walking through the cities of the plague is exactly what the boy and his father did on their journey down the dark and lonesome road.

By Eric Olson

Anonymous said...

1.) The characters being ambiguously labeled in this novel detracts from the reading experience in my opinion. No one in The Road has a name; everyone is described as a man, women, gang member, a son or a father. This makes the dialogue between characters hard to understand at times and I sometimes don’t know who is talking to who. McCarthy doesn’t reveal anything to the reader about what happened in the past and how the world became the way it is. This can detract from the novel but in a way it can also make the novel more interesting. It makes the reader think about what has happened in the past with the little clues McCarthy has given. This type of ambiguity adds on to this novel where the ambiguity of the characters does not.

2.) In Bob Dylans lyrics to “Ain’t Talkin’” there are few parallels to The Road. In the second stanza of his song, he says “Ain't talkin', just walkin' through this weary world of woe Heart burnin', still yearnin'” This can relate to the father and the son traveling on the road in the weary world they are in. Heart burnin’, still yearnin’ symbolizes the father and son suffering but still continuing to travel along the road to their destination. In the sixth stanza he says “Through the world mysterious and vague” which is similar to the world they are traveling in. The reader doesn’t know anything about what has happened to this world and how it got the way it is so it is vague and mysterious.

James Kellogg
Period E

Katherine Amara said...

Emmanuel has experienced many of the struggles that Valentino also faced, but they are still very different. Emmanuel is now a rapper unlike Valentino, who made a life for himself in America. One of the major things that Emmanuel did mention, that is also a reality to Valentino, is that America is not beautiful like it seems on television. We have many of the same issues such as poverty and violence, just like third world countries do. Also, they both grew up in Sudan, but now Emmanuel is living in the UK, and Valentino is living in Atlanta.

Katherine Amara

Anonymous said...


Mcarthy keeps his characters, setting, apocalyptic plot of the book all ambiguous for a reason. The suspense that are reader gets from knowing absolutely nothing will keep him/her glued to the book, because people just want to know whats going to happen next. One way Mcarthy's "ambiguity" adds to the book is when he subtly describes events that take place, like how he began the book,"When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child beside him", thats how much detail basically goes into every thing that take place. The reader is left hanging on the edges of their seats, they know no names of people or places, and they dont know where the "road" ends. Some people may disagree with the way Mcarthy wrote "The Road", but i feel as if the book would not of had as much impact on the reader if it was more detailed and everything was named, because then it would be just another survival book. I want to know where "The Road" ends, and do the father and son reach safety? or fail trying?...

Anonymous said...


The beginning of Bob Dylan's lyrics says, "Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through this weary world of woe", in my eyes that is a parallel to Mcarthy's book "The Road". In the book the author makes no attempt to give people or places names, the only talking that occurs is basically between the father and the boy, and they walk their desolate and destructed "Road" to find safety and security. "In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well", these Bob Dylan lyrics also relate to Mcarthy's book. When dylan wrote about how their can be evil spirits dwelling in the human heart and hes trying to love his neighbors, but things ain't going so well I feel as if this relates to the cannibals in the book, their lifes are at the point where their animalistic sides start to come out and take over and kill and eat other humans.

Anonymous said...

I think McCarthy’s ambiguous writing style is beneficial for the reader. Because he doesn’t clog with the pages with redundant, insignificant details there is room for the reader to create their own mental picture. Reading is a way for a person to use their imagination and if the author is describing every last person and event in the novel there is no room for the reader to make his or her own interpretations. Although the reader knows that an apocalypse has occurred there is no background on how or why it happened. I think that the inconclusive knowledge portrayed in The Road is exciting and keeps the person intrigued in the story.
Bob Dylan’s song “Ain’t Talkin’” can be compared to The Road through similar feelings and descriptions of despair and hopelessness. An example is, “If I catch my opponents ever sleepin’ I’ll just slaughter them where they lie.” In The Road the father and son are constantly on the move because if they are found by the “bad guys” they will be instantly killed. Because of this, sleep is a rarity for the father and son. If they did eventually give up hope, the father and son would be found and killed and most likely used as a food source for the people. Dylan also writes that, “In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell.” Although everyone left on the earth is in the same unyielding, some of the people, the “bad guys”, find survival by sacrificing the lives of others. This is similar to Bob Dylan’s line, “They’ll be no mercy for you once you’ve lost.” When all hope is gone, you’ve lost and the “bad guys” will take no mercy on you for they have tribulations of their own. Throughout their journey, both the father and son endure relentless suffering, whether it’s the strain from walking, tiredness from not sleeping, or the pangs of hunger from lack of food; “the suffering is unending.” Therefore, Dylan’s song, “Ain’t Talkin’”, is parallel to McCarthy’s The Road in the notion that they both portray dark, dreary situations in which it is hard to keep faith.

Jordan Penney

Justin said...

1. The ambiguous setting, characters, and plot give the book a rare duality. I do not care that there are no names of places and people but it gives it a mysterious feel. I think there should be names of people but I do like that there are no city names. We do not know where they are or what the date is but we try to figure it out by the surroundings like coke cans and such. I wish people had names so it was easier to identify them but it makes it fairly interesting.

Justin Bliss

Ryan Goodman said...

1) The way McCarthy leaves everything ambiguous makes the story much more intense and interesting. Since the characters past are a mystery you can insert your own past to the character making you more able to relate and actually feel for the character and their circumstances. The same applies to the event that caused this world and everything in it. They way McCarthy writes forces you have to think and that’s what makes his writing so interesting.
2) I have to say after reading the lyric of this Bob Dylan song they have little or nothing to do with McCarthy’s The Road. Beyond the fact that he’s singing about walking through a dark and weary world there is very little the song has to do with McCarthy’s book. Dylan does however uses extensive literary terms such as his use of imagerary.

Anonymous said...

The way McCarthy writes this novel makes it so good. He makes the characters, setting and everything that happens in the novel ambiguous. This way you never really find out the names of the characters or where exactly they are but thats what makes the whole novel. If the readers knew the name and everything else that the author leaves out then i think it would go into too much detail and it would not be the same. This makes the reader want to keep on reading to find out exactly what is happening and what the characters are trying to do.
Jen O'Brien

Anonymous said...

The poem, entitled “Kabul,” by Saib-e-Tabrizi shows how the author believes Kabul is so beautiful in its natural state. The fact that this poem contradicts how Kabul is portrayed in Hosseini’s novel makes Kabul a paradox.
“Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”
Saib-e- Tabrizi describes Kabul as one of the sightliest places on Earth, but in reality, Kabul is a very poor city which was recently destructed under the rule of the Taliban. I think Hosseini chose the title, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” because the women in Kabul were confined to their homes, and in the poem, the thousand splendid suns were described as being hidden behind Kabul’s walls.

John Cunniff

Anonymous said...

After reading the poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi one could say that Kabul itself is a paradox because there seems to be no “thousand splendid suns” hiding behind the city’s walls. A sun gives the illusion of light or hope, the good of the city versus evil. However, in the novel there is so much despair and tragedy that it is difficult to see that the “sun” will come out.

Mariam becomes hostile towards Laila only after she learns that Laila will marry Rasheed solely out of jealousy. Even though Rasheed is more than abusive to her, Rasheed (aside from Nana) is the only person that has ever cared for Mariam. She was always told that she was a harami and that she was unworthy of those around her. Once she sees that a new woman will enter Rasheed’s life, she is scared that she will be replaced and wanted by absolutely no one.

Lauren S.

Anonymous said...

1.) An ambiguously written book allows the reader to use their own imagination and fill in the blanks to the story, which makes the book very entertaining and fun to read. This ambiguous writing style most definitely adds to the reading experience. McCarthy was smart to make his novel so vague because it causes the reader to ask questions and analyze every detail, which most books don’t offer. It also forces the reader to interpret their very own dramatization of what the end of the world would look like and be like.

2.) Bob Dylan’s song “Ain’t Talkin” contains many parallels to the novel The Road. Dylan has a very unique style of poetry and writing making it difficult to interpret but from my understanding the song is about him just taking in the world one last time and just listening and watching, not saying a word. The song has some evidence that he is talking about the end of the world shown in this quote, “Ain't talkin', just walkin'
up the road around the bend Heart burnin', still yearnin' in the last outback, at the world's end.” The song is very powerful and has a very similar message and recurring theme as the Road. The overall theme is to appreciate the greater things in life and when they are threatened that anyone would do anything to cherish them and never lose them. In the Road the father is in jeopardy of losing his son and does everything and anything to survive and keep himself and his son alive. Dylan’s use of imagery is another similarity that the Road and the lyrics share. The Road is full of imagery; McCarthy describes the dilapidating buildings and desolate towns the boy and his father come across because he has to with his ambiguous writing style. I’m guessing this is why Dylan’s lyrics are so confusing. He also has a vague style of writing but uses a great deal of imagery to let the listener make of the song what they will.

~John Ricca

Nina said...

1. McCarthy’s ambiguity intrigues the reader, in my opinion. They are only given so much information, and they are left reading for more. It is phenomenal writing when the reader can relate to a character without knowing a specific time, place, or even their name. It shows that he wants the reader to focus on the important aspects of the novel such as the imagery and the emotion. I believe he does this because he is a no frills writer, and it is to prove that he does not need to showboat when it comes to his writing. Unlike other writers, in his opinion. This technique of writing will benefit the longevity of this book, in that it is not limited to a certain place or era. It will remain timeless.

2. The parallels between The Road By Cormac McCarthy and “Aint Talkin” by Bob Dylan are remarkable. Its almost as if Bob Dylan wrote the song after reading The Road. The song starts off with imagery, a tool McCarthy frequently uses in his writing. Also, Dylan describes the road he is traveling on throughout the song just as McCarthy writes about throughout the novel. These are some examples.
“Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burnin', still yearnin’ ” This is a relatable quote because it represents the ambiguous description of the post-apocalyptic world.

“Walking through the cities of the plague
Up the road around the bend
In the last outback, at the world's end” This also represents the setting of a post-apocalyptic world when Dylan talks about being in the last outback.

“Walkin' ever since the other night.
Walkin' ‘til I'm clean out of sight” This quote is relevant because the father and son are constantly walking towards a place where they are safe and ‘out of sight’.

“I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road” This quote reminds me of how the son still has wholesome values, even though organized religion does not exist anymore.

“They will jump on your misfortune when you're down” This quote is almost like Dylan is talking about the ‘bad guys’ along the road from the novel.