Last Writing Assignment:

Last Writing Assignment:

 A Study Sheet on The Gangster We Are All Looking For

Due: Wednesday, December 9, at 11:59 PM    

This assignment asks you to create a one or two page, single-spaced study sheet likethe ones I have made for this class. Use bullet points and include a mix of relevant quotations with page numbers and your own analysis. At the bottom, list three analytical questions: an analytical question usually asks “How?” or “Why?” rather than “What?” You do NOT need to answer the questions you pose; I will use them to put together the final exam.

Choose ONE of the themes or topics below. Center your title to make it clear for readers: Sponsorship in The Gangster We Are All Looking For, for example. You may work with one or two other people, but put the author’s initials after each bullet point item he or she composed. Make sure each person includes some analysis as well as relevant quotations. You don’t have to answer all of the questions in the prompts, but please answer most of them. SafeAssign will be on, so please don’t consult any outside sources. You won’t be able to see the other responses until you post your own. This assignment is worth 10% of your final grade, and you will post it on a Discussion Board just because it’s the most accessible format. This assignment is NOT graded like a Discussion Board. If you’re working with another person or persons, please post the study sheet under each of your names: you won’t be flagged for plagiarism. Respond to a question at the bottom of another person’s or group’s sheet, typing out the question you’re addressing, and I’ll add up to five points to your grade.

Sponsorship. Boat People had to acquire sponsorship before moving to the United States. The father and daughter, along with the four uncles, are sponsored by the Russells, another family in mourning. What are the dynamics in this family? How can the history of this family be pieced together by details such as the mother’s weekend trips into the snowy mountains. Analyze Mr. Russell’s dream about the birds. What does the girl’s attempt to free the butterfly from the glass orb say about her emotional life during this early phase of immigration?

Americanization.How does the narrator assimilate to American culture and learn American English? Do she and her parents have any challenges?A persistent theme of the literature of immigration is that children act as parents since they serve as translators for parents who don’t know the language of the adopted country. To what degree does this description match the narrator’s situation? When covering the literacy process, note what word gets repeated. Also, treat the anecdote with the Mexican baker, when Ba and the narrator watch another recent immigrant’s process of language learning. How do the family members stay connected to Vietnamese and, more generally, to Asian culture?

Mourning and Death. The brother’s drowning is only explicitly discussed at the end of the novel: why? How is the boy mourned in Vietnam? How is he mourned or not mourned in the United States? One possibility is that the female narrator compensates for the brother’s loss by becoming him: in what ways does this psychological phenomenon in the narrator’s childhood ? Make sure to cover her breakdown while she’s carrying the bag of ice and also the author’s note on 159-160.

Sexuality and GenderIdentity. (Note on the terms: sexuality would involve an erotic interest in a partner or partners, whereas gender identity is whether a person identifies as a man, woman or non-binary). How does the narrator explore her sexuality with the other children at the Green apartments, and what issues does she confront? A standard trope of immigrant literature is the lack of privacy and the way crowded housing conditions affect intimacy: what sexual problems do Ma and Ba have, and how does the narrator’s exposure to their conflicts affect her? Why does the narrator never provide her name?  How does the loss of the brother affect the girl’s gender identity? In responding to this question, please treat the author’s note on pages 159-160.

The War and Trauma. This novel focuses on the refugee experience of the children whose parents fought in the war, yet the military conflict still erupts into the narrative. How does Vietnam’s civil war appear in flashbacks as well as in Ba’s and Ma’s behavior?  How are the couple’s marital disputes related to the war they supposedly left behind? Make sure to cover Ba’s alcoholism and his obsession with his hands.

Images of Water. This more literary topic asks about the most common motif or pattern of images in this novel. What are the sources of the novelist’s repeated references to water and the ocean? In other words, why do you think she chose this motif? What are the negative valences of water? The positive ones? And how do the three main characters differ in their attitudes toward this element? Make sure you cover the concluding image and explain why Thuy describes the narrator as running “like a dog unleashed” (158) toward the water while her parents lean into each other on the beach.

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