These questions should be reviewed before reading the material,
as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
The beginning of a novel sets the tone for both the novel
and the reader's expectations. Explain what tone the "soup"
story sets for the novel and the reader. How does this affect
your expectations for the rest of the work?
Explain the significance of the skeleton that Quan finds.
What effect does it have on him? What does it mean symbolically
to the reader? In answering this question, take into account
the entire situation that the skeleton is found in, not just
that it's a skeleton.
Quan encounters many different people on his journey to rescue
Bien. Each one indicates an effect that the war has had on the
general population. Explain the effects being shown by any two
of these encounters.
Is Bien faking his mental illness? Explain as best as you
can, using evidence from the novel. Either way, explain why you
think he would act the way he acts. What does he have to gain?
What would cause him to act this way?
We learn about Quan's home life and the relationship between
his father and mother. What is the significance of this? Why
does a novel about the effects of war focus on domestic situations
like this? How does Quan's views of his father and mother affect
him years later? Answer as well as you can with the evidence
that you've been given in the novel.
Quan makes it back to his home village after 15 years. Based
on the evidence in the novel, how has it changed? How has he
changed? What effect has the war had?