Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Duong, week 1


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?