Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reading Period 4: September 29 - October 5: Vietnam / Cambodia / Laos

Class meeting: October 5
Due date: October 4, 7pm

Long Read:

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Books 7-8.

Short Read:

"Xiang Miang Outwits the King": a Lao Folk Tale.

Read the story here, then watch this video of a Laotian man telling the story. The words aren't exactly the same, but here you can hear the language.


"Song of Napalm" by Bruce Weigl

For other poetry by Vietnam war veterans see this page.

"What Were They Like?" by Denise Levertov

Creative Assignment:

Illustrate the spring onion parable, from book 7, chapter 4. You can do it as a comic, or as just one image, or a series of images, or however you like. You can make it funny, horrific, or instructive.


Buddhism is the dominant religion in Laos. Create an illustration Pha That Luang, the golden Buddhist temple in Vientiane, Laos. Use unlined paper and colored markers, pencils or crayons to make your artwork.


Write a letter to Grushenka. Pretend you are a conservative, critical old aunt and you have heard of the doings at Mokroye and are furious with her. Preach to her, reprimand her, advise her, and lecture her. Use specific details from the novel to point out her mistakes,

Writing Assignment:

Having read the two poems assigned for this week, ask yourself this question: Can anyone write a war protest poem? Or do you have to have fought in the war to protest against it? The first of the poems was written by a veteran, and the other one was written by someone who lived through the war but did not fight. Knowing what you know about the authors, does it affect the way you read the poetry? Do you feel the one written by a veteran has more weight, more authenticity? Write 300 words where you discuss the role of the author's biography in your interpretation of a poem, in the context of these two war poems.

Read this page, about the temples at Angkor, including the central temple of Angkor Wat and the temple of Ta Prohm. The temple of Ta Prohm has been allowed to deteriorate as a result of trees breaking up the stones and walls. The central temple of Angkor Wat has been lovingly and expensively restored. Check out some more pictures of Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. Now pretend you are writing a letter to a rich donor to archeological and historical sites. Make your case that the target of your letter should donate money to preserving one of these temples. In your letter, argue that it's better to clean up and restore the temple to its original state OR argue that it's better to protect and preseve the temple as it falls into natural decay.


Book 7
1. What is strange and disappointing about Father Zosima's corpse?
2. Who says, "I did believe, I do believe, and I want to believe and I shall believe"?
3. What is the rumor about how Grushenka came to be in a state of poverty before she was rescued by Kusma Kusmich Samsonov and set up to live at Mrs. Morozova's?
4. Who speaks to Alyosha in his dream?

Mitya and Grushenka living it up in Mokroye
Book 8
1. a. Why does Mitya feel he must return the 3000 rubles to Katerina Ivanovna?
    b. Who does Mitya first approach, to get the money?
    c. Who does this first person send him on to ask?
2. Why does Mitya have so much trouble getting Lurcher to negotiate with him?
3. Who does Mitya ask for money next, and what is that person's suggestion for him?
4. a. When Mitya sees his father sticking his head out the window, who is his father calling for?
    b. What state is Grigory in when Mitya leaves him?
    c. Where has Grushenka gone?
5. What two things does Pyotr Ilyich find surprising about Mitya's appearance?
6.  What five people are staying at the inn when Mitya arrives?
7. a. Exactly how much money does Mitya offer the Polish gentleman in exchange for him leaving.
    b. How does Grushenka now feel about the Polish gentlemen she ran away with?
8. When Mitya says "The old man's blood! I understand!" what old man does he mean? And what old man does the police chief think he means?

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