Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Reading Period 8: October 27 - November 2: China

Long Read: 

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, chapters 1-8

Short Read: 

The Analects of Confucius, Book 1.

Poetry:

The Tao Te Ching, chapters 1-37

Note: We will spend a considerable amount of class time in discussing Taoism and Confucianism, and it will be enormously helpful if you read a bit of both of these texts.

Creative Assignment: 

Consider the significance of the color red in the novel -- in Wang Lung's celebrations of his first son's birth, for example. Read this article about the meaning of color in Chinese culture. Now write a poem which features colors. You can write about an idea or image or event, using color to help you describe your theme, or you can write about a color itself. You can interpret a color according to the traditional Chinese symbolism or in your own way.

OR

Wang Lung makes two trips to the House of Huang -- the first when he meets Olan, and the second when he returns to show off his son. Create two illustrations to reflect the differences in those two trips. How has his identity changed? How have the visuals changed? How has his posture and attitude changed?

Writing Assignment:

Research and write a short essay (300 words) about Pearl S. Buck's life. Focus on the elements that qualify her to write about China, and include in your essay an assessment of whether or not her interpretation of Chinese culture could be authentic and believable, even though she is not Chinese. This article is a good place to start, and has many links to other resources. Make sure you cite any site you use for information.

OR

Based only on evidence from the novel, write a short essay (300 words) describing women's role in rural Chinese society in the early 20th century (around 1910.) Make sure you cite specific examples from the story to illustrate your points. What do women do? What is their value? Where do they have power and where are they powerless? Based on the novel, what rights do you think they had? Who was in control of them?

Quiz:

The quiz is over The Good Earth, chapters 1-8.

1. What important change has happened in Wang Lung's life between the time he wakes up at the beginning of chapter 1 and the time he goes to bed?
2. What is one small change in chapter 2 that is a result of the big change in chapter 1?
3. Give an example of one Chinese custom in chapter 1 that seems odd to you. For example: Wang Lung's wife walking behind him.
4. Give an example of one Chinese custom that seems normal and familiar to you. For example: Wang Lung insulting the food while secretly thinking it's great.
5. Who is working harder on the farm -- Wang Lung or the woman?
6. What plan for the future does the woman reveal in chapter 3?
7. What are the causes of Wang Lung's bountiful harvest?
8. What are the causes of Wang Lung's uncle's pitiful harvest?
9. What did Olan take as a gift for the mistress of the House of Huang?
10. What are the causes of the Huang's financial troubles?
11. What causes does Wang Lung's uncle blame for the uncle's poverty in chapter 7?
12. The family calls the firstborn son a "man." What do they call the girl child?
13. Who slaughtered the ox, and why?
14. Why was Wang Lung not sorry that he had bought land with his silver, even though now they are starving?


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