Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Reading Period 10: November 17-23: Saudi Arabia

Class meeting: November 23
Due date: November 22, 7pm

Long Read:

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, chapters 17-25

Short Read:

"The History of Ali Baba and of the Forty Robbers Killed By One Slave" from Arabian Nights Entertainments. (You'll have to click through to get to the table of contents and find the story.)


Excerpt from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald

Creative Assignment:

Practice the fine art of summary! After reading the story of Ali Baba, create a 300 word version of it. Not a 200 word version, and not a 400 word version, but a 300 word version exactly.


Practice the fine art of paraphrase! After reading the excerpt from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, create a prose version of this section of the poem.


Practice the fine art of illustration! Create an illustration of the tea-shop Wang Lung visits. You could do your version of the pictures on the walls, or what the tea room would have looked like, or the outside of the building. (Side note: Do you think these people know that the "tea room" in The Good Earth was actually a house of prostitution?

Writing Assignment:

Wang Lung's uncle's wife says, "It is only the poor man who must needs drink from one cup." Traditionally, having many wives was considered a sign of wealth and success. Read this Wikipedia entry about the history of concubinage in many different cultures. Nowadays, polygamists are becoming more public in American culture, as some are featured on reality TV shows like "Sister Wives" and "Big Love" and "My Five Wives." We find ourselves as a culture asking the question: Is polygamy or concubinage wrong and oppressive to women, or is it okay for consenting adults to marry or live with whomever they want? Write 300 words giving your opinion. In an opinion essay, you must actually give an opinion. Don't say "There are many ways to look at this, and all sides have merit." Actually pick a side.


How does Wang Lung become like the old Lord in the House of Huang? Give specific details from the text. In some ways Wang Lung gets everything he ever dreamed of, and yet in some ways his life becomes more miserable than it was in the opening chapters. Or does wealth and ease override personal misery? Do you think that wealth and success has ruined Wang Lung or has it improved him? Write 300 words giving your opinion. In an opinion essay, you must actually give an opinion. Don't say "There are many ways to look at this, and all sides have merit." Actually pick a side.


Your full 2000-word draft is due to me on Sunday, November 22, at 7pm. You must submit it in email or as a shared Google document. You must also bring two paper copies to class on Monday, November 23 at 10:30am. One is for me to mark up, and one is to exchange with your peer editing partner. Failure to bring these hard copies will mean you lose points on your first draft and you lose points on your peer editing.


1. Wang Lung has land and money, but what still shames him?
2. Why do the neighbors think the old man in the small school by the city gates is a good teacher?
3. What did the boys not have before they went to school that they now have?
4. What was the cause of Wang Lung looking at O Lan as a dull and common creature for the first time?
5. At the new tea-shop, what does Wang Lung find out about the women in the pictures on the walls?
6. How does Wang Lung change himself for Lotus?
7. What is O Lan's reaction to the Uncle's family moving in?
8. Who in the household figures out what Wang Lung is up to at the tea-shop?
9. How does Wang Lung prepare his house for Lotus?
10. What criticism does Wang Lung's Uncle's wife have of Lotus when she arrives?
11. How do Cuckoo and O Lan know each other from years ago?
12. Who calls Lotus a harlot?
13. When Wang Lung's older daughter, who they call "the fool" went into Lotus' courtyard, Lotus got angry. What is Wang Lung's reaction?
14. What changes for Wang Lung when he goes back to work in the fields?
15. Why does Wang Lung's son become melancholy, when he never was before?
16. What causes Wang Lung to try and throw his Uncle out of the house?
17. What does Wang Lung discover in his Uncle's coat, and what does it mean?
18. What "enemies from the skies" does Wang Lung want to fight?
19. What does Wang Lung discover in the inner courtyard when he comes home early?
20. O Lan complained of a fire in her vitals. What was it?

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