This week’s readings have a common theme of connection – connecting to people as well as physical things. How do the characters connect to the people and objects around them? Do any show extreme disconnect? Why is connection important for people? How do you connect to the people around you, or to the physical objects in your life?
Part I: Walker’s “Everyday Use” examines a generation clash within a family. What does Dee (Wangero) mean when she implies that her mother and sister “don’t understand” their “heritage”? Why do you think this has suddenly become important to Dee? How is your past important to you? Are there any family heirlooms you feel a connection to?
Part II: O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato focuses on the experience of Paul Berlin during the Vietnam War. This section, “Night March” depicts Paul’s first day. What is significant about how this chapter is structured – is it completely linear? What purpose do Paul’s day dreams serve? Why does Paul attempt to keep himself distant from the other men? What does Cacciato mean when he tells Paul, “You’ll do fine… You got a terrific sense of humor”? How is humor important?
Part III: Beattie’s “Janus” examines man’s relation to the physical things around them. What is Andrea’s relationship with the bowl? How does it compare to her relationships to the men in her life? Though written in 1986, how does this story speak to our modern sense of materialism?
Part IV: Cisnero’s “Woman Howling Creek” follows a woman during her marriage. How is the title significant? What is the significance of Cleofilas remembering her father and childhood at the beginning of the story? How do Cleofilas and Felice differ?