- How does Achebe characterize the District Commissioner and the colonial government? Be sure to include plenty of evidence from the text.
- Explain the significance of the last paragraph in the book
Category Archives: Discussions
- Focus on comparing/contrasting Okonkwo’s entrance into Mbanta with his exit.
- Explain why Okonkwo is disappointed by his return to Umuofia
- Contrast Mr. Brown and Rev. Smith
- Explain how the missionaries gain a foothold in Umuofia
- Contrast Obierika’s second visit to Mbanta to his first.
- Explain the difficulties the white missionaries faced in trying to establish themselves in Mbanta
- In these chapters, what group is privileged? Who are “others”? Explain how you know using specific evidence from the text.
- What do you predict will happen to Okonkwo as a result of the tragedy he suffers in chapter 13? Be sure to include reasons for your predictions.
- How does Okonkwo show signs of grief in chapter 14? How does his uncle try to help him deal with his grief?
- The white missionaries are first mentioned in chapter 15. How does Obierika characterize the missionaries?
- How does Achebe further develop the character of Okonkwo in these chapters?
- How are the relationships between men and women portrayed in these chapters? Does this conflict with earlier representations in the novel?
- What aspects of marriage are highlighted in this section of the novel? Do you agree or disagree with the way marriages are formed in this society? Give specific details from the text to support your opinion
- Using specific details from the text, explain how Achebe displays the role of women in Ibo society.
- Explain how Achebe develops Okonkwo’s character in these chapters. What motivates this character? What causes both external and internal conflicts for Okonkwo? How does Okonkwo deal with these conflicts?
- How are the relationships of parents and children developed in these chapters? This is a key theme of the entire work so keep an eye out during the remainder of the novel.
- Focus on the development of Okonkwo’s character and how he fits into his society.
- Highlight the interactions between Okonkwo and his father.
- How are they similar? Different? What might cause these differences?
This cartoon was published in response to Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” (1899)
Thoughts to consider for a response (apply post-colonialism to this!):
- What is the cartoon about? What groups are represented? How are they portrayed (give specific details to support your thoughts)?
- Who is given privilege? Who are the others? Give details to support your thoughts.
- Is there any way we can privilege the “other” groups? What does this do to your understanding of the cartoon? Explain a deeper understanding/new understanding of the cartoon in light of our discussion.
Read and discuss the National Geographic article “Fighting for the Survival of Uncontacted Tribes”
- What two points of view are presented in this text?
- What point of view does the author side with? Give specific examples from the text to explain how you know this.
- Which point of view do you side with? Give reasoning to support your opinion
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1. Few of Huxley’s predictions have proven to be perfectly accurate, yet many aspects of the Utopia of Brave New World feel uncomfortably like our world. Talk about the book as a prophetic vision of the future. Which aspects of the book did you find most disturbing? Which hit closest to home? Which seem the most far-fetched?
2. When Brave New World was first published in 1932, the world was plunged in depression, fascism was on the rise in Western Europe, and Marxism appealed to increasing numbers of intellectuals in Europe and America. Place the book in the context of its historical moment. Which parts transcend its time and place?
3. The two greatest obscenities in the society of Brave New World are birth and mother. Why?
4. Toward the end of the book, the Controller Mustapha Mond sums up the benefits of living in the “brave new world” Utopia: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.” It sounds like perfection, and yet the world Mond describes is deeply, intentionally horrifying. Why? What exactly is so bad about this society of the future? Is there anything good about it, anything we could learn from and try to adapt to our own uses?
5. As dehumanizing and oppressive as the brave new world Utopia is, the alternative in the “savage reserve” is in many ways worse – dirty, violent, unhealthy, cruel, uncomfortable. What point is Huxley making about human nature and the nature of human communities? Is his vision totally negative – or does the book hold out some shred of hope, some alternative mode that fosters both freedom and community?
6. One of the most striking – and comic – aspects of Huxley’s Utopia is the way our sexual mores and assumptions have been turned on their head: monogamy is bad, passion is deviation, casual, meaningless sex is the socially approved norm. What is Huxley getting at here? Is there any expression of human sexuality that he finds acceptable? Is sex at the heart of the “problem” in his view of human nature?
7. Talk about the morality of the book. Is it a Christian morality? Socialist? Anarchist?
8. In many ways, the main characters of the book are cartoon figures – Helmholtz Watson the alienated superman, Bernard Marx the cowardly, hypocritical intellectual, Mustapha Mond the cynical all-knowing leader, John the doomed idealistic. Discuss the book as an allegory and elaborate on what each character stands for.
9. When John first starts reading Shakespeare, he discovers that the words make his emotions “more real” – they even make other people more real. Talk about the power of language in the book, the power of the word to influence thought and behavior. Why did Huxley choose Shakespeare as the medium of John’s intellectual awakening?
10. Huxley wrote many other books, yet this is his most popular and most enduring. What is it about this book that has captured our imaginations for so long? Are there aspects of it that seem dated?
11. Talk about Huxley’s use of narrator. Does the fact that Huxley’s vision was impaired for part of his life have any bearing on the way he narrates the story and sets the scenes?
12. Could anything like Brave New World really happen? Has it happened in some form that we don’t fully recognize?