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Choose one of the following topics and compose a 500 word response. Do not respond to each bullet as though it is a separate question that you are responsible for answering. Each bullet is an individual topic, and while it may be possible to combine some of them with each other, you should only do so if you can discuss them in combination with each other meaningfully.
You are not required to respond to every question listed for a given bullet point. For instance, if you choose to write about how the vignettes function generally within the context of the novel, you need to compose a thoughtful, focused, fully developed response to that topic, but you don’t necessarily need to respond to each individual question listed as part of that bullet.
Thinking about narrative structure: Hamid’s novel is hyper-focused on Nadia and Saeed and their relationship, but structurally the novel also incorporates a series of short scenes that take place contemporaneous with (in other words, at the same time as) the primary narrative, but completely outside of the narrative.
Perform a close reading of one of the vignettes. What sort of tone does it utilize? How is it situated in the chapter where it appears? What sort of function does it serve within the chapter, or within the narrative more generally? How is the vignette itself structured? Are there important symbols or ideas that are introduced? Or…
Analyze the way that the vignettes function generally throughout the novel. How do they relate to and build upon each other? What is their relationship to the main narrative? What themes and ideas from the main narrative do they build on or force us to reevaluate from a different perspective? Or…
Only two chapters within the novel do not incorporate a vignette. One is the very short final chapter of the novel, the other is Chapter 4, which focuses heavily on the experience of war in Nadia and Saeed’s home. Why does Chapter 4 not feature one of these vignettes? And how does this help to differentiate the chapter from the others in the novel?
Thinking about symbolism:
The most prominent and obvious symbol in the novel is the doors. Identify another symbol from the novel and explore what it means and how it functions in the novel.
Thinking about character:
We spend a lot of time with Saeed and Nadia over the course of the novel. Conduct a careful, focused character study in which you explore one of the main characters and the characteristics that inform their identity. What actions help us understand the character? And what do those actions mean?
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