- The power of choice.
- The effects of choice.
- The limits of choice.
“I Speak of the City” and “Central Park,” by Octavio Paz
“The Garden of Forking Paths,” by Jorge Luis Borges
“Walking Around,” by Pablo Neruda
“Death Constant Beyond Love,” by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
“And of Clay Are We Created,” by Isabel Allende
This week we take a break from realism and naturalism, venturing into “magical realism”, or fantasy which uses fantastical ideas and strange imagery to better illuminate the point of the story.
Prior to beginning class, pass out the attached HANDOUT – SUMMARY to help students become more acquainted with the material and to help communicate the general idea.
Were playing a game this week. The purpose of playing the game is to help drive home the theme of choice, moral choice in particular. Since the boardgame (Choice) contains a discussion component, use the discussion components to prompt discussion of choice within the chosen works of literature. As your class moves through the discussion, remember to continuously point back to specific examples within the text of the chosen readings, such as the example of the hard choice Dr Tsun made between murdering his friend and saving the larger group of people by exposing the location of an arms warehouse.
Game Information & Literary Summary
The board game is self titled: Choice
A values-oriented, moral dilemma game of discussion; evaluation of challenges that individual encounters from childhood to old age. The situations; questions appear on cards which display various choices the player can make. Players can create their own responses and more situations to enter into the game. Any group that gathers for some learning about a living will find this game a useful tool to stimulate values discussion in a non-competitive framework.
Instruct students to discuss specific challenges they were faced with this week, as these personal challenges are similar to challenges found in the storyline of readings this week. For example, I have a friend who sometimes makes poor life choices, and it can be difficult to trust him because I don’t know when I can believe him. This mistrust places a strain on our relationship and that can have a negative impact on our circle of influence. Similarly, people like politicians and other people in power can often be hard people to trust. This same distrust can fracture societies and make societies struggle for stability.
Encourage students to discuss possible solutions to the various problems discussed.
Ask students to prepare a 250-500 word written analysis/observation of how Magical Realism enhances literature.
HANDOUT – SUMMARY
This work reminds me a bit of a caricature in art. The exaggeration of the piece is used to illustrate a certain point.
In Borge’s short story, The Garden of Forking Paths, Dr. Tsun make a hard choice, the ultimate choice. Some may argue that his choice was avoidable, some may call him a genius, others – a murderer! In a last-minute decision to kill his friend Albert in an effort to expose the location of hidden artillery of the enemy, Tsun seals his own fate: death by hanging.
Allende’sAnd of Clay We Are Created, I had a difficult time identifying the choice, UNTIL reading some literary blogs online. I’m not sure how accurate it was, but the fact that the blog writer’s analysis parallels the purpose of this DQ (choice) – leading me to believe that perhaps the blog is partially accurate. The author of this blog or discussion group’s theory was that the government / or the person(s) owning the helicopter chose to use the resource of the helicopter to further their media-driven agenda, instead of using it to help save the little girl. For example, while the helicopter could’ve been used to bring in a pump, to extract the water and mud, instead, it was used to help capture footage of the disaster.
We learn, by simply reading this discussion question, that realism is used to illuminate “what things actually are” in literature, and magical realism helps us gain an even deeper understanding. Where fantasy and imagery are used much like metaphor, to illustrate more vividly the author’s message. In the case of Garcia-Marquez, and the following passage:
“There was apattern to his circus .As he spoke his aides threw clusters of paper birds into the air and theartificial creatures took on life ,flew about the platform of planks ,and went out to sea . “
Garcia uses fantasy/ magic/metaphor to describe the ridiculousness which is politics. “There was a pattern to his circus”, compares the political candidate’s entourage or his campaign caravan to a circus. Much like the real circus, political candidates parade through various small towns to make an appearance and to captivate and win support by throwing “clusters of paper birds into the air” which, in my opinion, illustrate the “air” or the proverbial “snake oil” the politician is selling.
“I speak of garbage heaps the size of mountains, and of melancholy sunlight filtered by the smog,
Of broken glass and the desert of scrap iron, of last night’s crime, and of the banquet of the immortal Trimalchio.
Of the moon in the television antennas, and a butterfly on a filthy jar.”