Reading questions for Oct 12, “Kan’nani”

6 Oct

I know I will forget to mention these in the frenzy of tomorrow, so here are a couple of things to think of as you are reading:

1) what is useful or emotionally interesting about telling the story of a young girl, Kan’nani, through the point of view of a young boy, Ryūji, as he grows up? How does the narrator establish our point of view on the story by making the character through whom the story is focalized (=through whose eyes we see, thanks to the narrator) young(ish) and a foreigner? Does this technique amplify or ironize Ryūji’s loss of innocence as he grows up?

2) there are some graphic scenes of colonial violence and sexual violence in the middle of this coming-of-age story.In what kind of micro-social or micro-political situations do we see the colonial relationsip between Japan and Korea played out?

3) what do songs do in the story? If you know the song “Arirang,” why would it play an important role in the story (which takes place on the eve of the Korean independence movement)?

Here is an interesting and quite informative podcast by a musicologist, Taylor Atkins, titled, “The Case of Arirang: How the Anthem of Korean Resistance Became a Japanese Pop Hit” –you’ll have to download it and play it on an mp3 player…

4) Food: the scene during the flood, with the melons, is pretty wrenching. How does Ryūji’s (mis)understanding of that scene stand in for his dilemma in the story as a whole?

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