JEAN RHYS QUESTIONS
Assigned: Jean Rhys. Jean Rhys. "The Day They Burned the Books" (Norton Vol. F, 2356-61); "Let Them Call It Jazz" (2361-72).
1. Jean Rhys' short story "The Day They Burned the Books" has much to do with race and social class, but how does the fact that the story is told from the perspective of a child (even if at some distance from the events) affect the exploration of those things?
2. In Jean Rhys' "The Day They Burned the Books," a number of titles are mentioned from among the many the departed Mr. Sawyer had collected: choose two or three and consider what they add to a reader's understanding of the story's main events -- Froude's The English in the West Indies, Kipling's Kim, Christina Rossetti's poetry, etc.
3. In Jean Rhys' short story "Let Them Call It Jazz," what new ethos or perspective results from the narrator's experiences in a hostile and foreign place: London? How do her emotions and thoughts develop before her stint in prison, and how does the song she hears there serve as a catalyst for further changes in her perspective and her ability to deal with her situation?
4. Consider what eventually happens to the song Jean Rhys' narrator in "Let Them Call It Jazz" hears in prison. How does she respond to this eventual transformation? What does the song's transformation suggest about the social and other mechanisms that reinforce misunderstanding and mistreatment of people based on ethnicity and socio-economic status?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 2 (Vols. DEF) 0-393-92834-9.