The Gangster We Are All Looking For

Study/Quiz questions

For Tues. be prepared to write on question 1. For Thurs. you may choose any of the study questions to write on: your choice.

1. The word for water, in Vietnamese, is the same as that for nation, country and homeland as noted in an epigraph to the book. References to water abound in Gangster. Pick one significant use of water and discuss its importance to the novel.

2. The narrator of the novel is never named. How do names, and lack of names, shape the novel?

3. When the family is evicted from their apartment they accidentally leave a photograph behind. What is the significance of the photograph? How does it relate to other references to photographs we have encountered in our readings? To Hirsch's idea of post-memory?

4. The narrator comments "I don't know how time moves or which of our sorrows or our desires it is able to wash away" (154). Is time able to heal this family's sorrows? How does the idea of time "washing" something away work with other themes and symbolism in the novel?

5. Take a look at the paragraph about war on page 87. What is the role of war in this novel? What does the narrator mean when she says "War has no beginning and no end. It crosses oceans like a splintered boat filled with people singing a sad song" ?

6. What is the relationship of the narrator to her brother? To her parents? Can you formulate an interpretation of the novel as a novel of family?