Monday, March 31, 2014

Discussion Leader chapter 12-14 book 2

1) In chapter one we learn a lot more about Mary Hepburn, additionally there are some flashbacks involving Mary's past. Who is she, and what is the importance of her character? Additionally why was the author writing about Marys flashbacks, what does it symbolize?

2) Why was Roy looking for ivory-billed woodpeckers? and where was he searching?

3) What does James and Mary's love symbolize? It it realley true love, or do you think there may be a chance James is mentally unstable or confused?

connector- chapters 12-14 book II

On pages 293-295 in this section, Trout talks about the war, and how he had dealt, mentally, with those things. When feeling no remorse, he sought asylum in Sweden.
   This section made me think of how sometimes we hear on the news about how a team of soldiers in another country killed  a large group of innocent people. Trout talks about how he was supposed to keep a secret, that his platoon had killed 59 women, and it made me think about how I've heard (supposedly) about that happening among our army as well.

Passage Discussion: Ch. 12-14

"Do people still know that they are going to die sooner or later? No. Fortunately, in my humble opinion, they have forgotten that?" (Ch. 14)

The idea of not knowing of one's eventual demise is extremely intriguing to me. How different do you think we would live our lives if we were unaware that consciousness would not go on forever? Do you think anything would change? Would we live life more adventurously or humbly? Consider these questions as if nothing else about the human condition is altered: we are the exact same except lacking in the knowledge of our mortality. How would that impact individuals or societies, if at all?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Summary: Chapters 12-14

     In the final chapters of Galapagos, Leon Trout ponders how Mary and Captain von Kleist's relationship might have been rekindled, reveals that that is to become of the story's remaining protagonists and recounts the manner in which he came to Sweden following his service in the Vietnam War.
     In the story's twelfth chapter, Trout discloses the names of the six Kanka-bono women: Sinka, Lor, Lira, Dirno, Nanno and Keel. It is later in this chapter that an aged Mary Hepburn, eighty years old for the sake of minutiae, visits the Captain, who is now afflicted by Alzheimer's disease and whom Akiko has nursed for the last several years.
     Upon Akiko's departure to see to her four year old son, the derailed Captain seizes Mandarax from Mary's old hands and proceeds to chuck it onto the slope of the island's shoal. In Mary's effort to retrieve her prized possession, she and Mandarax are eaten by a great white shark.
     In his months subsequent the Vietnam War, Trout was sent to Bangkok, Thailand for "Rest and Recreation", where he came upon a private physician, a fan of his father's science-fiction, much to Leon's dismay, who urged him to seek treatment for his syphilis in Sweden.

Late: Passage Discussion: Chapters 5-11 (Book Two)

1.     "Mary could make Akiko laugh about the ridiculous love affair, if you could call it that, she had had with a widower named Robert Wojciehowitz..He drove up to her house while she was mowing the lawn. He made her shut off the mower, and then he blurted out a marriage proposal..Mary would describe his car to Akiko, and make Akiko laugh about it.." (Pg. 240, Lines 1-20)

2.     "He said snarlingly, "I am not a man. I am simply not a man. I will of course never bother you again. I will never bother any woman ever again." (Pg. 242, Lines 25-27)

      It was much to my surprise to read of Mary Hepburn's seemingly callous behavior toward her coworker, Robert Wojciehowitz. Mary was likely to have been overwrought after the death of her husband, though her loss does not serve to justify her lack of empathy in her dealings with Mr. Wojciehowitz. I feel that we've an obligation to juxtapose Mary's interactions with Wojciehowitz, a man who was deeply afflicted by her rejection, as is illustrated especially well in the second excerpt, with her compassion for James Wait, or 'Willard Fleming', a nefarious charlatan.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Word Master: chapters 12-14 book 2 (the end)

Guten morgen...Wie geht's es Ihnen: German for "Good morning, how are you?"

mootsubject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.

enumerated: mention (a number of things) one by one

shoal: linear landform completely within or extending into a body of water

lugubriously: looking or sounding sad and dismal

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Summary: Chapters 5-11 Book Two

The characters are still sailing in open ocean on the Bahia de Darwin. After persistently asking, Mary Hepburn agrees to marry "Willard Flemming"right there on the ship. Flemming dies shortly after, and the Kanka-bono girls kill and eat Kazakh the dog. In chapter 7, the narrator, Leon Trout, sees the blue tunnel to the Afterlife and has a conversation with his dad. Leon decides to stay on Earth as a ghost for another one million years. 
The ship finally finds the island of Santa Rosalia in a Galapagos archipelago. The characters find plenty of iguanas, boobies, and crabs to eat, but when they went to leave and sail back to South America, they found that the engines would not start. Much time passes by, and Mary Hepburn's curiosity leads her to artificially inseminate the young Kanko-bono women with the Captain's sperm. All of the women become pregnant without the knowledge of the Captain. In chapter 11, the Captain finally finds out that the Kanka-bonos are pregnant with his children. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Connector: Chapters 36-4 (Book Two)

     In the fourth chapter of Book Two: And the Thing Became, Leon Trout weighs the casualties of war with regard to depopulation. Trout recounts, "Even at the end of protracted wars, there still seemed to be plenty of people around. Babies were always so plentiful that serious efforts to reduce the population by means of violence were doomed to failure" (Pg. 233). This sentiment carries the reader toward an idea that most morally sound persons would likely deem unpalatable, that that the great sum of lives claimed to war is relatively insignificant within the context of global population. This portion of the story directs my thoughts, specifically, toward Holocaust denial. There are a great many persons who assert that the Holocaust never took place and thereupon deny the deaths of approximately six million Jews, a figure which they often christen 'exaggerated' and 'unfeasible'. It remains rather jarring to me that because our wars have yet to leave us in a lowly state of population, one that resembles the setting of Mad Max (1979) and features small nomadic groups, there remain those who challenge the plausibility of casualties of the Holocaust's magnitude.

Additional information:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Discussion Leader: Ch. 36- Book 2 Ch. 4

1. What do you think is the purpose of the Mary/Roy flashback? What does it give to the reader?

2. "It was humanity's ability to heal so quickly, by means of babies, which encouraged so many people to think of explosions as show business, as highly theatrical forms of self-expression, and little more." What do you think of this quote? Do you agree? What are the dangers of not truly evaluating consequences, and how is today's society affected?

3. Based on everything our narrator has said so far, why do you think he has opted to be a ghost rather than slip into the afterlife? What's holding him back? Why do you think he's telling this story?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Passages: ch 36-42

And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around on a beach, and one of them farts, everybody else laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago." (Pg. 223, L. 14-19)

          I found this excerpt a little humorous, and I liked the way Vonnegut maintains this positive human ability in his "smaller brained" humans. I did not imagine the new human race to hold on to a human attribute like laughter and a sense of humor, so I thought this passage was interesting.

2) "Mainly, though it was an ineffectual assault on the very bottom of the food chain, the billions upon billions of microorganisms who...comprised the muck of the marsh. The explosion didn't bother them much, since they weren't all that sensitive to sudden starts and stops. They could have never have committed suicide in the manner as *Siegfried von Kleist...with a sudden stop." (Pg. 234, L. 4-12)

          This passage caught my attention mainly because of the last line. It is an interesting thought that lower organisms would not and could not commit suicide. It is in the nature of all living things to survive at all costs, and it is fascinating that humans can have the ability to overcome this deeply innate wiring. Do you believe the idea of suicide could have existed in early humans, or was an idea that developed as societies grew larger and people were under "unnatural" stresses?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Summarizer Chapters 29-35

   In these chapters, things get pretty interesting. Mary Hepburn tries to kills herself via suffocation, only to stop because of a hallucination of turtles stuck on their back. We discover that soon enough, a disease will cause the eggs in women's bodies to die, with exception to those who are on Galapagos. Close to death, Mary decides to take the bag off of her head and heads down to the bar, where James Wait is feeding the orphan children. Here we learn that James Wait is not only a manipulator of women, but also a murderer, and we are told the story of the murder he committed.
   Siegfried vin Kleist is beginning to become more insane because of the disease he has, Huntington's chorea, and Mary and James do not know that MacIntosh and Zenji have been shot, yet. Siegfried gives Wait the Mandarax. While Wait and Mary talk down in the bar, Wait begins to work his man-whore powers on Mary, and we learn that both he and Siegfried are soon going to die.
   Everyone from the hotel pile into a bus headed for the airport, and the six little cute Kanka-bono girls eat Kazakh, Selena MacIntosh's dog. The bus ride is dangerous and scary, and everyone on the bus is freaking out and trying to protect one another- even though Siegfried is obviously not fit to be driving or even really functioning with anyone, he decides to take this opportunity to drive anyways.
   People would have evolved differently if all of the celebrities had stayed on the cruise, and lots of lobsters have evolved just like humans and live in society just like them (according to a story made up by Adolf). Humans someday will have beaks, flippers, and fur. Yay.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Passages ch 29-35

Ch. 31 page 188
"How people used to talk and talk back then! Everybody was going "blah-blah-blah," all day long. Some of them would even do it in there sleep. My father used to blather in his sleep a lot especially after mother walked pout on us. I would be sleeping on the couch and it would be the middle of the night...-and i would hear thim going "blah-blah-blah," in the bedroom" 


Ch. 32 page 197
"It was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven we are all going direct the other way". _ Charles Dickens (1812-1870) 

1. things to think about~
What do you think about this passage, why might it be in the book and what does this mean?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chapters 29-35: Discussion Leader

1. With regard to James Wait's charity toward the Kanka-bono girls, Vonnegut briefly ponders the validity of kindnesses that are easy to perform. This turned my thoughts toward some once fiscally liberal celebrities, Dennis Miller for instance, who became less charitable after having accrued considerable wealth. Do you believe that great fortune allows us to become more altruistic or are we likelier to succumb to greed? How do you sincerely imagine you might behave, were you to acquire a great sum of money tomorrow?

2. Do you attribute the murder of Prince Richard of Croatia-Slavonia entirely to Wait's absent-mindedness?

3. How might Siegfried von Kleist have been acquainted with Leon Trout, our recently unveiled narrator?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chapters 22-28: Passage Discussion

1.     "Too late, the surviving inhabitants of such a nation would crawl from the ruins of their own creation and realize that, throughout all their self-imposed agony, there had been absolutely nobody at the top who had understood how things really worked, what it was all about, what was really going on." (Pg.140, L.20-26)

     I wanted to share this excerpt, as it had left me a bit taken aback upon first glance. In this story, which features such frequent mention of 'big-brains' is a sentiment that, in essence, asserts these 'big-brained' to have been entirely unknowing. I believe this to be the heart of Vonnegut's story. This short passage is, in my opinion, of the greatest profundity of all those that we've read thus far in Galapagos.

2.    "Selena MacIntosh would never know for certain that her father was dead until she was reunited with him at the far end of the blue tunnel into the Afterlife. All she could be sure of was that he had departed her room at the El Dorado, and exchanged some words with Zenji Hiroguchi out in the corridor. Then the two went down together in the elevator. After that, she would never receive news about either one of them." (Pg. 147, L.1-9)

     This excerpt, like any other in Galapagos, serves to illustrate Vonnegut's 8 Basic's of Creative Writing well, specifically, his fourth decree that "Every sentence must do one of two things--reveal character or advance the action". In eschewing lengthy setting descriptions, Vonnegut allows himself to set focus upon the place of his characters within the realm of the human condition.

 8 Basic's of Creative Writing


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Discussion Leader: 22-28

1. What were your feelings about how many people think that the Blue-Footed Boobie's mating dance is religious? How do you feel about the way that Vonnegut lightly hints religiously at things throughout the story but doesn't seem to really have a specific point he's making regarding religion?

2. Now that the narrator is starting to show a little more of his role and background in this book, do you have any further idea on who he might be and why he's valid to the story (besides, of course, telling it)?

3. What are your feelings about how much detail Vonnegut has begun going into about each character, and do you feel that this detail about their backgrounds and how they got on the "Nature Cruise of the Century" is valid or important to the story?


Monday, March 3, 2014


             Things start off a bit touchy because we find out that Mrs.Onassis not going on the nature cruise.It also talks about the loss of innocence and how starting off at a very young age in our society its lost. Getting deeper into the idea of how us humans have the habit of needing something to believe in(often times religion). We learn more about Captain Adolf von Kleist, going into explanation about his white and gold uniform.He talks about meteorites, he gave quite the little lecture on them. He thinks a meteorite will one day be mistaken for a missile and start world war 3. The Captain went straight from the airport to his ship, he didn't even stop to go see his brother. Then is gets into how one of our human defects is the law of natural selection, in our society everyone gets a chance at life, weak or strong, fat or skinny. The captain went on two shows The tonight show & Good morning America. He is often referred to as the "big brain". Then he made a huge mess of things, because he was talking to a woman that knew a little bit more about islands and mechanicary.Vonnegut reveals that Bobby King is officially out of our storyline now, and will not appear again. Then it goes into loss of opportunity and how we wish we had taken advantage of certain situations in our life. How we need to be more adventurous and aware, specifically referring to Selena this time. Then goes into the incident of San Mateo. Talking about all the corruption that fueled the Sam Mateo making it possible and a bit mysterious. Both the captain and his brother have homes in the chilly mists above Quito witch they both would love to never see again. Then goes into how sometimes a little neglect can breed good news just as easily, getting back into the idea of explosives and world war 3.

Ch. 22-28 Word Master

Potching: Thrusting/throwing

Sucres: The currency of Ecuador until 2000

These chapters didn't really employ many unfamiliar words. I figured sucres were a type of currency, but I was interested to see if they were still used.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chapters 22-28: Connector

In chapter 27, the narrator states that the six Kanka-bono orphan girls' parents were killed by insecticides sprayed from the air in the Ecuadorian rainforest. My initial connection to this information was the excessive use of pesticides in the modern world, especially in fertile, under-regulated regions in South America. Synthetic pesticides are toxic to humans, resulting in birth defects and even death. It is notable that 99% of pesticide related deaths occur in developing countries, such as Ecuador where our story takes place.

Also, I recalled that Vonnegut was vehemently against the Vietnam War. The United States used copious amounts of Agent Orange, a highly concentrated herbicide meant to defoliate the Vietnam rainforest. Agent Orange is a lethal chemical substance not only for the environment, but for humans as well. The Vietnam Red Cross has recorded roughly 4.8 million deaths and over 400,000 children born with birth defects due to Agent Orange exposure. When Galapagos was published in 1985, the citizens of Vietnam were still coping with the effects of the war, especially the damage done by Agent Orange.
Vonnegut seems to have added this instance of insecticide-related death as homage to the similar cases in Vietnam.

For more information and statistics: