Reading Questions (Week 13)
1. Candido and America crossed the border in search of a better life for themselves and their unborn child. They do not ask for much and are willing to work hard, yet they are constantly met with resistance and failure. There are numerous references to Candido’s bad luck. Is he unlucky? Is there anything he could have done to have changed his luck? What does this story say about the American dream?
2. The symbol of the coyote appears throughout the novel and represents illegal Mexican immigrants. In his nature column, Delaney writes, “The coyote is not to blame—he is only trying to survive, to make a living, to take advantage of the opportunities available to him.” He concludes the same column by writing, “The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in the gaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry and unstoppable.” How do these passages reflect Delaney’s mixed feelings about illegal immigrants? Is he a hypocrite? As the novel progresses, Delaney’s humanistic beliefs give way to racism and resentment, and he directs his rage at all illegal immigrants onto Cándido. When confronted with evidence that Candido is not the vandal at Arroyo Blanco, he destroys it. Why does Delaney need to believe that the vandal is Cándido? How does Delaney evolve from being a “liberal humanist” to a racist?
3. The novel concludes with Delaney confronting Candido with a gun, followed by a mud slide. In an almost simultaneous moment, Candido realizes his baby is missing and reaches down to offer Delaney a hand. One is a frightening image and the other an act of generosity. How do these contrasting images play off one another? Did the conclusion leave you with a feeling of hope or despair?
4. What is the significance of the title of Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles”?
5. There are two basic themes in the play. What are they? Explain.
6. Analyze the following passage from the play; then answer the question that follows it:
MRS. HALE. Well, I guess John Wright didn’t wake when they was slipping that rope under his neck.
MRS. PETERS. No, it’s strange. It must have been done awful crafty and still. They say it was such a –funny way to kill a man, rigging it all up like that.
MRS. HALE. That’s just what Mr. Hale said. There was a gun in the house. He says that’s what he can’t understand.
….Why didn’t Mrs. Wright use the gun instead of the rope to kill her husband?
This is the book where you have to read from
T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain, (Novel)
(Nov. 23-Nov. 29) Reading a Play (LIFPDW) 849-851
Susan Glaspell, Trifles, (LIFPDW) 851-862
Analyzing Trifles (LIFPDW) 862-866
Thinking About a Play (LIFPDW) 867