Hello! I hope everyone is having a fantastic break. I decided to get ahead on these reading questions, so keep in mind that these are for Friday’s reading. Anyways, below are my reading questions.

  1. In “Faces to the Fire”, Sojin sees her time with Kori as a fantasy or escape from reality. Time, to her, didn’t affect them in the same way it defined everything else. However, it appears the same is not true for Kori. He used the people and tragedies around him for his own advantage. It seems that his mother’s death triggered this change. As he’s picking through the rubble and goods left behind by the fire, “he unearthed a possum’s skull and called it human” (72). In this way, Sojin and Kori are both in a constant loop of searching for something or someone. Are readers supposed to see Kori as the antagonist? Or is time the antagonist? War? Distance? Death? Is there even an antagonist? Who or what is in the wrong here?
  2. In “So That They Do Not Hear Us”, Sinaru has a special connection to Ahrim. They connect over their experiences with the ocean. Sinaru’s life was irrevocably changed when he lost an arm to a shark in the water. On the other hand, Ahrim makes a living in the ocean. Sinaru is fascinated with her career, a traditionally female role. She tries to teach him, but something about the dive scares him. The relationship they have is very confusing. At times, Ahrim is Sinaru’s protector. Other times, his healer. Once, when he remarks on her physical features, she is a sexual object to him. She is a mother figure. A teacher. A guide. Which of these is the most important to the story? How is their complicated relationship shaped by their personal circumstances? I talked about what she is to him, but what is Sinaru to Ahrim?
  3. “So That They Do Not Hear Us” shows Ahrim stuck in a loop of grief over her deceased husband. She is surrounded by reminders of him which she refuses to let go, as if by holding on to these, she will keep him alive: the house, the fruit, the buried bracelet, etc. However, the ocean is wholly hers and is her escape from her reality. Similarly to “Faces to the Fire”, time is what traps Ahrim in her reality. Despite this, the ocean opens up an avenue of timelessness. Somehow, still, Ahrim has a grasp on time in the ocean, unlike the other sea-women who died from staying under water too long. I am struggling to completely understand how these things come together in the story: grief, time, and the ocean. If the ocean is timeless and grief is tied to the time outside of the ocean, why doesn’t Ahrim submit to the ocean like the other women? Is she battling with the desire to do so? What tethers her to this traditional experience of life?

Piper’s Reading Questions for October 18th
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2 thoughts on “Piper’s Reading Questions for October 18th

  • October 19, 2019 at 12:34 am

    I’ve really been trying to unpack my thoughts around “Faces to the Fire” and I’ve been stuck on the same concept you’ve outlined in your first sentence: Sojin’s escapism. I’m mostly stuck wondering what is it that she is trying to escape, and what is its relationship to time? Is she attempting to escape her existence as a caregiver? There’s an obvious significance to the fact she’s caregiver to a loved one whose condition (1) came on with time and (2) entails a skewed understanding of time/reality. Is she trying to escape work and its preoccupation over her life given that her mother died while she was working? Is she trying to escape the tourists associated with her work that were brought on with time? Is she trying to escape the progression of time, or is she trying to return to a static, romanticized, imagined point in time? Did she reject Kori’s offer because it was too fast, or because it was progression at all, when what she craved was not the future they once imagined, but that feeling described in the cave of “growing smaller, moving backward through time” (63)?

  • October 19, 2019 at 4:15 am

    In response to your first question – I’m not sure who or what is supposed to be the antagonist here, I feel like if anything the antagonist is just the forces we encounter naturally in life, like the ones you outlined: time, death, distance, etc. However, I definitely don’t think that the reader is meant to view Kori as the antagonist. Even after Sojin finds out that he stole her jewelry, she is not angry with him, and even comments that she would have given it to him if he had asked for it. She has such a deep love for him. I don’t think he’s presented as bad, rather, I think he is presented as someone who has been deeply hurt. What he does, stealing from people, is so clearly morally wrong, yet to me it didn’t read as Yoon intentionally presenting him as an antagonist. The lines are really blurry here, and I’m finding myself really wrestling with how I feel about him after reading the story. I hated the way that he made promises and espoused fantasies to Sojin, about living together and running the store together, giving her this false hope of not being alone. Still, I didn’t read him as an antagonist, more of a hurt person and a trickster. There’s a lot to think about here though and I’m definitely still sorting through my emotions about him.

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