University of South Florida Geek Love by Katherine Dunn Novel Discussions

There 2 discussion posts for this assignment. I will provide the novel. You don’t have to read all pages just need to get enough material and cite to answer the questions.

Discussion post 1:

Geek Love Brief Summary:

Katherine Dunn’s novel, Geek Love follows a family of circus “freaks.” The children are all the by-products of Al & Lil Binewski’s chemical experiments that sought to provide a firm foundation both for their traveling circus as well as for their children’s long-term economic security. The novel has been descried as “grotesque,” “dark,” and “provocative.”

The story is narrated by Al and Lil’s daughter Oly(mpia), a “bald albino dwarf” who tells the story from childhood (recounting the rise and fall of the family) and in her adulthood, where she follows around her “orphaned” daughter Miranda. The novel refuses pity narratives, and reveals the different type of stereotypes that surround physical and mental difference. Moreover, it seeks to deconstruct the norm/freak dichotomy.

Geek Love Discussion Board Prompt:

Directions: Read pages 1-116 in the novel and respond to one of the following prompts. Be sure to note which prompt you’re responding to in your post.

1. A literary theme is the main idea or underlying meaning of a text. A work can have more than one theme. For this prompt, discuss one or more of the themes you have noticed in the novel thus far. Use specific examples from the novel to support your response. Be sure to include page numbers for your direct quotes. There is no minimum or maximum amount of quotes that should be used; however, you want to make sure that your points are fully developed and supported. Responses should be 1-2 fully developed paragraphs.

2. Characterization highlights and explains the details about a character in a story. Behaviors, descriptions, and thought-processes all contribute to a character’s characterization. For this prompt, offer a characterization of one or more of the characters. Use specific examples from the novel to support your response. Be sure to include page numbers for your direct quotes. There is no minimum or maximum amount of quotes that should be used; however, you want to make sure that your points are fully developed and supported. Responses should be 1-2 fully developed paragraphs.


Discussion Post 2:

Geek Love Discussion Board Prompt (2)

Close Reading: A close reading of a literary text helps to deepen a reader’s understanding of a novel. It involves analyzing how a selected passage relates to the narrative progression as a whole. A close reading does not summarize the all of the facts and details of a story, rather it focuses on articulating the significance of particular section(s) of the reading.

Directions: For this discussion board post, you will complete a close reading of one of the following passages. Please indicate which passage you will be analyzing (e.g. 1 or 2). After you’ve identified which passage you will be analyzing write a 1-2 paragraph response addressing the following prompt:

Analyze how the ideas presented in the selected passage develop over the course of the following pages (pages 117-186 *chapters 10-14*). Be sure to use specific examples from pages (117-186) to support your analysis; not doing so will negatively impact the grade for the assignment. The use of direct quotes strengthens one’s analysis. However, there is no minimum or maximum in terms of direct quotes that should be included.

Passage 1: This passage comes at the beginning of chapter 9, “How We Fed the Cats”

“Al and Horst were going off on business for the day. Al told Chick to feed the cats and Chick, as usual, bit his tongue, turned pale, and nodded without saying anything…After Al left, Chick slid up to me at the sink where I was doing the breakfast dishes. ‘Come with me, Oly, please?’…’Sure,’ I said, ‘but how come? You’ve fed them lots of times.’ His eyebrows went up in a peak of resignation. ‘I like the cats. It’s the meat. I don’t like moving it. Just come along, O.K.?’…When Chick fed the cats he dropped the meat through the ventilator slots in the roof. We stood outside the refrigerator truck and watched the big bolt lift and the door swing open. Chick reached over and took my hand. ‘Is this O.K.? I want to hold your hand while I’m moving the meat.’ He was looking pinched. ‘Sure,’ I said…Chick was squeezing my hand gently… ‘You could do it without the cleaver, Chick,” I said. ‘Yeah, but I’d feel the meat more. Can you feel it?’ He was taller than I was and he looked down at me with such a serious intensity that I felt a small quiver of fear. ‘Feel what?’[I questioned] He frowned. Words never came all that easily to him ‘Well, how…dead…the meat is” (Dunn 106-108).

Passage 2: This passage comes at the end of chapter 9, “How We Fed the Cats”

“Arty had the advance men make up special flyers to hit certain churches. ‘Refuge!’ they blared. ‘Arturo, the Aqua Boy!’ and then a list of our dates and sites. Though Arty never mentioned anything resembling a god or an outside will, or life after death, church groups started showing up. In the grim blasted regions where the soil had failed or the factories were shut down, whole congregations would drift through the gates ignoring the lights and sights of the midway, and find their way to Arty’s tent. They paid their price and sat numbly in clumps on the bleachers waiting as long as it took for his show to begin. When it was over, they would leave the grounds together, ignoring everything. ‘Too poor to play,’ Papa said. ‘The one buck they’ve got, I’ll get’ said Arty. But it wasn’t the money that excited him. It was that those who never would have come to the carnival came just for him. Mama was dreamily pleased. ‘Arty’s spreading his wings,” she said nodding to herself. But his wingspread took in more than the bleachers and his own tent. And all this time he was taking over more and more control of the carnival itself, and becoming more obvious in the orders he gave” (Dunn 116).

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