English 254 Class 17 Wed,
“Fleur”; T. C. Boyle, “Chicxulub”
1. Who is the protagonist, and who the antagonist?
2. What happens in this story? Trace the core conflict.
3. Looking especially at the structure, what differences can
you see between this and "white" ways of telling a story?
4. The story’s opening refers to the “first time [Fleur]
drowned.” How do you understand this? Is this simply hyperbole, so that it
really means the first time Fleur almost
5. Like Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” the narrator in the
opening of the story refers to “we,” as in “. . .we thought she’d keep the good
ways” (2571). Who is the “we,” and what are “the good ways”?
6. What kind of person is Fleur Pillager? What’s the significance
of her reputed relation with Misshepeshu, the water
monster? What imagery does the narrator use in describing Fleur?
7. The narrator claims that she “wasn’t anything like Fleur”
(2574). In what ways is the narrator different? In what ways the same?
8. How does Fleur feel about the narrator? How does the
narrator feel about Fleur?
9. What exactly happens during the storm?
10. Analyze the final section of the story, especially the last
paragraph, which seems to suggest that truth is always personal and subjective.
What significance does this have for the story as a whole?
are the main characters? What do we know about them? Do we sympathize with
them? What makes them sympathetic?
it matter that they had roughly the same amount to drink (let alone smoke)
that night as Alice K. Petermann had?
are the minor characters? What is their function in the story?
there a traditional plot—intro, conflict, rising tension, climax,
not, how is the story
there a protagonist, an antagonist?
the figurative language in the story. Choose one or two of your favorite
similes or metaphors and analyze how it works—for example, this one: “. .
. the night closing in on us like a fist.”
asteroid Chicxulub works as an extended
metaphor. What are the terms, the X and the Y?
- “The thing
that disturbs me about Chicxulub,” the narrator
tells us, “is the deeper implication that we, and all our works and
worries and attachments, are so utterly inconsequential. Death cancels our
individuality, we know that, yes, but ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,
and the kind goes on, human life and culture succeed us. That, in the
absence of God, is what allows us to accept the death of the individual”
(p. 4). Is this the main point of the story? If not, what is the main
point of the story?
was your experience reading it? How do the emotions the story
generates—fear, suspense, relief—relate to the main point?
is an inversion story, or a surprise ending story. What did the story mean
before you learned that the girl under the sheet was not Maddy? What does the story mean now that you know?