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20091119-930 "Breast-Giver" (Group 3)

Page history last edited by Justin Miller 11 years, 2 months ago



 Today's class began with further discussion of the Garden of Forking Paths including the idea of infinity, the parallels that can be found within the story and our role as readers.  One parallel included a connection between Steven Albert and Ts'ui Pen concerning both their similar working environments and murderous deaths.  Also, Yu Tsun and Richard Madden had their similarities, as they were both mistreated minorities trying to prove something to their higher authorities.       Another topic discussed was the idea of history.  In the introduction of the story, Borges gives the appearance of a historical record in The Garden of Forking Paths, when in fact it is fiction. In doing this, Borges shows that history is in fact fictional; our perspective comes through our experiences, yet these concrete concepts may be abstract and fictional to others.

     The Breast Giver was also discussed in class today.  First we looked at the more technical aspects of the story such as the way it is written in the vernacular, elements of satire, and its encyclopedic characteristics.  The story had an everyday, simple feel to it since it was written in the vernacular.  The use of satire aided in showing that the author, Mahasweta Devi, was not one to pull punches in this descriptive story, as her characters themselves were not ones to do so.  This story and more specifically the role of women, was compared to other works we have read including Hedda Gabler and The Ramayana.  In The Breast Giver, the roles of man and woman are reversed: where man is supposed to be the provider, it is the woman, and where the woman is to be the meek and homely one, it is the man.  We see this when Jashoda considers herself to be a professional mother, raising all of the kids and doing most of the work, while her husband did most of the


Word Count: 315

Key Terms

Vernacular- the original, everyday language of a particular area

Satire- the use of sarcasm, or irony

Bengali- An Indo-Aryan language of Eastern India

Labyrinth- any confusingly intricate state of things or events; a bewildering complex.


Parallels Within the Garden


"Thirteen years he dedicated to these heterogeneous tasks, but the hand of a stranger murdered him-and his novel was incoherent and no one found the labyrinth." 


This quote is an example of one of the parallels that can be found within this story.  The reader learns that Ts'ui Pen was murdered by a stranger, just as Stephen Albert is murdered by a stranger (Yu Tsun). There are around six other parallels including the way Ts'ui Pen and Stephen Albert prefer to work alone, and how both Madden and Yu Tsun both have a desire to prove themselves to people who look down upon them.


Roles of Women in The Breast Giver


Motherhood was always her way of living and keeping alive her world of countless beings. Jashoda was a mother by profession, professional mother

The world belongs to the professional.


This quote teaches the reader about the role of women in this culture. This is the first time we have seen a woman described as being a professional or having a position of power or mastery.  This makes this story very different from others we have read such as Hedda Gabbler where women are seen as the "angel in the house".


Comments (2)

Justin Miller said

at 9:36 am on Nov 24, 2009

are there no more quotes that we can use?

Brian Croxall said

at 3:04 pm on Nov 24, 2009

First of all, it's worth noting that this was a difficult day for creating notes. Not only did you have to decide how you were going to juggle the two different texts that we were discussing, but you also had to deal with the difficulty of Borges's point. On the whole, you wrote well about Borges, but I found it odd that there was no discussion of how we learn that history is a construct. In other words, you didn't discuss the beginning of the story and the faux academic papers.

With the discussion of "The Breast-Giver," I'm glad that you included some information about the narrator and the reversal of the gender roles. You could have spent a little less time on the vernacular to make the point that--despite what we might have expected--Jashoda's reversal of gender roles isn't really something that she is out to do. In other words, we see her continuing the status quo.

Your passages are fine. I think you could have pointed out that Jashoda is a "mother" because she cares for people, along with providing them nourishment. And I would have liked to see you pick a second passage from Borges, just because the textual parallel doesn't convey everything that is happening in the story.

Overall, however, I'm disappointed that more people did not contribute to these notes. Darrin and Rose: thanks for being on the ball.

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