Students Begin Internet Book Discussion Groups on Salinas Stories
During April and May 2009 Mr. Wood’s Junior and Senior English classes at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas are participating with the Salinas Stories program sponsored by the Salinas Library system and the National Steinbeck Center. It is an effort to study themes of history in Salinas, beginning in 1935. Students from Mr. Wood’s classes have set up this blog and will be submitting their responses. They would love to hear from others also. Please respond.
…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him
…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him is composed of 27 episodes – 14 titled stories and 13 untitled vignettes placed between the stories. The first titled story (“The Lost Year”) introduces a young boy who has “lost” a year; the boy appears again in the last story (“Under the House”), having remembered the “year” he lost. The other 12 titled stories and the vignettes between them are the boy’s memories.
The unusual statement and characterization of this novel challenge the reader to interpret a great many things that can ordinarily be taken for granted in more traditional novels. Below are questions that critics of this novel have debated a great deal. Let’s start our blog discussion by noting interpretations and any details from the novel that support them.
1. Is the person in the first episode the same one who goes under the house in the last episode?
2. Many of the episodes between the first and last have a young male as a main character. Is it the same young male in each episode? Is it the person who appears in the first episode? The last episode?
3. Is the “lost year” exactly 12 months?
4. Is the person who goes under the house merely confused or deeply disturbed? Does his psychological state change?
Answer these, wait a day or two, then respond to others interpretations.