“The Rain God” – Arturo Islas

The paper is supposed to be over one of the 5 prompts listed below in response to the novel “The Rain God”. The first two prompts provide an already defined thesis, while the last three require development of an original thesis.

(1) The Rain God explores the Angel family’s movement back and forth across borders. This movement yields, ironically, the sins of Angels, including suicide, adultery, homosexuality, hypocrisy, prejudice, and drugs among others that account for the characters’ conflicted and fragmented understanding of self.

Thesis: In this paper, I argue that characters in this story represent different parts of binary oppositions that reflect both history and (or) mythology of the borderland experience.

Introduction: Introduce a part of the history and (or) myth that helps build context for the thesis.

An approach to the body: Focus on at least two and possibly three or four characters and represent a part of each one’s story to reveal temperament and disposition in concert with that of another character.

(2) Islas introduces Miguel Chico in the beginning of the story, featuring a photograph of Mama Chona holding his hand while stepping forward with Mexico in the background. In the final chapter, Miguel Chico awakens from a dream about a monster and contemplates the “old photograph,” creating a figurative bookend of character—Miguel Chico—and image.

Thesis: Miguel Chico tells the family’s story, inclusive of members who negotiate conflicts in crossing boarders that define life, ethnicity, and gender (among others elements). The story, this paper argues, is a way for Miguel Chico to work out the conflicts and arrive at an understanding of himself and others conceived collectively as “La familia.”

Hint: Narrow the focus to one or two elements like life, gender and so forth. Select and discuss family members who enable you to build an argument.

3. In the final chapter, Miguel Chico meets the monster, who invites him into his cave.

In this narrative, the monster plays an allegorical role, providing insight into events and people in the narrative. In a three-page paper, address the monster as an allegory, highlighting at least two characters or events in the narrative to provide an answer to the following question.

How does the narrative provide a way of dealing with the monster?

Possible approach: Address the monster in an initial paragraph to highlight a parallel between the myth and a characters story. Present the story in a way that reveals direction toward dealing with a central conflict or issue, providing insight into how to take the monster myth in hand and deal with it.

4. Mema appears to be the only character who doesn’t suffer so much. At the same time, she is most generous with the people who are suffering—JoEl and Mama Chona.

What makes Mema exemplary and why?

Possible approach: write a short essay that compares one other character with Mema, drawing to differences that make Mema exemplary.

Envision the paper according to the following:

a. A short introduction consisting of 2, 3, or 4 sentences

b. A body of which each paragraph accounts for idea development, leading toward the paper’s end.

c. A conclusion that reflects on the paper’s body to bring an issue to light that demonstrates the thesis and brings greater insight into the reading.


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