I think this is a very interesting book because of the way that Fuller describes her settings. She uses a great amount of imagery in her writings. She says, “What I can’t know about Africa as a child is her smell; hot, sweet, smoky, salty, sharp-soft. It is like black tea, cut tobacco, fresh fire, old sweat, young grass.” (pg.130) This is a good use of imagery because it shows how much Africa means to her and how unique it is to any other place. Another example is, “At dawn there is an explosion of day birds, a fierce fight for territory, for females and food. This crashing of wings and the secret language of birds is such a perpetual background sound that I begin to understand its language.” (pg.130-131) This imagery shows that there is almost always noise and that she hears this so much that she can almost understand her surroundings.
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After reading this story I definitely believe Fuller’s statement of her calling herself an “accidental African.” She has lived in Africa just about all her life so that really gives her the right to call herself that title. Many of the kids and people surrounding her don’t really believe she’s African because she’s not African American. I don’t agree with those statements. I think that anyone living in a foreign nation can call themselves part of that country even if they aren’t the same color as everyone else or they don’t speak the same language. I mostly think that in this book all Bobo, Vanessa, and her family wants is acceptance. They just want to fit in and seem like they are meant to live in Africa. When Bobo and her family came to Africa from Europe they wanted to start a new lifestyle as an African family and not a European family. Bobo has lived in Africa for a long time so I believe her and her family has the right to call themselves “accidental Africans.”
Learned about southern Africa
I myself, and I’m sure that many other readers could use this book as a great resource to learn about South Africa. One thing this book really taught me was the war that was going on in Rhodesia. I never knew anything about this war but Alexandria Fuller really goes in depth about its ravaging effects on the country. The citizens of this country really had a harsh lifestyle. Many of them were very poor and had a hard time working for a living. It seemed like the citizens of Africa would do anything for food even if it meant fighting against another in their community. In the chapter, Mkushi, Bobo really explains about life in South Africa. It shows that parts of South Africa can be really run down. She explains how it is full of disease, and how the roads are in very bad shape, and also how there is a terrible stench. I think this book really explains enough to get a good idea of South African life. It may vary in different areas but I believe Alexandria Fuller did a good job in describing her childhood in South Africa.
Child’s or Objective View?
I like Fuller’s idea in presenting this story in a child’s perspective. Being younger myself, it can help me really relate and understand the things that Fuller talks about. If it would have been written in objective form, I don’t think there would have been that many vivid details about her early life in South Africa. Writing in a child’s view gives her the opportunity to write about personal experiences with her own thoughts and emotions. I think this book would overall be harder to understand in objective form because it would almost be like reading a history book. There would not be any personal feeling, just the facts. I really enjoyed this book because of the child perspective that it offers the reader.
Source of Violence and Chaos
There are a few sources that caused the violence around Fuller. The main cause of violence would have to be the war. Her family had to have a gun at all times in case of a terrorist or soldier coming near their home. There were also land mines that her and her family would have to deal with. People were always dying around her and she could sometimes hear the faint explosions of people getting killed by the mines. They always had to be on alert. Another source of violence came from in her own home. When July stabbed Violet that caused an uproar in their family because Violet was important to them and their dad had to go find July. The soldiers around them were also a source of violence. Many of them were drunk and they pretty much had guns pointed at people all the time for no reason. Fuller was in danger any time they were at a road stop because of the soldiers. The soldiers also almost killed Fuller because they misunderstood her father calling them apes. The racism was also a source of chaos in their country. The whites treated African Americans like second class citizens since they arrived and they were mistreated many times. The whole government of Rhodesia was very violent in itself. There was a lot of dictators and corruption which led to the war in the violence caused by it. Altogether Fuller was surrounded by a lot of violence and she was fortunate that she was able to make it through her childhood hardships.
Violet and July
The issue that occurred between July and Violet can say a lot about black/white relationships in Rhodesia in the late 1970s. I guess it shows that life was very conflicting for blacks. They need the sustenance that they get working for white people, but they would also like to be in that position of power that white people felt they had over African Americans. I think that is the reason why July robbed the family. He may have not been satisfied with the low wages he was receiving for all the work he was doing for the family. He then decided to rob the family while they were gone. Violet was most likely trying to defend the family because she was satisfied with the way the family was treating her. July probably thought she was making the wrong decision so he stabbed her. This scene is a good description of the hardships of the lives of African Americans compared to the lives of white African citizens.
re: Use of Imagery
2013Lyona Jul 12, 2010 5:02 pm
I agree with the points that Ben made about Alexandra Fuller’s use of imagery. When I was reading this novel there were many parts where it felt like I was actually a part of the scene. An example was when she said “I can hear the men around the campfire singing softly, taking it in turns to pick up a tune, the rhythm as strong as blood in a body. The firelight flickers off the blue and orange tent in pale, dancing shapes…” Reading this I felt like I could have been right next to her inside the tent.
re: Child’s or Objective View?
2013Lyona Jul 15, 2010 1:55 pm
I also support Andrew and Wesley’s agreement that the book would give a better idea of African history if Fuller wrote the book with an objective view. In a few parts of the book there are pieces of an objective, factual overview. For example in the chapter titled “Independence a lot of information is written about the war and the government. This section and others help give me a better idea of South African history which is an interest to me. I really enjoyed the way that Fuller wrote this book as a child’s view, but it might have served as a better informational tool if more of the book was written in an adult/objective form.
re: Humor in Fuller’s Memoir
2013Lyona Jul 15, 2010 2:28 pm
I agree with Ben on what he had to say about the humor Fuller wrote in this story. I myself found the book a lot more enjoyable because of the humor that Fuller was able to use in this novel. I also found it amazing how this family could try to bring humor into parts of their life when it was so depressing and difficult. An example from the story was in the chapter “Losing Robandi” when Fuller’s dad called the soldiers baboons. The soldiers said, “You called as baboons,” then the dad said “You jumped into my bedroom window. That is not a civilized thing to do, that is a baboon thing to do.” (pg. 158) I found that this passage and other humorous parts made this book an enjoyable read.
re: Unsentimental and Unflinching
2013Lyona Jul 12, 2010 5:24 pm
I think Andrew made a great point about Fuller being more thoughtful to the native African Americans then most of the white settlers. When she was invited into the African American’s home in the chapter “Touching the Ground,” she acted differently then most of the white settlers would have acted. When she enters the hut she is worried about her manners because she is so dirty. It’s also interesting when she doesn’t want to eat their food because she feels guilty. I think it was a very courteous thing to do because it showed that she treated the African American family like any white family. I found that very nice of her.
Three Cups of Tea Discussion Answers
This was one of the most inspiring novels I have ever read. I never knew how horrific life was in Pakistan and other surrounding countries. I also never heard about the problems in these areas until I read this book. Reading about all the issues these countries were dealing with made me feel very sorry for them and helpless. I was very impressed with Greg’s work, and the fact that he did not ignore the situation but instead took it head on was courageous. It takes a lot of heart to do something like that. I have always heard about hunger in Africa, but I have never heard about countries having a lack of education. This book inspires me to take more action in my community by participating more in Key Club and other activities.
Would You Like to Know Mortenson Personally?
I think it would be awesome if I could get to know Greg Mortenson personally. I think he would be a great person to work with. He is a guy who can do his job very well and he could make everyone working around him very positive. He also came up with very great ideas when he was working in the book. I think he would be a great neighbor. He would do anything possible to help someone who needed a favor or task done. Greg would be able to take action in his community to take care of any problems going on. He was also very kind and generous to many people in the book so he would make a great friend.
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Bumps in the Road
Greg Mortenson was a very determined man to overcome “the bumps in the road.” He ran into many obstacles that could cause any person to stop and quit but he kept on going. A good example of a bump in the road was in chapter 18, “Shrouded Figure.” Greg is ready to present his mission to a large crowd of two hundred people, but three people show up while other people in the store ignore him. This could cause any person to feel hopeless, but he decided to continue on with his show. He later found out that someone had left him a check for $20,000 dollars. The beginning quote of the chapter describes this well. “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” – Mother Teresa. This situation showed Greg that when he overcomes “bumps in the road,” it will all pay off eventually.
Amazingly, I was not that surprised about the reaction that Greg got from his fellow Americans. Everybody in America is pretty much brainwashed by their government that all people in the Middle East are terrorists or extremists. So people in America thought Greg was doing the wrong thing because they were not actually seeing the situation. They were just very upset for 9/11 and wanted someone to blame. Greg has seen Pakistan and many of the people living in the villages. He knows how kind they are so he knows he is doing the right thing to help build schools. He realizes that building schools can help stop the villagers from joining the Taliban. I thought the letter that said, “I wish some of our bombs had hit you because you’re counterproductive to our military efforts,” was kind of harsh. I think if Americans could have seen one of Greg’s presentations, they would have thought a lot different of the Middle Eastern villagers and his project.
Reaction to the Balti
The Balti were a very interesting group of people to read about. The fact that they are able to enjoy a lifestyle that is very old compared to our culture is quite incredible. I felt very amazed how the people in the village of Korphe were able to form a comfortable lifestyle. I felt very sad for the village when I learned they had no proper education system. Even with no communication system or Internet, the people of Korphe were very smart and knowing, especially Haji Ali. I liked how the Korphe villagers would sit on their rooftops at night surrounded by family; they were very close because there was no technology around. When
Greg was helping the build the schools, the people of Korphe were very helpful. They cooked feasts for Greg even though they could not afford to do that. This showed their amazing sense of hospitality. The villagers would also help Greg build the schools. Many of the men would carry the supplies and build while the women cooked. The Balti were an extremely amazing group of people.
Facets of Mortenson’s Character
I believe Mortonson’s whole mission revolves around his childhood and past. Mortonson has been all about other people his whole life, not really about him. As a younger man all he wanted to do was help Christa overcome her situation, he would have done anything for her. Later when he went to K2 in his attempt to summit the mountain, it was all about Christa. He later ended up in Korphe and focused all his attention to helping the Balti people. I believe since he didn’t overcome his goal of putting Christa’s necklace on the summit of K2, he helped the village of Korphe and other villages in memory of her. He was also a nurse because he loved to help people. He believed his life’s purpose was to help. I also believe a large part of him helping Korphe was because he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. As a kid, he was very impressed with his father’s mission and wanted to do something similar to help. Greg did that by building schools all over Pakistan.
I chose to write about Greg Mortenson and the reason he wrote the novel Three Cups of Tea. I believe there were many reasons why Greg Mortenson was motivated to write this book. When Greg came across the villagers of Korphe on his K2 mission, he was very shocked about what he had come across. Seeing all of the children in the village with no school constructed whatsoever really quite amazed him. I think the children are really the subject that motivated Mortenson to write Three Cups of Tea. I also think Greg helped Pakistan and wrote this novel for his sister Christa; he was very upset that he couldn’t help her so he wanted to dedicate his work to her. I also believe Mortenson was motivated by the fact that many Americans were unaware of the poverty and the problems in Pakistan. He really wanted to get the word out to help Pakistan.
Greg Mortenson wanted to accomplish and was able to accomplish many things when he wrote Three Cups of Tea. I believe the thing he most wanted to accomplish was helping the villagers of Korphe and all of Pakistan. He wrote this novel to let people know about his story and why it is so important to help Middle Eastern countries. Writing this book did help people become more aware of the problem and this caused people around the world to donate and help Greg continue his goal of building more schools for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. I think the reason Greg had much success from this book was because people like to hear about heroes and humanitarians. Three Cups of Tea is a great story about a man who overcomes his problems to help others in need. This is why Mortenson and his book become very successful, for helping a cause.
re: Peaceful Simplicity
2013Lyona Aug 8, 2010 1:36 pm
I agree with Kathryn’s thoughts. The villagers are so used to a lifestyle outside of technology that they have kept simple for centuries. Bringing civilization into Korphe could be very helpful to the village but also have some drawbacks. Having civilization would allow the villagers to have an advanced sense of knowledge and communicate easily with other villages. It is also kind of sad that they can’t read their own religious book; it could help them learn more about their religion if they could read. With civilization in their community, I believe the Korphe villagers would be just as peaceful and want to learn more about their surroundings. However they could be more willing to bring technology into their community which could destroy their simple way of life.
re: Changing the World
2013Lyona Aug 8, 2010 1:49 pm
I agree with Shawn and the “one cup of tea at a time” philosophy. When Mortenson first arrived in the village of Korphe and learned about their situation, he really wanted to help. At first he thought he to build the school as fast as possible, he always wanted to rush. An example in the book was in Ch. 6 “Rawalpindi’s Rooftops at Dusk.” Greg wanted to get the cement and supplies immediately but Abdul Shah wanted him to drink tea before they bargained for supplies. At that point in his mission Greg was very impatient, he wanted to build the schools as fast as possible. After Haji Ali taught Greg about having three cups of tea, Greg changed his whole philosophy on his goals in Pakistan. He took his time to plan out, buy supplies, and build schools. Using this method definitely helped Greg achieve his goals.
2013Lyona Aug 8, 2010 1:14 pm
I agree with what Andrew said about Mortenson. At the beginning of the book, you realized Greg was a man loyal to his promises. When Christa became ill, he committed much of his time to try to help her recover. After she died, he continued his goal by trying to take Christa’s necklace to the peak of K2. When he failed he realized he could still help by making a promise to the village of Korphe. He was a very kind man and committed to his role in Korphe by returning their many times in his life.
re: Paradise Lost and Regained
2013Lyona Aug 8, 2010 1:01 pm
I agree with what Sam and Billie said. Greg seemed to think many of the places that he came upon were paradise. The village of Korphe wouldn’t seem like a paradise to many people, but Greg saw it as a beautiful place and that’s what led him to make a difference there. He saw the villagers didn’t have a school so he also wanted to make the village more of a paradise for the children and their families by building one.
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