AGENDA Exam 3: Terms Discussion: QHQ M Butterfly ―Defining the Trickster‖ Introduction to Essay #4 Lecture: Tricksters and Trickster Tales In-class writing: Evaluating Song as a Trickster Character
EXAM 3: VOCAB AND TERMSAnswer all 25 questions; there are questions on the back.Extra credit to anyone who can identify one or both of the authors of these two examples that I used to demonstrate figurative language. ―All the world’s a stage‖ The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
M BUTTERFLY: THE LOVE Why is Gallimard so attracted to Song? Was Song actually submissive? Is Gallimard blinded by stereotypes (race, sexual, cultural)? Do you think, deep down, that Song actually loved Gallimard in return? How does Gallimard’s image of himself change after starting his relationship with Song? Did [Song] truly like this man as for him or for the fact that she was forced to by her undercover party? Does this [affair with Song] make Gallimard Gay? Do you think that he would ever have fallen in love with Song as a man?
THE DECEPTION Gallimard and Song live together for 20 years, how come Gallimard doesn’t find out Song is a man? How is Gallimard blind to his butterfly’s true identity? Is Rene in denial over Songs gender? Why does Mr. Gallimard accept not seeing Mrs. or Mr. Song’s body? Why did Mr. Gallimard did not accept to see Mrs./ Mr. Song body when he offered? What was the purpose of Song telling Gallimard the scenario of the ―blonde cheerleader‖ killing herself for the ―short Japanese businessman‖?
THE SECRET OPERATION Why would Mr. Song go through all the trouble just to retrieve information for his country? How did Song establish a reputation for herself as singer, and how did she target Mr. Gallimard? Why did Gallimard leak such valuable information to Song? Does Comrade Chin believe Song’s behavior is just to get information? Why did Song LiLing come to France?
THE REVEAL• Did song ever feel any sympathy for Gallimard after being with him for so many years.• Why does Gallimard burst into laughter when Song takes off his underwear?• How would the story be different if butterfly was male the whole time?• Why do you think that Gallimard could not love the man who was the woman he fell in love with?• If Song was in love with Gallimard, why would he tell the truth when he was in the court?• If Song revealed his true identity earlier, would Gallimard have acted differently?• Is there ever a right time for Song to reveal his true gender identity to the man he loves?
AND THEN? Why does M. Butterfly focus so intently on Western vs. Eastern? How can this story tell what the Westerner thought about the Oriental women? How does Song use Gallimard’s stereotypes of Asian women to elevate Gallimard’s sense of masculinity? Has Gallimard gone mad? Why does Gallimard want us to envy his love? How could Gallimard claimed to have loved the perfect woman, while willingly being unfaithful and cruel to her during his various extramarital affairs? Why does Gallimard dress up as Madame Butterfly at the end? Who is whose Butterfly? Is it wrong for Song to pretend to be a woman for all those years? What are some differences between the movie and the book ? Is there any similarity between Stone Butch Blues and this story?
INTRODUCTION TO ESSAY #4: THE RESEARCH ESSAY.Trickster characters have existed in stories from most cultures since the earliest times. The long-lasting appeal of this archetype (a recurring symbol of a recurring model) emphasizes the cultural need to acknowledge that all is not what it seems to be, that we need to be on the lookout for those who would fool us. It is not hard to account for the appeal of tricksters—they are fun in their radical assault on the status quo, yet their trickery also strikes a deeper chord for most people.
As societies have evolved, the cultural function of the tricksterhas been reinvented: who or what are they in a modern society?When and why do they appear?Helen Lock, in her essay ―Transformations of the Trickster,‖writes, Contentious issues include the status of the archaic archetypal tricksters (were they mortal or divine? can a god be a trickster?), the relation of tricksters to gender and to ethnicity, and the vexed question of whether modern tricksters exist at all. In one sense it does seem entirely appropriate that these embodiments of ambiguity (no dispute there, at least) should remain so elusive. However, it is still important to address these tricky questions, because the trickster performs such fundamental cultural work: in understanding the trickster better, we better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior.
TOPIC: For this essay, consider trickster tales and trickster or trickster-like characters from our reading. Do they, as Lock asserts, help us ―better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior‖? How? Or, do these trickster tales and trickster or trickster-like characters serve another purpose? Which?
ABOUT TRICKSTERSSouthern slave trickster tales focus on outwitting theplantation masters; in this way, they deviouslyattacked the very system to which they werecondemned: ―They learned what justice was, andthey learned, as slaves, they had none. But theywere able to make up stories and even laugh in theface of their tragic predicament‖(Hamilton, A Ring of Tricksters 9).
JEAN HARDY PROVIDES THIS DEFINITION OF THIS ARCHETYPE:The archetype of the Trickster…is the existence of theunexpected as it appears in every human society,sometimes fully acknowledged, sometimes feared andhidden. He is the opposite of order – but then he isopposite of everything: he can turn into a she…He is theGreen Man, the Jester, the clown, the witch or thewizard, Mercury, a shape shifter … the Fool with thepotential at times for becoming a Savior. He upsetsnormality and hierarchic order…He can change theexpected world, and therefore be an agent oftransformation. (1)
POSSIBLE TRAITS OF THE TRICKSTER• Deceitful: The trickster uses trickery to bring about change.• Self-Serving: The trickster often feels that he or she has been wronged and is therefore justified in taking action to bring about change and/or to defeat ―the enemy.‖• Shape Shifter: The trickster may change forms, sex, and so forth as an element of surprise to his victim. The change may also be psychological instead of (or in addition to) a visual change.
Cultural Hero:The trickster may be idealized as a cultural hero when, as theagent of transformation, he or she overturns a cruel or unfairleader or political/social system or reverses the fortunes of themore powerful party. According to Helen Lock, this characteristicseparates the fool from the trickster. ―The true trickster’s trickerycalls into question fundamental assumptions about the way theworld is organized, and reveals the possibility of transformingthem (even if for ignoble [shameful] ends)‖ (6). Michael J. Carrollincludes cultural hero as an attribute as well; he characterizes thetrickster as ―a transformer who makes the world habitable forhumans by ridding it of monsters or who provides those things[such as fire] that make human society possible (―Levi-Strauss,Freud, and the Trickster‖ 305). Hardy characterizes the tricksteras the source of unexpected changes in a world where change isnot always comfortable and as a symbol of the uncertain world inwhich we live.
• Solitary creature: Many tricksters are solitary animals (or humans), working alone rather than with a partner or within a group – to undertake change. Michael P. Carroll notes that ―Ravens are usually sighted singly or at most in pairs; coyotes forage independently…; hares have long been noted for their solitariness…Spiders generally associate with members of their own species on only two occasions: when they are born and when they mate‖ (―Trickster as Selfish Buffoon‖ 115).• Physically, intellectually, or socially weak creature: The trickster is often portrayed as a much weaker character than his prey, and yet through cleverness and trickery, he is able to overcome all obstacles and prevail. In some cases the trickster may appear to be weaker physically in order to confuse his prey (false frailty).
• Special tools: The trickster may have special tools or abilities that enable him to perform his acts. Often these tools include magic and/or supernatural powers. An example would be the Chinese Monkey who keeps a needle behind his ear; when he removes the needle and recites a request, the needle may turn into any tool or implement that is required for a particular story.• Teacher: The trickster is a purveyor of life lessons through the stories, from manners to ethics. The teacher often forces the reader to examine the status quo and often, ―to break out of old stereotypes, whether they’ve been imposed by ourselves, our families, our culture, or circumstances (―The Trickster‖ 3).
• Which, from our reading, are clearly identifiable as trickster tales?• Can you include others, or parts of others, that are not so easily identifiable?• What makes them trickster tales?• Which, from our reading, are trickster or trickster-like characters• What characteristics make them tricksters?• Morrison: ―Recitatif‖• Hughes: ―Passing‖ and ―Passing‖• Hughes: ―Who’s Passing for Who?‖• Chesnutt: ―The Passing of Grandison‖• Roth: The Human Stain• Feinberg: Stone Butch Blues• Hwang: M Butterfly
IN CLASS WRITING: SONG AS A TRICKSTER CHARACTER:How can we envision Song as a Trickster character?Which of the definitions does she fit?What are her goals as a trickster?How many people and how many ways is she fooling people?What is her motivation?What are the outcomes?Does Song help us ―better understand ourselves, and theperhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond tothe trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior‖? How?Or does she/he serve another purpose? Which?
HOMEWORK Reading: Review primary texts you might use in your essay. Writing: Finish and post in-class writing. Post #24: Discuss another character in terms of one of the traits we discussed in class today. For example, Jess Goldberg as a “shape shifter” or “cultural hero”; Grandison as “intellectually weak”; or Song as “physically weak”; maybe even the Iowans as “teachers.” Any of them might be discussed as “agents of change.” Or discuss “Grandison,” “Recitatif,” and “Who’s Passing as Who” as Trickster tales in the African American tradition. Next Class: We will meet in Library Lobby at 8:15 am for a library orientation and an opportunity to do research for your paper. Please do not be late. Plan to work until 9:45