Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Summer Prince: Questions

Even before I finished reading The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson I realized that I had some questions, or points that I wanted to study. I hope to explore a few of them during my next reading of the book (whenever that will be) so I wanted to put them down here.

If you're sensitive to spoilers and haven't read the book, you might want to skip this post. There are a few questions that are definitely spoilers, including one that will spoil the ending.

1) What's the symbolism of the tree(s)? (Tree of life?)

2) Matriarchy vs. patriarchy. Both are shown as being problematic. What are the differences (if any) between the two? Are either shown as having any actual good points in the novel?

3) Patriotism. What is it?

4) What makes a traitor?

5) What is art?

6) Compare to Gilgamesh.
a. How does June fit into the picture?
b. Enkidu is a wild man to be tamed. Enki is wild, but remains untamed. Why?
c. Gil doesn't seem to be a king of any sort. What's up with that?
d. Themes of death/immortality in epic vs. novel.
e. Or is there really anything to compare here? It's easier to list differences than similarities. I may have just gotten focused on this since it's what first got my attention about the book.

7) What changes June's relationship with her mother (and step-mother)? What is the turning point of that?

8) Why does Enki want to be king? I'm not sure if that was never said, or if I just missed it when I was busy blinking in surprise at how much is packed into this novel.

9) Why is the step-mother different from the other Aunties? Or is she?

10) Exile theme -- Enki, his mother.

11) Why do the aunties start calling Enki prince? Why does that fail to diminish his power? And why is the novel titled The Summer Prince instead of The Summer King?

12) Was it Enki's plan from the beginning to choose a different queen? If not, when/why did he come up with that idea?

I'm sort of wanting to compare this book to The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Some of the questions are the same, such as questions about patriotism, what makes a traitor, and exile. And yes they're both science fiction, but they're also very different books. Why am I wanting to say they're somehow similar?

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