Please read this passage from pages 79-80 of the book, Distant Star:
Wieder travelled inside the cloud like Jonah inside the whale. For a while, the spectators awaited his thundering reappearance. A few began to get the uneasy feeling they had been tricked, left sitting there on makeshift stands at the Captain Lindstrom airstrip, staring at a sky that would yield only rain, not poetry. But most of them took advantage of the pause to get up from their seats, stretch their legs, mingle, greet friends or acquaintances, join the groups that kept forming and breaking up just as someone was about to chip in with a comment on the latest rumours, who”d been promoted to which position or the grave problems the nation was facing. The younger and livelier members of the crowd were gossiping about recent parties and who was going out with whom. Soon even Wieder”s die-hard fans, rather than waiting in silence for the plane to reappear or reading all manner of omens in the blank sky, launched into down-to-earth discussions of everyday matters whose relevance to Chilean art or poetry was tenuous, to say the least.
Wieder”s plane emerged far from the airstrip, over an outlying suburb of Santiago. There he wrote the first line: Death is friendship. Then he flew over some railway sheds and what appeared to be disused factories, although down in the streets he could make out people dragging cardboard boxes, children climbing on fences, dogs. To the left, at nine o”clock, he recognised two enormous shanty towns, separated by the railway tracks. He wrote the second line: Death is Chile. Then he swung round to three o”clock and headed for the city centre. Soon the river-like avenues appeared, the lattice of dull-hued snakes and ladders, the river itself, the zoo, the few high-rise buildings that were the city”s pride. Seen from the air, as Wieder himself noted somewhere, a city is like a photo ripped into pieces, which, counter-intuitively, seem to scatter: a fragmentary, shifting mask. Over the presidential palace of La Moneda, he wrote the line: Death is responsibility. Some pedestrians saw him: a beetle-like silhouette against the dark and threatening sky.
Do a close reading of this passage from Roberto Bolano”s Distant Star. In your reading, you may consider the following points: the narrator”s interests in Wieder”s story; the significance of the air show and Wieder”s political/poetic notoriety among his military/university peers; the relation between those who are invited (pilots, officers, journalists, artists etc) and those who are not (shanty-town spectators, etc); the relation between art and politics (and the right to free speech); the notion of double identities; poetic constancy and timing: how each devoted line Wieder writes reflects the setting that emerges through his plane window; the unreliability of the narrator”s narration of this event; how this scene ties in with the “photo” scene that follows and the ending of the novel (when the narrator identifies Wieder in a café, and later, Wieder”s alleged death).
Type of question, and guidelines needed to pass this exercise:
? This is a close reading exercise, and requires skill in analysis.
? Use the considerations above to guide you in analysing this passage and shedding light to the meanings of the text. You do not have to consider them all. In fact, be selective in your focus/aim.
? Your response does not have to be set out as an essay, but ideas must still be well organised into appropriate and succinct paragraphs and sentences, and your response must be well developed into a cohesive and coherent argument, with an aim.
? You may still refer to other parts of the text, but your focus is here, on this passage.
? You do not need to use secondary sources for this question. You can, if you feel impelled to (but no websites, other than those recommended on vUWS).
? Reference correctly (in MLA or Harvard style).
? Practice correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and good academic register.
? Response word length is 800wds (including quotes; excluding references).
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