Discussion Notes Chapters 8 & 9 Chapter 8 Pg. 179: “Helen and Lib would be preparing breakfast …” Are there clear gender roles established after the Day/before the Day? Pgs. 180: “Very soon, they would have neither flashlights nor any means of receiving radio except through the Admiral’s short wave.” Randy and company are running low on important supplies … Chapter 8 Pg. 180 (Continued) Characterization – “He (Randy) no longer regarded whiskey as a drink.” Why does Randy no longer regard whiskey as a drink? How has he changed since the beginning of the novel? What does the previous quote indicate about his character (after the Day)? Pg. 180: “Whiskey you could make, given the proper equipment and ingredients. But coffee came from South America …” Coffee is an imported luxury that Americans enjoy. What other imported luxuries might you miss if you were in Randy’s position? Chapter 8 Pg. 181: Preparedness – “The sight of Peyton enriched Randy’s mornings. She was brash and buoyant … unsinkable and unafraid.” Focus on the phrase in bold. What, beyond the obvious, does this reveal about Peyton and her influences? Pgs. 184: Racial Tensions – “Randy was conscious that the Henrys supplied more than their own share of food for the benefit of all …” Is race still an issue in Fort Repose, Florida? Let’s discuss specifically what the Henrys have/are contributing to Randy and company: Chickens, Pigs, Corn, Sugar Cane … Chapter 8 Pg. 185 – “Randy’s first impulse was to say no, that this wasn’t a job for a thirteen year old boy.” What job is Randy nervous about handing over to Ben? Why is this job especially important to everyone? Pg. 186-7 – “I’ve got three serious cases of radiation poisoning.” Who is suffering? Porky Logan, Bigmouth Bill Cullen, Pete Hernandez – We’ll come back to them … Chapter 8 Pg. 187: “Since The Day, the demand for her services had multiplied…It was a surprise, and a delight, to see children devour books. Without ever knowing it, they were receiving an education.” Why would a librarian become more important after The Day? What character trait to Alice Cooksey and Florence now share? Why are children suddenly so interested in reading? Pg. 188: “It was strange, she thought, pedaling steadily, that it should require a holocaust to make her own life worth living.” How does it seem Alice felt about her life before The Day? After? Chapter 8 Pg. 190: “The laws of hunger and survival could not be evaded, and honored no color line.” What does Pat Frank mean by this statement? Has racism dissolved since The Day? How so? Pgs. 193: “If Man retained faith in God, he might also retain faith in Man.” What triggers this thought in Randy? (Hint: What does he read?) Consider also this new kind of communication in the absence of television, newspapers, etc. Is it effective? Chapter 8 Pg. 196: “Randy wondered whether he was being selfish, trading for coffee.” What does this consideration reveal about Randy’s character? Has he changed since the beginning of the novel? What does he end up leaving with? Pg. 200: Re-read Randy’s description of Rita. What do you gather from how he describes her? How does Pat Frank paint a picture for his readers? What kind of past did Randy and Rita share? Chapter 8 Pgs. 202-3: “Don’t your new women like Scotch, Randy? I hear you’ve got two women in your house now. Which one are you sleeping with, Randy?” How has Randy changed? How does Rita’s attitude disappoint Randy? Does Rita seem to be prepared in life following The Day? What has she been trading? Pg. 204: “A bit of blackened skin flaked away, leaving raw flesh beneath.” What did the sore on Rita’s finger come from? What does her sore indicate? What might be ironic about Porky’s name given what we learn of his greed? What is Porky’s fate? Chapter 8 Pg. 208: “There are a lot of people around here who still don’t know what radiation means. They hear about it, but I don’t think they believe it.” We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the importance of preparedness. What does this say of people in general after The Day? Pg. 210 – “I have drugs only for those worth saving.” Dan Gunn says this at the end of Chapter 8. Why? What does this say of human nature and the stability of civilization? Chapter 9 Pg. 213: “Porky’s a menace and the jewelry is deadly. Bubba, what we’ve got to have is a lead-lined coffin.” Why do Dan and Randy have to address this issue with Bubba Offenhaus? Why is it imperative that he be buried in a lead-lined coffin? Pg. 215: “He stepped in front of Dan, lifted the flap of his holster, and drew out the .45 …” This indicates a real turning-point in Randy and reveals his new role as a true leader among the survivors. Chapter 9 Pg. 216-7: “Authority had disintegrated in Fort Repose…He had assumed leadership and he was not sure why.” This will become even more important very soon … Pg. 218: “Yet if they could manufacture corn whiskey it would be like finding coffee beans. Whiskey was a negotiable money crop.” For what can whiskey be used and how would this be helpful to everyone? Who comes up with this new idea? Chapter 9 Pg. 219: “What will happen to the birth rate is anybody’s guess. And yet, this is only nature’s way of protecting the race. Nature is proving Darwin’s law of natural selection.” What does Dan Gunn mean here? Let’s discuss “Survival of the Fittest” … what does that imply? Are future generations at great risk? How? Pg. 220-1: Mrs. Vanbruuker-Brown, Acting President, calls for Reserve and National Guard Officers to take on leadership roles in cities where organized public safety no longer exists. Who specifically in “Alas, Babylon” does this now include? Chapter 9 Pg. 222 – Helen’s emotional outburst Until this point, Helen has appeared strong and well- prepared. Does her reaction surprise you? As a result of Helen’s outburst, readers learn more about Lib’s past. What do we learn? How might this help her and others in the future? Pg. 225 – “Did you ever hear a little girl say ‘If I grow up’ before?” Randy is disturbed by Peyton’s practical, yet depressing outlook on the future. Chapter 9 Consider this! At many points in the novel, Randy seems to be developing a kind of hopeful attitude toward the future and his new life. Does he maintain this attitude? How does Pat Frank depict Randy and other characters emotionally? Is life a “rollercoaster”? How so? Pg. 226: “Without communications, the simplest mechanical failure could turn into a nightmare and disaster.” Dan Gunn is missing and it is quickly getting dark outdoors. This presents several complications. Chapter 9 Pg. 230-3: Randy and Lib visit Admiral Hazzard in the hopes of finding Dan. They are unsuccessful, but learn that Dmitri Torgatz, “a minor league bureaucrat”, is in control of Russia. Pg. 235-6: “Once both sides had maximum capability in hydrogen weapons and efficient means of delivering them there was no sane alternative to peace. It takes two to make a peace but only one to make a war.” Admiral Hazzard is knowledgeable about the mechanics of war and reveals in the quote above where both the U.S.S.R. and the United States went wrong. Chapter 9 Pg. 240: “In his concern for Dan, he did not immediately think of what this loss meant to all of them.” What happens to Dan Gunn and what do you think Pat Frank is foreshadowing here? Pg. 241: “There were human jackals for every human disaster.” Interpret this quote. Do you believe this? How is this true at this particular moment in the novel? Chapter 9 Pg. 243: The German Shepherd How does Ben react following his “kill”? How does he reveal both “preparedness” and innocence? Why is this event ultimately good news for the Henrys and Randy, etc.?
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