After Reading Sarah Vowell’s personal essay “Shooting Dad,” your group will present a thorough response to one of the questions below.
Due Date: Friday, September 2. Maximum 5-minute presentation.
1. Define “allusion.” Then, identify and explain several allusions in this text.
2. What is the effect of the opening paragraph as a description of setting? How does Vowell play with political and historical terms to characterize the conflict between her and her father?
3. Why do you think Vowell does not begin the essay with paragraph 3 (“I am a gunsmith’s daughter”)? What does Vowell achieve with those opening two paragraphs?
4. How do the two “territories” (paragraph 7) of Vowell and her dad reflect the values and personalities of each? Notice the concrete detail.
5. Vowell develops her essay through a series of stories or vignettes. What are they and how do they contribute to primary narrative?
6. The background recounted in paragraphs 16-19 is not part of the essay Vowell read on the radio. What does this story add to the content, theme, and/or tone of the printed piece? Why do you think that Vowell chose to cut it from the oral version?
7. In terms of both style and meaning, how does the narrative about the cannon culminate the essay? During this incident what remains the same as always between her and her dad? What has changed? Why is this such a revelation?
8. Why does Vowell conclude that her dad is an artisit, one who has “his last Gesamtkunstwerk1 all planned out” (paragraph 31)?
9. How would you describe the tone of the final paragraph?