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America for Beginners


A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual ...
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Discuss America for Beginners by Leah Franqui:
Authors use of threat of suicide

Created: 07/29/19

Replies: 15

Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elyseg

Join Date: 11/13/17

Posts: 21

Authors use of threat of suicide

The first chapter ends with Pival's stated intention to kill herself at the end of her trip. Do you think this threat was necessary or even useful to the telling of her story?


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 283

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I think it was a valid way for the author to portray her state of depression and grief, her desperation to escape the prison of her life. Which, in turn, explained why she would attempt such a journey, after years of mostly physical confinement to a few blocks around her house. I didn’t think of her threat as a serious intention.

I am curious about why you asked this question.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 239

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

This was a big question for me. I didn’t really understand why she wanted to do that especially if she found out her son was still alive. I wonder if living with her husband she lost so much of herself that she didn’t know how to move on without him


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josephinej

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 63

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I was a bit confused by this - it didn't seem to make sense to me. She's making the trip, hoping her son is alive (and after all, why should she trust anything her husband told her), but still making plans to kill herself. I thought it was a needless distraction.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1973

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

It felt to me entirely in keeping with Pival's state of mind. I don't think the author is intending to imply at all that she is intending to commit modern-day sati (an historical Hindu practice in which some widows would kill themselves following the death of their husband), but simply that she has no purpose left and doesn't see any reason to go on living without her son, the one person she loved (and I recollect at one point she even expressed a hope that she wouldn't be reborn because she couldn't see the next life being any better).


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 373

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I don't think she is threatening to commit suicide. She has not told this to anyone else. It is her state of mind, she has lived in an abusive relationship and now believes or worries that her son, the only person she loved, and who loved her, might be gone. If he is dead, her purpose for living would also be gone, and she would prefer not to be alive. She is deeply depressed and in her upbringing, it is wrong to share your feelings or emotions with another.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 36

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

Franqui uses Pival's threat of suicide to hook the readers into discovering why she would consider such an act. Even as we begin to understand her story, we have to wonder if she will follow through on her suicide or if she will find purpose in her life again.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 157

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I think Pival's thinking here shows the reader just how far she has moved away from being the hopeful, energetic, bright young college journalist. Her sense of self has been obliterated during her marriage to Ram. If Bhim was alive, her purpose would be restored. She would be able to find her worth again by being a mother.

She did pay the maid's salaries through the year and told them to take whatever they wanted from the house. To me those actions indicate she was more serious in her decision to end her life if Bhim was really dead- -thinking ahead that she might not return, nor have a need for money or things.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sooz

Join Date: 07/29/14

Posts: 49

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I agree that the threat of suicide was a real one that Pival had decided upon should she find out that Bhim was truly dead just as her husband had told her. Thus I agree with acstrine's post above.


Posted Aug. 08, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kateg

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 27

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I was not a fan of the suicide threat. It has been used in several recent novels to explain how distraught the characters are feeling and how they are lost and alone. I think authors can convey these feelings without bringing the plan or threat of suicide into the story. Bad things happen to people without them going directly to thoughts of suicide. In this story, I found it hard to believe that Pival would actually kill herself.


Posted Aug. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
veronica

Join Date: 10/17/12

Posts: 6

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I was also not a fan of the suicide threat. I agree with "kateg." Suicide in some countries does not have the same meaning or response that other countries believe. However, it is hard when you are down and out and alone.


Posted Aug. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tracyb

Join Date: 09/22/11

Posts: 85

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RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I thought that culturally this made sense. I had no doubt that Pival would commit suicide if Bhim was indeed dead. She felt that there was nothing left for her. I found it interesting that she planned a trip across America when she could have gone directly to CA. Okay then there would have been a different story.
Paying the staff for a full year made me think that Pival was a very kind and generous person.


Posted Aug. 16, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
xandrabk

Join Date: 04/16/19

Posts: 13

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I thought that the use of threat of suicide was a good way to let the readers know how and why such feelings exist. Suicidal thoughts are much more commonplace than most people realize.

I was thinking that she was basically saying that if her son was dead, she really did not have a reason to continue to live. She was no longer happy and felt that some things that happened could have been avoided. I think it was a good idea to include it.


Posted Aug. 19, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 21

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I think this was a very real thought that Pival had.. if she got to America and found that her son was indeed dead, she would have no more purpose to live. I think that through her journey to America, she found out that she had more purpose than she first believed .


Posted Aug. 21, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BuriedInPrint

Join Date: 08/03/19

Posts: 8

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

It certainly does add a degree of urgency to her story. I'd be curious to know if this was always an element of the character's development from the first draft or something added later in the editing process.

But maybe that's a cynical thought, because I do have a friend whose mother made that threat often and loudly, as a way of demonstrating her struggle with certain aspects of daily life but not an actual statement of her true intention/desire (not to suggest that this is the sort of threat one should not take seriously or that not carrying through with such a threat doesn't mean the pain isn't real and life-threatening).


Posted Aug. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teachlz

Join Date: 07/28/16

Posts: 43

RE: Authors use of threat of suicide

I do think this was an important part of the story. Pival was mourning, angry, depressed and conflicted about many things. I think Pival had partial hope that her son was still alive, and that kept her going, and even making the travel arrangements. Pival had also lost her feeling of self-worth, during her marriage to her husband. She was on a mission, and if she found that her son had died, she felt life wasn't worth living.


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