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The Mountains Sing


Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award: A multi-generational tale set ...
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How might the novel differ if it had male narrators? Why do you think the author chose to have women and girls tell the story instead?

Created: 03/18/21

Replies: 17

Posted Mar. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

How might the novel differ if it had male narrators? Why do you think the author chose to have women and girls tell the story instead?

War stories are often told from a male perspective. In The Mountains Sing, Huong and Grandma Dieu Lan take turns narrating their stories. How might the novel differ if it had male narrators? Why do you think the author chose to have women and girls tell the story instead?


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 67

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I am sure that the book would still be worth reading if the narrators were male. However, I think being female increases the vulnerability of the narrating characters and also allows the emphasis on the events affecting the family to seem more intimate.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 504

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I think that by creating female narrators the author is able to keep the focus on how the war affected Vietnamese families. Had there been male narrators, the conversation would have had more to do with war and wouldn't have felt so intimate.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 136

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

Women and girls have generally been assigned the task of carrying cultural values and attitudes forward. The traditional ways of religion, cooking, caring for babies and children and perpetuating stories are more concentrated with the female members of the family. They are less likely to be involved in battle. More likely to have less access to the basic required to survive. Male narrators would have told a different story.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
catherynez

Join Date: 01/27/18

Posts: 64

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I agree with the above answers. The women narrators describe the relationships and family connections. Male narrators would provide a different perspective and probably describe the war situations in more detail.


Posted Mar. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jazzming

Join Date: 03/19/21

Posts: 21

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

Yes to what everyone has said. The whole tone of the story would have changed if it was told through one of the brothers or a son. Men and women are taught about war in a different way. I think these roles are gently and slowly changing over time as the edges of extreme violence have changed. Still ever present but at least acknowledged in a different way.
Having it be a girl protagonist helped the historical side of things for me because I am a feeler first and it is so important to me to focus on the feeling of the times and culture rather than the the historical facts and events.
This is why I love a good historical fiction book, it is more than just a history lesson, it is an imaginative window into the feelings of the times...even if the author has not in fact experienced the time.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melissa c.

Join Date: 01/10/21

Posts: 47

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I also agree with what everyone wrote. I saw Grandma as the matriarch of this family, passing down her stories, trials and tribulations to her granddaughter; a much more emotional approach to the novel.

It would have been interesting to have alternating chapters or portions of the book written from one of the male family members to get a different perspective.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynu

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 9

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

From those males I know having returned from war explain how they felt and what actually transpired, feeling the pain and loss of life would not have been as emotionally detailed.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PKH

Join Date: 01/29/21

Posts: 34

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

As a woman, I don’t think I would have connected as much to the storyline if it was from a male perspective. I think a male trying to convey all the events and emotions would have seemed fake.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 59

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I agree with all that has been said. Women tend to be more aware of the family and it's needs and a need for continuity of the past generations. Men do have empathy but are more concerned with the mechanics of war.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lauriel

Join Date: 01/10/21

Posts: 6

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I also agree with all of the previous responses. That being said, I have given some thought to how the story would be told through the eyes of Grandma and 2 protagonists - Huong and either Dat or Sang. Perhaps we would be able to gain an understanding of how a young man such as Sang -(brought up in the Buddhist tradition of non violence) participates in combat against humanity and possibly his own family.


Posted Mar. 25, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cassandraw

Join Date: 09/02/20

Posts: 7

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

War stories told from a male perspective would have focused on the strategy of war, casualties, winning/losing, military tactics etc. Female narrators in this story focused on the physical dislocations, emotional and psychological trauma and the transcendence of hope and love of family.


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ColoradoGirl

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 103

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

War stories told from the male perspective often center around the battles since they are often the ones away in war while this one one female narrators focused on those left at home and how they cope. It would be interesting to have alternating chapters from a male perspective, but I think that would have changed the whole tone of the book.


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shelleys

Join Date: 06/19/19

Posts: 7

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

i found the female narrators and protagonist to add a much needed dimension to a story about the impact and the costs of war. Imagining a mother sending all her sons and in this case a daughter as well into a war zone is very different from hearing from the soldiers themselves. What life was like for civilians adds a depth to the experience of living through a war. The characters were very well drawn and inspirational.


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MimiJo

Join Date: 02/28/20

Posts: 24

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

Using women as the tellers of the story greatly enhanced how a family evolved in Vietnam and even in the different areas of the country right down to customs and dialects. A male view would not have focused on the honoring of the family.


Posted Apr. 06, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ireneh

Join Date: 11/22/19

Posts: 29

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

Paulagb did an excellent job of summarizing the difference between the male and the female perspectives of war. Women of almost every culture are encouraged to support the male patriarchy in its decisions about war or peace. When they (we) protest, the backlash from large segments of our society is often cruel, critical, and demeaning. There is even a string of thought in American society which attributes sexual deviance both to women who go to war and to women who oppose it.
Sadly, for them, men are enculturated to glorify war as heroic, masculine and ultimately honorable. They suffer greatly from being denied the emotional release which women are afforded and are encouraged to dehumanize the "enemy" in order to kill more efficiently. PTSD is often the result. War, from a male perspective is about us versus them, even when it isn't.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
debra

Join Date: 09/02/20

Posts: 23

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

I was continually reminded of the strength and grit of women. I liked that. Had it been told by a male narrator, it would have been a different story.


Posted Apr. 17, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 462

RE: How might the novel differ if it had...

The women and girls are primarily the people staying behind. For people to truly understand what war means, it is important to see the devastation on innocent citizens. Think of nightly news stories in our own country and the shock we feel/ the focus of reporters when young children are the victims - from Sandy Hook elementary school first graders to the daycare center of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995 and on and on. Narration by those staying home during wars helps readers to understand different points of view.


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