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The Shadow King


An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best ...
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Discuss The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste:
Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

Created: 09/16/20

Replies: 11

Posted Sep. 16, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2332

Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them: Hirut's rifle, Aster's necklace, Ettore's letters. What do you think accounts for the power of these physical objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar kind of strong personal significance?


Posted Sep. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janines

Join Date: 11/21/16

Posts: 17

Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life t

Hirat's gun and Aster's necklace were two objects that stood out to me. They both drove the characters to act in certain ways important to the author's portrayal of these characters, though at times I found each character's persistence in keeping or retrieving the object annoying. And maybe this annoyance is somewhat due to the fact that I may either not have any object that I would go to such lengths to procure, obtain or keep or that my life has been so much more one of privilege that I have never had things taken from me in the ways for example Hirut had her father's gun taken from her that I would need to go to such lengths.


Posted Sep. 21, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggya

Join Date: 06/03/15

Posts: 37

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

In our present day culture, we have an over abundance of possessions which probably serves to diminish the importance of such items. Having said that ,however, I do value a ring my mother passed on to me upon her death. It is a visible reminder of her total and complete love she shared with me.


Posted Sep. 21, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
phenkat

Join Date: 07/29/11

Posts: 17

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

Objects bring about memory and this book is very much about memory. I find objects that were once owned by family or close friends, or objects that were gifts to be most meaningful to me. To some extent I agree with peggya, we have so much stuff things do lose their importance. My children are in their 30s since they grew up with plenty, things come and go with very little significance to them.


Posted Sep. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bookfabulous

Join Date: 08/01/19

Posts: 15

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

Throughout the novel I felt there was an emphasis on the idea that one is forever connected to the past and it is in fact that connection that shapes who we ultimately become whether we live up to the calling or not.

This is something the author manifests through her character's attachment to certain objects. Hirut's rifle for example is her link not only to her forefathers but directly to her father for the rifle is witness not only to the war she is immersed in but was also witness to that of her father's the first time the Italians invaded Ethiopia and were defeated. For Hirut, this is something that serves to strengthen her resolve that victory is imminent and that by carrying her father's rifle to battle she is in fact conjuring her father's spirit as if her were in battle beside her.

There is also the photographer's obsession with his father's letter that may prove to be the last physical connection to a family he fears he will never see again. It is the only proof he might ever have of their existence without which he is completely alone.

There are so many other instances in the novel that reinforce the idea that objects can carry a spiritual essence which I found transformed them into their own characters in the novel and were therefore able to influence the actions and thoughts of their owners.


Posted Sep. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sandra54

Join Date: 05/01/13

Posts: 58

Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal

Certain objects in the book as someone mentioned, Hirut's gun and Aster's necklace, hold significance as they represent powerful memories. My grandmother's teaching certificate from a normal school represents stories my grandmother told me and her influence on my choice of career to be a teacher.


Posted Sep. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Elizabeth Marie

Join Date: 05/26/18

Posts: 60

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

Objects like Hirut’s rifle and Aster’s necklace have great meaning beyond any intrinsic value because they represent people and relationships that are significant to them. It reminds me of the possessions that people mention when they talk about loss and damage due to natural disasters. I never hear them say they have lost a valuable piece of jewelry or a an expensive car; instead they mourn the loss of family photos or items that have sentimental value. I have a pin that my father made for my mother while he was in the Navy. It is made of scrap metal but I cherish it.


Posted Sep. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 247

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

this exact topic just came up in my Book Club, as we discussed The Dutch House. I think the objects in The Shadow King were all related in that they represented something the owner of each had lost (son and parents). These objects are the only physical "presence" of their loved one their owners have.

After our discussion about The Dutch House, a book club member found the quote "things are just things" in another book she was reading. I think in this case the quote does not apply. Each of the characters found strength and courage in their precious objects- -Hirut always named herself as the daughter of Getey and Fasil. The rifle was an extension of her father and all Hirut had left. It soothed her and kept her centered. look at the author's dedication: To my father for never leaving me, even though you are gone.

Ettore finally heard the words he wanted to hear from his own father-the letter gave him what he always wanted most.

We relocated across the country several years ago. We disposed of most of our personal belongings. I struggled with my son's baby clothes, bedding, and toys. In the end, I opted to rent a small storage space. My memories are still too heavily linked with those items to be able to let them go.


Posted Sep. 29, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeto

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 27

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

I thought the importance given to objects was a bit exaggerated although I understand that memories and attachment can be represented by a gun, the necklace, a father's letter, etc. I thought the author did a better job of emphasizing the power fathers have over their sons. Almost without exception, the male characters were motivated by a need to make their fathers proud.


Posted Sep. 30, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 53

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

I found that the objects of the gun and the necklace are there to reminds these characters of the past and reason for wanting to be involved in the current events. Objects tend to spark vivid memories of the past and people associated with them.


Posted Oct. 14, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ashleighp

Join Date: 09/15/20

Posts: 4

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

I feel like the attachment to certain objects was a way for characters to feel they have maintained a part of who they were before painful events changed their lives forever. By clinging and sometimes obsessing or risking their lives for these objects they’ve felt they were keeping within grasp a part of themselves that is gone forever and can not be resurrected.


Posted Oct. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
audrey1

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 38

RE: Characters in The Shadow King are anchored by objects that carry great significance for them. What do you think accounts for the power of these objects? Are there any objects in your life that hold a similar personal significance?

As the situation became more and more desperate these objects took on a greater significance tying the characters back to the world of normalcy. I have the small coffee pot that my mother used each morning to make coffee with. I dont even drink coffee and when I see it sitting there it brings back a thousand memories of when she was a part of my everyday life. I also have her wedding cup and her wedding ring. Although she eventually got a more expensive ring from my father, her original ring brought about that never to be time when they fell in love and decided to join with each other into a new life.


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