A Complicated Kindness Summary Sheet

Topics: Mennonite, Menno Simons, A Complicated Kindness Pages: 6 (1181 words) Published: April 5, 2011
A Complicated Kindness Summary Sheet

Core Mennonite Beliefs
* First and foremost: Christians
* Specific Mennonite philosophies
* Non violence
* No circumstances
* Mennonites are exempt from going to war
* Rejection of the world
* Should focus on heaven
* Things in real life are distractions
* Community
* Strong emphasis on doing charity and helping each other * Putting faith into action
* Actions reflect inner-self

Religious fundamentalism and the coming-of-age novel
* Coming of age
* The achievement of maturity
* Transition from childhood to adulthood
* Fundamentalist religions have strict code for adult behavior * Coming-of-age novels set in fundamentalist communities often feature a protagonist who rebels against religious authority * Coming-of-age novels set in fundamentalist communities tend to end either with: * The protagonist coming to a more mature understanding of his/her religion OR * The protagonist rejecting his/her religion

Significance of the songs
* Rejection of Mennonite values
* Yet some songs have Christian themes
* Embracing of secular world
* Connection to other characters
* Tash
* Trudie
* Ray
* Travis
* Other young people

* It does not exist
* Wanders around, frequent flashbacks
* Lack of traditional plot
* Realistic
* Reflects Nomi’s life has no structure
* Suspense
* Confusion connects readers to Nomi
* Feels trapped in Mennonite society
* Lack of guidance
* Rejecting to constraints of Mennonite society
* Depressed
* Rebellion
* Music – wishes for a life free of constraints
* Family
* High
* High school assignment

* Addressed to a specific reader
* Writing to her English teacher – Mr. Quiring

Nomi’s difficulty with language
* “I’m pretty bad with uh . . . words” (Toews 268). * “I also only said half of what I meant and only half of that made any sense, which is, I admit, a generous appraisal of my communication skills” (Toews 130). * Often doesn’t say what’s on her mind

* Worries about what to say in between Travis’s songs
* Frequently trails off . . .
* Similar to her father
* Has difficulty with written assignments in English

* Father just as wordless as Nomi is, as devastated
* Disconnected with wider community
* Disconnected with the world she’s interested in

Words as connection to outside world
* Graffiti on trains
* Literature
* Nomi is very well read
* Tash has a city library card
* Music

* Gets little bits of outside world
* Have small library
* Banned to watch movies and television
* Older Mennonites have their mother tongue, different from English and French

Word as rebellion and escape
* Cigarettes in mouth
* Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth
* Poster on Nomi’s wall (Toews 99)
* Broken English by Marianne Faithfull
* One of Tash’s favorite singers

* Instead of using mouth to communicate, she puts a cigarette in * Have thoughts but does not know how to express

Words as painful
* Nomi lacks the language to discuss her family’s tragedy * Adults do not explain

Portrayal of fundamentalist community
* Reflect on the novel’s portrayal of the Mennonite community * Negative aspects portrayed?
* Positive aspects portrayed?
* Charity
* Kindness of community members
* Will pray for Nomi
* Offer her Bible verses as comfort
* Ray

Nomi embraces/adapts certain Mennonite values
* “I may be a disappointment to Menno Simons but I would like him to know that I have carved, out of the raw material that he has provided, a new faith....
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