Freshman Connections

Sample Questions for Common Reader

1. Firoozeh Dumas tells some funny stories about her family’s experience living in this country. What were your favorites and why?

2. Dumas uses humor to tell us about her experiences as a newcomer to this country. How would the experience of reading this book differ for you if it were told from a more serious perspective?

3. Dumas writes about her family’s confusion over the names of American foods such as hot dogs and hush puppies and phrases such as “elbow grease” and “wild goose chase.” Can you think of other examples of American terms and names that might confuse newcomers? Have you ever traveled to another country and had a similar experience with language?

4. In what ways might you relate Dumas experience of starting a new life in this country with your coming to a new life in college?

5. How do you think Firoozeh’s family felt about her writing funny stories about them? How do you think your family would react if you wrote a book about them?

6. Firoozeh’s husband, François, has a significantly differently experience as an American immigrant than does Firoozeh. Why do you think that is?

7. Firoozeh’s parents don’t speak English fluently or understand American culture as well as she does and it sometimes led to embarrassment for her. Can you relate her experience to sometimes being embarrassed by your family?

8. What role did television play in Firoozeh’s family’s adjustment to American culture? Why do you think her father loved the Bob Hope show even when he couldn’t understand the jokes? Why do you think he was so fascinated by Bowling for Dollars?

9. What role does television play in your own life? Can you connect your media consumption to any of your hopes or dreams?

10. In order to fit in, Firoozeh changed her first name. Many immigrants to this country do the same thing. Could you change your name? How important is your name to your own sense of self?

11. Consider for a moment your own biases. How do you react to someone who doesn’t speak English or doesn’t speak it well? Do you make assumptions about that person’s intelligence?

12. The book is considered a memoir. What do you know about the memoir genre? Why is it not called an autobiography?

13. What is your own family’s migration story? Are there elements of the author’s story that match your family’s story?

14. Was there a story in the book that surprised you? Why?

15. What role does religion play in the book? What role does religion play in your own sense of identity?

16. Describe a time when someone made an incorrect assumption about you or your background. How did you feel? How did you respond?

17. Describe a time when you made an incorrect assumption about someone. What was that experience like? How was the situation resolved?

18. The author states that she wanted her text to be funny without being mean. Was there a story you felt may have crossed that line? Why?



























Freshman Connections
Melinda M. Messineo
Department of Sociology
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306

Phone: 765-285-5530
Fax: 765-285-5920
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