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Canto by Ann Patchett
is set somewhere in
, at the home of the country's Vice
President, where a lavish birthday party is
being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a
powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss,
opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized
the international guests with her singing. It
is a perfect evening -- until a band of
gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the
air-conditioning vents and takes the entire
party hostage. What begins as a panicked,
life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into
something quite different.
Patchett was born in
in 1963, the youngest daughter of her nurse
mother and police officer father. She has won
a variety of awards for her writing.
Roxanne Coss. What is it about her that
makes such an impression on the other
hostages and the terrorists?
does her singing and the music relate to
though he is given the opportunity to
leave the mansion, Father Arguedas elects
to stay with the hostages. Why does he
decide to stay when he risks the
possibility of being killed?
role does religion play in the story?
are numerous instances in the story where
Mr. Hosokawa blames himself for the
hostages' situation. Whom do you think is
and Mr. Hosokawa speak different
languages and require Gen to translate
their conversations. Do you think it's
possible to fall in love with someone to
whom you cannot speak directly?
the love affairs of Gen and Carmen, and
Roxanne and Mr. Hosokawa. What are the
elements that define each relationship?
fog and mist, lifts after the hostages
are in captivity for a number of weeks.
How does this observation about
the weather mirror what is happening
inside the Vice President's mansion?
one point Carmen says to Gen, "'Ask
yourself, would it be so awful if we all
stayed here in this beautiful
house?'" (p. 206). And towards the
end of the story it is stated: "Gen
knew that everything was getting better
and not just for him. People were
happier." Messner then says to him,
"'You were the brightest one here
once, and now you're as crazy as the rest
of them'" (pg. 302). What do you
think of these statements? Do you really
believe they would rather stay captive in
this house than return to the
When the hostages are finally rescued,
Mr. Hosokawa steps in front of Carmen to
save her from a bullet. Do you think Mr.
Hosokawa wanted to die?
story is told by a narrator who is
looking back and recounting the events
that took place. What do you think of
this technique? Did it enhance the story,
or would you have preferred the use of a
questions adapted from those developed by