Discussion Week 5: “The Fiery Siringo”

Discussion Week 5: “The Fiery Siringo”

Note: If you’re running behind schedule on your reading, no worries. Feel free to comment on prior posts as you catch up. There’s no reason the conversation can’t continue!

Discussion Introduction
Week 1: “A Thousand a Day”
Week 2: “The Old Desperate”
Week 3: “Jack Waits”
Week 4: “The 101″
Week 5: “The Fiery Siringo”
Week 6: “The Rarotongans”

Welcome to Week 5—“The Fiery Siringo”—In which we witness a showdown.

“And so it came down to a farmhouse. As it so often does.”

Siringo and Becket have a complicated relationship.  They are simultaneously archenemies and closely-tied traveling companions.

1) In what other stories is there an antagonist who reminds you of Siringo? A protagonist who reminds you of Becket? Archenemies with similar dynamics?

After exposing Becket’s lack of attention to detail when they encountered the boy (whose father had promised to take him to the ocean) in Ingersoll, Siringo chides, “Well, heavens, Becket! No wonder your medicine’s all dried up.”—p.166

And then in the following paragraph, Becket proceeds to describe in great detail the plants, homes, and people he encounters in the town.

2) What do you think Enger was trying to achieve with the juxtaposition of Siringo’s comment and Becket’s astute observations?

“That’s the failure of most people,” he declared. “They don’t want the bad news. Everything’s got to be good news! So they’ll subscribe to the Proverbs, which feel nice and hopeful, and ignore Ecclesiastes, where old Sol is wiser than ever and has finally figured out what all those instructions of his are actually worth.” Siringo—p.166

“All the same,” I ventured, “since we haven’t a choice but can only make the best of things as given, I would rather live among people who try to uphold the Proverbs.” Becket—P. 177

3)  What do you make of Siringo’s take on Ecclesiastes? Do you think it’s accurate?

4)  How do these two viewpoints set up an important dichotomy between Siringo and Becket? Do you see similarities between the two men?

“Most men are hero and devil. All men.”—p.190

5)   Where do you see both hero and devil in Siringo, Becket, Glendon, and Hood? Can you think of a believable story in which this principle isn’t accurate?

“Twenty people are enough to make a legend.”—p.210

6)  Where in the book does the presence (or absence) of a crowd become relevant? What other factors contribute to making a legend?

Bonus question:

Where did the title “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” come from?