Reactions of Bel Canto Title=Bel Canto Author=James McBride

Essay by Punjabi-Bl00dzHigh School, 12th gradeA, December 2008

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My initial reactions after finishing this novel was how brilliant James McBride wrote this book without ever leaving a moment without a picture. The author provided details, explanations, and comparisons all through out the book, making it easy for the reader to catch on. This book is not really what I was hoping it would be, however, it is still something that kept me entertained all summer long. I really enjoyed how the author explained every little detail, which made reading and relating to this novel very easy.

Section 1-I really enjoyed the reading so far. The author really portrayed a good way of catching the reader in with the first few pages. I was really interested after turning just a few of the pages. One theme that I saw that emerges through the writing is love in tragedy. When the terrorists and the generals barge into the party taking complete control, the French ambassador, Simon Thibault, immediately hugs his wife even though he is in great danger.

This theme prevails throughout the first-third of the novel while the terrorists hold the people in the party as hostages.

So far in the reading all we know is that the terrorists are mere children who are asking for President Masuda, however he is not at the party but at home watching his soap opera. The narrator of the novel starts to tell stories about some individuals in the party. He describes Simon Thibault and his wife. The terrorists then collect information from the hostages, deciding which hostage is more important therefore more valuable to them then the others.

Section 2-At this point in the novel I am still enjoying the reading. What I have learned so far is that these terrorists come from poor backgrounds. When one of the terrorists turns on the TV he is alarmed because he has never seen a working television before. One of the hostages is Watanabe and he becomes a link between all of the hostages in the room because he can speak many different languages. It appears as the terrorists are becoming a little more sympathetic towards the hostages because they let the hostages do whatever they want. For example, Roxanne realized that since she was going to be a hostage for a while, she needed to start practicing her singing again, the terrorists don’t’ mind her singing at all. Everyone appears glum while being held hostage until Roxanne starts to sing. Roxanne completely transforms the mood of everybody when she starts to sing. The government then starts bringing in raw food instead of cooked ones, making the hostages feel as if they are being forgotten. General Benjamin is introduced further in this section of the reading. I learned that Benjamin was a schoolteacher until his brother was arrested and imprisoned for handing out flyers during a political protest. After that, he joined the terrorist group La Familia de Martin Suarez.

Section 3-This part of the reading was really interesting. The terrorists and hostages are really connecting. For example, Hosokawa plays chess with General Franklin and actually connect. Hosokawa believes his life has changed since the terrorists came. He doesn’t really worry for his family as much as he did before. Then one day Roxanne didn’t sing and Cesar, the terrorist started to sing. Everyone was shocked to hear Cesar sing. The hostages also go outside in a very long time. They are amazed to see the outdoors. Mr. Hosokawa is in love with Roxanne Coss, but he doesn’t believe that their relationship will withstand in the outside world. Then one day the government comes in and kills most of the terrorists including Cesar and General Benjamin. MR. Hosokawa was killed when he stepped between Carmen and the government to try and save her. From these events we can see that the hostages were connecting with the terrorists. The hostages actually started to like the terrorists and became very closely associated with them, which is why Mr. Hosogawa gave his life trying to save Carmen.

Bibliography:McBride, James. Bel canto. Minneapolis: Riverside, 1998.