Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of Jennifer Egan’s short story “Black Box.”
To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.
Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.
- Do you think her life went back to normal after she returned?
- What do you think would have happened if she used one of her devices wrong and her designated mate found out?
- Do you think she went on this voluntary mission to feel successful like her husband and father?
- Why do you think she chose now in her life to go be a spy?
- Do you think there is a secret society of spy beauties?
- What does the author do in the story to ‘defamiliarize’ or create a sense of detachment? What does this potentially say about humanity in relation to either patriarchal society, traumatic experiences, or sacrificing for the greater good?
- Why do you think the author decided to publish this story in a series of tweets? What influence does this have on her writing and overall comprehension in readers? What about the various illustrations included throughout the story?
- Do you support the notion that this story is about feminism/female empowerment? Why or why not?
- This story does not align exactly with the stereotypical ‘sci-fi’ genre. Meaning, while it does feature advanced technology and alternative life situations, it still seems plausible in today’s society. This being said, what do you think the story could be an allegory or symbol of other than patriarchy?
- What difference does it make that the story is written in second-person narrative? How do you think this contributes to the paradox of the main character being a ‘black box’ and us readers seemingly reading her black box itself?
- How does having the story in second-person perspective affect the theme?
- Before handing over the recording of her mission she can edit and delete personal thoughts, does she include these personal thoughts intentionally?
- How far is too far when it comes to patriotism?