Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paco's Story read-a-long - week 3 - chapter 5

In hindsight, I think it would have worked well if I had given a brief description regarding the part of the story that I have read for each week's questions.  That way you all knew what this book was about.

To give a brief summary, Paco is the only survivor of his battalion.  The one fight left everyone dead, except him.  He wasn't found for several days and when he was, nobody thought he would survive, but he did.  Now he has taken a bus as far as his money would take him and he is in a small town.  The owner of the local grill is a WWII veteran and gives Paco a job.   Paco isn't telling the story himself, we have a narrator that up till this point was unknown.

This chapter I think we learn more about Paco and what he is going through, mentally, now that he is back in the States.  A drifter comes into the diner one night and talks to Paco and Ernest about his experiences with the Vietnam war.   We also learn that Paco has a couple of dreams that he has every night or at least most nights.  We learn what happens in those dreams.  

Here are the questions for week 3:

1.  Is the identity of the narrator becoming more clear?
I think it's very clear who the narrator is, but I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to give it away to those who haven't read this book yet and want to.   I'm  happy with who the narrator is too.  I think it works very well for this story.     
2.  What is it about the work at the Texas Lunch that makes it so easy for Paco to assimilate?
if I'm understand the question correctly (it's been one of those days), I think it's because the work is basic, it's the same day in and day out.  He doesn't have to think about it, he just has to do it.  It's mindless.  I think it's what he wants and needs right now.  

3.  What is the purpose of the dream sequences?
I thought the dream sequence was interesting.   I think it shows us how Paco is dealing with the war, it shows more of his emotions and what he is going through.   It shows that he is scared, he has nightmares about what has happened.  He isn't numb to it.   I think it shows that his experiences do haunt him, that war haunts an individual long after they are home and not physically involved in it anymore.

4.  Why do you think Ernest and Jesse are so forthcoming with their war stories, but Paco is not?
I think Ernest and Jesse have had more time to come to terms with what happened.  I also think what Paco went through was a bit worse.  I'm not saying Ernest and Jesse didn't go through a lot and see a lot and experience a lot.  I just think that Paco went through something different, a bit harder, than they did.  He was the only person in his battalion to survive, and he was alone and near death for several days.  That is going to stay with a guy.  I think he's not ready to talk about it yet, I think he doesn't really understand how to cope with it yet. 


Serena said...

I think you are right that Paco has experienced something far worse than the other veterans we meet, but I also think that he's still not completely out of the war yet. Given his nightly dreams and fear, it seems like Paco remains in a state of limbo where he relives the war over and over.

Kris said...

I agree Serena - I think he's probably suffering ptsd and it's going to be awhile before he sleeps without nightmares.

Anna said...

We're still on the same page here. ;)

I can't wait for your final thoughts on the book. It was more powerful for me the second time around.