Sorrow of War Book Essay Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If your students are reading 'The Sorrow of War' by Bao Ninh, you have a wonderful chance to talk to them about important themes. This lesson offers some topics that will help students write meaningful essays about 'The Sorrow of War.'

Writing About The Sorrow of War

Are your students reading Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War? This book will give your students a chance to think about important themes like the nature of war and violence, what it means to grieve, and the role that memories can play in the lives of individuals, among other things. It might also be the first opportunity your students have to reflect on the Vietnam War from the perspective of a Vietnamese person.

One way to help make sure students get as much as possible out of the novel is to assign them to write essays. Writing essays not only gives students a chance to practice the writing process, but it also encourages them to develop their own voices in relation to the text and its themes. The essay prompts in this lesson will help your students think deeply and critically about The Sorrow of War.

Topics About Characters

Here, you will find essay prompts having to do with the different characters in the novel.

  • How would you describe Kien as a person? Name several of his most prominent character traits, providing evidence from the text to support each of the characteristics that you name.
  • How does Kien change over the course of his lifetime? How does the way the novel handles time help you understand the different ways Kien changes and evolves? What are some of the most significant factors that influence his changes as a person?
  • What is the nature of Kien's relationship with his family and why? How can you understand the different relationships he has or had with his parents? How have these relationships impacted his own development?
  • Describe Kien's mother as a person. What are her most important motivations? Why is she so interested in Communism and how does this influence her personality and relationships?
  • How can you understand Kien's father as a person? What are his most important underlying personality traits? What can we learn through his character about what it means to be an artist?
  • What do you know and understand about Phuong? Who is she and why is she so important in the novel? How is Kien's vision of her idealized and why does this matter in terms of how we are able to understand both of their characters and their relationship?

Topics About Plot

The topics in this section will focus your students' attention on the plot and how it unfolds.

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