ELA 10A Summer Assignment
By: Ibrahim Gilani
Book: When We Were Orphans


1.     Identify 3 important quotations from the book. Select one from the beginning, middle, and end of the novel to illustrate the depth of your reading. Type the quotation exactly as it appears in the book and cite the page number. Underneath each quotation write 3-5 sentences that describe why the particular quotation is essential to the meaning of the work as a whole.

Ans 1. " One feels so idealistic at your age. Longs to be the great detective of the day. To root out single-handedly all the evil in the world." (Page 16)

Christopher Banks throughout the whole book is obsessed with finding his parents. It is also the reason he became a detective. Throughout the book he tries to figure out what happened to his parents and find them with the naive belief that they would still be in the same shape as he last saw them. He believes that he can conquer whatever evil forces kept him away from his parents and that in the end he'll be able to fix everything.

"It's all right I'm not upset. After all, they were just things. When you've lost your mother and your father, you can't care much about things. " (Page 140)

Jennifer says this to Mr. Banks when he tells her that all her old things from her old house were lost. This can also be very closely related to the rest of the book and Christopher Banks, as ever since his parents disappeared he hasn't stopped looking for them even though his life had moved on and he had become a famous detective and he has anything he could possibly wish for.

"But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best as we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm." (Page 336)

This quote is very representative of the book as a whole as throughout the book we see Christopher Banks whole life and how his parents' disappearance was not something he was able to move past, even though his life went on in every aspect. He lives his life sort of like a second job, where all it does is try to support his first job, which was finding his parents. And although he did not succeed he was able to meet his mother even though she did not know who he was. After that he was able to come to terms with himself and find internal peace after that whole ‘parent disappearing fiasco'.

2.     Identify and describe a minor character with major importance. Why is this character so important to the plot?

Ans 2 . A minor character was Wang K u who never even showed up in the book but was vital as he had taken Christopher's mother as his concubine and was the reason for her disappearance. If he hadn't taken his mother there would have been no plot.

3.     Identify and describe the main setting of the book. In what ways does the setting shape and define the meaning of the work?

Ans 3. The main setting of the book is Shanghai. It shapes the work, as that was where Christopher was raised and also where his parents disappeared. It is also a place in the middle of a war with Japan where it is dangerous and where Christopher tries to find his parents. The high danger also shows the risks Christopher is willing to take just to find his parents. It is also a place that is addicted to opium, which was what his mother was trying to get rid of.
4.     Many works of literature contain a character who is perceived as a villain, or one who simply intentionally deceives others. The character's dishonesty may be intended either to help or to hurt. Such a character, for example, may choose to mislead others for personal safety, to spare someone's feelings, or to carry out a crime. Identify a villain in