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They Poured Fire on us from the Sky

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Vasantha Susarla

on 27 January 2016

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Transcript of They Poured Fire on us from the Sky

They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky
By: Vasantha Susarla
Summary
They Poured Fire on us from the Sky
is about three young boys from Sudan who are forced to flee from their home because of the civil war that has ripped through the country.
Main Characters
World Literature Connections
Tradition vs. Change
Literary Elements
Benson
Alepho
Benjamin
The oldest brother, he is known to be quiet and good.
He was in his sister's village when it was attacked by the rebel soldiers.
Younger brother to Benson. Known to be naughty and mischievous.
He was at home when his village was attacked, and he was forced to go into hiding.
Cousin to both Benson and Alepho. Known to be slightly more cowardly, but a loyal and trusting friend.
He was with Benson throughout their journey to get to Ethiopia.
Setting
Symbols
Themes
The red underwear Benson wears is very symbolic of family and security. He receives this gift from his father and it reminds him of his village and his family, as he says "Dirty, torn, patched, full of lice and nits, my red shorts were still precious to me" (Deng, Deng, Ajak, & Bernstein 90). He tries endlessly to repair them but he finds himself having to let this piece of clothing go.
The many rivers the boys have to cross are symbols of transitions that take place. The boys cross these rivers full of wild animals, just to find themselves confronted with more treacherous obstacles.
There are several settings throughout the novel: Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the United States.

The setting is crucial to the plot events in the story because many of the characters face physical obstacles that directly pertain to the setting.

For example, Benjamin faces threats of lions in his village, while Benson is on the brink of dehydration.
Survival
: A constant theme throughout the novel is survival. The characters struggle with their environment, their peers, and their culture to survive both physically and mentally. For example, young boys were left to fend for themselves because no one in the village trusted them. "...this man though any boy walking bare-handed was a fighter and he struck me with his club on my right thigh...I stared at this ugly place where no boy seemed safe...Every boy was on his own" (Deng et al., 88).
In the novel
The Kite Runner
, Amir and Baba are forced to leave Afghanistan and move to America because of the conflict with the Taliban. Similarly, Benson, Benjamin, and Alepho are forced out of their because of a religious war. In both novels the characters struggle to hold on to their traditions while wanting to assimilate to the American culture.
Masculinity
In the novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkow upholds and unquestionably represents the traditional expectations for men in the Igbo culture. In They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky, the three boys struggle to remain brave and be 'men' as they face unimaginable threats and obstacles. Men have certain standards in the Dinka culture and these boys struggle to embody those characteristics at such a tender age, as seen when Benson's father prepares him for surgery "...he [Majok] was just scared and cried pointlessly. Don't be like him. Be strong and brave like my usual son" (Deng et al., 8).
Familial Structure
Young boys are required to be circumcised.
Young men and women go to cattle camp, where they tend after cattle. This is a rite of passage before marriage.
Men: take cattle to graze
Women: milk the cows
Girls with their "lower six front teeth" are considered unworthy of marriage. Dinka remove teeth to separate themselves from other tribes (Deng et al., 42).
Dinka: Cultural Components
Men are the main members of family.
Each man has many wives, who have their own huts and children.
Men tend to animals and play a large role in the community's court system.
Women look after their homes, cook, and make clothes/ household items.
Boys also tend to animals and hunt.
Girls help with cooking, and only left home to "fetch water or firewood" (Deng et al., 4).
Customs/ Rituals
Kinship
Children are encouraged to make long-lasting friendships called "age-mates".
It is advantageous for parents to always know where their children are.
Age-mates increase unity, trustworthiness, and friendliness between children and adults (Deng et al., 23).
Dinka: Cultural Representation
Wealth
An acute representation of Dinka culture in the text is how they measure wealth. The Dinka value cows and the number of cows someone has correlates to their wealth: "Dinka people had cows as a source of wealth...to be rich, a man needed to own more than 150 head of cattle" (Deng et al., 3). This represents the Dinka because this is a unique trait that distinguishes the Dinka from other cultures.
Youth/ Children
Another representation of culture is through the teeth removal of Dinka children. Benson describes this ritual as a way for the Dinka "...to distinguish themselves from other tribes who bear different marks on their bodies...." (Deng et al., 42). This tradition represents culture because it shows the values of the Dinka tradition such as being proud of their physical prowess.
Current Information
Reflection, Works Cited, and Articles
Recently, Sudan's President Kiir stated that Sudan will be creating 28 new states. This replacement has been a gateway to more civil unrest because the opposition forces of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army do not approve (Sperber).
This change to the country caused Sudan to miss the deadline to create a 'transitional government' ('South Sudan...").
The UN responded to this conflict by accusing both President Kirr and Riek Machar of viiolent crimes ("South Sudan...").
Overall, nothing is getting done because both parties cannot agree on their policies and they continue to back out of falso promises misleading the public and the world.
Full transcript