What is the What

What is the What Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What does the "What" from the Dinka creation story represent in Valentino's own life?

    Like in the Dinka creation story, the "What" represents the unknown. Things can be good or they can be bad, but never consistent. Valentino's life in America represents the What because, while he has an apartment and is getting an education, he was robbed and constantly has to deal with ignorance from Americans. He cannot move forward in his life like his American friends because he does not have the same opportunities they do.

  2. 2

    Why did Valentino have to wait longer to go to America than the rest of his friends in the refugee camp?

    Valentino had someone search for his parents, and they were both alive. Valentino believed that, because he was not an orphan, he had to wait longer than the other children who had no parents to help them.

  3. 3

    Why did Valentino direct his story at Michael and Julian?

    Michael and Julian represented the American people. He wanted to tell his story to everyone so they would understand what they went through. Literarily, it is a rhetorical device that Eggers used as a way to seamlessly allow flashbacks.

  4. 4

    What did Valentino do during his walk to Ethopia and Kenya to help make himself feel better?

    Valentino would focus on a perfect day and think about that day over and over. In his daydream, he was let out of school early and then helped his childhood crush get water from the river. Even though he accidentally spilled the water, he liked how his crush made him feel important and special.

  5. 5

    Why does Michael build a fort around Valentino while Valentino is bound on the floor?

    Michael does not want to acknowledge that Valentino exists. Valentino is trying to get his attention, and Michael only wants to watch television. Valentino compares him to the Americans who do not want to know about the atrocities in Sudan.

  6. 6

    What is the main difference between the two versions of the Dinka creation story in the text?

    In the story Deng Arou tells his friend, he says that God gave the Dinka a choice to choose between stability or the unknown. In the story that Valentino knows, his father said that the Arabs chose the What instead of the stable cattle. That is why they were so unsatisfied with their life. The Arabs wanted what the Dinka had.

  7. 7

    Why is Valentino wary of the police in America?

    He has only had negative encounters with people in positions of authority. Back in Africa, he saw soldiers intimidate, beat, and kill his people. In the United States, he had cops treat him with disrespect.

  8. 8

    What did the SPLA leaders do to convince boys to join the military?

    They held a large gathering and begin singing patriotic songs. This made the Sudanese refugees feel like they belonged, and it made them trust the SPLA soldiers. This is a tactic that many militaries use during wartime in order to distract potential volunteers from joining the cause.

  9. 9

    Why does Valentino want to continue telling his story to anyone who will listen?

    Valentino believes that telling his story will make people notice him. By noticing him, they will then see how bad things are for the Sudanese people. He wants to humanize the war and make Americans understand what his people are going through.

  10. 10

    Why did the SPLA soldiers belittle the prisoners in front of the Dinka refugees?

    The soldiers wanted to make an example out of the prisoners. They used heated language in order to incite the refugees into joining the war effort. They also wanted to de-humanize the enemy, making it easier for the Sudanese to deal with killing the Arabs in battle.