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Discussion Question #1

Hurricane Katrina received a lot of media coverage. What was your experience with and reaction to the disaster? Does your perspective change by viewing the event through the Zeitoun family’s eyes? If so, how?

–When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans I was 15 years old, and just about to enter the 9th grade. Looking back I remember hearing about the storm and the devastation it caused, it seemed to be the only thing talked about for a very long time. My perspective of the storm has really changed after viewing the event through Zeitoun family’s eyes. I don’t remember hearing anything about the crimes that were caused because of the storm, honestly until recently had no idea that any of that had ever happened. I guess because I was so young I didn’t really pay attention to the news I would just see and hear brief stories about the devastation. It was interesting to hear from someone who actually stayed and saw the storm and its results first hand, allowing me to see more then just the stories told by the media.

Discussion Question #2

Zeitoun has a vivid sense of setting – of place, time, and mood. The city of New Orleans is almost a character itself. Notice this quote describing New Orleans before Katrina hits:”It was this kind of willful, wildly romantic attention to beauty – crumbling and fading beauty needing constant attention – that made this city so unlike any other and such an unparalleled sort of environment for a builder.” (31)After Hurricane Katrina, many wondered if New Orleans should have even been rebuilt, considering the devastation of the storm and New Orleans’ precarious topography. Why is it so important for Zeitoun to rebuild after the storm – especially considering the treatment he received in his adopted city?

–I find it very clear just how much Zeitoun loves the city of New Orleans. Zeitoun’s primary reason for not evacuating with his family prior to the storms arrival was because of his business. He knew that before and after the storm there would be a lot of work to do, and he was loyal to both his company and his clients. Once the devastation of Katrina set in there was obviously no work to do towards his business. Zeitoun had many opportunities to evacuate the city, but decided to stay and help as much as he could. Knowing this I feel like not only was Zeitoun an honorable man, he was also in love with his adopted home. In the last paragraph on page 130 we hear straight from Zeitoun’s mouth how he felt about New Orleans. Zeitoun was talking to his brother Ahmad on the phone. His brother trying to talk him into leaving the city, said, “I really want you to leave. Your family needs you.” Zeitoun replied with, “They need me here more, this is my family too.” I find these words to completely capture the reasoning behind Zeitoun’s decision to rebuild.

Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2009. Print.


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