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The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 19-22 June 18, 2007

Posted by Han in Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Is in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency a feminist novel? Does the fact that its author is a man complicate such a reading? How well does Alexander McCall Smith represent a woman’s character and consciousness in Mma Ramotswe?

Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe books have been praised for their combination of apparent simplicity with a high degree of sophistication. In what ways does in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency have the appeal of simple storytelling? In what ways is it sophisticated? What does it suggest about the larger issues of how to live one’s life, how to behave in society, how to be happy?

Mma Ramotswe does not want Africa to change, to become thoroughly modern: “She did not want her people to become like everybody else, soulless, selfish, forgetful of what it means to be an African, or, worse still, ashamed of Africa” [p. 215]. But what aspects of traditional African culture trouble her? How does she regard the traditional African attitude toward women, marriage, family duty, and witchcraft? Is there a contradiction in her relationship to “old” Africa?How appropriate is the ending of the novel?

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The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 16-18 June 18, 2007

Posted by Han in Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Mma Ramotswe imagines retiring back in Mochudi, buying some land with her cousins, growing melons, and living life in such a way that “every morning she could sit in front of her house and sniff at the wood-smoke and look forward to spending the day talking with her friends. How sorry she felt for white people, who couldn’t do any of this, and who were always dashing around and worrying themselves over things that were going to happen anyway. What use was it having all that money if you could never sit still or just watch your cattle eating grass? None, in her view; none at all” [p. 162]. Is Mma Ramotswe’s critique of white people on the mark or is she stereotyping? What makes her sense of what is important, and what brings happiness, so refreshing? What other differences between black and white cultures does the novel make apparent?

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 13-15 June 16, 2007

Posted by Han in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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How surprising is Mme Ramotswe’s response to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s marriage proposal?

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 10-12 June 16, 2007

Posted by Han in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Unlike in most other mysteries, in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Mma Ramotswe solves a number of small crimes, rather than a single major one. How does this affect the narrative pacing of the novel? What other unique features distinguish The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency from the conventional mystery novel?

What is surprising about the nature of the cases Mma Ramotswe is hired to solve? By what means does Alexander McCall Smith sustain the reader’s interest, in the absence of the kind of tension, violence, and suspense that drive most mysteries?

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 7-9 June 16, 2007

Posted by Han in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Sorry gals I still have not caught up yet. (baby any day now) so feel free to discuss what you want. I am going to go ahead and post several chapters so you can all keep going regardless of what happens to me in the next few days.

As Mma Ramotswe wonders if Mma Malatsi was somehow involved in her husband’s death and whether wanting someone dead made one a murderer in God’s eyes, she thinks to herself: “It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin” [p. 85]. What philosophy of life is Mma Ramotswe articulating here? Why do the ongoing daily events of life give her this sense of peace and stability?

What did you all think of the “Boyfriend” case and how it was wrapped up and the final follow up?  Did you see it coming?

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Chapters 4-6 June 8, 2007

Posted by Han in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Hey gals I will try to post some questions up here this weekend….but feel free to post any thoughts you have on these chapters here. Also if any other member wants to add questions or post chapters this month that would be great….as I am about to deliver my baby any day now….my energy on the computer is dwindling…although I am enjoying the book.

-Bethany

Questions thanks to Michelle

I guess now we know where Mma R gets her dislike for men.

Ok, so what in the mans story to the boy gave told the boy what the man was going to do? And what do you think he is going to do?

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: Chapters 1 -3 June 4, 2007

Posted by Han in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Sm.
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Mma Ramotswe’s first client, Happy Bapetsi, is worried that the man who claims to be her father is a fraud taking advantage of her generosity. “All he does,” she says, “is sit in his chair outside the front door and tell me what to do for him next.” To which Mma Ramotswe replies, “Many men are like that” [p. 10]. What is Mma Ramotswe’s view of men generally? How do men behave in the novel?

What are your perceptions of Mma Ramotswe in these first few chapters?

Do you think her fathers story will play and important role?