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One Amazing Thing - Super Summary Study Guide

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    11/30/2014

     

    3

      One Amazing Thing

      

     

    SuperSummary Study Guide   Copyright 2013: SuperSummary

      

     

    Plot Overview

      In an unnamed city on the west coast of the United States, an earthua!e

    stri!es" #ine peop$e %ecome trapped in the %asement&$e'e$ 'isa office of the Indian consu$ate" Se'en of them are hoping to secure tra'e$ 'isas, whi$e two are emp$oyees of the Indian go'ernment" (hese few peop$e represent a 'ariety of nationa$ities ) inc$uding *frican& *merican, Caucasian, Chinese and Indian,

    a$ong with a 'ariety of %e$iefs, such as Is$am and +induism" *s a resu$t, preudice is a maor theme in the opening scenes, with se'era$ of the characters  udging each other %ased on outward appearances and persona$ %ias" Cameron, an *frican&*merican who former$y ser'ed in the *rmy, %ecomes the unofficia$ $eader of the group" +is sur'i'a$ training s!i$$s he$p them stay a$i'e whi$e they wait for he$p" *t first his authority is uestioned %y (ari, a young -us$im in the group" Unti$ they ca$m down and %egin to he$p each other, there are a num%er of minor s!irmishes and instances of peop$e $oo!ing out primari$y for themse$'es" (o %ring unity to the group and to !eep them from harming each other, Uma suggests that they each ta!e turns te$$ing stories from their own $i'es" She is inspired %y Chaucer.s  

    (he Canter%ury (a$es   , which she is reading for an ng$ish c$ass when the earthua!e first stri!es"

    *$though there is resistance to this idea at first, e'entua$$y e'eryone agrees to te$$ a story" (hey $isten attenti'e$y during the storyte$$ing" etween stories they share food, ta!e %athroom %rea!s and assess their situation, which is rapid$y deteriorating as the %asement %egins to f$ood and the sme$$ of gas %ecomes stronger" ach person te$$s a story that re'ea$s something a%out who he or she is, aswe$$ as the reason for needing a tra'e$ 'isa to India" (heir stories re'ea$s the fo$$owing"   

      iang, who grew up in Ca$cutta.s Chinatown, was in $o'e with an Indian

    man"hen for po$itica$ reasons it was dangerous to %e Chinese in India, iang $eftIndia and sett$ed in the United States with a man of Chinese descent"      -r" ritchett, a Caucasian accountant, o'ercame a chi$dhood of po'erty and

    a%andonment through a $o'e and passion for num%ers" +e is %ewi$dered %y his wife.s recent %eha'ior and hopes a trip to India wi$$ %e a new start for them"   

      -a$athi, an office wor!er at the Indian consu$ate, has %een sent a%road after

    she %eha'ed %ad$y at her o% in a sa$on in India" Upset o'er a rich woman.s treatment of a ser'ant gir$, -a$athi used a chemica$ on the rich woman.s sca$p which

    caused a$$ of her hair to fa$$ out" She considers this her one act of %ra'ery"   

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      (ari, a young -us$im man who was raised in *merica, has recent$y %ecome

    critica$ of *merican cu$ture and go'ernment and has %ecome more engaged in his -us$im roots than!s to his gir$friend and a group of more radica$ friends"  

    5i$y, iang.s granddaughter, $i'ed for a $ong time in the shadow of her o$der %rother, who aspires to %e a cancer researcher" She teaches herse$f how to p$aythe f$ute and %ecomes 'ery good, gi'ing concerts and winning acc$aim" 6ne dayshe simp$y fee$s she can no $onger p$ay7 it is the same day she $earns that her o$der %rother has %een fai$ing at the uni'ersity"   

      -r" -anga$am te$$s the story of marrying into a wea$thy fami$y to raise his own fami$y.s station" *fter %ecoming increasing$y unhappy with his marriage, he %egins an affair" +is wife.s fami$y e8erts inf$uence to threaten -r" -anga$am and his mistress and, as a resu$t, he has %een sent to wor! at this post at the Indian consu$ate"  

      -rs" ritchett.s story is a%out a great emptiness she fee$s in her $ife, the resu$t of not ha'ing chi$dren and not fee$ing a deep $o'e for her hus%and" She attempted suicide to escape her $ife, %ut now wishes to $ose herse$f in India and start again a$one"   

      Cameron is ourneying to India to meet a gir$ he has sponsored at an orphanage" It is the end of a $ong ourney to a%so$'e himse$f from a $ifetime of gui$t o'er his high schoo$ gir$friend.s a%ortion and the many atrocities he witnessed

    or participated in during his career in the army"   

      Uma, who suggested the te$$ing of the stories, te$$s her story $ast" She is

    tra'e$ing to India to 'isit her parents, who ha'e re$ocated there" She has %een ho$ding onto secrets for her parents and wants to un%urden herse$f when she arri'es" (he ta$es !eep the sur'i'ors panic!ing and %eing afraid and a$so he$p %ring them together to reach a common goa$" *$though they ha'e different %ac!grounds and persona$ities, each person has a chance to re'ea$ his/her humanity through the stories, a$$owing their words to spea! more strong$y than their actions" #ear the end of the storyte$$ing, a se'ere aftershoc! hits, %ringing down parts of the %ui$ding

    a%o'e, damaging their water supp$y, and causing a gas $ea!" *s Uma te$$s the fina$ta$e, the sur'i'ors hear noises from the f$oors a%o'e" It is either the %ui$ding %ecoming increasing$y unsta%$e as a resu$t of the aftershoc!, or the noise of a rescue crew approaching" hen the fina$ ta$e ends, the fate of the group is sti$$ un!nown, %utthey wait patient$y to see what wi$$ happen ne8t"  

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    Chapter Summaries and *na$ysis

     

    Chapter 1

      In the %asement of the Indian consu$ate %ui$ding in an unnamed city

    in the UnitedStates, a group of peop$e wait to o%tain tra'e$ 'isas" Uma Sinha has %een waiting for hours, %ut seems no c$oser to her goa$" *s she waits, she reads Chaucer, wonders if her %oyfriend 9amon $o'es her as much as she $o'es him, and studies the other peop$ein the room: an o$der Chinese woman with a teenage granddaughter7 an o$der Caucasian coup$e7 an Indian man a%out twenty&fi'e years o$d7 and an *frican& *mericanman who appears to %e in his fifties" Uma needs a 'isa to 'isit

    her parents, who ha'ereturned to India after decades in the UnitedStates" (hey appear to %e $i'ing a $ush$ifesty$e in India, comp$ete with amenities $i!e ser'ants and a car ser'ice" Uma is $i'ingwith her %oyfriend 9amon, a scientist at the uni'ersity who has not %een in'ited a$ongon the trip" Uma is trying to ca$$ 9amon when a rum%$e is fe$t throughout the %ui$ding" Inan instant, the room %uc!$es and chairs and other furniture go f$ying" (he cei$ingco$$apses, the e$ectricity f$ic!ers and fai$s, and the sound of running water can %e heard"Uma.s arm has %een inured and possi%$y %ro!en"   Chapter 2

    (he point of 'iew switches to Cameron, the *frican&*merican ma$e" (he chaos %rought on %y the earthua!e reminds him of his e8periences at war" 6ut of %reath, he reaches for his inha$er, which has on$y fi'e doses $eft" Cameron c$ear$y !nows how to hand$e himse$f and how the group shou$d %eha'e in a dangerous situation" *s someone from the group attempts to open a stuc! door, Cameron stops him, warning that the %ui$ding is now unsta%$e and this cou$d cause further damage" * younger -us$im man refuses to $isten to Cameron and insists on attempting to open the door" 9ea$iing that these actions wi$$ put a$$ of them in danger, Cameron gi'es the young man a ca$cu$ated %$ow on the %ac! of his head and the young man crump$es to the ground" Cameron apo$ogies to the other sur'i'ors in the room, who $ay stunned in the dar!" (he point of 'iew then switches to -a$athi, an emp$oyee of the consu$ate" She offers a prayer for forgi'eness, %e$ie'ing that her recent actions cou$d ha'e caused the earthua!e" She doesn.t want to fo$$ow the traditiona$ Indian path for women ) getting married ) %ut instead wants to return to India to open a %eauty shop" -a$athi fee$s gui$ty %ecause she has had an ongoing f$irtatious re$ationship with her %oss, -r" -anga$am, a married man" +e has %een showing fa'oritism to her o'er the other woman in the office"(he day %efore, he had gi'en her a %o8 of candy7 today, ust %efore the earthua!e struc!, he !issed her" -a$athi notices that Cameron is

    he$ping Uma, the young Indian woman with the %ro!en arm, to her feet" *s -r" -anga$am emerges from his office,-a$athi te$$s him that the

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    earthua!e is their fau$t" -r" -anga$am had tried to hide under his des! when the earthua!e hit, %ut the des! ending up s$iding and he was trapped against the wa$$" (he deity his mother had gi'en him when he went away to co$$ege was crushed" (his seems sym%o$ic to him" *s a %e$ie'er in !arma, he agrees that he must %e to %$ame for the earthua!e" Cameron %egins to

    ta!e charge of the situation" +e as!s for a first aid !it for Uma and -a$athi fetches it for him" (hen he %egins to ma!e a $ist of things to %e done ) e8its to %e chec!ed, food and water to %e secured" -a$athi %egins to sweep up de%ris" Chapter 3 Uma ta!es aspirin, %ut that does $itt$e to he$p the pain of her %ro!en arm" (he youngman who cha$$enged Cameron ear$ier is sti$$ passed out on the f$oor" -a$athi reports thathis name is (ari ) a -us$im name, Uma rea$ies" She is em%arrassed %y thestereotypica$ thought that it is %ecause he is -us$im that he has %eha'ed 'io$ent$y"Cameron chec!s for other inuries, assigns o%s from his $ist, and gi'es them orders topoo$ their food together" (he o$der Chin

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