As I mentioned in a previous post, I am participating in an online discussion on Ape House by Sara Gruen this month. The following are some questions for our first discussion on Book Beginnings and Bookends...and of course my responses! If you are not interested in this or are planning to read the book on your own sometime, please feel free to skip this post!
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans?- I think it's extremely intriguing to learn how bonobos can communicate with humans. It's amazing how similar they are to humans in general. To create a language lab that focuses strictly on enhancing communication between the two is a wonderful idea. I love that the apes are able to learn sign language in order to communicate with humans, and can even understand people when they talk to them. It's such a great study.
2. Isabel said early in the book that the apes know they're apes and know that the humans are humans, but they don't see any superiority with either... What do you think the major difference is between the two? - Obviously the major difference is in communication styles. The apes do not have the ability to speak words like humans do, but, as mentioned before, can communicate through sign language instead. I think that the apes see themselves as animals with feelings, just like humans have feelings. It is evident in the first 2 chapters that they have their own personalities and can convey what they are feeling through both their actions and their sign language.
3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out? - Honestly, John liking Isabel seems like a type of cliche as a beginning for a book, but has pulled me in just the same. It's clear that they both care about the work they do and he seems to definitely want to learn more from Isabel in order to communicate with the apes. I do think that their relationship will progress, especially because of the accident. I think they he will accept her and be able to help her through this trial, as well as start to communicate with the apes if she somehow becomes unable to communicate as well with them. I think that he could possibly help her hold onto that relationship with them. However, I am not a fan of the infidelity that will come along with all of this!
4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken? - I think she will be absolutely devastated. It's clear that she has spent a lot of time with them and developed relationships with them that other humans haven't so she will respond pretty unfavorably to the disconnect from them.
5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center? - That was my initial reaction, especially because she offered to go get the apes coffee just before the explosion. I'm not quite sure what her main goal is, but I do have a few ideas floating around in my head!
6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda?- I can't answer this question because I clearly can't read very well. I thought we were only supposed to read chapters 1-2...I missed the 12! Oops.