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"Katania" by Lara Vapnyar
When I was a child, I had a family of doll people. They lived in a red shoebox painted to look like a house, with a dark-brown roof and yellow awnings. Inside the house, there was a set of plastic toy furniture, plus some random household items: a matchbox television, a mirror crafted from a piece of foil, and a thick rug secretly cut out of my old sweater. I also had a few plastic farm animals – a cow, a pig, a goat, and a very large (larger than the cow) chicken, which lived outside the shoebox.
The family itself consisted of the following individuals:
One pretty little doll, made of soft plastic, with painted-on hair and dress, who, in my games, represented me.
One naked, bald, vaguely female doll, made of hard shiny plastic, whom I designated the mother. I made her a Greek-style tunic out of an old handkerchief and glued a lock of my own hair to her head.
Two tiny baby dolls of unidentified gender, made of hard, matte plastic, and wrapped in blankets of the same kind of plastic.
And one hedgehog with a human body, dressed in a long skirt and apron, with tight, curly hair covered with a kerchief, to whom I assigned the role of grandmother.
What my family lacked was a father, but a father doll was a true rarity. Nobody I knew had a father doll. Most of the kids I knew didn't even have fathers. I didn't have a father; mine died when I was two. My family consisted of my mother, my grandmother, and me. That was perfectly normal. Fathers had a tendency to die, or to lose themselves to alcoholism, or to simply "up and go." Our next-door neighbor up and went to the Far North one night. He announced his decision by screaming on the staircase, "I'm sick of you all!"
"So you're just gonna up and go, huh? Well, good riddance!" his wife screamed back. But his three-year-old daughter cried for weeks. I could hear her through the thin walls of our apartment.
Fatherlessness was so common that even the Soviet authorities were aware of it. The Soviet authorities were famous for being protective of their citizens, so whenever a certain item was scarce they did their best to make that scarcity less conspicuous. My mother, who used to write school textbooks, was prohibited from even mentioning those scarce items. When composing a math problem, for instance, she couldn't mention bananas, because they were impossible to get in most parts of Russia. She could use apples, but not bananas. Chicken, but not beef. Mothers, but not fathers. She was allowed to write, "A mother gave her three children six apples and asked them to divide the fruit equally," but forbidden to write about a father asking his kids to do the same thing with bananas. She told me this when I was in my teens, and I didn't believe her. I combed through my old textbooks to try to prove her wrong, but I couldn't find a single mention of a father, beef, or bananas.
Full story: "Katania" by Lara Vapnyar:
Задание на чтение адаптированного отрывка рассказа «, затрагивающего проблемы неполных семей. Обучающимся предлагается ответить на вопросы по содержанию текста и на вопросы о проблемах семьи, отразившихся в выборе игрушек для игры в «дочки-матери», а также сделать творческое проектное задание. нему упражненияподразумевающем чтение и пересказ художественного текста. Уровень: Intermediate и выше.
Номер материала: ДБ-164061
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