The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King
Choose One of the Following Topics:
1 Analyze the significance of the book’s title.
2 In the prologue, Cohen writes that Zemurray became a “symbol of the best and worst of the United States: proof that America is the land of opportunity, but also a classic case of the Ugly American….” (xi). Argue the accuracy of this statement using specific examples from the book to illustrate the “best and the worst” of Samuel Zemurray’s character.
3 The book is divided into four sections—Green, Yellow, Ripe and Brown. Analyze why Cohen used this structure in his book. What happens in each section that gives its title significance?
4 Several incidents in Zemurray’s life were intertwined with historical events, such as the Honduran revolution of 1913, the Banana War of 1928, the assassination of Huey Long in 1935, the Bricha and the birth of the state of Israel in 1949, the CIA’s Operation Success in Guatemala in 1953, and the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Choose one or two of these incidents, gathering more historical details about it.
5 Zemurray had various kinds of relationships in his life. Analyze his relationship with one other person mentioned in the book, or analyze his relationship with the members of his family.
6 Analyze Zemurray’s connection to Israel.
7 Explore and analyze Zemurray’s legacy in New Orleans.
8 Research the profession called “the fruit jobber.”
9 Zemurray had many nicknames—“Z, the Russian, Sam the Banana Man, El Amigo, and the Gringo” (3). Choose at least three of these names and analyze why he was given them.
10 Workers, both in the United States and Central America, faced many dangers in the banana trade. Based on the information given in the book, further research at least three of these dangers.
11 Many songs are associated with the banana trade of Zemurray’s time. Choose one or more of these songs and relate their origin and message to information in the book.
If you are interested in exploring another topic, please get my approval before beginning to write your paper.
1. Length: 3-5 pages (not counting the Works Cited page)
2. Write in MLA format which includes in-text citations and a Works Cited page
3. Third person
4. Include at least two research sources, and not more than four (the book does not count as a source). You may use one Internet source only—no dictionaries, general encyclopedias (like Wikipedia or World Book), paper help sites like Cliff’s Notes, enotes, etc.; no abstracts or interviews, unless with the author. Copy and highlight all sources used—full text (including the bibliographical pages of a book) and put them in the portfolio.
5. Use quotes and examples from book to make your points. Be careful not to retell the story.