Class Blog

Breach Candy Network Diagram

For this week’s blog post, I decided to visualize the characters in “Breach Candy” by Samantha Subramanian.


I decided to have characters connected together if it is explicitly stated that they know of each other, or if they appear in a scene together.

This network diagram reveals information about the character’s relationships because we can see that in this story, the Narrator and Kunal Kapoor seem to have the most connections. By seeing what people they are connected to, we can get a sense for how big of an impact that character has on the story.

Of course, there is much missing from this network diagram. There is no way to tell exactly what the relationships between these characters are. For example, the Narrator and Kunal Kapoor are friends, but Gerry Shirley and Dipesh Mehta are enemies. There is also no way to understand the trajectory of the narrative or story through this network diagram. It only shows the characters in the story and if they relate to one another, not how they are related or what specific impact they or their relationships have.

Risha Sanikommu


God Bless You, 2011



“God Bless You, 2011” focuses on the relationship between a bear and their human neighbor on their outdoor excursions in a post-nuclear fallout riverside town. The network graph above focuses on the types of radiation experienced by each character mentioned in the story – Sunglasses and Long Gloves being two characters of whom were only briefly mentioned, but were crucial in introducing the plot device of radiation poisoning.

This graph illuminates the dichotomy present between human and animal susceptibility to different types of radiation poisoning. The narrator, Sunglasses, and Long Gloves, who are all human, are susceptible to Uranium. However, it is implied in the story that both Sunglasses and Long Gloves have been affected by Plutonium and Strontium, as they are actively complaining about the ability of the bear to accept higher exposure to the stuff and not suffer from health complications. However, the narrator, who is in a suit, is never explicitly mentioned as having any direct contact with either Plutonium or Strontium. Thus the narrator is clearly seen as being an outlier in the types and amount of radiation poisoning they are exposed to.

The bear is directly mentioned as having exposure to Plutonium and Strontium, through the complaints of Sunglasses and Long Gloves. It is implied that the bear may also have been exposed by Uranium as well, but this sentiment was not reflected in the chart because it was only implied and not explicitly stated.

This network of poisoning is further complicated by a coloring system which represents each character versus each type of radiation poisoning they have been affected by. Orange denotes the type of radiation, whereas blue denotes the name of the character. The limitations of this chart are many, but the most glaring restriction is the ability of the chart to define the actual radiation amount of each character (e.g. the narrator’s exposure is 30 micro-sieverts in one afternoon alone). This information may be better reflected in a categorical chart, which can accept both the data types of numbers and multiple columns of text, instead of only text, or single columns of text.

Week 7 Blog: Network Analysis: “Blue Moon”

“Blue Moon”is an essay written by renowned Japanese writer Hiromi Kawakami, and published in Granta 127: Japan.  In this extremely rhetorical piece, Kawakami put the inevitable inaccuracy of translation and the fragility of life in parallel, thus relating her personal transition in embracing the fact of her little chance to survive the malignant tumor to the difficulty in translating Japanese haiku to the Russian audience.  As she explained, “Things are always, at best, a  near miss. We get through, sometimes just barely”. Finally, while she was composing a poem, the mixed feeling of sadness for transitory happiness flashed across her mind on a snowy day in Russia.

I created an edge list of characters in the essay and defined the connection as they met each other in person. Then I uploaded the excel to Google Fusion Tables to generate the network chart.



This network graph demonstrates the direct contacts between characters. It echoes with the tone of the essay, which depicts the author as the center figure and focus on her own transition. However, the graph fails to reveal the nature of these relationships, specifically the factors which triggers the development of the author’s mentality. The chart also lacks the importance of each character’s role in the essay. I believe that it can still be optimized with further consideration.


Character Chart for Exotics

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-38-12-pmFor today’s blog post, I chose to make a character chart for the short story, “Exotics“. The narrative follows the main character, James, who works as a teacher in a single-room school house, and spends his summer working on a ranch in Fort Worth, Texas. The story takes place just after one of James’ students commits suicide in the school’s bathroom.

The character chart that I created links James to every character he interacts with within the story. Each link signifies a direct conversation that occurred between each character. Absence of links signifies that the characters are not related within the story. As seen through the graph, while many characters share connections, the common thread between all characters in the story is, unsurprisingly, James. Unfortunately, much is left out from this graph, such as the nature of the connections, the themes and symbols that appeared throughout the story, or even who the characters are. In fact, it’s a bit frustrating how little the chart elucidates, and is arguably more distracting than it is telling. For this reason, it might not be appropriate to graph connections between characters, but perhaps maybe appropriate to connect symbols with the themes that they represent, as the character connections play a small role in the larger scheme of the story.

Blog: Self-Made Man

I decided to read and analyze the short story, “Self-Made Man” by Mark Gevisser. It essentially speaks about the life of an 18 year old named Liam Kai who was born a female in China and adopted at six months. He was originally named Lucy by his American mothers. Although he was living as a tomboy all of his life, at age thirteen he began to live as a boy. The article goes on to talk about the different approaches and views his lesbian parents had about his gender identification. One parent (Beth) was accepting while the other insisted he wear dresses because it would make him healthier and happier to accept himself as a female. At age eighteen, when he can finally have surgery legally, he decided to transition his body from a female to a male with surgeries and hormones.

I created a list of characters from the story and put them in categories from 1-5. The higher the number, the more influence the character had on Liam’s life. This graph basically shows the similarities between the characters with equal amount of influence on Liam.


It shows that the most influence in Liam’s life was that of his mother Beth along with Andrea and Carol.

Blog Post #8: Network Analysis “Krapp Hour”

For this blog post, I chose to analyze networks and relationships between characters in the Anne Carson play Krapp Hour Act I. Already familiar with the poetry of contemp lit heroine Anne Carson, I thought it would be a ton of fun to work with a literary piece that utilizes absurdity and disorientation to formulate bonds between characters. The play revolves around the talk show “Krapp Hour” — hosted by a figure named Krapp and featuring a slew of celebrity guests. The high profile guest list includes figures like Jack Kerouac and his mother Gabrielle (referred to as ‘Gabe’), who speak about the beat generation, ‘the banana man’, shallow journalism, and a prospective trip to RadioCity later in the day. Characters enter and exit, filtering in and out of scenes with Krapp being the central node tying the network together. Other players enter the scene, such as Martin Heidegger or Henry David Thoreau’s Aunt, Maria. Characters ramble on and on. When not babbling incoherently, readers are offered anecdotes and short stories. For example — the story of the gardener, retold by Aunt Maria, featuring Death and the Princess of Cincinnati. Overall, it was a lot of fun working with such a nonsensical network. I will note that the talk show format easily illuminated most of the relationships between characters. The general format of the work (i.e, the piece being a play) made it easy to comprehend interpersonal interactions and connections between individual figures.

My resulting network graph was:


network of eight trains

Eight Trains depicts a man’s regular Tuesday journey to-and-from work in rural Japan and the various people he encounters. The story is told completely from his perspective: he leaves for work at 6:12 AM, takes 4 different trains to get to work, spends 5 or so hours at work, then takes the same 4 trains back home till he finally arrives at his house at 8:05 PM where he drinks coffee and smokes cigarettes. We don’t know much about the narrator, but we learn a few of his quirks and mannerisms as he lets us inside of his personal thoughts and introspections on the seemingly faceless people he comes across.

I had wanted to create a two-tiered system of nodes that had the narrator centered in the middle, with different nodes for the different locations extending outward from the center, and then different nodes for different characters extending outward from each location. But I couldn’t figure out how to do that on Google Fusion Tables, so I instead made two graphs to represent the same information.


The graph above illustrates the different locations that the narrator frequents every Tuesday, including the 8 trains, his work, his home, and the Moka station platform. This graph clearly represents the story’s point of view: the narrator (and the reader) is on the inside, looking out at the world from different directions, taking different paths to get to each place. Train 1 and 2 have bigger nodes to represent more characters noticed and discussed at each location. However, this graph conceals the fact that train 1&8, 2&7, 3&6, and 4&5 are actually the same exact train but moving in opposite directions, and that each pair (more or less) has the same passengers on it.


The graph above displays the different characters that the narrator sees during his day at all 10 different locations. While the previous graph could not depict that certain trains had the same passengers on it, this graph clearly can, seen in the connection between the vain schoolgirls on train 2 and 6, and the homeless man at the Moka station platform and in the narrator’s home.

While both graphs display the narrator’s whereabouts and the people situated around him, neither are able to convey his emotional environment (meant here to mean the ways in which he feels at each location due to the people that surround him). This limitation is a significant one because his changing sentiments throughout the day is the entire point of his story. For example, as he leaves work and moves toward his first train back home (and his fifth train of the day), he thinks “Returning is always sad […] To go is always to go somewhere; returning, you return to nowhere. That’s the way it is.” But his increasing boredom and lack of fascination by the strangers cannot be felt by looking at these nodes. Therefore, the graphs fail to illuminate the narrator’s true connections to the people around him.

“Blue Jay” Network Analysis

I chose the short story “Blue Jay” by Lillian Li for this week’s blog post. This story follows the complicated close friendship between the narrator and a girl named Jay, encompassing the tragedy, addiction, romance, anxieties, and painful events that the two experience with one another. The narrator tells the story of their relationship by reflecting back on moments that reveal both of their insecurities and struggles, left as unspoken words and disregarded text messages by the end of the summer in which it takes place.


The network map I created exhibits all of the characters – which are my nodes – mentioned in the short story that create some type of impact on Jay and the narrator’s lives. The two girls are central on the map, and the thickness of the lines connecting the characters vary based on the strength of the relationship. The connections are based on either encounters that Jay shared with the narrator or flashbacks, revealing her vulnerabilities from past romantic relationships and several step-relatives that bear no significant familial bond with her. Jay’s side of the map seems to be much more extensive than the narrator’s, but most of the connections are short-lived relationships with random men she’s infatuated with, lead to dead ends, or are distant family that only further isolates Jay (such as her distress over how her step-sister had a baby, triggering her lack and need of being mothered herself). On the narrator’s side, she has few connections but they represent her sense of security and belonging in comparison to Jay. Her parents coddle her even while away in college, hence the thicker lines connecting to Mom and Dad, and her ability to fit in with the classmates at the party contrasts with Jay’s awkwardness and home-schooled habits. The Chinese program teachers (the narrator studied at Beijing over the summer) is the only other connection that Jay and the narrator have in common, because those tutoring sessions were the only time the narrator openly confided in someone about her anxieties regarding Jay – and the teachers knew concealed secrets about Jay indirectly through these stories.

While the network map illuminates many relationships that shape a character whether it’s directly or indirectly, it does have its limitations. The connections between the characters merely show how strong it is, but does not tell the story behind it or if it’s a positive or negative effect in the concerned parties’ lives. It also lacks a visual representation of location, which plays a crucial role during the story since the characters were across the globe (Beijing, Australia, New England) and a major source that carries on the narration are bits of text messages rather than face-to-face interactions.

Week 7- The Tenant

For this blog post, I decided to read the short story “The Tenant” by Victor Lodato. This story is about an alcoholic named Marie who becomes a tenant of the McGregor family. She lives in a small house on their land where she mainly drinks and reads books. You learn that her parents died causing her to derail her fairly normal life as an artist, become an alcoholic (or maybe a more pronounced one), and live a fairly nomadic life with very few possessions. She befriends one of the McGregor kids, Harland, and ends up helping him become a stronger reader in return for manual labor and ultimately companionship. As time goes on, she sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism and eventually is hospitalized. The story ends with Harland going through her stuff after her death and reflecting on how she helped him develop into the person he is today.

As I read the story, I noticed that “place” was an important part of the story. Therefore, I decided to create a network map with Google Fusion tables to illustrate the connections between important people and places in the story. The nodes are places such as Marie’s house and the hospital while the edges are the people that connect the places such as Marie and Harland.


This graph illustrates how places connect people in the story. For example, Marie’s House and the McGregor’s Land/House are important places which makes sense because that’s where the two main characters live and most of the character interactions take place. While this graph illustrates the importance between character interaction and place, it doesn’t innately show why these places are important to the story line. For example, the hospital only becomes an important place at the very end of the story when Marie gets sick and lots of characters come visit her. However, the way it’s represented in the graph makes it seem like it’s just as relevant throughout the story as the McGregor’s Land/house and Marie’s house. As a result, anyone looking at the graph would be missing important contextual information about why certain places have more connections than others.

Blog Post 7 – While the Nightjar sleeps

This week I read the short story While the Nightjar Sleeps from the online Granta magazine and chose to examine it through a network analysis.

The story narrated in first person through the eyes of the young boy. It starts off on a cold winter evening when the boy has finally grown old enough to go hunting with an uncle – Mr. Davidson. During this hunt, they come across a Nightjar that the boy is instructed to take back to the house.

As they near the house, the boy hears laughter and assumes that Mr. and Mrs. Davidson have invited their friends over. Ever since his father died, his mother and him rarely visit this house anymore unless Mr. and Mrs. Davidson are hosting something. The boy is congratulated on catching the bird, and the bird is placed in a bowl. In the meantime, one of the guests – referred to as the mole man, begins to tell the legend of the Nightjar as part of tradition. After the story, everyone rises and forms a circle around the bird and start laughing hysterically. The boy is confused and frightened, when the mother signals for him to follow her and tells him they are the chosen ones this year.

He follows his mother upstairs, into his father’s study where he sees a man, with his back faced towards them, sitting in his father’s chair. His mother breaks down and starts talking to her husband, when the boy knows that this really isn’t his father. It’s just an illusion created by the “red dust” the people have created.


I chose to represent a network diagram of the relationship between the prominent characters. I decided that each relationship would signify that one character directed addressed the other and communicated with them. Due to the short length of the story, there are only few characters that had prominent speaking roles. Additionally, since it was in first person, most of the dialogues were spoken to the boy. The size of the bubbles shows which characters were interacted with the most; hence the boy with the biggest node.