American LITERATURE: Summer II
Based upon your analysis of the reading assignments for week one through three, answer each question using textual evidence to substantiate your claim (five questions total). Responses without textual evidence will not receive full credit.
American Literary Realism
Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”
1. Emily Dickinson evidently spent a great deal of time thinking about the nature of pain, dying, and death—she wrote many poems on this subject. Drawing from the selection of Dickinson’s poems below, observe how she treats the subject of death. Write a thorough response comparing “[Because I could not stop for Death—]” with at least three of the poems below, making an argument about her conception of death and immortality. Is it consistent across the poems? Does it seem to shift or vary in different poems? Does a shift appear within individual poems?
Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby
2. Chopin writes, “When the baby was about three months old, Desirée awoke one day to the conviction that there was something in the air menacing her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp. It had only been a disquieting suggestion; an air of mystery among the blacks; unexpected visits from far-off neighbors who could hardly account for their coming”. The threat of miscegenation (the mixing of races) can account for the odd behavior of Desiree’s visitors as they inspect the baby’s skin color, but the story never explicitly says what they suspect (she leaves it to Armand to state with brutal terseness). Why do you think that the narrator suggests the answer rather than provides it? What information from the text lead you to your assertion?
Steven Crane’s The Open Boat
3. Examine how nature is discussed throughout “The Open Boat.” Once you have established your own ideas, research how literary critics have discussed nature in the short story and analyze the following questions: What does nature mean to the men aboard the boat? Do their perceptions of nature shift throughout the story? Why or why not?
American Literary Modernism
Langston Hughes | Various Selection
4. Survey the assigned selections of Hughes’s poetry. Choose and discuss a minimum of four poems that represent the various themes that illustrate Hughes’s major concerns with life during this era.
William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
5. What makes Emily Grierson such an enigma to her neighbors? What is she hiding from them, literally as well as figuratively? Does the story end with a smoking gun that ultimately explains Emily’s behaviors, or with a red herring that provides more questions than answers? Is Emily mentally ill, or do her actions instead reflect on the community that raised her?