The Awakening

What figurative language does Chopin use to describe the sea in Chapter 6 of The Awakening, and what is the effect of this description?

What is the significance of the memory Edna Pontellier shares with Madame Ratignolle in Chapter 7 of The Awakening?

How is the trip to the Cheniere in Chapter 12 a metaphor for Edna Pontellier’s life journey in The Awakening?

How does this novel frame the notions of freedom and responsibility?

Maggie, Girl of the Streets

How does Crane use imagery to set the tone for the novel?

What kinds of color symbolism are apparent in Maggie?

What role does religion play in this novella? How do the various characters use religious language and approach religious themes?

Focus mainly on how Crane expects his readers to respond to the characters and their lives. For example, did Maggie have real choices or was she forced into prostitution? Did any of the characters have choices?  Is this book Realism or Naturalism? Where do we see the same debate in Modern society?

What part do social forces affect the outcome of the characters’ lives?

Huck Finn

Discuss Twain’s attitude toward religion in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn using specific examples from the book.

Discuss the development of Jim’s character during the course of the novel. How do the reader’s perceptions of him change as Huck’s perceptions change?

Ernest Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huck Finn.” Explain what Hemingway meant by this statement including a discussion of the novel, its characters, settings, conflicts, etc. as a turning point in American literature. What sets it apart from earlier authors and their works?

Three types of irony found in literature are verbal, situational and dramatic. Discuss examples of irony found throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. What is Twain’s purpose in using irony in the story?

Discuss the role the following ideas play in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: 1) the Mississippi River as a symbol and plot device and (2) superstition as an element of foreshadowing.

Mysterious Stranger

  1. What is Moral Sense?  How does Satan turn upside down the boys’ arguments on the need for morality? How does Twain make you think or rethink morality? Is evil a construct of limited understanding or an unfair burden on morality?
  • How does The Mysterious Stranger explore Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest?  Is there a sense of survival or evolution in the novel or is there a sense of stagnancy.
  • How does Twain explore the concepts of Naturalism and/or Realism in this novella? How would you classify the story as one or the other?
  • How does Twain use parody and comedy in juxtaposition with darker images to create mood or illustrate a theme ?

Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl

What issues does Linda Brent advocate for in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl?

As described in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, how does Nancy affect her family?

According to Chapter 6 of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, why is Mrs. Flint jealous of slaves, and how does she act on that jealousy?

As seen in Chapter 16 of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, how does Ellen’s unhappiness emphasize the dilemma of slave mothers?

Frederick Douglass

Douglass describes knowledge as “valuable bread” (p. 83) and the Liberator, an anti-slavery paper, as his “meat and drink” (p. 151). How does literacy sustain him?

Why does Douglass believe “Slavery proved as injurious to [his master’s wife] as it did to [him]” (p. 81)?

Think about Douglass’s private speech to the ships in Chapter X. Why does Douglass recreate this speech in his Narrative? What do the ships represent? Why is this moment important within the Narrative?

Discuss the prejudice that existed among slaves from different plantations. Examine the irony of this prejudice.

Why does Frederick include the anecdotes about the two religious slave holders Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Weeden? What point is he attempting to make?