American Literature

American Literature
Paper instructions:

1.Choose two characters studied this semester. Do they have similar problems? Look beyond the specific details of their circumstances in order to find the essential common dilemma they face. For example, explain what common issue confronts both Sylvia in “A White Heron” and Carrie in Sister Carrie.


2.According to Baym, Naturalism is a version of Realism. While Realists wrote about “human beings defined… within recognizable settings”, Naturalists wrote about “human life as it was shaped by forces beyond human control” (10). Select a short story that best illustrates the difference between Realism and Naturalism. Explain how and support your argument.


3.Choose one: “A White Heron”, “To Build a Fire”, “The Open Boat”, “Desert Places”, “Anecdote of the Jar” or “If we must die”. Explain the role nature plays for the narrator or speaker in the text. For example, is Nature treating literally or figuratively? Explain and support your position.


4.Dave, Desiree and Sylvia are just a few of the characters studied this semester who have developed original or unusual ways to face their struggles; in these and other cases, their decision-making processes were impacted by their outside worlds. Select two characters and explain how their outside worlds influenced them to make their final decisions. In particular, argue whether those outside forces encourage the reader to be more or less judgmental about these characters.


5.In “Song of Myself”, the speaker has a powerful connection with and understanding of Nature. Discuss the main character in one of the texts studied this semester who best illustrates the relationship with Nature described in Whitman’s poem. “A White Heron”, “The Open Boat” and “To Build a Fire” are some examples of texts to consider.


6.In Baym’s essay on American versions of Modernism, she states “A typical modernist work may seem to … advance without explanation … end without resolution …. [to] suggest rather than assert [and make] use of symbols and images rather than statements” (664). How does Frost’s work from “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Desert Places” or Stevens’ “The Snow Man” use this method to portray, diagnose or critique the individual and the world around him/her?



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