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That sounds a little like "Theme for English B." In fact, Hughes's professor's advice, "Let it come out of you/And then it will be true," yielded a memorable poem, so have fun with these topics. But please try to write at least about 350 words (or as much more as you like), and draw on (and cite) some relevant and reliable sources for information about critical responses and historical context. Choose any ONE of these topics. Once you have posted your essay, you may comment on each others' essays, but if you plagiarize from a classmate's essay or any other source (even if you don't use exactly the same words), you won't get credit for your exam!
In Brown Girl, Brownstones, what steps are the Caribbean immigrants in Brooklyn taking toward upward mobility--economic and social--in American society? How does Selina feel about the values or ambitions of the older generation of immigrants? (It makes sense to check the end of the novel before you answer.) Compare and/or contrast Selina's attitude with the ambitions of Christie in Louisa May Alcott's Work and/or Carrie in Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. Do not just refer to plot events; discuss specific passages--descriptive details, speeches, narrators' comments, and phrases--in detail and relate them to the novels as wholes.
Several works that we have discussed this semester--"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," Work, Sister Carrie, "Who's Passing for Who?", and Brown Girl, Brownstones--have been set partially or wholly in big cities. Why were urban settings especially compelling for American writers between the Civil War and the end of the twentieth century? Examine the portrayal of cities in any two of the works we've read this semester that depict them. What details of city life do the authors emphasize? Do the cities have any particular moral coloration or implications for the destinies of people living in them? For strong answers, examine specific passages--speeches, descriptive details, phrases--rather than just making references to plot events.
The determinist philosophy of the Naturalist writers at the turn of the twentieth century contrasts with the Emersonian philosophy of free will that is expressed in some (although of course not all) works produced earlier in the nineteenth century. Contrast the determinism evident in Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie with the belief in individualism that is apparent in Work or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, looking at descriptions, narrators' direct comments, and speeches as well as plot events. (If you choose this topic, be sure to check the definition of determinism as it is used as a technical term in philosophy; you can see a definition here.)
Although only one of the works we are reading this semester focuses specifically on the lives of immigrants, geographic mobility--moving from one region to another--is a theme across all of the literature we have read. Why are changes of location and the resulting changes of lifestyle, values, beliefs, and identity at the center of so much American literature from the Civil War to the present? Discuss specific passages, speeches, or episodes from any three of the works that we've read this semester that address the theme of dislocation and mobility.
That sounds a little like "Theme for English B." In fact, Hughes's professor's advice, "Let it come out of you/And then it will be true," yielded a memorable poem, so have fun with these topics. But please try to write at least about 350 words (or as much more as you like), and draw on (and cite) some relevant and reliable sources for information about critical responses and historical context.