In one of Cormac McCarthy’s very few interviews, he chastises Marcel Proust and Henry James because they do not deal with “issues of life and death.” Choose at least one scene from this semester’s reading in which one or more deaths is central to the plot. Analyze how death and violence in that scene develops the overall theme and meaning of the work.

Directions: Answer three of the following questions fully. Think of each question as a mini-essay.
Avoid plot summary. Remember to develop your ideas with relevant details from the text (or film) and
plenty of scholarly analysis. No MLA required. You must attach a properly formatted PDF file to the
assignment page. Only PDF files will be accepted. I will not accept emailed papers. You must answer a
total of three prompts below. For this assignment, the minimum length for each essay is two pages (six
pages for 1,500 words total). I advise you to write more than the minimum.

  1. In one of Cormac McCarthy’s very few interviews, he chastises Marcel Proust and Henry James
    because they do not deal with “issues of life and death.” Choose at least one scene from this
    semester’s reading in which one or more deaths is central to the plot. Analyze how death and
    violence in that scene develops the overall theme and meaning of the work.
  2. In the first four lines of “The Second Coming,” British poet William Butler Yeats writes:
    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . .”
    After World War I, American writers seemed to share Yeats’ desperation. Many American literary
    works from the 1920’s to the present day seem to assert the idea that the universe lacks any kind
    of governing structure; that the grand narrative of order and meaning in the universe has been a
    human invention; that humankind, communication, morality, life, and art all tend toward their
    natural state of chaos and absurdity; that as Yeats writes “the centre cannot hold” and “things fall
    apart.” Choose at least three writers (including at least one poet) we have studied (after World
    War I) and analyze how their works illustrate and develop this theme.
    ** Alternate choice: Choose at least three writers (including at least one poet) we have studied
    (after World War I) and analyze how their works illustrate and develop THE OPPOSITE of this
    theme (i.e. that there is truth, order, justice, meaning, and structure in the universe and human
    life). **
  3. Choose one poem, short story, chapter, or essay from this semester’s reading, and analyze how
    its author uses language to develop meaning. Be thorough in your answer, using as many
    elements from the Literary Analysis Wheels as needed to fully extrapolate and fully analyze the
    meaning of the work.
  4. Stretching all the way back to the Native American creation stories, religion has played a
    dominant role in American literature. Compare and contrast two writers (or works) from our
    reading this semester who have divergent views on religion. For this question it is imperative that
    you cite specific examples from the texts as evidence and fully explain the details of your chosen
    authors’ views. In your response, make sure to answer questions like the following: Why did she
    believe in such a way? What cultural and historical influences played a part in this belief? Etc.
    Unique and ambitious answers will receive higher scores. Provide a trait-by-trait comparison (i.e.
    structure your essay by trait rather than subject).
  5. Choose two female authors we have studied this semester. Compare and contrast the specific
    details of their gender identity. Just as in question four above, it is imperative that you cite
    specific examples from the texts as evidence and fully explain the details of your chosen authors’
    views. In your response, make sure to answer questions like the following: Why did she identify
    and express her gender in such a way? What cultural and historical influences played a part in
    this? Etc. Unique and ambitious answers will receive higher scores. Provide a trait-by-trait
    comparison (i.e. structure your essay by trait rather than subject).
  6. Watch one film from the following list and analyze how it serves as the illustration or antithesis
    of one literary period we have studied this semester. Use works we read this semester as
    evidence to clarify your ideas and support your arguments.
    Like the way in which one analyzes literature, with film focus on such elements as setting,
    characters, characterization, action, conflict, dialogue, details, cinematography, delivery, editing,
    lighting, aesthetics, structure, sequencing, etc. Take care to show how the elements you choose
    develop the overall theme of the film and how those elements and that theme typify or refute the
    literary period in which you have chosen to classify the film. Avoid plot summary.