World Fiction

Essay #2

Write a 2-3 page essay (with works cited page) on one of the following topics:

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1.     D.H. Lawrence “The Rocking Horse Winner”

·       Describe the relationship between mother and son in this story.  How is this relationship central to the story’s themes of luck,  money, and dysfunctional families?

2.     Shirley Jackson “The Lottery”

·       Describe the importance of tradition in the community depicted in this story. What does the author appear to be saying about its effects upon society?

3.     Franz Kafka “A Hunger Artist”

·       What is Kafka suggesting about the nature of the relationship between the artist and society?  Cite examples of the artist’s attitude toward his “art” and regulations as well as society’s changing attitude toward the artist.

4.     Clarice Lispector “The Smallest Woman in the World”

·       What does the story appear to be implying about the nature of human love?  Be sure to examine love as it is described in the narrator’s depiction of Little Flower as well as in her depiction of the various readers’ reactions to the story of Little Flower.  Relate this to the overall theme of the story.

5.     Jack London “To Build a Fire”

·       Examine the difference between actions based on knowledge and those based on instinct as depicted in the behaviors of the man and the dog.  What does London seem to be saying about the nature and the value of both approaches to navigating the world?  Relate this to Naturalism.

6.     Ernest Hemingway “Hills Like White Elephants”

·       Hemingway is famous for his “iceberg theory” of narrative in which sparse prose suggests deeper elements of character and theme.  What does the dialogue suggest about the two protagonists?  What is the attitude of each toward their predicament? 

·       What will change, depending on how the predicament is resolved? How does each envision the possibility of a shared future? Be sure to support your interpretation with quotations and connect character with theme.

·       Examine how the story’s setting is related to character, theme, and action (conflict).

7.     Flannery O’Connor “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

·       Discuss O’Connor’s use of humor in this story.  What kind of tone is developed at the beginning of the story through humor?  How does the tone change as we move toward the story’s conclusion?

8.     Jorge Luis Borges “Emma Zunz”

·       Examine Emma’s attitude toward sexuality.  How does this attitude relate to the crime she commits?  Why does she decide to add a sexual component to her set-up of Loewenthal?  Consider the element of sacrifice.

9.     Raymond Carver “A Small, Good Thing”

·       Discuss the theme of communication in relationships in the story, including the Weisses, the baker, Doctor Francis, and Franklin’s family.

10.  Yukio Mishima “Patriotism”

  • While Takeyama waits for his wife to take a bath, he thinks, “Was it death he was now waiting for? Or wild ecstasy of the senses?  The two seemed to overlap, almost as if the object of his bodily desire was death itself.”  Why does the author describe love-making and seppuku in equal detail?
  • Does the author depict Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama and his wife’s suicides as tragedy or triumph? Support your interpretation with evidence from the text.

11.  Doris Lessing “To Room Nineteen”

·       Why does the wife in this story commit suicide?  What elements are missing from her life which, if present, might have prevented her suicide?  To what extent is her sense of purposeless linked to social class?

12.  John Cheever “The Swimmer”

·       Discuss Cheever’s depiction of time in this story.  Is there a pattern?  You may want to link this to the different pools Neddy visits

13.  Isabel Allende “And of Clay Are We Created”

·       The reporter’s story is about one girl.  He becomes focused on her alone as people die and the earth shifts around him.  What is the relationship between the reporter and the girl?

·       What do Acuzena’s predicament and attitudes suggest about her social and ethnic class?  What is the author suggesting about social justice?  Support with evidence from the text.

14.  Toni Cade Bombara “The Lesson”

·       What is the primary lesson that Sylvia learns?  Support your answer with evidence from the text.  What is Bombara’s social comment about class?

15.  Helena Maria Viramontes “The Moths”

·       Citing details from the text, describe the narrator’s relationship with her grandmother.  What does the grandmother provide the narrator that is lacking in her other familial relationships?  Why is this relationship important to the narrator?

16.  Luisa Valenzuela “A Famile for Clotilde”

·       What does the story suggest about masculinity and the way it is defined through personal relationships?  Support your answers with specific examples from the story.

17.  Bobbie Ann Mason “Shiloh”

·       Trace the dynamic tensions within Normal Jean and Leroy’s marriage. How do they create tension and conflict and how are they resolved?

18.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

·       Compare this story with Kafka’s. What elements are similar? What changes have been made? Related changes to differences between the stories’ themes and the authors’ cultural backgrounds.

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