Part One: Short answer questions. (20 pts.) Please answer all short answer questions. There is no choice.
1. Briefly discuss what makes Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” a contemporary Native American story? In other words, how does she contrast reservation life with mainstream American life in the 1970s?
2. In which story (give title) do we find the following lines. Who is the “I”? What is the significance of these lines?
“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
3. Who is speaking in Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”?
Part Two: Please choose only ONE of the following questions and write an essay about it (80 pts.). Include an introductory paragraph. Be as specific as possible by supporting your statements with examples from the text(s). Please write in clear, grammatical sentences. Proofread your essay. Your essay should be a minimum of 6 – 8 paragraphs in length.
1. Consider the following quotation from “A Woman’s Beauty: Put-Down or Power Source?” an essay from the influential late 20th – century American critic Susan Sontag: ‘To be called beautiful is thought to name something essential to women’s character and concerns (in contrast to men — whose essence is to be strong, effective, or competent). It does not take someone in the throes in advanced feminist awareness to perceive that the way women are taught to be involved with beauty encourages narcissism, reinforces dependence and immaturity. Everybody (women and men) knows that.” Explain what this quotation means and then agree or disagree with it in terms of Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.”
2. In “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” Raymond Carver makes evident the challenge of converting the experience of love into words. Yes, characters tell stories to exemplify love but there is an area that appears impenetrable about the experience of love — that cannot be put into words. Language has its limitations. One could argue the same holds true for the articulation of the experience of Happiness — which seems much neglected in the language of narrative. Some exceptions include passages in Willa Cather’s “Neighbor Rosicky“ and in Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible.” In your essay, FOCUS ONLY ON THE CATHER AND ERDRICH STORIES. Please address the notion of happiness in these two short stories. Show examples of the experience of happiness, explain your examples and their contexts, and contrast them in terms of what you think each is suggesting about happiness.
3. Is Theodore Dreiser a psychological realist? Based on “The Second Choice” argue for or against this view by explaining what a psychological realist is in early twentieth-century American fiction and how this story fits into that definition. Give examples to support your argument. Does Dreiser provide a level of candor not present in most American fiction up to that time? Is this story an example of psychological realism, that is, without romantic idealization? Is insight given into the female mind? How so? Is Shirley an “operator”? Does she evaluate the prospect of Arthur versus Barton?
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