American Literature Assignment

| December 22, 2015

Questions will be on stories and information found in “The Norton Anthology: American Lierature, Shorter Eighth Edition.”

The assigned reading (which the questions will be based off of includes the following:

Read “Beginnings to 1700” pp. 3-19, for background on both Europeans and Native Americans during the Age of Discovery

“Native American Oral Literature”; “The Iroquois Creation Story,” pp. 20-23; “Pima Stories of the Beginning of the World,” available

online with a google search (try:

story-of-creation/ ).
Christopher Columbus: Bio, pp. 24, and “Letter to Luis de Santangel,” pp. 25-26, and “Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella Regarding the

Fourth Voyage,” pp. 26-28
William Bradford: Bio, pp. 72-73, and selections from “Of Plymouth Plantation,” pp. 74-90
Read “American Literature, 1700-1820,” pp. 157-169, for background about the shift from the Age of Faith to the Age of Reason
Jonathan Edwards: Bio, pp. 177-178, and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” pp. 209-222
Benjamin Franklin: Bio, pp. 236-236, and selections from pp. 244-308: “The Way to Wealth,” “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North

America,” and “The Autobiography”

Read “American Literature: 1820-1865,” pp. 445-465, and note the timeline, “Texts and Contexts”

o Washington Irving: Bio: pp. 467-468, and “Rip Van Winkle,” pp. 470-482

o Ralph Waldo Emerson: Bio, pp. 505-508, and “Self-Reliance,” pp. 549-566

o Nathaniel Hawthorne: Bio, pp. 603-606, and either “Young Goodman Brown,” pp. 619-628 or “The Birth-Mark,” pp. 645-656

o Edgar Allan Poe: Bio, pp. 683-687, and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” pp. 714-718

o Walt Whitman: Bio, pp. 1005-1009, and selections from “Inscriptions” and “Song of Myself,” pp. 1024-1067, “When I Heard the

Learn’d Astronomer” and “Beat! Beat! Drums!” pp. 1078-1080

o Emily Dickinson: Bio, pp. 1189-1193, and selections from Poems

o Read “American Literature: 1865-1914,” pp. 1265-1281, and note the Timeline, “Texts and Contexts,”

o Kate Chopin: Bio, pp. 1604-1605 and “Desiree’s Baby” pp.1605-1609

o Charles Chesnutt: Bio, pp. 1641-1642 and “The Wife of His Youth” pp. 1649-1657

o Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Bio, pp. 1668-1669 and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” pp. 1669-1681

o W. E. B. Du Bois: Bio, pp. 1715-1716, and “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” pp. 1722-1731

o Jack London: Bio, pp. 1811-1812, and “To Build a Fire,” pp. 1812-1823

Read “Realism and Naturalism,” pp. 1732-1733, for Darwin’s influence on American letters in the late

o Robert Frost: Bio, pp. 1911-1912, and “The Road Not Taken,” p. 1919-1920, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” p. 1923

o Susan Glaspell: Bio, p. 1926-1927, and “Trifles,” pp. 1927-1936

o Carl Sandburg: Bio, pp. 1947-1948, and “Chicago,” “Fog,” and “Grass,” pp. 1948-1950

o T.S. Eliot: Bio, pp.2003-2006 and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” pp. 2006-2009

o Zora Neale Hurston: Bio, 2123-2124 and “The Gilded Six Bits,” pp. 2127-2135

o F. Scott Fitzgerald: Bio, pp. 2147-2149 and “Babylon Revisited,” pp. 2164-2178

o William Faulkner: Bio, pp. 2178-2181, and “Barn Burning,” pp. 2188-2200

o Ernest Hemingway: Bio, pp. 2203-2205, and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” pp. 2205-2221

Langston Hughes: Bio, pp. 2221-2222, and selections from his poetry, pp. 2222-2229

Read “American Literature since 1945,” pp. 2255-2269, and note the timeline, “Texts and Contexts,”

James Baldwin: Bio, pp. 2511, and “Going to Meet the Man,” pp. 2512-2523
Flannery O’ Connor: Bio, pp. 2523-2524, and “Good Country People,” pp. 2523-2537
Toni Morrison: Bio, pp. 2585-2587, and “Recitatif,” pp. 2587-2600
Sylvia Plath: Bio, pp. 2600-2602, and “Lady Lazarus,” pp. 2602-2604, and “Daddy,” pp. 2605-2607
Louise Erdrich: Bio, pp. 2779-2780, and “Fleur,” pp. 2783-2792
Julia Alvarez: Bio: p.2753, and “Yo!,” pp. 2754-2761
Sherman Alexie: Bio, 2829-2830, and selected readings, pp.2830-2833
Jhumpa Lahiri: Bio, pp. 2833-2834, and “Sexy,” pp. 2834-2849

The questions and essay will also include components of the Literary Terms and Movements which I have listed below.

Literary Terms and Movements

Voice = who is speaking. Every time you have a new character speaking you have a new voice.

Ex: John says, “Hi Mike.”
Mike says, “Hi.”
Here you have two voices.

Narrator = the person telling the story

Narrative = the story itself
A narrator tells a narrative

Point of View = how much a narrator knows about the characters and events

1. First Person Point of View – narrator is a participant in the narrative
Identifiable by the use of the “I” pronoun
Ex. I walked down to the corner store.

2. Second Person P.O.V. – narrator addresses reader as “you”
Ex. You decide to brush your teeth before going out.

3. Third Person P.O.V. – narrator refers to characters as “he,” “she,” “they,” etc.
May talk about what they are thinking
Ex. He talks to her about the weather.

Types of Narrator

Reliable Narrator – a reliable narrator can be trusted to provide an accurate account of events and is believable.

Unreliable narrator- cannot be trusted to provide an accurate telling

Intrusive Narrator – an intrusive narrator gives his or her own opinions on an event.

Rather than being objective, they are subjective.

Ex. If the sun is shining an intrusive narrator might say, “The sun was out and it was a beautiful day.” By saying it was a beautiful day

the narrator is intruded his or her opinion on the reader.

Tone = the attitude of the narrator, the mood of the piece
Tone can be established by analyzing diction and syntax.

Diction = word choice

Syntax = word order
If a narrator writes “ The angry man stood frowning and muttering swear words and the scared people that walked by.”
The diction here “angry, frowning, scared” provides the tone.

Irony: “a literary term referring to how a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not as it would actually seem. Many times it

is the exact opposite of what it appears to be. There are many types of irony, the three most common being verbal irony, dramatic irony,

and cosmic irony. Verbal irony occurs when either the speaker means something totally different than what he is saying or the audience

realizes, because of their knowledge of the particular situation to which the speaker is referring, that the opposite of what a character

is saying is true. Verbal irony also occurs when a character says something in jest that, in actuality, is true. Dramatic irony occurs

when facts are not known to the characters in a work of literature but are known by the audience. Cosmic irony suggests that some unknown

force brings about dire and dreadful events.” Quotes from Glossary of Literary Terms from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke



When you discuss form, you are commenting upon how something looks. Prose is literature that is written in paragraph form with no line

breaks, like there is in poetry.

There are two types of prose: fiction and non-fiction

Fiction is imaginative or invented prose
Novels: prose of a hundred pages or more
Short Stories: prose of less than 20 pages (“Rip Van Winkle”)
Novellas: prose of between 20 and 100 pages

Non-fiction is prose based on fact
Essay: a brief prose composition on a single topic (“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”)
Biography: a story of a person’s life told by someone else
Autobiography: story of a person’s life told by him or herself ( Columbus’ letters)

Plot: the summary of the action and events of a story, including the words and deeds of the characters.
Structure of Plot:
Conflict: Every story has a conflict, which is the struggle or opposition the main character feels and or confronts.
Exposition: this is the section of the plot where the characters and setting is introduced (Ex. In “Rip Van Winkle” the exposition is up

until Rip enters the forest.)
Rising Action: this is where the conflict begins (When Rip enters the forest).
Climax: this is where the conflict is resolved (When Rip meets his daughter and discovers what has happened to him).
Falling Action: this is any action that occurs after the climax (Where Rip explains what he remembers of his journey into the forest).
Denouement: this is the resolution of the story which illustrates what happens later to the characters (Where Rip spends the rest of his

life telling stories).
Characters are the invented people in fiction.
Protagonist: the protagonist is the main character, not the same as the narrator, although the main character can sometimes be the

narrator. The protagonist is not always a “good” character, like in “Tell-Tale Heart.” (Rip would be the protagonist of “Rip Van Winkle.)
Antagonist: the antagonist is the real or symbolic force that conflicts against the protagonist (Dame Van Winkle, for example.)
Characters can be either round or flat.
Round characters: have some sort of emotional depth, are three dimensional and often change (the protagonist of “Tell-Tale Heart” for

Flat Characters: do not change and only behave in one manner (Rip Van Winkle behaves the same throughout the story; therefore, he would be

considered flat).

Setting: Where, when and under what circumstances the story takes place. Often details in the setting are significant to the story. They

might set the mood or contain an important symbol. For instance, in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the wallpaper, the bedroom and the garden are

each pieces of the setting that have great symbolic significance.

Poetry is different in form from prose and one can see that just by how poetry looks on the page. Lines are broken to change the meaning.

The line “John fell down the stairs” is prose.
However in poetry one could write:
and the reader’s eye, like John, falls down.

Poetry uses images (words or phrases that stimulate the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell).
Images in poems can have two meanings: literal and symbolic.
A literal meaning is what the words actually mean, where symbolic meaning is what the words represent. Wedding rings are symbols; if you

lose your ring you are no less married.
There are different forms of poetry. Some poems, like Dickinson’s, are organized by rhyme, syllabics (how many syllables are in a line)

and meter (the rhythm or beats in a line). Whitman wrote in free verse which is poetry without any fixed patterns, or poetry that adheres

to unconventional structure.


The last of the three literary forms also looks much different on the page.

There are two types of drama:
Tragedy: where the protagonist fails to overcome the conflict
Comedy: typically humorous, absurd and containing a happy ending

Structure of Drama:
Dramas are mainly considered a script for the actors who perform them, so there’s nothing wrong with seeing dramas performed since that is

how they were intended.



Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement that developed in New England in the 1830s and 40s. Transcendentalists

believed that one could transcend or go beyond everyday reality through communion with nature, intuition and searching inwardly rather

than through the doctrines of established religions. Emerson and Thoreau in particular emphasized the importance of seeking a higher

reality in Nature.

Naturalism is an offshoot of Realism and has the same emphasis on detailed, accurate descriptions. It goes further, however, in describing

some of the gorier details of the less aesthetic side of life. There is also an emphasis on the effects of society on the lower classes,

and these are usually not positive.

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