Good Country People James Madison University Chi
LENGTH: All written responses to the questions should be an essay of three or more full pages, PLUS the Works Cited page (4 minimum).
FORMAT: All power point or creative options should be at least eight slides long, NOT including the title slide or Works Cited slide. Power Point is a visual medium, so you must include illustrations and cite them. Instructions for citing illustrations are in Module 2. If you fail to correctly cite illustrations, this is plagiarism.
- Correct MLA formatting, in-text citation, Works Cited page format and citation: up to 10 pts.
- Content, including quality of research, textual support for claims, and organization: up to 50 pts. Please review all content in the course about creating effective literary analysis.
- Mechanics: Strong thesis statement, spelling, grammar, and punctuation: up to 15 pts. Review thesis statements, and run grammar and spell check on every draft.
Below are all the options you can pick from chose an essay option
James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”:
- There are several descriptions of Harlem throughout the story. The characters often talk about trying to run away from Harlem or to retrieve those pieces of themselves that remain a part of it. In many senses, the city becomes a character itself that is inextricably a part of the way Sonny and his brother establish identity and define their relationships with others. In a thesis-driven essay, respond to the following question: In “Sonny’s Blues,” how does Harlem shape and reflect the lives of Sonny and his family?
- Creative Option: Using PowerPoint or video, create a presentation based on the role of Harlem in Baldwin’s life and in the story, paying attention to the world of jazz. Respond to the question: In “Sonny’s Blues”, what did Harlem look and sound like?
- New forms of music – jazz, and later rock, punk, grunge, reggae, hiphop, etc., are often associated with drug use. Look at this early article about jazz:
http://mrparallel.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/jazz-a-drug/ (Links to an external site.) How does Sonny’s relationship with drugs parallel that of artists like Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Curt Cobain? Explore this by creating an audio or video slide presentation.
Willa Cather, “Paul’s Case”:
- Cather writes, “He had not a hundred dollars left; and he knew now, more than ever, that money was everything, the wall that stood between all he loathed and all he wanted.” Explain what money and poverty symbolize for Paul. In what ways does American culture teach that money is everything? Is Cather making a statement about the greed of her time?
- Compare Paul’s desire for a prosperous life with Mathilde’s desires in Maupassant’s “The Necklace.” What accounts for their different choices in the end?
Franz Kafka, “The Hunger Artist”:
- Research Option: Look through newspapers and magazines for modern day stories that parallel “A Hunger Artist.” Does the public still take pleasure in the self-imposed suffering of public figures? Could the anorexia or bulimia of young actresses be compared to the hunger artist? Do we still enjoy watching things that are socially or morally wrong or harmful? Describe the modern day interpretation of the issues developed in “A Hunger Artist.”
John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”:
- Creative Option: Design a flow chart with Elisa’s responses to the men around her, beginning at the start of the text, and moving through to the end. At what point do her responses change? How do they change? Do they change back again? What does this say about Elisa?
Flannery O’Connor, “Good Country People”:
- Watch the 1973 film Paper Moon. (If you select this option, you will need access to Netflix Instant, iTunes or Amazon.com movies) The film’s protagonists are Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal), a Depression-era traveling door-to-door Bible salesman, and his somewhat adopted daughter Addie (Tatum O’Neal). Discuss the film and short story representations of shady Bible salesmen. What is appealing about these characters? What is despicable? Why would this type of character be interesting to a writer?
- Consider the characters of “Good Country People”. What is surprising in the characterizations? How does O’Connor want us to feel about them? Write an essay analyzing the characters of the story.
Langston Hughes, “Cora Unashamed”:
- Both Cora and Delia, from Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat,” work tirelessly to provide for their families, and both eventually take a stand against the people who oppress them and disregard their hard work. Write an essay comparing these two women and their transformations.
Zora Neale Hurston, “Sweat”:
- Research Option: Many African-American fiction writers during this era created stories that depict racist attitudes of whites and acts of racism against blacks. Zora Neale Hurston, however, created fiction based on all-black communities with very few white characters. Read at least three sources about racism in the Jim Crow era and write an essay or create a PowerPoint presentation about how Hurston’s approach successfully or unsuccessfully responds to and contests the attitudes of the Jim Crow era. Use specific examples from Hurston’s stories to support your project.
- Research Option: Read several versions of the biblical story of Adam and Eve and write an essay on how Hurston’s “Sweat” alludes to and rewrites this story.