The Great Big
on Black Rain and The Assault
For your first World Literature Essay, you will need to
be ready to write about the two novels we’re currently studying (or have
recently studied). You will need to have an understanding of each of these
novels, not only by themselves, but in comparison/contrast to each other.
For that reason, I have made sure that these novels have many large, shared
links with each other. It is your job (as a class) to uncover what these
links are and to explore (and I mean really explore) the depths and
intricacies of those links.
Keep in mind: A “link” can be any shared aspect of the
works: their themes, their characters (either in portrayals and
relationships and/or functions), or their techniques (you know beginnings
and endings, imagery, point-of-view, symbolism, structure, or style). And
by “shared,” I mean that those aspects must be the same, close to the same,
or similar ideas that are used in distinctly opposite ways. Some examples
of what I mean appear below:
- Both Palace Walk and The House of the
Spirits share the theme of revolution. (super-simple link)
- Both Palace Walk and The House of the
Spirits use major characters as martyrs to revolutionary causes to
promote both authors’ pro-revolutionary beliefs. In both novels, the
characters that are most strongly connected to the revolution are the most
moral and likeable. Thus, by having these moral and just characters die
while fighting for freedom in a revolution, both Mahfouz and Allende
celebrate the revolutionary objectives those characters fought for.
- Both As I Lay Dying and The House of the
Spirits use multiple narrators in order to tell their stories. In
As I Lay Dying, the narrative is pieced together through the first
person point of view of multiple characters, each with his or her own
biases and peculiarities in a stream-of-consciousness style. The effect
on the audience is to leave them reeling from confronting the ludicrous
and selfish nature of mankind. Faulkner forces the reader to admit the
fact that we are ultimately alone and unable to understand one another.
Meanwhile, Allende structures the stories of her narrators under the guise
of an omniscient narrator, a narrator we find out is actually Alba, the
youngest member of the Trueba family. By filtering all the stories, even
Esteban’s, through Alba’s omniscient narrator, Allende creates a story
that is whole and continuous. Ultimately, Allende suggest that stories
provide hope for future generations. (detailed link) (ok… don’t
freak…. it’s just an example J;
however, the more you prep now, the easier it will be to spit stuff like
this out on your World Literature Essays in June and next year in Ms.
If I was going to write my second sample above up in a
chart, it might look something like this:
House of the Spirits
Theme of “revolution” + use of a martyred
Fahmy, one of the main
characters in the novel, is the biggest supporter of the Egyptian
revolution against the British Protectorate in 1919. He actively
participates in the movement, even serving in a leadership capacity.
Fahmy is the “best” of the
main characters. While the other adult male characters in the novel are
tortured by lust and sin, Fahmy is always kind and virtuous.
While the other adult male
characters pursue lustful liaisons, Fahmy is a victim of unrequited
love. This further cements the audience’s positive feelings towards
Fahmy dies while
participating in a peaceful protest against the Protectorate.
Jaime, one of the main
characters in the novel, is an extremely active member of the socialist
movement that momentarily is elected to power in Chile, before being
toppled by a military coup.
Jaime is also one of the
“best” characters in the novel. He is a doctor that works with the poor
in the slums. Compared to the other adult male characters in his
family, he is the most selfless and giving, especially in contrast to
his twin brother.
Jaime is also a victim of
unrequited love. He remains faithful and devoted to the object of his
love, despite her drug addiction and relationship with his twin brother.
Jaime is captured by the
military after refusing to leave the socialist president’s side. He is
shot after days of torture.
We will be working on filling out a chart together.
All of this “filling out” will appear on-line through Ms. Spachman’s
website, and you can go there to download more recent versions after people
have started filling in ideas they’d like to share (I will give you the link
tomorrow in class).
By Friday, May 21, your assignment is to submit 2
individual (yes, work it out on your own) ideas to add to the chart. By
“ideas,” I mean giving your thoughts on at least two linked aspects
of the plays. So, for example, the work I did in the sample chart above
with Palace Walk and The House of the Spirits would count as
ONE idea. And yes, you should aim at making your idea that detailed,
but it could be slightly less and still score well.
Additionally, you may submit more ideas or partial
ideas to me for extra credit. In this case, you may work with a
partner to develop your ideas, just make sure you submit your work with both
your names on it. If you want the extra credit to count, it must be
submitted by Monday, May 24.
How does this work?
- You can submit your ideas to me in writing by
creating your own chart.
- You can download a copy of the chart on-line, open
it up in Word, type in your additions and bold them so I can
clearly see what you’ve added. Then print your work OR email it to
me in an attachment to
- Keep checking on-line for newer versions of the
chart to increase your own idea bank and for additional ideas to respond