204 Final Exam
I. PART ONE: Analyzing Texts
Do a short close reading of one of the following texts. Identify what the main idea or focus of the excerpt is and how the author achieves his or her purpose. This will be the thesis of your short (3-4 paragraph) response. In your response, be sure to identify the author, title of the work, narrative point of view (whether it is being told from the first person, second person, or limited omniscient point of view), and any significant literary devices and figures of speech such as allegory, symbol, irony, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, or synesthesia. If this passage represents a key scene—a change in a character’s development—say so. If it reveals traits about a character, or explores themes, or hints at things unsaid between characters, identify them.
A. Without more words, he threw his companion the maple stick, and was as speedily out of sight as if he had vanished into the deepening gloom. The young man sat a few moments by the roadside, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister in his morning walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin. And what calm sleep would be his that very night, which was to have been spent so wickedly, but so purely and sweetly now, in the arms of Faith! Amidst these pleasant and praiseworthy meditations, Goodman Brown heard the tramp of horses along the road, and deemed it advisable to conceal himself within the verge of the forest, conscious of the guilty purpose that had brought him thither, though now so happily turned from it.
B. A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
C. As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened–ages later, it seemed to him–by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness–of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment.
D. And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! –
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.
I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried – ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
E. That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her?? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift.
F. We dug in. We ate everything there was to eat on the table. We ate like there was no tomorrow. We didn’t talk. We ate. We scarfed. We grazed the table. We were into serious eating. The blind man had right away located his foods, he knew just where everything was on his plate. I watched with admiration as he used his knife and fork on the meat. He’d cut two pieces of the meat, fork the meat into his mouth, and then go all out for the scalloped potatoes, the beans next, and then he’d tear off a hunk of buttered bread and eat that. He’d follow this up with a big drink of milk. It didn’t seem to bother him to use his fingers once in a while, either.
G. It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the railroad station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was already much later than I had thought, I had to hurry, the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I was not very well acquainted with the town yet, fortunately there was a policeman nearby, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: ‘from me you want to learn the way?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘since I cannot find it myself.’ ‘Give it up, give it up,’ said he, and turned away with a great sweep, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.
H. In the twenty years since I heard this story I have not asked for details nor said my aunt’s name; 1 do not know it. People who can comfort the dead can also chase after them to hurt them further-a reverse ancestor worship. The real punishment was not the raid swiftly inflicted by the villagers, but the family’s deliberately forgetting her. Her betrayal so maddened them, they saw to it that she would suffer forever, even after death. Always hungry, always needing, she would have to beg food from other ghosts, snatch and steal it from those whose living descendants give them gifts. She would have to fight the ghosts massed at crossroads for the buns a few thoughtful citizens leave to decoy her away from village and home so that the ancestral spirits could feast unharassed. At peace, they could act like gods, not ghosts, their descent lines providing them with paper suits and dresses, spirit money, paper houses, paper automobiles, chicken, meat, and rice into eternity essences delivered up in smoke and flames, steam and incense rising from each rice bowl. In an attempt to make the Chinese care for people outside the family, Chairman Mao encourages us now to give our paper replicas to the spirits of outstanding soldiers and workers, no matter whose ancestors they may be. My aunt remains forever hungry. Goods are not distributed evenly among the dead.
My aunt haunts me-her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes. 1 do not think she always means me well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water. The Chinese are always very frightened of the drowned one, whose weeping ghost, wet hair hanging and skin bloated, waits silently by the water to pull down a substitute.
II. PART TWO: CRITICAL APPROACHES TO LITERATURE
Using a paragraph for each one, discuss how you might use two of the following approaches to discuss any two works we have read in the class: Formalist Criticism, Biographical Criticism, Gender Criticism, Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Disability Studies, Mythological Criticism, or Interdisciplinary Studies.
III. PART THREE: DOING THINGS WITH TEXTS
Pick one of the following to do (EITHER “Starving Screenwriter” OR “Curiouser and Curiouser.” If you want extra credit, do both)
A. Starving Screenwriter
You are a starving screenwriter desperately in need of work. Pitch a movie idea to a major studio based upon one of the texts we have done in class. In the beginning of your pitch, say what text you would like to adapt, why we need a film of it now, what genre of film it would be (horror, musical, comedy?), and why it would be a hit (or at least critically acclaimed). Remember, you are hungry. You need the work. Be persuasive and specific. If it has been made into a movie before, why would a remake be successful now? How would yours be different? If it has never before been adapted to film, why should it be?
In the next section, give a synopsis of the plot—the protagonist and main characters, the main obstacles, the major transformations, and so forth. Think movie trailer, not summary: something to whet the appetite. Entice the producer to want to know more the way a trailer entices viewers to want to see the upcoming film. In your synopsis, you will describe your genre, main characters, protagonist’s situation, and the main situation of the film.
Next, detail what you intend to change about the original plot and why. A short text will obviously need added subplots and characters to keep it going; an adaptation of a novel will likewise need to pare down subplots and inessential characters to fit into the allotted time. (The Woman Warrior, for example, would be too vast). One way to amplify a short work is to provide a frame story for it (as with Bierce’s story). To trim down a longer work, focus on the essentials and cut out minor parts. Be explicit in a way that shows your familiarity with the original text and its characters. Finally, suggest actors and a director for the film and say why they would be perfect for your project. Be specific. Also list your ideal cinematographer and / or what music you would use.
B. CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER : Merge two texts we have read, sticking one character from one text into another novel, parable, or story we have read. Try to imagine what that character would really do in such a situation, being as specific as you can and reflecting as many character traits and details from the texts as possible. Your aim here is to demonstrate your thorough knowledge of each text and its characters and themes, not necessarily to showcase your creative writing strength (though try to be true to the time periods represented and do not have Alice in Wonderland, say, talk about her SnapChat account). Include some discussion or action related to dreams or thresholds in your scene. Some possibilities include:
?Jack (or Algernon) wakes up to find himself in the Wood with No Names in Through the Looking-Glass
?The No Name Woman (who was taught English by her crazy doting grandfather) is transported to the Invisible Man’s cellar
?The narrator in “Cathedral” shares a joint with the Invisible Man and learns to see from his perspective
?The No Name Woman gives birth before the gates of the Law in Kafka’s parable, and the ensuing conversation with the gatekeeper
?Oscar Wilde’s Jack wakes up inside Kafka’s parable and decides to become a parable
?Lewis Carroll attempts to photograph one of the children from The Woman Warrior en dishabille whilst telling them a story, etc.
?Instead of finding himself in a dream-fantasy about his wife, Bierce’s Peyton finds himself in Wonderland (or—rather more grimly!—when the Queen says “Off with her head!” in Alice in Wonderland, Alice wakes up on the bridge in “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”)
?Keats’s Knight-At-Arms goes on a blind date with the Woman Warrior
You can also image any other scenario you like. If you are stumped, check out “The Kugelmass Episode” (in which a nebbishy middle aged professor finds himself in the pages of Madame Bovary having an affair with the titular character, much to the surprise of college students everywhere): http://www.woodyallen.art.pl/eng/kugelmass_episode.php.