1. Read and respond to this passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of a transit a thin red circle in the water.
The narrator refers to Gatsby’s corpse as an “accidental burden.” Compare Fitzgerald’s elegant metaphor with the unconstitutional burden that mandatory trigger locks would impose on American citizens.
2. In the final conflict of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, how much faster would the tyranny of Piggy, Ralph, Simon, Sam, and Eric have been vanquished if Jack’s tribe of boy patriots had been prudently armed? Assume they were carrying AR-15s, 5.56×45mm NATO caliber, with hollow-point bullets.
3. In Chapter 14 of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, protagonist Holden Caulfield says, “What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.”
Explain how exercising the right to own and carry arms can reduce social anxiety for young people like Holden.
4. Tom Robinson, the unjustly convicted man in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, is shot seventeen times while attempting to escape from prison. Tom was black. You may skip this question.
5. At the end of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, George shoots his friend Lenny in the back of the head with a P-08 Luger. Briefly analyze the importance of the Luger’s short-recoil, toggle-link action, famous for its reliability, in this scene.
6. “One day they would decide to shoot him,” muses Winston in George Orwell’s novel 1984. This character’s imagining of his own martyrdom at the hands of the Thought Police leads him to conclude, “They would have blown his brain to pieces before they could reclaim it. The heretical thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their reach for ever. They would have blown a hole in their own perfection. To die hating them, that was freedom.”
Evaluate Ingsoc’s decision to have its assassins kill with a more difficult head shot, rather than the surer option of aiming at center mass.
7. In Act IV, Scene iii of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Ross reveals that Macbeth has murdered MacDuff’s family, reporting, “Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes/ Savagely slaughtered.” Prince Malcolm responds by urging MacDuff to take revenge upon Macbeth. But the devastated MacDuff simply replies, “He has no children.”
Which character is inappropriately politicizing the MacDuff family’s private tragedy?