Select one of the following topics and write a detailed essay discussing the work in question. Please support your argument with examples from the text.
1. Compare and contrast the two cities in A Tale of Two Cities. Which one do you think Charles Dickens preferred?
2. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, why does the caged bird sing? Is it because it gets free food and shelter for just sitting there, doing nothing? Please elaborate and provide textual evidence.
3. What made The Great Gatsby so great? Does everyone think he’s that great? Why?
4. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, how did the man become invisible? Do you sometimes feel like you’re invisible? Like, when you ask a tenured professor for some teaching advice and he says, “Yeah sure, give me your email” and you never hear back from him?
5. Does the punishment fit the crime in Crime and Punishment? Why or why not? Please provide textual evidence.
6. Who sent The Scarlet Letter? To whom was it addressed? Was it a letter of recommendation? Is there some sort of easy-to-follow format for letters of recommendation which you can use for students you don’t really know that well, but on whose evaluations you depend for continued employment?
7. Why are the characters in Waiting for Godot waiting for Godot? Who is Godot anyway, to make them wait? What happens when he finally arrives?
8. What is Sophie’s Choice? Did she decide to get an MFA in Creative Writing while adjuncting instead of just finding a regular job and writing on the side? Would you have made the same choice? Please elaborate, providing examples from your own life, if possible.
9. In Walden; or, Life in the Woods, how does Walden get along in the woods? Where exactly are these woods? What’s the commute like?
10. In Appointment in Samarra, who are the people that meet in Samarra? What happens if they miss the appointment, do they still get charged? Even if it wasn’t their fault that they were late, because the Metrocard showed an insufficient balance, though it clearly had $2.80 left? Do you think that’s fair?
11. Who is The Lord of the Flies? How does one become lord of the flies? Is it a paying position?
12. In The Sun Also Rises what, in addition to the sun, also rises? Is it the rent? I bet it’s the rent. Why is the rent so high?
13. Discuss the military career of The Good Soldier. What makes him such a good soldier? Is the military looking for new recruits? Wait, are we still fighting a war? Are there, like, non-war related jobs in the military? How much do they pay? Please attach an up-to-date military pay chart.
14. Who drew The Picture of Dorian Gray? Did Dorian Gray like his picture? How do you become one of those famous artists whose pictures probably took a minute to make and sell for millions?
15. Describe the relationship between the two titular characters of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. How did they meet? Are they roommates? Are you looking for a roommate? Do you maybe have a walk-in closet you’re not using?
16. What does The Catcher in the Rye catch? Is this a baseball thing? Or is it a rye thing? What is rye, anyway? I mean, I know it’s food because they put it in rye bread, but can you eat it on its own?… God, I’m starving.
17. Discuss the theme of wrath in The Grapes of Wrath. How does it relate to the theme of grapes? Do you have any grapes at home? Please attach a bag full of grapes to your paper.
18. Who wins The Lottery? What does he/she do with the money? What are the odds of winning the lottery? What about the track, do you have any promising leads? Please provide textual evidence and odds of winning.
19. In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is the best way to kill a mockingbird? How big is a mockingbird anyway? Are they edible? Please provide textual evidence and recipes.
20. Who wrote The Bible? Does it really have all the answers?