English 2030, Essay II
Due via email on or before Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Choose one of the following topics for your last essay. The composition must be typed, double-spaced, and meet all MLA guidelines. You do not need a works cited page if all references are made to stories or the film. Feel free, however, to find outside opinions that support your own. If you seek secondary sources, please cite and attach a works cited page. The length should be at least 750 words.
Topic One: Compare and/or contrast how two writers attempt to explain their war experiences. Using Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story,” and Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home,” look closely at how the two stories are similar, and how the tales differ. Explain these similarities and differences, offering your opinion on which is the better account. This will, of course, require you to read the Hemingway story, which has been sent through email.
Topic Two: Examine, using one or two of the stories you read, the role violence plays in contemporary fiction. How does violence enhance the storyline? Why are these writers—and writers in general—often drawn to the ugly aspects of our world? Are they writing what we want to read, are they pushing the limits of what’s acceptable in order to shock the reading public, or are they simply painting an accurate picture?
Topic Three: The short story, “I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down,” is a character-driven work that deals with human nature. Focusing on Abner Meecham and Lonzo Choat, how does the author create complex characters who seem on the surface rather one-dimensional, but develop into ambiguous, multi-faceted individuals at story’s end? What do you think William Gay is saying about human nature, how we co-exist, how we interact, how we form opinions of others?
Topic Four: Male authors are routinely criticized for failing to present adequately developed female characters. William Gay is no exception; his novels and short stories almost ignore females. Why do you think a feminist critic would find the film version of the short story more appealing? What specific changes did director/screenwriter Scott Teems make to more fully explore the female roles in the story? Did the director’s efforts affect the movie version of the story in a positive or negative way? Did Teems go far enough in his changes to the female roles?
Topic Five: Did something occur to you in your reading? Perhaps a good essay topic came to mind, or one of the previous topics suggests some other direction that you want to explore. Your essay must somehow be related to the short stories, novel, or film. Let me know.