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English 11 American Literature

Final Project

Nicholas Ratinaud

on 16 June 2011

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Transcript of English 11 American Literature

What is American Literature? To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963
Christopher Paul Curtis Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut Introduction Conclusion A Raisin in the Sun
Lorraine Hansberry Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck Nicholas Ratinaud
English 11 Final Project
June 16th, 2011 Summary What is American Literature? To me, American Literature does not just mean that the author of the selection is American, or that it was written here. There is also an element that goes into the story that makes it a masterpiece. The genre and time period of the piece may vary, but there is a specific emotion in all of these works that makes them classics. In this exposition, I will attempt to discover the detail that makes all of these books pieces of great American Literature. In the 1930's in Maycomb, Alabama, a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus Finch, a white defense lawyer, is the only one willing to take the case. He is a widower with a daughter (Scout) and a son (Jem), who are just immature children. As the trial progressses, the children's eyes are opened to the southern world around them, and they see racism. The accused rapist is innocent, but he is convicted anyways and sentanced to death, the innocent mockingbird is a metaphor for him. To Kill a Mockingbird is a very powerful novel about the unfairness and racism towards African Americans in the south. Even a great defense lawyer like Atticus could not break the bonds of prejudice and free an innocent black man.

“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

One theme in the story is the use of the Mockingbird as a metaphor for the accused man. He has done no harm to anyone, yet he is going to be killed becuase of racial prejudice. A main message in the story is that it is important to stand up for what is right, even if it is difficult. Because of their father, the children endure near constant harrasment at school. Yet they stand up for their views, even though it is difficult. Atticus says to his children, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." He wants them to be more tolerant of people, even if they offend them. Society High School Besides being a classic in American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is a well-written piece of literature. It allows students to learn about the use of colloquialism and dialect, figures of speech, and other literary devices. Some people are offended by the consistant use of the "n-word" in the novel, as well as some of the themes, such as rape and racism. However, I think it is important that students not be shielded from these concepts, because they can be used to teach what is wrong; therby preventing these occurances in the future. I do believe that this book should be taught to mature high or middle school students in an appropriate context. Bibliography Sparknotes.com
shmoop.com "After my arm quit hurting from his punch I went back to the alley behind Mitchell's to take another look at the dead bird but it was gone. Right in the spot where the bird had crashed By had dug a little grave, and on top of the grave there were two Popsicle sticks tied together in a cross." Society Each one of these pieces is the embodiment of American Literature. The element that ties them all together and makes them classic masterpieces is the archetype of struggle and working to advance their families, themselves, and the world around them. That is all part of the American Experience that all of the characters are a part of. We witness the characters experience cycles of success, disappointment, struggle, and in the end, happiness. "Well – I do – all right? – thank everybody! And forgive me for ever wanting to be anything at all! (Pursuing him on her knees across the floor) FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME!"

You came up to me and you said… "Mr. Asagai – I want very much to talk with you. About Africa. You see, Mr. Asagai, I am looking for my identity!" Living in their small appartment, the Younger family eagerly awaited the life insurance check from the deceased grandfather.
Each member of the family wants to use the money for different things because they each want to pursue their own dream. They are not allowed to buy the house they want because it is in a white neighborhood. The ending is tragic because the son loses all of the money on a risky investment, and the family is back where they started, with their dreams falling apart in front of them. Summary The story is about an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, where there is relatively little racism. When the older brother, Byron, is having behavorial issues, the parents decide to have him spend the summer in Birmingham, Alabama with his grandmother. The family goes on a road trip down south, with adventures along the way. But when they get to Birmingham, they witness the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and relize how different the south is. The event opens the children's eyes to the brutality of racism in the south. I think that The Watsons Go to Birmingham is a great piece of litterature for middle school students. It is funny, entertaining, and engaging, and also teaches about the history of the south and the rough period of change it went through. I think this play would be a good choice to study in High School. It has a lot of irony, and is almost depressing because you can sense from the beginning that the family will not achieve their dreams. But it has good literary devices, and has a interesting plot. The story begins with two migrant workers, George (a midget) and Lennie (a enormous man with a mental disability) in California going to a farm to find work. George has become Lennie's protector, because he easily gets in trouble. But he can't protect Lennie from the promiscuous wife of one of the farmhands. Lennie accidentally kills he, and George must kill Lennie out of mercy. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to."

"Lennie—if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush… Hide in the brush till I come for you." I think Of Mice and Men is a good book to read in early High School. It teaches what it was like back then in California, and it also shows people struggling to fufill their dreams, like in A Raisin in the Sun. The story of Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of a man who, emotionally scarred by his experience in WWII, believes that he has come unstuck in time. And perhaps he has, for Billy Pilgrim never knows where or when he will find himself next. Along the way, Billy survives the war (after being held prisoner in an old abandoned slaughterhouse converted to a POW camp by the Germans), finds a wife, and on his daughter's wedding day, gets kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamador who, though they are shaped like toilet plungers in the book, the film wisely chooses to represent only by their voices. Billy becomes an exhibit in a zoo on the planet Tralfamador, where his captors provide him with a mate, in the person of former adult movie star Montana Wildhack. All in all, Billy floats acceptingly through his unpredictable existence as Kurt Vonnegut points out the absurdities of war and the aftereffects it can have on a human life. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference."

"If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will." Slaughterhouse-Five offers an interesting perspective on war and human suffering in general. It also has an entertaining science-fiction aspect. But I don't think it should be required to read in High School. Summary Summary Summary Society Society Society High School High School High School High School
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