1. In their efforts to record and understand the mysteries of life, many contemporary writers show a special interest in the grotesque, the inexplicable, or the fantastic. In her comments about southern literature Flannery O’Connor has said that it, “. . . looks to the hidden and most often the most extreme for the nexus of the region’s identity, that southern identity is, . . . not made from the mean average or the typical, but from the hidden and most extreme.” She hoped to expose the “hookworm and bare feet and muddy clay roads” that accounted for much of the antebellum South. What are the deeper meanings (the mysteries of life) readers are able to contemplate as a result of the unlikely portrayals in O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” “A Good Man is hard to Find,” and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily?” (Choose one from each author) 2. In addition to itself, O’Connor’s “Revelation” could have been the title for “Good Country People” or “A Good Man is hard to Find.” Analyze “Revelation,” as well as one of the other two, in order to explain why. Focus on the characterizations and symbolism O’Connor employs to reveal the themes. 3. Hulga tells the Bible salesman, “Some of us have taken off our blindfolds and see that there’s nothing to see.” Hulga’s nihilism, her spiritual affliction, manifests itself in her physical deformity; there is, as O’Connor has been quoted, “. . . a wooden part of [ Hulga’s ] soul. . .” It is her spiritual malaise represented by physical deformity which results in “violence,” and helps O’Connor to convey her themes in “Good Country People” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Examine how O’Connor deals with the rejection of customary beliefs (religious and moral). 4. Focus on at least two literary elements that reveal the themes associated with faith, sin (damnation), and redemption in at least two of the following: Nathanial Hawthorne: “Young Goodman Brown,” “The Minister’s Black Veil,” and/or “Ethan Brand” 5. Draw parallels between Hawthorne and O’Connor’s works: (characters/ themes) Choose two works…one from each author. 6. Compare Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Discuss the southern flavor of both works. Demonstrate how O’Connor may have been influenced by Faulkner. Focus on the themes of each story: Who are the survivors? What kinds of people prevail? How does the post Civil War south serve as a microcosm for each of the themes? 7. Discuss the symbolism and the subject of “manhood” in Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow” and Richard Wright’s “The Man Who was Almost a Man.” You will need to incorporate relatable research concerning “manhood” historically and culturally. 8. Although Wright’s work appeared later than that of the poet’s of the Harlem Renaissance, he reflects some of their concerns. Trace the theme of manhood in poems by Sterling Brown and in Wright’s “The Man Who was Almost a Man.” What do these texts suggest about manhood as an American experience? 9. What is “black militant poetry?” Trace the “black nationalism” movement which originated in the 1920’s, and examine the literature that served as a voice for the initiatives and goals of the movement. Consider poems by Countee Cullen, Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Audre Lorde. Perhaps consider “The Man who was Almost a Man” as well. How is the message in these works an expression of the ruin that prevails when the African American dream is, as Langston Hughes writes, “deferred?” 10. To what extent is Dee/Wangero from Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” influenced by the Black Nationalist movement? To what extent does she deny the ideals of the movement? 11. Betrayal by mothers –or by sisters is one variation of the exploration of the influence of family on contemporary life. Explore the relationships between women in “Everyday Use,” “The Life You Save may be Your Own,” and “Good Country People.” or YOU MAY CHOOSE “EVELINE” and “WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN” for this one. 12. Readers have sometimes complained that the narratives of Carver and other contemporary works sound too much like everyday life and language, or ordinary reportage to qualify as “literary.” Choose two works (one from Carver and one from Updike), and discuss the tension you notice in regard to artifice and truth. 13. Both “Trifles” and “Antigone” have similar themes associated with gender as well as those associated with individual rights versus public policy. The women in each violate public policy, but can be viewed as justified in their actions. Integrate a gender, historical and cultural approach to examine the tension between individual rights and public policy in each. 14. Analyze Kate Chopin’s view on female sexuality and self worth in “The Storm,” and “The Story of an Hour.” 15. Choose a Flannery O’Connor story, a Nathanial Hawthorne story, or Walker’s “Everyday Use,” and research a variety of critical interpretations. Present an analysis of the conflicting points of view or present a synthesizing conclusion. 16. Compare Robert Frost’s “Directive” with Lowell’s “Skunk Hour.” 21. At the end of Frost’s poem “The Oven Bird,” we find the following lines: “The question that he frames in all but words/Is what to make of a diminished thing.” How does this statement express a common theme in 20th century American writing? 17. Examine the motive of the loss of Paradise , or the Fall, in Frosts’ “Fire and Ice,” “The Oven Bird,” and “After Apple-Picking.” 23. Analyze Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” paying particular attention to the writer’s innovations with the use of symbolism in the writing of realism. 24.. Study Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory with regard to the “Oedipus Complex.” Render an explanation, via the research, for the complex’s name by relating its origin to Sophocles’ drama. Then, apply Freud’s theory to an analysis of D.H. Lawrence’s, “The Rocking Horse Winner.” 25. Updike’s “A&P” is a seeming tale of a young adult who proceeds toward adulthood (or not), but a closer look reveals that Sammy may be a conduit of change that transcends inter-intra-personal relationships. Using a Marxist approach explain and discuss how “A&P” conveys a socio-economic philosophy. GUIDELINES: MLA No fewer than FIVE secondary sources…you will need more: scholarly journals… books…literary criticism Use the campus library databases—they are free. No internet www. sources … This research endeavor can be accomplished with an essay of 6-7 pages in length. The object is to adequately support your interpretation of text/s , so focus upon a complete analysis and not pages, but, figure on getting this accomplished with NO LESS than five pages.