1. Stagnation, or “being void of activity, excitement, or interest” (OED), was the typical feeling of American society between World War I and World War II. Hence, since literature reflects the culture that produces it, stagnation/inactivity was also a common theme used by authors throughout this period of American literature.
Characters in T. S. Eliot’s “J. Alfred Prufrock,” William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emiliy,” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” all suffer from some type of stagnation that affects their lives in different ways. While the characters of Prufrock, Emily, and Charlie are suffer from their plight, they are different in regards to the type of stagnation they experience, the cause of that stagnation, and the results of the stagnation. Keeping this in mind, write an essay in which you compare and contrast two of the above characters’ lives of stagnation/inactivity.
2. Bringing black slaves from Africa to America and the “civilization” of Native Americans while driving them off their native lands and onto reservations—two key events in American history, both of which have been used as platforms for discussions of current racism.
Literature, as well, deals with the treatment of race and how that stigma of race affects both African Americans and Native Americans. Gertrude Simmons Bonnin’s three stories “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” and “An Indian Teacher Among Indians” as well as Zora Neale Hurston’s “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” both attempt to discuss the treatments of their races by American culture and how their identity has been affected.
Although both authors have been deeply marked by their race, they have different visions of their race’s past, present, and future. In contemplating these works, some key points to consider are how both authors explain the past treatment of their race, how they currently perceive this past treatment (as an injustice? A necessary evil to becoming civilized?), and how they have been positively/negatively affected by the past treatment of their race. Keeping this in mind, write an essay in which you compare and contrast Gertrude Simmons Bonnin and Zora Neale Hurston’s perception of their race.