For the final exam, we are going to draft several questions for a comparative essay. In class on Wednesday, we will narrow this list to 5 possible topics. I will then offer you the choice of one of three of the topics on the final exam, which you will take on Monday, 5/20.
We discussed several interesting connections between Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved in class today, and between Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” in our class last week. Please reply here with some suggested topics. Please include a short rationale to help the class understand the topic. We might blend related topics together as we did for the midterm exam.
I like the topic we discussed in class about saying how in the novel Beloved, Sethe kills her daughter in order to protect her and in “The Shawl” we see how at first the mother is accused of throwing her daughter off the wagon to the wolves in order to protect the others, but we then find out at the end it may have not been that way and it was the daughter who sacrificed herself to save the others. In both of these stories you at first get a different side of the story but at the end you have multiple opinions about why the mother’s did what they did. I think that would be a topic of interest to write about for the final since we could mention how we felt at first learning about what had happened and then our reaction to knowing why the characters may have did that and how our opinion has changed.
1-Impossible choices: sacrifice of children
2-Multiple options: the unknowable or unconfirmable: Although both Sethe and the left-behind brother bear the trauma of the death of their loved one, they each believe with certainty one version of an unconfirmable story, thus motivating their destructive behaviors. In both cases, their children attempt to wake them from their nightmarish trauma, with varied results.
3-Personal History: how personal history has an impact on future generations
4-Pride: positive and negative effects of pride
5-Reversal of roles: parents and children in Beloved and “The Shawl”
6-Charity: Amy Denver or townspeople–compared to “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” people who give Jackson Jackson money; also Jackson Jackson with the money he is given
7-Reconnecting with the Other Side:
Which option was most compelling?