- Slides: 13
the CLAP (critical literary analysis paper)
be forewarned: • The assignment requires a work of AMERICAN literature. • Not all the books below will end up being books that students in our class read. You will be asked to identify THREE (3) books that you would be comfortable reading. From those choices, I will make reading groups. • I shamelessly stole the descriptions of each book from Amazon. com.
All the Pretty Horses • 301 pages • All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
The Color Purple • 300 pages • Novel by Alice Walker, published in 1982. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. A feminist novel about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment, the novel was praised for the depth of its female characters and for its eloquent use of black English vernacular. • The Color Purple is the story of two sisters—one a missionary to Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who remain loyal to one another across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
O, Pioneers! • 216 pages • With O PIONEERS!, the first novel of The Great Plains Trilogy, Willa Cather proved her fierce and humble talent. A tale of the Nebraskan prairie land as encountered by Swedish, Czech, French, and Bohemian immigrants, Cather's novel is an epic that traces stubborn American pioneers as they wrestle with and--in some cases--are defeated by, the plains. Swedish immigrant Alexandra Bergson inherits her father's farm and must morph it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise. Bergson is the first of Cather's great heroines, but the land, or, as Cather calls it, the "wild land, " is also an immensely important character. In O PIONEERS! descriptions of the land are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us. “ • Cather’s sentimental and somewhat controversial novel tells the story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish pioneers that settles for life in the American prairie. While Alexandra, the family matriarch, is able to turn the family farm into a financial success, her brother Emil must grapple with the tragedy of solace and forbidden love. A novel surprisingly ahead of its time, this protofeminist work touches upon a wide range of themes, including love, marriage, temptation, and isolation.
The Great Santini • 417 pages • Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He’s all Marine—fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife—beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben’s got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn’t give in —not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son. Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy’s most explosive character—a man you should hate, but a man you will love.
The Bean Trees • ? ? pages • In The Bean Trees we found a spirited protagonist, Taylor Greer, who grew up in poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when Taylor heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on.
Billy Bathgate • 336 pages • To open this book is to enter the perilous, thrilling world of Billy Bathgate, the brazen boy who is accepted into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang. Like an urban Tom Sawyer, Billy takes us along on his fateful adventures as he becomes good-luck charm, apprentice, and finally protégé to one of the great murdering gangsters of the Depressionera underworld in New York City. The luminous transformation of fact into fiction that is E. L. Doctorow’s trademark comes to triumphant fruition in Billy Bathgate, a peerless coming-of-age tale and one of Doctorow’s boldest and most beloved bestsellers.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents • 336 pages • In this debut novel, the García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía—and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father’s role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wild and wondrous and not always welcoming U. S. A. , their parents try to hold on to their old ways, but the girls try find new lives: by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home— and not at home—in America.
A Lesson Before Dying • 256 pages • From the author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. A young man who returns to 1940 s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.
The Joy Luck Club • 288 pages • Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable. " Forty years later the stories and history continue. • With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties.
Fahrenheit 451 • 249 pages • Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family. ” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian • 229 pages • Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.