English 206       &

Report on a Twentieth-Century American Novel or Play for Essay #2

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College

Requirements:  Read one novel or full-length play from the list below.  As soon as your selection is approved, your name will be added to the list, and no one else will be able to choose the same one.

Oral reports will be scheduled on different days during the second half of the semester (no reports on April 5). Papers should be turned in on the date of your oral reports, but all papers must be in no later than April 26.  (The other project is a separate assignment.  If your project topic is related to this paper topic, you may choose to give both reports on the same day.)

The paper must be 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages plus a short list of references. Except for the special requirements listed below, it should follow the guidelines given in the General Guidelines for Writing Literature Papers. The paper must have the following separate sections.

Oral Report: Spend 5 minutes at a scheduled time in class summarizing your report.  Obviously, you will have to be very brief.  Spend about one minute each on the author’s life, a summary of the novel or play, your analysis of the work, and your evaluation of the work.  Place the emphasis in your oral report on whether you would recommend it to other members of the class and why.  In most cases you should not tell the rest of the class how the plot ends.


Works to Choose for Paper #2 on a Twentieth-Century Novel or Play

NOTES:

* indicates that there is a well-known movie version of this work. Others on the list have probably been made into films or television productions at some time as well.

indicates a book written primarily for children or young adults, but also admired by adult readers. You must comment on whether you would recommend these books to children.  (Take into consideration that some are not appropriate for younger children; you might look at the age recommendations given by the publisher or a bookseller such as BarnesandNoble.com).

If you wish to report on a different novel or full-length play not on this list, present some evidence to Dr. Hanlon that it is a twentieth-century American work that has received critical acclaim making it worthy of study in a college literature class.  (For example, most of the fiction discussed in Oprah's book club would be suitable, or a book or play that has won a national award such as a Pulitzer Prize or Newbery Medal.)

Novels

 

Book

Notes on Novel

Student

  Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. 1919. Thematically related stories of different characters in small Ohio town.  
* Arnow, Harriette. The Dollmaker. 1954 The hard life of a Kentucky wife and mother with artistic talent.  
Avi. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. 1990. Suspenseful story of a girl and a nineteenth-century shipboard murder.  
 * Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz. 1900. A Kansas girl’s epic quest in a fantasy world.  
Block, Francesca Lia, Weetzie Bat. 1989. Magical realism in the story of Weetzie's chaotic, punk California world and the unconventional family she builds around her.  
* Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth. 1931. Rise of an admirable Chinese peasant family from poverty to landowners.  
* Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. 1966. Called the original “nonfiction novel”—account of two real men who brutally murdered a family in Kansas.  
* Cather, Willa. My Antonia. 1918. Life of Bohemian immigrants and American settlers on Nebraska prairie farms.  
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. 1974. Powerful young adult novel about boys in a private Catholic school selling chocolates during a fund-raising project.  
  Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. 1900. Banned for immorality when first published—an innocent country girl encounters the impersonal cruelty of Chicago, then goes on the stage in New York.  
  Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 1953. Nameless African-American man’s search for identity in the South and Harlem.  
  Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. 1930. Poor Mississippi family’s strange trip to bury their mother, narrated by different members of the family in turn.  
  Faulkner, William. Light in August. 1932. Story of violent passions and racism in Mississippi town.  
* Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. 1929. Interior monologues of an idiot brother and others tell the story of a decaying aristocratic Mississippi family.  
* Ferber, Edna. Giant. 1950. A family saga of love and conflicts between rich and poor on a Texas ranch, after the wealthy rancher marries a young, beautiful Easterner.  
* Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. Wealthy young man experiences moral and emotional emptiness of the “Jazz Age” on Long Island.  
* Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night. 1934. A young psychiatrist and his mentally disturbed wife in post-World War I Paris.  
 * Fitzhugh, Louise. Harriet the Spy. 1964 Groundbreaking novel of a spunky child writer who keeps secret notes on other people.  
George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves. 1972. An Eskimo girl, stranded in the Arctic wilderness, survives with the help of wolves.  
  Giardina, Denise. Storming Heaven. 1988. Or sequel The Unquiet Earth. 1992. Several generations face family and societal conflicts, based on Giardina's experiences growing up a West Virginia mining town.  
Hamilton, Virginia. The Planet of Junior Brown. 1971. Friendships of homeless city boys.  
  Hamilton, Virginia. The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl. 1983. Fascinating young adult novel combining folklore, African American history in Appalachia after the Civil War, and Cherokee history.  Pretty Pearl is an African god child, sister of John Henry and John de Conquer.  
  Heinlein, Robert. Stranger in a Strange Land. 1961. A child of human space travelers is raised by Martians.  
* Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. 1926. Americans of “the lost generation,” wounded physically and psychologically by WW1, encounter bullfighting and disillusionment in Spain.  
  Hersey, John. Hiroshima. 1946. An American's account of the effects of the atomic bomb in Japan.  
Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. 1997. A young girl's trials living in a rural family in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  
* Irving, John. The World According to Garp. 1978. Serio-comic story of the strange life of a novelist.  
  James, Henry. The Ambassadors. 1903. A comedy of contrasted manners and romantic entanglements when an American editor becomes involved with a younger man's escapades in Europe.  
  James, Henry. The Wings of the Dove. 1902. An English social adventurer manipulates the lives of others, with tragic consequences, trying to get both wealth and the man she loves.  
* Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960. Motherless child tells of her lawyer father’s struggle against racism in a Southern town.  
  LeGuin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. 1969. Science fiction novel about androgyny.  
LeGuin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea. 1967. A young wizard’s growth and education.  
L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. 1962. First in a science fiction trilogy about children fighting forces of evil.  
* Lewis, Sinclair. Main Street. 1920. Minnesota writer shows woman’s struggle to accept life in typical American town.  
  Lyon, George Ella. With a Hammer for My Heart. 1997 A story of reclusive mountain people by a Kentucky writer.  
* McCullers, Carson. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. 1940. A deaf mute’s search for friendship in a Southern town.  
* McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding. 1946. Feelings of a 12-year-old Southern girl at her brother’s upcoming wedding.  
  Malamud, Bernard. The Assistant. 1957. Poor New York Jewish shopkeeper takes in gentile hold-up man.  
* Malamud, Bernard. The Natural. 1952. Rise and fall of a baseball player whose life takes on legendary dimensions.  
* Mason, Bobbie Ann. In Country. 1985. Kentucky girl deals with father’s death and her uncle's trauma in Vietnam.  
* Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987. Former slave living in Ohio deals with return of her dead daughter.  
Myers, Walter Dean. Scorpions. 1988. An inner-city boy’s encounter with gang life.  
* Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. 1955. Middle-aged intellectual falls in love with twelve-year-old in a book banned because of its eroticism, which satirizes the quest for innocence.  
O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. 1960. A Native American “Robinson Crusoe” is stranded alone her tribe’s native island in the Pacific.  
 * Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. 1978. Powerful story of friendship between a fifth-grade boy and girl in Virginia who don’t conform to expectations of their peers.  
Paterson, Katherine. Jacob Have I Loved. 1981. Rivalry between young women who are twins living on an island.  
Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. 1987. Story of survival after a plane crash near a wilderness lake.  
Paulsen, Gary. The Island. 1988. A young boy seeks self-knowledge on an island.  
  Percy, Walker. The Moviegoer. Alienated young stockbroker of New Orleans, addicted to the movies, finds meaning in a relationship with a woman.  
* Porter, Katherine Anne. Ship of Fools. 1962. Allegorical story about the voyage of life, seen through a variety of people on a ship traveling from Mexico to Germany in 1931.  
* Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows.    
 * Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan. The Yearling. 1938. A 12-year-old Florida boy tames a fawn that causes trouble on his family's farm.  
* Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. 1959. Ironic depictions of Jewish life in the U.S.  
Sacher, Louis. Holes. 1998. As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.  
  Salinger, J. D. Catcher in the Rye. 1951. Holden Caulfield's adolescent adventures as a prep school runaway wandering in New York. His critical view of the adult world was wildly popular in the 1960s and 1970s.  
  Smith, Lee. Fair and Tender Ladies. 1988. This novel of life in Appalachia "unfolds through a series of letters written by Ivy Rowe, a Virginia mountain girl, . . .continuing for nearly 65 years."  
Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee. 1991. After his parents die, Jeffrey Lionel Magee's life becomes legendary, as he accomplishes athletic and other feats which awe his contemporaries.  
* Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. Story of a poor family that exposed the social conditions of migrant workers during the Depression.  
  Still, James. River of Earth. 1940 A young boy narrates the story of his affectionate Appalachian family as they struggle with poverty, moving from the homeplace they love to coal towns when mining jobs are available.  
* Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. 1989. Interwoven stories about four Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters.  
Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. 1976. One in a series about an African-American family struggling to keep their land in a racist society in the deep South during the Depression, with a focus on 9-year-old Cassie.  
  Taylor, Theodore. The Weirdo. 1991. A teenager living in North Carolina's Great Dismal Swamp region helps a graduate student protect bears from area hunters.  
  Tyler, Anne. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. 1982. Story of a rather eccentric family.  
* Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist. 1980s. A divorced man struggles to cope with changes in life.  
  Updike, John. Rabbit, Run. 1960. Pennsylvania man, former basketball player, seeks freedom from middle class family life (first in a series of novels about Rabbit Angstrom).  
* Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 1982. Family story told by African-American girl who rises from a life of poverty and abuse in South.  
  West, Nathaniel. Miss Lonelyhearts. 1933. Dark comedy about a man who writes an advice to the lovelorn column.  
* Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. 1920. Romantic entanglements in New York high society during the 1870s.  
* Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. 1911. Impossible romance between a New England farmer and his wife’s cousin leads to a bizarre twist in their lives.  
White, E. B. Charlotte’s Web. 1952. Fantasy about a friendship between a pig and a spider on a New England farm.  
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. 1935. One in a series novels about Wilder's family’s life during settlement of the Midwest.  
  Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. 1992. An American family story of the Holocaust interwoven with the Sleeping Beauty story by a contemporary writer of fantasy.  


  Plays  
 

Play

Notes Student
* Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1959. Comedy of a family of black Chicagoans who plan to move into a white neighborhood.  
* Hellman, Lillian. The Children’s Hour. 1936. Two boarding-school teachers are accused of lesbianism by an unbalanced student.  
* Henley, Beth. Crimes of the Heart. 1979. Three Southern sisters are reunited to deal with the problems in their family and with the men in their lives.  
* Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. 1949. An aging traveling salesman represents failed American values.  
* Norman, Marsha. ‘night, Mother. 1983. Powerful drama of one evening in the life of a mother and her suicidal daughter.  
* O’Neill, Eugene. The Iceman Cometh. 1946. Realistic tragedy set in a Bowery bar.  
* Saroyan, William. The Time of Your Life. 1939. A wealthy drunk gives people at a San Francisco bar money to pursue their hopes and dreams.  
* Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. 1938. Story of the living and the dead in small-town America.  
* Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 1955. Conflicts between a seductive woman and her husband’s wealthy family in the Mississippi Delta.  
* Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. 1947. Young New Orleans couple deal with the visit of a disturbed older sister, a faded Southern belle.  
  Wilson, August. Fences. 1986. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black was to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But now the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s....a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less...  
  Wilson, August. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. 1985 In 1927, in a run-down recording studio in Chicago, Ma Rainey, the legendary blues singer is due to arrive with her entourage to cut new sides of old favorites. Waiting for her are her black musician sidemen, the white owner of the record company, and her white manager—all struggling with racism in the session.  

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