Exam Two: The Elements of Fiction Applied (Short Stories and Novels)

The second exam for this class, worth 30% of your final grade, will be on Wednesday, December 16 (3:00-4:30 PM) in our normal classroom.  There will be two sections to the exam: true-false questions (worth 30%) and one essay question (worth 70%).  You will have 90 minutes to complete the exam, so you should have plenty of time to consider the questions carefully and write a comprehensive essay.

Make sure to get your bluebooks in advance!  You will need to bring at least one large bluebook with you, as well as your outline for the essay and whatever writing utensils that you feel most comfortable using.  Bluebooks are sometimes available at the café on the second floor of Pray Harrold, as well as at any campus bookstore.

Section One: The true-false questions will simply reflect whether you have read the material closely enough to remember the main details.  These questions will not be difficult, but they will relate to all of the short stories, as well as the two novels, covered during the second half of the term:

1.  John Updike, “A & P” (pg. 338-44)

2.  Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery” (pg. 272-80)

3.  Gabriel García Márquez, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (pg. 331-37)

5.  Toni Cade Bambara, “The Lesson” (pg. 393-400)

6.  Amy Tan, “Two Kinds” (pg. 459-69)

7.  Alice Walker, “Everyday Use” (pg. 417-27)

8.  Cynthia Ozick, “The Shawl” (pg. 326-30)

9.  Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

10.  Octavia Butler, Kindred


Section Two: For the final section, you will write a comparison-contrast essay on the two novels that we have read: Nabokov’s Lolita and Butler’s Kindred.  You can focus on any topic that you like, so long as you offer a substantive and balanced analysis of each of the novels.

You will be able to refer to an outline for the essay question, which you must prepare in advance of the exam.  Altogether, it should comprise no more than one side of one page, whether handwritten or typed.  You can write your thesis out in full (the sentence expressing your main argument), but the rest of the outline must be a true outline containing only brief clauses and memory-triggering expressions; that is, a loose sketch of topics listed in the order that you will discuss them, not an essay already started with any of the sentences or paragraphs pre-written.  You can also include brief quotations from the stories that you will be using to help support your argument.  Everything on the outline must relate to the essay exclusively, not to the true-false questions.

If your outline is over one page, has complete ideas or sentences (other than the thesis or quotations), or contains information unrelated to Section Two, you will not be able to use it.  You will also not receive the credit for the outline (15 points).

You will not need to write a completely polished essay: the goal is to communicate as much meaning and cover as much material as possible in the time that you have.  In other words, demonstrate what you know relevant to the topic of the essay question in as much as you can, using specific details from the texts to support your argument and presenting ideas in the order that will be most persuasive.

Consider using the questions at the end of the “Analyzing Fiction” handout to brainstorm possible ideas for the essay.  Also review the handouts on writing—namely, “Writing about Literature,” “Elements of Fiction,” and “Comparison: An Analytic Tool” (ER)—for hints on how to approach the thesis and the topic.