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Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, 4th Edition

By X. J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Jul 15, 2011


The smallest and most economical member of the Kennedy/Gioia family, Backpack Literature is a brief paperback version of the discipline's most popular introduction to literature anthology. Like its bigger, bestselling predecessors, Backpack Literature features the authors' collective poetic voice which brings personal warmth and a human perspective to the discussion of literature, adding to students' interest in the readings.   New selections have been added including four new one-act plays to help “ease” students into the study of this genre. The new plays include two comedies-- David Ives’s, Sure Thing and Jane Martin’s Beauty—as well as Terrence McNally’s poignant Andre’s Mother and  Edward Bok Lee’s experimental drama El Santo Americano.  




Table of Contents

** = new selection vs. Backpack 3e




To the Instructor  

About the Authors  


Talking with Amy Tan

1     Reading a Story  

The Art of Fiction

Types of Short Fiction

W. Somerset Maugham  The Appointment in Samarra  

A servant tries to gallop away from Death in this brief sardonic fable retold in memorable form by a popular storyteller.

**Aesop  The Fox and the Grapes

Ever wonder where the phrase “sour grapes” comes from? Find out in this classic fable.

**Bidpai  The Camel and His Friends

With friends like these, you can guess what the camel doesn’t need.

Chuang Tzu  Independence  

The Prince of Ch’u asks the philosopher Chuang Tzu to become his advisor and gets a surprising reply in this classic Chinese fable.

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm  Godfather Death  

Neither God nor the Devil came to the christening. In this stark folktale,
a young man receives magical powers with a string attached.


The Short Story  

John Updike  A & P  

In walk three girls in nothing but bathing suits, and Sammy finds himself no longer an aproned checkout clerk but an armored knight.

Writing Effectively

THINKING about Plot

Checklist: Writing about Plot

Writing Assignment on Plot  

More Topics for Writing


2     Point of View  

Identifying Point of View

Types of Narrators

Stream of Consciousness

William Faulkner  A Rose for Emily  

Proud, imperious Emily Grierson defied the town from the fortress of her mansion. Who could have guessed the secret that lay within?

Edgar Allan Poe  The Tell-Tale Heart

       The smoldering eye at last extinguished, a murderer finds that, despite all his attempts at a cover-up, his victim will be heard.

**Jamaica Kincaid  Girl  

“Try to walk like a lady, and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming.” An old-fashioned mother tells her daughter how to live.

Virginia Woolf   A Haunted House

Whatever hour you woke a door was shutting. From room to room the ghostly couple walked, hand in hand.

Writing Effectively

THINKING about Point of View

CHECKLIST: Writing about Point of View

Writing Assignment on Point of View  

More Topics for Writing



3     Character  

Types of Characters

   Katherine Anne Porter  The Jilting of Granny Weatherall  

For sixty years Ellen Weatherall has fought back the memory of that terrible day, but now once more the priest waits in the house.

Katherine Mansfield  Miss Brill  

Sundays had long brought joy to solitary Miss Brill, until one fateful day when she happened to share a bench with two lovers in the park.

Alice Walker, Everyday Use  

When successful Dee visits from the city, she has changed her name to reflect her African roots. Her mother and sister notice other things have changed, too. 

Raymond Carver  Cathedral  

He had never expected to find himself trying to describe a cathedral to a blind man. He hadn’t even wanted to meet this odd, old friend of his wife.




Writing Effectively

Thinking about Character

Checklist: Writing about Character

Writing Assignment on Character

More Topics for Writing



4     Setting  

Elements of Setting


Kate Chopin  The Storm  

Even with her husband away, Calixta feels happily, securely married. Why then should she not shelter an old admirer from the rain?

**Jorge Luis Borges  The Gospel According to Mark  

A young man from Buenos Aires is trapped by a flood on an isolated ranch. To pass the time he reads the Gospel to a family with unforeseen results.

  Jack London  To Build a Fire

Seventy-five degrees below zero. Alone except for one mistrustful wolf dog,
a man finds himself battling a relentless force.

Amy Tan  A Pair of Tickets  

A young woman flies with her father to China to meet two half sisters she never knew existed.


Writing Effectively

THINKING about Setting

CHECKLIST: Writing about Setting

Writing Assignment on Setting

More Topics for Writing




5     Tone and Style  




Ernest Hemingway  A Clean, Well-Lighted Place  

All by himself each night, the old man lingers in the bright café. What does he need more than brandy?

William Faulkner  Barn Burning  

This time when Ab Snopes wields his blazing torch, his son Sarty faces a dilemma: whether to obey or defy the vengeful old man.


O. Henry  The Gift of the Magi  

A young husband and wife find ingenious ways to buy each other Christmas presents, in the classic story that defines the word “irony.”

Kate Chopin  The Story of an Hour  

“There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name.”                      


Writing Effectively

THINKING about Tone and Style

CHECKLIST: Writing about Tone and Style

Writing Assignment on Tone and Style

More Topics for Writing



6     Theme  

Plot vs. Theme

Theme as Unifying Device

Finding the Theme


**ZZ Packer  Brownies

A brownie troop of African American girls at camp declare war on a rival troop only to discover their humiliating mistake.

Stephen Crane  The Open Boat  

In a lifeboat circled by sharks, tantalized by glimpses of land, a reporter scrutinizes Fate and learns about comradeship.

Luke 15:11–32  The Parable of the Prodigal Son  

A father has two sons. One demands his inheritance now and leaves to spend it with ruinous results.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  Harrison Bergeron  

Are you handsome? Off with your eyebrows! Are you brainy? Let a transmitter sound thought-shattering beeps inside your ear.

Writing Effectively

THINKING about Theme

CHECKLIST: Writing about Theme

Writing Assignment on Theme

More Topics for Writing



7     Symbol  



Recognizing Symbols

John Steinbeck  The Chrysanthemums  

Fenced-in Elisa feels emotionally starved—then her life promises to blossom with the arrival of the scissors-grinding man.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman  The Yellow Wallpaper

A doctor prescribes a “rest cure” for his wife after the birth of their child. The new mother tries to settle in to life in the isolated and mysterious country house they have rented for the summer. The cure proves worse than the disease in this Gothic classic.


Ursula K. Le Guin  The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas  

Omelas is the perfect city. All of its inhabitants are happy. But everyone’s prosperity depends on a hidden evil.

Shirley Jackson  The Lottery  

Splintered and faded, the sinister black box had worked its annual terror for longer than anyone in town could remember.


Writing Effectively

THINKING about Symbols

CHECKLIST: Writing about Symbols

Writing Assignment on Symbols  

More Topics for Writing


8     Stories for Further Reading  

Chinua Achebe  Dead Men’s Path

The new headmaster of the village school was determined to fight superstition, but the villagers did not agree.

Sherman Alexie  This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona

The only one who can help Victor when his father dies is a childhood friend he’s been avoiding for years.

** Isabel Allende  The Judge’s Wife

       Revenge can take many forms, but few are as strange as the revenge taken in this passionate tale.

Margaret Atwood  Happy Endings  

John and Mary meet. What happens next? This witty experimental story offers five different outcomes.

**T. Coraghessan Boyle  Greasy Lake  

Murky and strewn with beer cans, the lake appears a wasteland. On its shore three “dangerous characters” learn a lesson one grim night.

Sandra Cisneros  The House on Mango Street  

Does where we live tell what we are? A little girl dreams of a new house, but things don’t always turn out the way we want them to.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown

Urged on through deepening woods, a young Puritan sees—or dreams he sees—good villagers hasten toward a diabolic rite.

James Joyce  Araby  

If only he can find her a token, she might love him in return. As night falls,
a Dublin boy hurries to make his dream come true.

Franz Kafka  Before the Law

A man from the country comes in search of the Law. He never guesses what will prevent him from finding it in this modern parable.

Joyce Carol Oates  Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?  

Alone in the house, Connie finds herself helpless before the advances of a spellbinding imitation teenager, Arnold Friend.

Tim O’Brien  The Things They Carried  

What each soldier carried into the combat zone was largely determined by necessity, but each man’s necessities differed.  

Flannery O’Connor  A Good Man Is Hard to Find  

Wanted: The Misfit, a cold-blooded killer. An ordinary family vacation leads to horror—and one moment of redeeming grace.

**Eudora Welty  A Worn Path

When the man said to old Phoenix, “you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing,” he might have been exaggerating, but not by much.




Talking with Kay Ryan

9 Reading a Poem  

Poetry or Verse

Reading a Poem


William Butler Yeats  The Lake Isle of Innisfree  

Lyric Poetry  

Robert Hayden  Those Winter Sundays  

Adrienne Rich  Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers  


Narrative Poetry  

Anonymous  Sir Patrick Spence  

Robert Frost  “Out, Out—”  

Dramatic Poetry  

Robert Browning  My Last Duchess  

Didactic Poetry


Writing Effectively

Thinking about Paraphrase  

William Stafford  Ask Me  

William Stafford  A Paraphrase of “Ask Me”  

Checklist: Writing a Paraphrase

Writing Assignment on Paraphrasing  

More Topics for Writing



10   Listening to a Voice



Theodore Roethke  My Papa’s Waltz  

Countee Cullen  For a Lady I Know  

Anne Bradstreet  The Author to Her Book  

Walt Whitman  To a Locomotive in Winter  

Emily Dickinson  I like to see it lap the Miles  

** Gwendolyn Brooks  Speech to the Young. Speech to the Progress-Toward

Weldon Kees  For My Daughter  

The Person in the Poem  

Natasha Trethewey  White Lies  

Edwin Arlington Robinson  Luke Havergal  

Ted Hughes  Hawk Roosting  

Anonymous  Dog Haiku   

Langston Hughes  Theme for English B

Anne Sexton  Her Kind  

William Carlos Williams  The Red Wheelbarrow  


Robert Creeley  Oh No  

W. H. Auden  The Unknown Citizen  

Sharon Olds  Rite of Passage  

Edna St. Vincent Millay  Second Fig  

Thomas Hardy  The Workbox  

For Review and Further Study  

**Julie Sheehan  Hate Poem

Richard Lovelace  To Lucasta  

Wilfred Owen  Dulce et Decorum Est  

Writing Effectively

Thinking About TONE  

Checklist: Writing about Tone  

Writing Assignment on Tone  

More Topics for Writing



11 Words  

Literal Meaning: What a Poem Says First  

William Carlos Williams  This Is Just to Say  



Marianne Moore  Silence  

John Donne  Batter my heart, three-personed God, for You  


The Value of a Dictionary  

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  Aftermath  

** Kay Ryan  Mockingbird



Carl Sandburg   Grass

**Samuel Menashe  Bread J. V. Cunningham  Friend, on this scaffold Thomas More lies dead  

J. V. Cunningham  Friend, on this scaffold Thomas More lies dead  

Word Choice and Word Order

Robert Herrick  Upon Julia’s Clothes  

Thomas Hardy  The Ruined Maid  

For Review and Further Study  

E. E. Cummings  anyone lived in a pretty how town  

Wendy Cope  Lonely Hearts  

Anonymous  Carnation Milk  

Gina Valdés  English con Salsa  

Lewis Carroll  Jabberwocky  

Writing Effectively

Thinking about Diction  

Checklist: writing about Diction

Writing Assignment on Word Choice  

More Topics for Writing



12 Saying and Suggesting  

Denotation and Connotation

William Blake  London  

Wallace Stevens  Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock 

**Gwendolyn Brooks  The Bean Eaters

Robert Frost  Fire and Ice  

Diane Thiel   The Minefield  

Rhina Espaillat  Bilingual/Bilingüe

**A. R. Ammons , Coward

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  Tears, Idle Tears  

Richard Wilbur  Love Calls Us to the Things of This World  

Writing Effectively

Thinking about Denotation and Connotation  

Checklist: Writing about What a Poem Says and Suggests  

Writing Assignment on Denotation and Connotation  

More Topics for Writing



13 Imagery  

Ezra Pound  In a Station of the Metro  

Taniguchi Buson  The piercing chill I feel  


T. S. Eliot  The winter evening settles down  

Theodore Roethke  Root Cellar  

Elizabeth Bishop  The Fish  

Emily Dickinson  A Route of Evanescence  

Gerard Manley Hopkins  Pied Beauty  

Jean Toomer  Reapers  


About Haiku  

Arakida Moritake  The falling flower  

Matsuo Basho  Heat-lightning streak  

Matsuo Basho  In the old stone pool  

Taniguchi Buson  On the one-ton temple bell  

Taniguchi Buson  Moonrise on mudflats

Kobayashi Issa  only one guy  

Kobayashi Issa  Cricket  


Haiku from Japanese Internment Camps  

**Suiko Matsushita  Rain shower from mountain

**Suiko Matsushita  Cosmos in bloom  

**Hakuro Wada  Even the croaking of frogs  

**Neiji Ozawa  The war—this year


Contemporary Haiku

Etheridge Knight Making jazz swing in

**Adelle Foley  Learning to Shave

**Gary Snyder  After weeks of watching the roof leak

**Garry Gay  Hole in the ozone


For Review and Further Study  

John Keats  Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art  

**William Carlos Williams  El Hombre

**Li Po, Translated by Arthur Waley  Drinking Alone by Moonlight

Billy Collins  Embrace  

Stevie Smith  Not Waving but Drowning  

Robert Bly  Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter  


Writing Effectively

Thinking About Imagery  

Checklist: Writing about imagery  

Writing Assignment on Imagery  

More Topics for Writing



14 Figures of Speech  

Why Speak Figuratively?  

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  The Eagle  

William Shakespeare  Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  

Howard Moss  Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? 

Metaphor and Simile  

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  Flower in the Crannied Wall  

William Blake  To see a world in a grain of sand  

Emily Dickinson  My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun  

    Sylvia Plath  Metaphors  

** Jill Alexander Essbaum  The Heart  

N. Scott Momaday  Simile  

Craig Raine  A Martian Sends a Postcard Home  

Other Figures of Speech  

James Stephens  The Wind  

Margaret Atwood  You fit into me  

**Timothy Steele  Epitaph  

Dana Gioia  Money  

Carl Sandburg  Fog  


For Review and Further Study  

Robert Frost  The Silken Tent  

**Harryette Mullen  Dim Lady

Kay Ryan  Turtle  

   John Keats  Ode on a Grecian Urn 

** Emily Brontë  Love and Friendship

Writing Effectively

Thinking About Metaphors  

Checklist: Writing about Metaphors  

Writing Assignment on Figures of Speech  

More Topics for Writing



15 Sound  

Sound as Meaning  

William Butler Yeats  Who Goes with Fergus?  

William Wordsworth  A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal  

Aphra Behn  When maidens are young  

Alliteration and Assonance  

A. E. Housman  Eight O’Clock  

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  The splendor falls on castle walls  


Kevin Young  Doo Wop

Hilaire Belloc  The Hippopotamus

William Butler Yeats  Leda and the Swan  

Gerard Manley Hopkins  God’s Grandeur  

Robert Frost  Desert Places  

Reading Poems Aloud  

Michael Stillman  In Memoriam John Coltrane  

Writing Effectively

Thinking About a Poem’s Sound  

Checklist: Writing about a Poem’s Sound  

Writing Assignment on Sound  

More Topics for Writing



16 Rhythm  

Stresses and Pauses  

Gwendolyn Brooks  We Real Cool  

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  Break, Break, Break  

Dorothy Parker  Résumé  


Edna St. Vincent Millay  Counting-out Rhyme  

A. E. Housman  When I was one-and-twenty  

Walt Whitman  Beat! Beat! Drums!  

Langston Hughes  Dream Boogie  

Writing Effectively

Thinking About Rhythm  

Checklist: Scanning a Poem

Writing Assignment on Rhythm  

More Topics for Writing


17 Closed Form  

Formal Patterns  

John Keats  This living hand, now warm and capable  

Robert Graves  Counting the Beats  

John Donne  Song (“Go and catch a falling star”)  


Anonymous  Bonny Barbara Allan  

Dudley Randall  Ballad of Birmingham  

The Sonnet  

William Shakespeare  Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds  

Edna St. Vincent Millay  What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why  

Robert Frost  Acquainted with the Night  

R. S. Gwynn  Shakespearean Sonnet  

** Amit Majmudar   Rites to Allay the Dead


The Epigram  

Sir John Harrington  Of Treason

** Langston Hughes  Two Somewhat Different Epigrams

** John Frederick Nims  Contemplation

** Dorothy Parker  The Actress


Other Forms  

Dylan Thomas  Do not go gentle into that good night  

Paul Laurence Dunbar  We Wear the Mask  

Elizabeth Bishop  Sestina  

Writing Effectively

Thinking About a Sonnet  

Checklist: Writing about a Sonnet  

Writing Assignment on a Sonnet  

More Topics for Writing


18   Open Form  

Denise Levertov  Ancient Stairway  

Free Verse

E. E. Cummings  Buffalo Bill ’s  

**W. S. Merwin  For the Anniversary of My Death  

William Carlos Williams  The Dance  

**Stephen Crane  The Wayfarer


Walt Whitman  Cavalry Crossing a Ford  

Wallace Stevens  Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird  

Prose Poetry  

**Charles Simic  The Magic Study of Happiness 

For Review and Further Study  

E. E. Cummings  in Just-  

**Carole Satyamurti  I Shall Paint My Nails Red  

Langston Hughes  I, Too  


Writing Effectively

Thinking About Free Verse  

Checklist: Writing about Line Breaks

Writing Assignment on Open Form  

More Topics for Writing



19   Symbol  

The Meanings of a Symbol

T. S. Eliot  The Boston Evening Transcript  

Emily Dickinson  The Lightning is a yellow Fork  


Identifying Symbols

Thomas Hardy  Neutral Tones  

Yusef Komunyakaa  Facing It 



Matthew 13:24–30  The Parable of the Good Seed  

Robert Frost  The Road Not Taken  

Christina Rossetti  Uphill  

    For Review and Further Study

Mary Oliver  Wild Geese

Lorine Niedecker  Popcorn-can cover  

Wallace Stevens  Anecdote of the Jar  

Writing Effectively

Thinking About Symbols  

Checklist: Writing about Symbols  

Writing Assignment on Symbolism  

More Topics for Writing




20 Myth and Narrative  

Origins of Myth

Robert Frost  Nothing Gold Can Stay  

William Wordsworth  The world is too much with us  

H. D.  Helen  


Louise Bogan  Medusa 

A. E. Stallings  First Love: A Quiz 

Personal Myth  

William Butler Yeats  The Second Coming  

 Sylvia Plath  Lady Lazarus  


Myth and Popular Culture  

Anne Sexton  Cinderella  

Writing Effectively  


Checklist: WRITINg About Myth  

Writing Assignment on Myth  

More Topics for Writing


21 What Is Poetry?  

**Archibald MacLeish  Ars Poetica


Dante, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, **Gwendolyn Brooks, William Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Mina Loy, W. H. Auden, José Garcia Villa, Christopher Fry, Elizabeth Bishop, Joy Harjo, Charles Simic   Some Definitions of Poetry  


22 Poems for Further Reading  

Aaron Abeyta  thirteen ways of looking at a tortilla  

** Kim Addonizio  First Poem for You

Sherman Alexie  The Powwow at the End of the World 

Matthew Arnold  Dover Beach  

Margaret Atwood  Siren Song  

W. H. Auden  September 1, 1939

W. H. Auden  Musée des Beaux Arts  

Elizabeth Bishop  One Art

William Blake  The Tyger  

Gwendolyn Brooks  the mother  

Elizabeth Barrett Browning  How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways  

Robert Browning  Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister  

** Charles Bukowski  Dostoevsky

Judith Ortiz Cofer  Quiñceañera  

Samuel Taylor Coleridge  Kubla Khan  

Billy Collins  Care and Feeding  

E. E. Cummings  somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond  

** Emily Dickinson  Wild Nights - Wild Nights!

Emily Dickinson  I heard a Fly buzz – when I died  

Emily Dickinson  Because I could not stop for Death  

John Donne  Death be not proud  

John Donne  The Flea  

Rita Dove  Daystar

T. S. Eliot  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Robert Frost  Birches  

Robert Frost  Mending Wall  

Robert Frost  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening  

Allen Ginsberg  A Supermarket in California  

** Thomas Hardy  Hap

Seamus Heaney  Digging  

George Herbert  Easter Wings  

Robert Herrick  To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time  

Gerard Manley Hopkins  Spring and Fall  

Gerard Manley Hopkins  The Windhover  

A. E. Housman  Loveliest of trees, the cherry now  

A. E. Housman  To an Athlete Dying Young  

Langston Hughes  The Negro Speaks of Rivers  

Langston Hughes  Harlem [Dream Deferred]  

Randall Jarrell  The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner  

** Robinson Jeffers  Rock and Hawk

** Ha Jin  Missed Time

Ben Jonson  On My First Son  

** Donald Justice  Men at Forty

** John Keats n  Ode to a Nightingale

John Keats  To Autumn  

** Philip Larkin  Poetry of Departures

D. H. Lawrence  Piano  

Shirley Geok-lin Lim  Learning to love America  

Andrew Marvell  To His Coy Mistress  

Edna St. Vincent Millay  Recuerdo  

John Milton  When I consider how my light is spent  

Sharon Olds  The One Girl at the Boys’ Party  

Wilfred Owen  Anthem for Doomed Youth  

Sylvia Plath  Daddy  

Edgar Allan Poe  Annabel Lee  

Ezra Pound  The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter  

Henry Reed  Naming of Parts  

Edwin Arlington Robinson  Miniver Cheevy  

** William Shakespeare  Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments

William Shakespeare  Sonnet 130: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun  

Percy Bysshe Shelley  Ozymandias  

Wallace Stevens  The Emperor of Ice-Cream  

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  Ulysses  

Dylan Thomas  Fern Hill  

John Updike  Ex-Basketball Player  

** Derek Walcott  Sea Grapes

Walt Whitman  I Hear America Singing  

Walt Whitman  O Captain! My Captain!  

Richard Wilbur  The Writer  

William Carlos Williams  Spring and All  

** William Carlos Williams  Queen-Anne’s-Lace

William Wordsworth  Composed upon Westminster Bridge  

James Wright  Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio  

Mary Sidney Wroth  In this strange labyrinth  

William Butler Yeats  Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop  

William Butler Yeats  Sailing to Byzantium  

William Butler Yeats  When You Are Old  







Talking with David Ives

23 Reading a Play  

Theatrical Conventions

Elements of a Play       

Susan Glaspell  Trifles  

Was Minnie Wright to blame for the death of her husband? While the menfolk try to unravel a mystery, two women in the kitchen turn up revealing clues.

Analyzing Trifles    

Writing Effectively

THINKING about a Play  

CHECKLIST: Writing about a Play  

Writing Assignment on Conflict

MORE Topics for Writing  

Terms for Review

24 Modes of Drama: Tragedy and Comedy  


Christopher Marlowe  Scene From Doctor Faustus (Act 2, Scene 1)  

In this scene from the classic drama, a brilliant scholar sells his soul to the devil. How smart is that?


**David Ives  Sure Thing

Bill wants to pick up Betty in a cafe, but he makes every mistake in the book. Luckily, he not only gets a second chance, but a third and a fourth as well



Writing Effectively

Thinking about Comedy

Checklist: Writing about Comedy

Writing Assignment on Comedy

Topics for Writing About Tragedy

Topics for Writing About Comedy  

Terms for Review


25 The Theater of Sophocles  

The Theater of Sophocles  

The Civic Role of Greek Drama  

Aristotle’s Concept of Tragedy  


The Origins of Oedipus the King  

Sophocles  Oedipus the King (Translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald)  

“Who is the man proclaimed / by Delphi’s prophetic rock / as the bloody handed murderer / the doer of deeds that none dare name? / . . . Terrribly close on his heels are the Fates that never miss.”

Writing Effectively

THINKING about Greek Tragedy  

CHECKLIST: Writing about Greek Drama  

Writing Assignment on Sophocles  

More Topics for Writing  

Terms for Review


26 The Theater of Shakespeare  

The Theater of Shakespeare  

William Shakespeare  

A Note on Othello  

    Picturing Othello  

William Shakespeare  Othello, the Moor of Venice  1368

Here is a story of jealousy, that “green-eyed monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on”–of a passionate, suspicious man and his blameless wife, of a serpent masked as a friend.


Writing Effectively

Understanding Shakespeare  

Checklist:writing about shakespeare  

Writing Assignment on Tragedy  

More Topics for Writing  


27 The Modern Theater  


Henrik Ibsen  A Doll’s House (Translated by R. Farquharson Sharp, Revised by Viktoria Michelsen)

The founder of modern drama portrays a troubled marriage. Helmer, the bank manager, regards his wife Nora as a “little featherbrain”–not knowing the truth may shatter his smug world. 


Experimental Drama

***Edward Bok Lee  El Santo Americano

A wrestler and his unhappy wife drive through the desert to a surprising conclusion.


Writing Effectively

THINKING about Dramatic Realism  

CHECKLIST: Writing about Realism  

Writing Assignment on Realism  

More Topics for Writing  

Terms for Review

28 Plays for Further Reading  

**Jane Martin  Beauty

We’ve all wanted to be someone else at one time or another. But what would happen if we got our wish?


**Terrence McNally  Andre’s Mother

After Andre’s funeral the four people who loved him most walk into Central Park together. Three of them talk about their grief, but Andre’s mother remains silent about her son, dead of AIDS.

Tennessee Williams  The Glass Menagerie  

Painfully shy and retiring, shunning love, Laura dwells in a world as fragile as her collection of tiny figurines–until one memorable night a gentleman comes to call.

August Wilson  Fences  

A proud man’s love for his family is choked by his rigidity and self-righteousness, in this powerful drama by a great American playwright of our time.




29-Writing About Literature

Read Actively  

Robert Frost  Nothing Gold Can Stay

Think About the Reading

Plan Your Essay  

Prewriting: Discover Your Ideas  

Sample Student Prewriting Exercises  

Develop a Literary Argument  

Checklist: Developing an Argument  

Write a Rough Draft  

Sample Student Rough Draft  On Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Revise Your Draft  

Checklist: Revising Your Draft

Some Final Advice on Rewriting  

Sample Student Revised Draft  Lost Innocence in Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

What’s Your Purpose? Common Approaches to Writing About Literature   2083



Sample Student Paper  By Lantern Light: An Explication of a Passage in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Robert Frost  Design

Sample Student Paper  An Unfolding of Robert Frost’s “Design”



Sample Student Paper  Faded Beauty: Bishop’s Use of Imagery in “The Fish”

Sample Student Paper  Othello: Tragedy or Soap Opera?



Comparison and Contrast  

Sample Student Paper  Successful Adaptation in “A Rose for Emily” and “Miss Brill”


  Response Paper

  Sample Student Paper   Response to Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”


The Form of Your Finished Paper


Topics for Writing on Fiction

Topics for Brief Papers

Topics for More Extended Papers

Topics for Long Papers

Topics for Writing on Poetry

Topics for Brief Papers

Topics for More Extended Papers

Topics for Long Papers

Topics for Writing on Drama

Topics for Brief Papers

Topics for More Extended Papers

Topics for Long Papers

30 Writing a Research Paper  

Browse the Research

Choose a Topic  

Begin Your Research

Print Resources  

Online Databases  

Reliable Web Sources  


Checklist:Finding Reliable Sources  


Visual Images  

Checklist: Using Visual Images

Evaluate Your Sources  

Print Resources  

Web Resources  

Checklist: Evaluating Your Sources  

Organize Your Research  

Organize Your Paper  

Maintain Academic Integrity  

Acknowledge All Sources  


Citing Ideas  

Document Sources Using MLA Style  

Parenthetical References  

Works-Cited List  

Citing Print Sources in MLA Style  

Citing WeB Sources in MLA Style  

Sample List of Works Cited  



Reference Guide for Citations  



Index of Authors and Titles  

Index of Literary Terms