Compare the narrative voices of Phyllis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano

Short Answer Questions:

1. Quite a few writers we’ve discussed have been recognized as literary pioneers (that is, they were the “FIRST” to use a certain technique or achieve a certain level of fame; for example, Ben Franklin wrote the first famous American autobiography and the first American rags-to-riches story).  Choose three writers we’ve covered since the last test and discuss how each was a literary pioneer.

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Most of the American writers were literary pioneers include; Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson and William Faulkner. William Faulkner was a pioneer in the literary modernism and dramatically which was diverging from the forms and the various structures which were traditionally used in the novels before his time. This led him to be awarded Nobel Prize in literature. In addition Emily Dickinson was a literary pioneer since despite being a great poet; she also lived unusual life of self-imposed and social seclusion. The act of living a simple life and seclusion led her to compose a poetry whereby she was questioning about the nature of the death. Also Willa Cather was also recognized for her novels of the Frontier life on the Great Plains. Therefore this subjected her to be recognized as one of the American literary pioneers.

2. Compare the narrative voices of Phyllis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano.  How does each appear to feel about his/her captivity?  How does each feel about the dominant “white” society?  Give specific examples.

Phyllis Wheatley saw captivity as a fortunate after being taken to America. This is clearly evidenced through the cat of being treated s daughter and was raised in the education and prosperity. Olaudah Equiano instead saw the beauty of the Africa in the hands of the captors and the kindness which was demonstrated by the ever-changing owners. Phyllis Wheatley feels thankful in the white society since she was treated like a daughter and offered with education and prosperity. This is also evidenced in the case of interacting freely with the people from the white society.

3. Recent research suggests (but does not prove) that Equiano may have been born in South Carolina, not in Africa.  How does this possibility change your assessment of his narrative?

This possibility changes my assessment in his narrative of viewing or portraying Africa as beauty in the hands or leadership of captors. Therefore this changes my assessment in viewing Africa as beauty since Equiano was not born in Africa and therefore he lacked enough information about the beauty of the Africa.

4. One of the most quoted lines in Thoreau’s work occurs in “Economy”: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Discuss this statement and Thoreau’s observation that desperation is found in the city, the country, and even in our “games and amusement.”

The statement “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” indicates that most of the men usually become desperate due their feeling that when people choose simplicity they do not buy bigger houses. Therefore this statement simply implies or indicates that men are not enjoying their lives well.

5. One of the PowerPoint slides contains the following assertion concerning “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”: “The story may represent Irving’s view of what the world is becoming—rough, a bit uncouth, etc.”  Using examples show how this statement can apply to BOTH “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.”

Irving’s story offers a detailed information how he was doubting the identity of the American. Therefore this statement is applicable in his stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Since he was the first American writer to initiate or make other people to rely on his creative work thus being recognized as one among the English American pioneers.

6. Discuss how the subject of death is treated in ONE of the following poems: Freneau’s “The Indian Burying Ground,” or Bryant’s “Thanatopsis.”

Freneau’s poem “The Indian Burying Ground” describes the tradition of theh American Indians in the way of burying the dead bodies. The poem therefore indicates how the Indians are buried in the sitting position once they die.

7. Define “frame story” and discuss Irving’s use of the frame story to separate the author or narrator from the story in “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  What might be his purpose in using the frames as he did?

Frame story refers to the story which is established or set within another story. Irving used frame story in his narrative because the main narrative is introduced so as to set the stage. The purpose of the frame story is simply to offer or provide the reader with the context about the in story or narrative.

8. Discuss some similarities between Franklin’s Autobiography and Equiano’s Interesting Narrative

Both autobiographies were mainly written to exemplify their lower upbringings and show the readers the various ways on how they can move forward and lift themselves. In both their narratives and autobiographies demonstrates their humbler ways which is clearly indicated at the beginning of their narratives.

9. Summarize Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and state what you believe are its main themes.  What do you think Emerson wants readers to learn from the essay?

Emerson argues or claims that society which is polite usually has adverse effects on the growth of a person. The idea of the self-reliance also indicates that the need of the individuals to avoid conformity and false consistency and follow their own ideas. Therefore Emerson wanted or intended to teach people the need of avoiding conformity.

10. Explain why, in your opinion, Thoreau undertook the experiment at Walden Pond.

Thoreau’s purpose of undertaking experiment at the Walden pond was mainly to answer the question which had been asked by the people on the reasons why he had been living alone in the cabin in the woods near the Walden pond for two years. Therefore this made him to undergo the experiment in the Walden Pond whereby he indicates that most of the people live their own lives as a result of blindly following the lives of their parents.

11. Define “frame story” and discuss Irving’s use of the frame story to separate the author or narrator from the story in “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” What might be his purpose in using the frames as he did?

Frame story refers to the story which is established or set within another story. Irving used frame story in his narrative because the main narrative is introduced so as to set the stage. The purpose of the frame story is simply to offer or provide the reader with the context about the in story or narrative.

12. What is the major “errata” of Franklin’s life, and why does he mention these so prominently in the autobiography?

The major errata of the Frankin include; running away from his brother in Boston and going to Philadelphia, making advances in his friends mistress and also writing his dissertation on liberty and necessity. Thereforee the main pupose of mentioning thhe erratas of the wsas to indicate or show the people the necessity to .kve their own lives. The use of thhe errrats indicates a means of showing or demonstarimng humility.

13.  In your opinion, what would Franklin most want to be remembered for?

14.  Compare Ben Franklin’s Autobiography and Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative as “rags to riches” success stories.

15. Discuss what Emerson means when he states,  “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.”  How does this fit in with the rest of his philosophy in “Self-Reliance”?  As a governing principle, how useful do you believe this statement to be?

16.  Lydia Maria Child’s fiction was, in her own time, sometimes described as “abolitionist propaganda.”  Today, her stories are often described as melodramatic.  Discuss what elements of “The Quadroons” seem overly dramatic, and how this drama helps shed some light on the abolitionist cause.

17.  Aside from his poetry, what other accomplishments was Philip Freneau known for?

18.  Discuss some ways Equiano’s slave narrative is typical of Ante-bellum slave narratives.

19.  What are some of the “marvels” that Equiano encounters during his travels, and why does each impress him?

20.  Most of Equiano’s audience was white, Christian, and middle-class.  What qualities of prose style, what allusions, what details support the statement that the narrative was directed to such an audience?

21.  Washington Irving’s stories contain elements of satire.  What does Irving make fun of in “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”?

22.  One of the most quoted lines in Thoreau’s work occurs in “Economy”: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  Discuss this statement and Thoreau’s observation that desperation is found in the city, the country, and even in our “games and amusement.”

23.  Thoreau believes in simple living.  Discuss several of the ways he simplifies his life during his experiment on Walden Pond.

24.  Discuss the theme of beauty in any two poems by Freneau or Emerson.

25.  Discuss Ben Franklin’s plan for arriving at moral perfection.

26.  Phyllis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano both wrote to a primarily white, middle-class audience.  Discuss elements of each writer’s work that point at the accuracy of this assertion.

27.  Discuss Emerson’s concept of “self-reliance.”

28.  Using examples from “Self-Reliance,” discuss Emerson’s ideas on individualism, nonconformity, and the nature of genius.

29.  In what ways is Ben Franklin the representative American of his era?  What good and bad qualities can readers learn from him, based on the Autobiography?

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