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Essay Questions

Section A – Titles for Essay 1, Due Friday 6th November (week 5)

1. Discuss the key features of Whitman’s vision of America.

2. What did Whitman view as the best and worst of America in the nineteenth century?

3. What does the landscape represent for Whitman and how is this reflected in the poetic techniques he uses?

4. Discuss the ways in which Whitman’s portrayals of sexuality contribute to his portrait of America.

5. What does Updike’s Rabbit, Run reveal about America in the 1950s?

6. Discuss Updike’s portrait of gender roles in 1950s America.

7. Analyse the character of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom as a symbol of the best and worst of America in the mid-twentieth century.

8. What does running represent in Updike’s portrayal of Rabbit Angstrom and 1950s American society?

9. Compare and contrast Whitman and Updike’s representation of American masculinity.

10. Compare and contrast the manner and purpose of Whitman and Updike portrayals of America’s geography.


Section B – Titles for Essay 2, Due Friday 27th November (week 8)

NB. If your first essay was question 9, you must NOT choose question 19. If your first essay was question 10, you must NOT choose question 18.

11. What role does the border play in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses?

12. Analyse the character of John Grady Cole as an emblem of the American West.

13. What does Mexico symbolise in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses?

14. Discuss McCarthy’s portrayal of gender roles in the mid-century American West.

15. How has McCarthy altered the Western genre and to what end?

16. Why does McCarthy set his most recent novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic setting?

17. Discuss McCarthy’s portrayal of American masculinity in All the Pretty Horses and/or The Road.

18. Compare and contrast McCarthy’s representation of American geography with Whitman’s and/or Updike’s.

19. Compare and contrast the portrayal of American masculinity put forth in the work of McCarthy with that of Whitman and/or Updike.

20. Compare the treatment of the father-son relationship in the book and film versions of The Road.