American Literature

1. What makes a poem, a short story, a novel, or any other written work “American literature”? Does it have to be written by an American author? Must it be set in America? Are all of the characters Americans? Or do you believe that all works of American literature share certain values, themes, and ideals? What does “American literature” mean to you?

In this discussion, describe the characteristics that you feel American literature possesses, and then explain why you believe reading and exploring works of American literature is important. In your response, cite specific examples of works that you have read and explain why you believe they are good examples of American literature.
2. You have read stories in books, and you have encountered stories in many other media: in television shows, movies, comics, and the stories that people tell in conversation. You have probably been more interested in some of those stories than in others. Think about the way you react when you read or view or hear the beginning of a story. Something gets you interested – or not. Then, something has to keep you interested. Even if the subject matter is something that greatly appeals to you, a story may only grab you if it is compellingly written or told.

Recall specific stories that you have liked. Remember their plots, conflicts, characters, settings, and themes. Think about the writers’ use of language. Which stories are good ones, in your opinion? Which elements are strongest in those stories? What is memorable about the elements of each story?
3. Learning the difference between right and wrong is part of growing up. People have different ideas about the meaning of justice, courage, and honesty. A young person’s ideas about those values become part of his or her character. Scout grows up during the Great Depression in the South, a time and place in which African Americans were treated unjustly. Issues of right and wrong arise as Scout learns how to treat people who are different from her—whether the difference is one of skin color or of personality.

What are the influences that affect the way Scout grows up(in the book “killing the Mocking Bird”)? How do they affect her? What kind of person do you think she will become? Give specific examples to support your view.