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American literature


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Title: American literature

American literature
  • Xue Ling

Chapter One
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809 1849)

  • Born in Boston, the son of itinerant actors who
    died before he was 3 years old.
  • Became the ward of a Virginia couple, the Allans,
    whose name he added to his own.
  • An editor of a number of magazines and won a
    number of literary prizes for his poems and

  • His short fiction, with its effects of terror and
    its supernatural trappings, made him a household
    name for American readers.
  • He is regarded as father of modern American short
  • His poems have been highly appreciated for their
    aesthetical quality and music is essential in
    them as it is associated with indefinite

Literary terms
  • Romanticism
  • As a literary trend or movement, it occurred and
    developed in Europe and America at the turn of
    the 18th and 19th centuries under the historical
    background of the Industrial Revolution around
    1760 and the French Revolution (1789 1799).

Characteristics of Romanticism
  • It was a rebellion against the objectivity of
  • For romantics, the feelings, intuitions and
    emotions were more important than reason and
    common sense.

  • Romantics did not think of the world as a ticking
    watch made by God. They thought of the world as a
    living, breathing being. They stressed the close
    relationship between man and nature.
  • They emphasized individualism, placing the
    individual against the group, against authority.

  • They affirmed the inner life of the self, and
    wanted each person to be free to develop and
    express his own inner thought.
  • They cherished strong interest in the past,
    especially the medieval.

  • They are attracted by the wild, the irregular,
    the indefinite, the remote, the mysterious, and
    the strange.
  • They are interested in variety. They aspired the
    sublime and the wonderful, and tried to find the
    absolute, the ideal by transcending the actual.

American Romanticism
  • American romantics tend to moralize, to edify
    rather than to entertain.
  • It presented an entirely new experience alien to
    European culture.
  • The exotic landscape, the frontier life, the
    westward expansion, the myth of a New Garden of
    Eden in America, and the Puritan heritage were
    just a few examples of the native material for an
    indigenous literature.

Literary theories
  • Poe preferred the tale to other fictional forms
    such as novel because it is brief.
  • The writer must decide the effect first and then
    determine the incidents.

  • Truth rather than beauty is often the aim of the
    tale. As beauty can be better treated in the
    poems, tales can deal with terror, passion,
    horror, humor, sarcasm, wit, and ratiocination.
  • The merit of a work of art should be judged by
    its psychological effect upon the reader.

Text study The Cask of Amontillado
  • Setting a nameless Italian city
  • Time an unspecified year (possibly in the 18th
  • Theme It concerns the deadly revenge taken by
    the narrator on a friend whom he claims has
    insulted him.
  • Writing style Poe conveys the story through the
    murderer's perspective.

Class activities
  • Read the dialogue parts by pair-work.
  • Recite the parts from the last paragraph on P15
    to the end.

Questions to ponder
  • Who is the narrator of the story?
  • Is the murderer punished by law or not? What
    evidence can you give?
  • How do you comment on the two characters in the
  • What romantic elements are expressed through the

Further reading recommendation
  • 1. The Black Cat
  • http//
  • 2. The Tell-Tale Heart
  • http//

Chapter Two
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne ( 1804 1864)
  • 1.Born in Salem, Massachusetts and studied at
    Bowdoin College.
  • 2.The Scarlet Letter (1850) brought him
    recognition as a major literary figure.

Literary term
  • Romance
  • An ideal combination of facts and fancy,
    idealistic details and fanciful things, or
    reality and imagination.

Text study The Scarlet Letter
  • The Scarlet Letter (1850) is a novel written by
    Nathaniel Hawthorne, considered to be his
    masterpiece and most famous work. Set in
    17th-century Puritan Boston, it tells the story
    of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after
    committing adultery and struggles to create a new
    life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the
    novel, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism,
    sin, and guilt.

(No Transcript)
Major themes
  • 1? Sin
  • 2? Past and present

The Scarlet Letter Symbolism, Imagery Allegory
  • The Prison Door
  • Pearl, Hesters Daughter
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Red Mark on Dimmesdales Chest
  • The Meteor
  • The Black Man
  • The Forest and the Wilderness

The Scarlet Letter Genre
  • Gothic
  • Romance
  • Historical

Class activities
  • 1. Role-play
  • The five womens comments on Hester Prynnes
  • 2. Group discussion
  • -Why should the women be so hard on Hester
  • -What social norm do you see through the
    womens words?

Questions to ponder
  • Do you agree with Hesters folk that she should
    be punished? Why or why not?
  • What image is Hester Prynne set before readers?
  • Why Hawthorne describes Hesters appearance in
    such a way? What might be his purpose?

Further reading recommendation
  • The Scarlet Letter http//
  • The Ministers Black Veil http//www.classicreade

Chapter Three
  • 19th-Century American Poets

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • (1807 1882)

I Shot an Arrow
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 1849)
To Helen
  • Helen, thy beauty is to me
  • Like those Nicean barks of yore
  • That gently, oer a perfumed sea,
  • The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
  • To his own native shore.

  • On desperate seas long wont to roam,
  • Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
  • Thy Naiad airs, have brought me home
  • To the glory that was Greece,
  • And the grandeur that was Rome.

  • Lo! In yon brilliant window-niche
  • How statue-like I see thee stand,
  • The agate lamp within thy hand!
  • Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
  • Are Holy-Land!

Poes principles on poetry writing
  • A poem should be short, readable at one sitting.
  • The chief aim of a poem is to produce a sense of
  • The most appropriate tone for all poems is
  • A poem must be composed with rhythms.
  • A poem must be pure, written for its own sake.

Walt Whitman (1819 1892)
Literary term
  • Free verse
  • A form of poetry which refrains from meter
    patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern.

Poetic theory
  • Whitman wrote in the preface to the 1855 edition
    of Leaves of Grass, "The proof of a poet is that
    his country absorbs him as affectionately as he
    has absorbed it." He believed there was a vital,
    symbiotic relationship between the poet and
    society.This connection was emphasized especially
    in "Song of Myself" by using an all-powerful
    first-person narration.

  • As an American epic, it deviated from the
    historic use of an elevated hero and instead
    assumed the identity of the common people. Leaves
    of Grass also responded to the impact that recent
    urbanization in the United States had on the

O Captain! My Captain!
Emily Dickinson (1830 1886)
  • frequent use of dashes
  • sporadic capitalization of nouns
  • convoluted and ungrammatical phrasing
  • off-rhymes
  • broken meters
  • bold and unconventional and often startling
  • aphoristic wit.

To Make a Prairie
  • To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
  • One clover and a bee,
  • And revery.
  • Revery alone will do,
  • If bees are few.

Class activities
  • Recite all the poems in this chapter.
  • Perform recitation of one of you favorite poems
    in this chapter.

Questions to ponder
  • How do you like the poems in this chapter?
  • Whose poems do you like best? Why?
  • What are the differences in writing style in
    these poems?
  • What have you learned through these poems?

Chapter Four
  • Stephen Crane (1871 1900)
  • Born in Newark, New Jersey.
  • In 1893, he published at his own expense Maggie
    A Girl of the Streets, a pioneering work of
    sociological naturalism.
  • His short stories were collected in The Open Boat
    and Other Tales of Adventure (1898).

Literary term Naturalism
  • Naturalism was a literary movement taking place
    from 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to
    suggest that social conditions, heredity, and
    environment had inescapable force in shaping
    human character. It was depicted as a literary
    movement that seeks to replicate a believable
    everyday reality, as opposed to such movements as
    Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may
    receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even
    supernatural treatment.

  • Naturalism is the outgrowth of Realism, a
    prominent literary movement in mid-19th-century
    France and elsewhere. Naturalistic writers were
    influenced by the evolution theory of Charles
    Darwin. They believed that one's heredity and
    social environment determine one's character.
    Whereas realism seeks only to describe subjects
    as they really are, naturalism also attempts to
    determine "scientifically" the underlying forces
    (e.g. the environment or heredity) influencing
    the actions of its subjects.

  • Naturalistic works often include uncouth or
    sordid subject matter for example, Émile Zola's
    works had a frankness about sexuality along with
    a pervasive pessimism. Naturalistic works exposed
    the dark harshness of life, including poverty,
    racism, sex, prejudice, disease, prostitution,
    and filth. As a result, naturalistic writers were
    frequently criticized for being too blunt.

Literary realism
  • Most often literary realism refers to the trend,
    beginning with certain works of
    nineteenth-century French literature and
    extending to late-nineteenth- and
    early-twentieth-century authors in various
    countries, towards depictions of contemporary
    life and society "as they were." In the spirit of
    general "realism," Realist authors opted for
    depictions of everyday and banal activities and
    experiences, instead of a romanticized or
    similarly stylized presentation.

Impressionistic literature
  • Impressionistic literature can basically be
    defined as when an author centers his
    story/attention on the character's mental life
    such as the character's impressions, feelings,
    sensations and emotions, rather than trying to
    interpret them.

  • Authors such as Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway) and
    Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness and The Lagoon)
    are among the foremost creators of the type.
    These novels have been said to be the finest
    examples of a genre which is not easily

The Commodore
The four characters
  • The correspondent -- a pretentious, erudite, and
    mocking observer
  • The cook -- fat and comic
  • The captain -- morose and indifferent
  • The oiler -- physically strong and industrious.

Major themes
  • They are Naturalistic and Realistic concerns,
    including ideals versus realities, spiritual
    crises and fear.
  • Extreme isolation from society and community is
    also apparent in Crane's work.

Class activities
  • Group work find out different words in
    description of the sea waves.
  • Share your favorite part(s) with your partner.

Questions to ponder
  • What do you feel after reading the story?
  • How do you explain the death of the oiler, the
    strongest of the four?
  • What is the theme of the story?
  • What have you learned from story from the
    perspective of naturalism?
  • What is the relationship between man and nature?

Further reading recommendation
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • http//

Chapter Five
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • (1890 1980)

  • Born in Indian Creek, Texas and educated at home,
    in private schools, and in an Ursualine convent.
  • Her first book of stories, Flowering Judas was
    published in 1930.

  • She lived for a time in Mexico, which provided
    material for some of her most famous stories.
  • Her novel A Ship of Fools was published in 1962.
  • The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
    appeared in 1965, winning the Pulitzer Prize and
    the National Book Award.

Stream of consciousness
  • Stream of consciousness is a method of narrative
    representation of "random" thoughts which follow
    in a freely-flowing style.

  • Primarily associated with the modernist movement,
    stream of consciousness is a form of interior
    monologue which claims as its goal the
    representation of a lead consciousness in a
    narrative (typically fiction).

  • This representation of consciousness can include
    perceptions or impressions, thoughts incited by
    outside sensory stimuli, and fragments of random,
    disconnected thoughts. Stream of consciousness
    writing often lacks "correct" punctuation or
    syntax, favoring a looser, more incomplete style.

Text study
  • 1. Characters
  • 2. Setting the bedroom where Granny Weatherall
    is dying
  • 3. Theme
  • self-pity
  • death
  • 4. Style
  • stream-of-consciousness

Class activities
  • Class discussion
  • What impression have you got from Granny
  • Identification of the parts written in stream of
    consciousness with your partners.

Questions to ponder
  • Do you find reading this text difficult? Why or
    why not?
  • Is Porters writing technique most proper in this
    story? Why?
  • What pain has tortured Granny Weatherall for
    sixty years?
  • What weakness can you see in Granny Weatherall?

Further reading recommendation
  • The Flowering Judas
  • (Source from libraries or elsewhere)
  • A Ship of Fools
  • (Source from libraries or elsewhere)

Chapter Six
  • FScott Fitzgerald
  • (1896 1940)

  • Born in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • A spokesman for the so-called Jazz Age, setting a
    personal as well as literary example for a
    generation whose first commandment was Do what
    you will.
  • His novels such as The Great Gatsby (1925),
    Tender Is the Night (1934), and The Last Tycoon
    (1941), amplify the melancholy he discovered
    beneath the glitter of American-style success.

Literary term
  • Jazz Age
  • It is an epithet applied, often invidiously, to
    the era of the 1920s in the U.S., whose frenetic
    youth of the post war period were conceived as
    more juvenile and hedonistic than the
    contemporary lost generation of expatriates. F.
    Scott Fitzgeralds Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
    was a classic representation of the period.

Text study
  • Character analysis
  • Nick Carraway
  • Jay Gatsby
  • -Origins Jimmy Gatz
  • -The Man Jay Gatsby
  • -The Legend The Great Gatsby
  • Daisy Buchannan
  • Tom Buchannan
  • Jordan Baker
  • George Wilson
  • Myrtle Wilson
  • Meyer Wolfsheim
  • Owl Eyes and Klipspringer

  • Geographical setting in New York City and on
    Long Island, in two areas known as "West Egg" and
    "East Egg" in the early 1920s.
  • Social setting The social setting is among
    wealthy, educated people, those with a good deal
    of leisure time and little concern about people
    who are not in their social milieu.

Symbolism, Imagery Allegory
  • Gatsbys "books
  • The Owl-Eyed Man

Plot type Tragedy
  • Anticipation Stage
  • Dream Stage
  • Frustration Stage
  • Nightmare Stage
  • Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Narrative technique
  • The story is told through Nick Carraway who
    functions both as a character in the story and
    the narrator of the whole work.
  • As a character, he is within, involving himself
    in the actions of the story.

  • As a narrator, he is standing away from the story
    and able to give an objective presentation to the
    events and characters of the novel.
  • Fitzgerald inherits this narrative technique from
    James and Conrad.

Class activities
  • Class discussion
  • 1. What is the social significance of the story?
  • 2. What life value is expressed through this
    part of the story?

Questions to ponder
  • In what way do you see the shadow of Jazz Age
    over the story?
  • How do you comment on Gatsbys greatness?
  • What does the tragic end of Gatsby imply?
  • What have you learned from the writing technique
    of this story?

Further reading recommendation
  • The Great Gatsby http//
  • Tender is the Night http//

Chapter Seven
  • William Faulkner (1897 1962)

  • Born in New Albany, Mississippi.
  • The work which won Faulkner a Nobel Prize in 1950
    is often a depiction of life in his fictional
    Yoknapatawpha County, an imaginative
    reconstruction of the area adjacent to Oxford.

  • His major novels include The Sound and the Fury
    (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctury (1931),
    Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936),
    and The Hamlet (1940).
  • His books of short stories include These Thirteen
    (1931), Go Down, Moses (1942), and The Collected
    Stories of William Faulkner (1950).

Text study Barn Burning
  • Characters and Themes
  • Plot Structure and Setting

  • Fire
  • Rug
  • Cheese

Modernist Themes and Techniques
  • Faulkner is a modernist writer as well as a
    Southern writer. Barn Burning therefore
    demonstrates some of the themes and experimental
    techniques typical of American and European
    modernist fiction of the first half of the
    twentieth century.

  • Experimentation with Consciousness
  • Experimentation with Time
  • Experimentation with Space
  • Writing Style

Language study
  • - description of motion.
  • - description of inner world.
  • - complex sentences

Class activities
  • Discuss your impression on Faulkners writing
  • Analyze the boys inner world with your partner.

Questions to ponder
  • What is the living condition of the Snopes?
  • In what ways do you see conflicts between father
    and son?
  • Whats your comment on Sartys father?
  • What does the end of the story imply?

Further reading recommendation
  • A Rose for Emily
  • http//

Chapter Eight
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899 1961)

  • Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) born in Oak Park,
    Illinois, volunteered for service as an ambulance
    driver with the Italian Army, was seriously
    wounded during WWI. From the publication of his
    first books he was acclaimed as a spokesman for
    the Lost Generationthe young who had been
    disillusioned and cast adrift by the murderous
    blunders of those who had plunged the world into

Literary achievements
  • Novels
  • The Sun Also Rises (1926)
  • A Farewell to Arms (1929)
  • To Have and Have Not (1937)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
  • The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

  • Story collections
  • In Our Time (1925)
  • Men without Women(1927)
  • Winner Take Nothing (1933)
  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954.

The Lost Generation
  • The term Lost Generation was first used by
    Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), one of the leaders of
    this group.
  • It included the young English and American
    expatriates as well as men and women caught in
    the war and cut off from the old values and yet
    unable to come to terms with the new era when
    civilization had gone mad.

  • It means this generation had lost the beautiful
    sense of the calm idyllic past.
  • Steins comment suggests the ambiguous and
    pointless lives of expatriates as they aimlessly
    wandered about the Continent, drinking, making
    love, traveling from place to place and from
    party to party. These activities seem to justify
    their search for new meanings to replace the old

  • Yet in fact, being cut off from their past,
    disillusioned in reality, and without a
    meaningful future to fall on, they were lost in
    disillusionment and existential voids. They
    indulged in hedonism in order to make their life
    less unbearable.

Text study A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

  • Theme of Dissatisfaction
  • Theme of Mortality
  • Theme of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Theme of Old Age

Writing style
  • Sparse, Simple, Unornamented classic Hemingway
  • His writing is journalistic and no-nonsense
    he reports dialogue cleanly and directly, without
    any froufy adjectives or fancy-pants
    descriptions. This sparse, tight economy of words
    is one of the things that made Hemingway so very,
    very famous in the 1920s, and his distinctive
    style is still much admired to this day.

Hemingways Iceberg Theory
Class activities
  • Role play the whole parts in dialogue.

Questions to ponder
  • Why is the old man so unhappy?
  • Do you think that the world, as conceived of by
    Hemingway, is really made up of two kinds of
    people those who are happy and those who
  • What do you think the older waiter means when he
    says "It was all a nothing and a man was a
    nothing too" ?
  • Why is it different to drink alone in a café than
    to drink alone at home?
  • What does the younger waiter understand about old

Further reading recommendation
  • Hills Like White Elephants
  • http//
  • The Old Man and the Sea (Source from library or

Chapter Nine
  • 20th-Century American Poets

  • Ezra Pound
  • (1885 1972)

Literary Term
  • Imagism
  • It refers a poetic expression that was embraced
    by some American poets, including some of the
    European ones, in the early 20th century, aiming
    at a full expression of the modern spirit, the
    sense of fragmentation and dislocation.

  • Imagism came as a reaction to the traditional
    English poetics with its iambic pentameter, its
    verbosity, and extra-poetic padding but it also
    voiced the spirit of the age. The most
    outstanding American spokesman for the Imagist
    Movement is Ezra Pound.

Images in Chinese poetry
  • ? ?
  • ???
  • ?????
  • ?????
  • ?????
  • ?????

Three Imagist poetic principles
  • direct treatment of the thing, whether subjective
    or objective
  • to use absolute no word that does not contribute
    to the presentation.
  • to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase,
    not in the sequence of a metronome in regarding
    to rhythm.

In A Station of the Metro
  • The apparition of these faces in the crowd
  • Petals on a wet, black bough.

  • Wallace Stevens
  • (1879 1955)

  • A cultural movement that began in the early
    1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks
    and writings of the group members.
  • Surrealist works feature the element of surprise,
    unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur
    however, many Surrealist artists and writers
    regard their work as an expression of the
    philosophical movement first and foremost, with
    the works being an artifact.

Analysis of Anecdote of the Jar
  • William Carlos Williams
  • (1883 -1963)

The Red Wheelbarrow
  • So much depends
  • upon
  • A red wheel
  • barrow
  • Glazed with rain
  • water
  • beside the white
  • chickens.

  • Robert Frost
  • (1874 1963)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Plot and Major Characters
  • The speaker (presumably a man, although no gender
    is specified), while traveling on horseback (or
    in a horse-drawn sleigh) on the darkest evening
    of the year, stops to watch the woods fill up
    with snow. He thinks the owner of these woods is
    someone who lives in the village and will not see
    the speaker stopping on his property.

  • While the speaker continues to gaze into the
    snowy woods, his little horse impatiently shakes
    the bells of its harness. The speaker describes
    the beauty and allure of the woods as lovely,
    dark, and deep, but reminds himself that he must
    not remain there, for he has promises to keep,
    and a long journey ahead of him.

Major Theme
  • The individual caught between nature and

The Road Not Taken
Langston Hughes
  • (1902 1967) was an American poet, novelist,
    playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He
    was one of the earliest innovators of the new
    literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is
    best-known for his work during the Harlem
    Renaissance. He famously wrote about the Harlem
    Renaissance saying that "Harlem was in vogue."

  • Archibald MacLeish (1892 1982)

Ars Poetica
  • A poem should be palpable and mute
  • As a globed fruit,

  • Dumb
  • As old medallions
  • to the thumb,

  • Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
  • Of casement ledges where the moss has grown

  • A poem should be wordless
  • As the flight of birds.

  • A poem should be motionless in time
  • As the moon climbs

  • Leaving, as the moon releases
  • Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

  • Leaving, as the moon behind winter leaves,
  • Memory by memory the mind

  • A poem should be motionless in time
  • As the moon climbs.

  • A poem should be equal to
  • Not true.

  • For all the history of grief
  • An Empty doorway and maple leaf.

  • For love
  • The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea

  • A poem should not mean
  • But be.

Class activities
  • Recite all the poems in this chapter in pairs.
  • Class recitation performance.

Questions to ponder
  • What are the differences between 19th century and
    20th century poems?
  • How do you comment on the different writing
    styles in this chapter?
  • How should we appreciate the poems in this
  • Whose poems do you like best? Why?

Chapter Ten
  • Eugene ONeill ( 1888 1953)

  • Born in a Broadway hotel in New York City, a son
    of a famous and popular actor, best know for his
    role as the Count of Monte Cristo.
  • He came in close contact with the outcasts of
    society and tasted the bitterness of life.
  • In 1920 his first full-length play, Beyond the
    Horizon, was professionally produced on Broadway
    and won the Pulitzer Prize.

  • His major works include The Iceman Cometh (1946),
    and Long Days Journey into Night (1956).
  • Four Pulitzer Prizes (1920, 1922, 1928, 1957) and
    the Nobel Prize in 1936 show his achievement and
    influence at home and abroad.

Text study
  • Language learning
  • Form of drama
  • Outline of the story
  • Source of the tragedy Oedipus, Phaedra, Medea
  • Theme of the play Desire of various kinds.

Class activities
  • Performance of the play

Questions to ponder
  • What is the family relationship in Cabots
  • What are the desires expressed through different
  • What is your comment on Cabots marriage with
  • Whats your comment on the relationship between
    Abbie and Eben?

Further reading recommendation
  • Long Days Journey into Night (Source from
    libraries or elsewhere)
  • The Iceman Cometh (Source from libraries or

Desire Under the Elms
  • http//
  • (Online reference by a group of lovers of
    American literature)

Chapter Eleven
  • Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914 1994)

  • Black novelist.
  • Born in Oklahoma City and educated at Tuskegee
  • Though his publications have been few, his novel
    Invisible Man (1952) is one of the most discussed
    and praised books published in America since
    World War II.

  • In his other writings, including the essays
    published in Shadow and Act (1964), Ellison
    explored the problem of identity within the
    context of black culture.

Text study
  • Writing style
  • Jazzy
  • A life-long lover of jazz, Ellison
    conceived of Invisible Man as jazz's literary
    equivalent. By turns sad, playful, shy, loud,
    fast-paced, drawing on different styles and
    traditions of writing, weaving constant refrains
    throughout the book, and creating a whole new
    aesthetic, the novel doesn't just have a style,
    it's got style.

Narrator point of view
  • First Person (Central Narrator)
  • The invisible man is our narrator throughout the
    entire novel, sandwiching the bulk of his story
    with a prologue and epilogue from his manhole.

  • The American South and Harlem, New York in the
    late 1930s.

  • Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age, African-American
  • - Invisible Man is literary fiction because of
    its in-depth exploration of one man's psyche and
    its innovative style.

Class activities
  • Discussion
  • -What is the living situation of I in the
  • -Find out the parts that show racial
    discrimination in the text.

Questions to ponder
  • What does boomeranging symbolize?
  • Why is the main character in the story invisible?
  • What special effect does grandfathers deathbed
    curse have?
  • What social significance does the story have?

Further reading recommendation
  • Invisible Man (source from libraries or elsewhere)

Chapter Twelve
  • Joseph Heller (1923 1999)

  • New York author who served in the air force in
    World War II.
  • Received an A. B. from New York University, an
    M.A. from Columbia, studied at Oxford, and taught
    briefly before writing Catch-22 (1961).

Literary term
  • Black humor
  • Black humor, in literature, drama, and film,
    refers to grotesque or morbid humor used to
    express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox,
    and cruelty of the modern world. Ordinary
    characters or situations are usually exaggerated
    far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony.
    Black humor uses devices often associated with
    tragedy and is sometimes equated with tragic

  • Novel by Joseph Heller, published in 1961.

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Text study
  • General review of the text the three incidents
  • Yossarians having an operation.
  • Yossarians deal with Colonels Cathcart Korn.
  • Yossarains attempt to save Snowden.

Points for discussion
  • 1. Is it really necessary for Yossarian to have
    this operation?
  • 2. Why does one of the doctors insist that
    Yossarian have an operation?
  • 3. How should Yossarian feel from this hospital
  • 4. What do we readers feel through this part ?

Points to ponder
  • What is the deal?
  • Theyll let me go home a big hero if I say nice
    things about them to everyone and never criticize
    them to anyone for making the rest of the men fly
    more missions.P315.
  • Its that or a court-martial. P316.

  • 2.What predicament is Yossarian in?
  • Go home but sell his soul to say nice things
    about the colonels.
  • Fly more missions to get killed.
  • Go into the prison to stay with a bunch of

  • 3. What kind of people are the colonels?
  • Liars.
  • Regardless of the soldiers lives in order to
    achieve their promotions.
  • Opportunists war for them is a chance to make a
    fortune, to get promotion.

  • 4. Is there a humor in this part?
  • Yes, but its twisted and disgusting. On
    Yossarians part, we again see that the giant
    standing with its back to the plight of the ants.

What is Catch-22?
  • If the men are really crazy, then they will
    want to fly the missions, regardless of whether
    or not they want to be killed. If they do not
    want to fly the missions, then they are sane and
    must fly them.

  • War is only disaster for small people.
  • War is the source to make sb. famous and rich
    through unreasonable ways.
  • Catch is a trap for common people that they
    find it hard to get rid of.

Class activities
  • Role play the part that Yossarian is having an
    operation in the hospital.

Further reading recommendation
  • Catch-22
  • (Source from libraries or elsewhere)

Chapter Thirteen
  • Toni Morrison
  • (1931 - )
  • Born in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931,
    originally called Chloe Anthony Wofford.
  • Black female novelist.

  • Major works include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula
    (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981),
    Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1998).
  • Nobel Prize winner in1993.

Text study
  • Definition of Recitatif
  • The word recitatif will likely be unfamiliar
    to you. It is derived from the word recitative,
    which has a number of definitions, all of which
    hold possible significance for Toni Morrisons

  • The word may refer to a style of expression
    between song and ordinary speech used by
    performers during the narrative or dialogue parts
    of an opera. It also has a now obsolete
    definition the tone or rhythm peculiar to any
    language. Recitative may also refer to anything
    that has the nature of a recital or repetition.  

  • Race and Racism
  • The issue of race and racism is central to the
    story. Twyla's first response to rooming with
    Roberta at St. Bonny's is to feel sick to her
    stomach. "It was one thing to be taken out of
    your own bed early in the morningit was
    something else to be stuck in a strange place
    with a girl from a whole other race."

  • Throughout the story Twyla and Roberta's
    friendship is inhibited by this sense of an
    uncrossable racial divide, played out against the
    background of national racial tensions such as
    the busing crisis. Racial conflicts provide the
    main turning points in the story's plot.

Class activities
  • Group discussion Find evidence to prove which is
    black and which is white between Twyla and

Questions to ponder
  • What role does Maggie play in the whole story?
  • What are the themes in this story?
  • What have you learned from the story?

Further reading recommendation
  • The Bluest eye
  • (Source from libraries or elsewhere)
  • Beloved
  • (Source from Libraries or elsewhere)

Thank you!
  • Xue Ling