Please respond to one of the following six questions in essay form. Remember to answer as specifically as possible, quote from the text throughout your answer, and be mindful of the time constraint. You are entitled to use one page of notes and the text(s).
l. In MAUS I and MAUS II, by Art Spiegelman, family members are in conflict with one another throughout the books. In your essay, compare and contrast the father and son of the family, Vladek and Artie. How does each character struggle to assert his own identity both within the family unit and outside of the family bonds? Does their relationship change over time, or do they treat each other in the same antagonistic way? Ultimately, what do you think Art Spiegelman is trying to show about family through the portrayal of these characters and their overlapping lives?
2. There are many themes that are significant in MAUS I and MAUS II, by Art Spiegelman. Two of these themes are loyalty and survival. In your essay, please analyze the importance of these two aspects of the books and also examine an additional theme of your own choosing. Make sure that you discuss at least two characters in your answer. In your opinion, and in relation to the themes you discuss, what is Art Spiegelman communicating about the difficulties of living under wartime conditions?
3. In MAUS II, by Art Spiegelman, Vladek tells Artie about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp while contracting typhus. He says, “At night I had to go to the toilet down. It was always full, the whole corridor, with the dead people piled there. You couldn’t go through . . . . You had to go on their heads, and this was terrible, because it was so slippery, the skin, you thought you are falling. And this was every night” (95 or 255). In your essay, please discuss the differing ways that the theme of persecution is present in both MAUS I and MAUS II. How do at least two of the main characters either participate in or react against the kind of persecution that Vladek describes? Do you think that Art Spiegelman’s books reinforce the idea that safety can only be found in isolation, or does Spiegelman suggest that persecution can be overcome through community?
4. In A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, Mama, Walter Lee, Beneatha, and Ruth appear to have different strategies for survival in their oppressive ghettoized environment. In your essay, compare and contrast the way each approaches the difficulties of his or her situation both within the family and in relation to wider society. How does each character’s assertion of his or her own individual identity create conflict and unity by the play’s conclusion? Ultimately, what do you think Lorraine Hansberry is trying to show about Black family life through the portrayal of her characters’ struggles?
5. There are many themes that are significant in Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun. Three of these themes are family, assimilation, and racism. In your essay, please analyze the importance of these three aspects of the play and also examine an additional theme of your own choosing. Make sure that you discuss Mama, Walter Lee, Beneatha, and Ruth during various parts of your argument. In your opinion, and in relation to the themes you discuss, what is Lorraine Hansberry finally trying to convey in her depiction of the Younger family’s move from their Chicago Southside neighborhood to the new one in Clyborne Park?
6. Toward the conclusion of A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, Asagai asks the question, “[I]sn’t there something wrong in a house — in a world — where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man?” (135). In your essay, please analyze what you think “dreams depend on” for the play’s major characters, Mama, Walter Lee, Beneatha, and Ruth. How does each character go about achieving his or her dream(s) and what conflicts (individual and social) does each incur throughout the play? Do you think that Lorraine Hansberry’s play reinforces the idea, expressed by Langston Hughes, that the so-called American dream is but “a dream deferred” for African Americans in a racist society, or is Hansberry suggesting (as does Asagai) that certain dreams are worth pursuing while others are not?
Note: for quoting MAUS, use MAUS I or MAUS II, with the page number, in the citation: (MAUS I 45).
For A Raisin in the Sun, use Hansberry and the page number: (Hansberry 45). No comma in the citations. The titles are italicized.
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