Monday, May 21, 2007

Final Exam


Bro. Robert K. Peach, F.S.C.

ENG 320 Sections 2 and 4 (American Lit/Composition)

May 2007

Final Exam

Please choose one of the following two essays to answer in full. Write your response in your Blue Books and fold the test sheet inside of it upon finishing. Be sure to write your name on the front cover of the booklet as well as on the top of this test sheet. Lastly, be sure to mark which option you are choosing to complete in your Blue Book. Enjoy…


I am reading a book right now called Reading Lolita in Tehran and the second part of the book is devoted to The Great Gatsby: how the author taught this book at the University in Tehran, Iran during the beginnings of the revolution, and how gradually it became more and more censored.

One of the male Muslim students complained to her about the morality of the book, how it exposed the sinful decadence of American society, and that it should be banned, certainly not taught, as it would teach sin, lust, prostitution, greed, etc. to the young people.

Instead of censoring, the teacher decided to put the book on trial (the book itself was the defendant).

Heated debates ensued about morality and the rightness of allowing fiction like that into the classroom – but also about the value of fiction itself: “ ‘You don't read Gatsby,’ I said, ‘to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil...”

The student who had been the defense attorney, at the end of the trial had nothing more to say in its defense. The novel was its own defense. Perhaps we had a few things to learn from it, from Mr. Fitzgerald. She had not learned from reading it that adultery was good or that we should all become shysters: Did all people go on strike or head west after reading Steinbeck? Did they go whaling after reading Melville? Are people not a little more complex than that? Do they never fall in love, or enjoy beauty?

‘This is an amazing book,’ she said quietly. ‘It teaches you to value your dreams but to be wary of them also, to look for integrity in unusual places.’

Based on the above excerpt taken from an e-mail sent to me by a friend, construct an at least five paragraph essay in which you agree or disagree with the last statement.

Please incorporate your own insight and that of class discussion regarding The Great Gatsby into your essay. As your answer, consider whether or not we find any bit of integrity in the characters or the choices they make in the novel.

What are the dreams or illusions they have which impel them to make certain decisions?

Did they find integrity at all in trying to fulfill their dreams? If so, where? Or in whom?

Also, consider whether or not you approached the novel and its characters with the fixed formulas of morality.

Can we sympathize with any of the characters based off of the complexity of emotion and their own emotional experiences? If so, which characters do you sympathize with?

In your conclusion, make some final statements as regards the quality of the novel. Is it an amazing book? Back up any statements you make with supporting details, either by using examples from the text or by elaborating upon your own thought.


Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye abounds in complex thematic issues of growing up and the suffering innate to transitioning from one state of life to another. I think we’ve all been there, and if we haven’t, we will be there at some point in our collective existence.

Transition is the nature of growth. Often times, if we do not successfully endure the pain of change, we remain in a stasis: beings of mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual stagnation. Bitterness and anger thus come to define our existence.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time to discuss in full the various shades of meaning that at once shadow and illuminate the text.

That said, pick up where we left off in class discussion. In at least five paragraphs, dissect some aspect(s) of the novel that we did not discover or talk about during class time. You can incorporate a definition of themes, literary elements, techniques, setting, imagery, irony, character etc. into your reflection.

Be sure to rely upon the text, or instances in the text to support your statements.

Substance is everything, here, so be sure to elaborate if you make a certain claim, such as: “Holden is a young man who cannot accept the inevitability of change.” You can then back that up using Holden’s thoughts on the changelessness of the Museum of Natural History as an indication of his desire to have things stay the same, or his desire to return to and stay rooted in childhood experiences.

Some themes to consider: immaturity, freedom, enslavement, responsibility, childhood, and migration (movement).

For your conclusion, please do not restate what you have already said. Rather, tie things up with a paragraph on what makes the novel a “coming of age” story. That is, what more can be said about the issues of growing up in a society that has us easily forget our childhood in light of technological advancement and the societal push for a career lifestyle.

In other words, is there a way to remain rooted in the experiences of childhood while moving on into young adulthood? How so?


The experience has been faith affirming for me.

My time here, this year, has helped solidify my current place in this Brotherhood.

I thank you for accepting me.

Know that you will ever remain in my thoughts and prayers as we each progress on our respective journeys.

Never fail to see your goodness or your innate ability to cross the threshold.

Live Jesus in our hearts…