students write around 1000 words H u m a n i t i e s

students write around 1000 words H u m a n i t i e s

The novel is not conventional
in the sense of meeting us with an expected, literal-level story.
Literature usually tends to downplay much interest in plot, and we look
to answer how and why things happen as they do rather than concern
ourselves too much with what has happened. We look for implications.

The literal level of this novel is so simple as to be hardly
noteworthy. A family awakens to a new reality, harsher, harder, more
vivid, or simply newer, the absence of the mother directing the
emotional, internal life of the boys and the dad. Coming to terms with
the novel means we have to drop anchor somewhere in the text so that we
can spend enough time with a particular detail until the novel as a
whole seems inevitably connected to it.

Choose one of the prompts below. Write a clear, focused essay
commenting on your experience reading the novel in the context of the
prompt. Several students have remarked that the novel seems relevant to
our current erupted political moment. If that interests you, good. If
not, good. I am asking for your experience with the novel. Be sure to
refer to specific moments in the novel to explain your points about your

Quoting is not necessary, but direct, specific references to the text
are important to ground your discussion. Mark which option you have
chosen at the top of your paper. Note there is not a word requirement,
but most students write around 1000 words when the exam is given in

Option A

The crow appears as an insider or outsider, depending whether we
focus on it as central or tangential to the characters’ actions and
responses. It is more an agent plucking the strings of an instrument
already assembled than the source of music itself. What exactly is
Crow’s place in the narrative? What is its duty, purpose, or obligation
in the novel?

Option B

The novel does not seem to offer a singular experience of grief and
loss but gives a somewhat confusing picture, sometimes playful, or
heartbroken, sacrilegious, light or profound. How does the novel
transform the ideas it treats from mere ideas to an experience of
something? We do not approach the novel for information, so what are we
looking for when we read it?

You may choose option A or B.

**Unfortunately I don’t have this novel.