AP British Literature and Composition. Summer Reading Assignment: 2011

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1 Smith 1 AP British Literature and Composition Summer Reading Assignment: 2011 Purchase: Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. Signet Classic (Paperback) ISBN The book can be purchased at any reputable bookstore. I want you to purchase the book because you will need to ANNOTATE while you read. The completed assignment will have multiple components. Because of the length of what I want you to do, those who wait until the eleventh hour will crash and burn. A word to the wise: begin early! I estimate about 30 hours of reading, reflecting and writing. 1. You will read only the NOVELLA Heart of Darkness pages In this paper, words that are capitalized, in bold and underlined are literary terms that you need to fully understand before you attempt to utilize them. 3. Research what it means to ANNOTATE a piece of literature. Apply what you learn to the reading of Heart of Darkness. 4. Prior to reading Heart of Darkness, read ALL of the questions below these six, so that you clearly understand what you are expected to know BEFORE writing the analytical essay. 5. Compose a written response for each of the 38 questions PRIOR to writing the analytical essay. Your responses need to be complete and coherent, BUT concise. All are to be typed. Numbers in parentheses are page references to the Signet Classic edition I have asked you to purchase. 6. These responses are to be submitted when you submit the essay to me on FRIDAY, AUGUST 19 th. No extensions will be granted. No paper on that day, and you will be asked to drop the class. 7. REMEMBER: The responses and the essay are the first formal compositions I will read. It is obvious that I am expecting your very best effort. Questions for written response: 1. Apart from Marlow, Kurtz, and Fresleven the Dane, all of the characters in Heart of Darkness are nameless, and most are referred to by their occupations: Accountant, Lawyer, Brickmaker, Manager, Fireman, even the Intended. Why might Conrad have done this? What might this choice suggest about Conrad s attitude toward work and identity? What do the named characters have in common? What was Conrad s purpose in naming them? 2. Why do you think Marlow begins his tale of a journey to the heart of darkness with an account of London in very old times, when the Romans first came here (68)? What is the connection between London in Roman times and the English colonization of Africa? 3. Why do the two women who guard the doors of the Company s office (74) remind Marlow of the greeting gladiators offered to the Roman emperor, Ave! Morituri te salutant (Hail! We who are about to die salute you)? What does the recollection suggest about Marlow s attitude toward his new job and his life in general? 4. Marlow s aunt believes he is going to Africa as an emissary of light (77). Does Marlow agree with her description? Does he change his attitude? Where is the IRONY in his aunt s comment?

2 Smith 2 5. When Marlow arrives at Central Station after a two-hundred-mile trek, he meets the manager and finds that the man inspired uneasiness (89). Why does Marlow respond this way? What does Marlow make of the fact that the manager was never ill? What do you think Marlow is saying about the manager by making him resistant to tropical disease? 6. On page 94, Marlow describes a painting Kurtz made of a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. What message was Kurtz sending with this painting? At this point in the story, do you think Marlow would agree or disagree with this message? Why? 7. What does the Eldorado-Exploring Expedition (101) represent to Marlow? 8. On page 105, Marlow begins his journey on the steamboat to Kurtz. Why does he find the practical work of navigation steadying? Why does he remember so many concrete details of this work? 9. How does Marlow respond to the cannibals under his control (107-08)? Consider also the cannibals resistance to hunger as Marlow describes it on pages What is the significance of Marlow s comparison of Kurtz to an enchanted princess sleeping in a fabulous castle (bottom 117)? 11. Discuss the ways in which Marlow is both attracted to and repulsed by the idea of Kurtz ( ). 12. What is the significance of Marlow s leaving his steamboat to follow Kurtz to the bonfire in the forest? 13. How have Kurtz s methods become unsound (143)? What evidence do you find to support the manager s assessment? 14. What significance do you attach to the illness that overtakes Marlow following Kurtz s death (156)? Remember that the manager was able to survive in Africa without succumbing to illness. What does this CONTRAST suggest about the METAPHORICAL role that illness plays in the story? What does the contrast say about the characters of these two men? 15. How do you interpret Kurtz s dying words, The horror! The horror! (154)? How do you think Marlow interprets them? 16. How does Marlow s visit with the Intended complete his journey? 17. What qualities does Marlow possess that allow him to go to the heart of darkness and return, whereas Kurtz could neither survive nor return? 18. Marlow insists on pages that he hates lies, yet at the end of his tale he lies to Kurtz s Intended, telling her that the last words on Kurtz s lips were not The horror! but her name. Why? How does Marlow justify this lie to himself? 19. Marlow s tale of his journey into the heart of darkness is set within the FRAME of four travelers on the Nellie waiting for the tide to turn so they can head out to sea. How does narrative frame affect your interpretation of Marlow s storytelling? 20. Conrad introduces the reader to Marlow with a short description on page 66: Marlow sat crosslegged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol. What does this description suggest to you about Marlow s character? 21. Marlow s fascination with Africa began with a white patch on maps he pored over as a boy (71). In this description, he uses several FIGURES OF SPEECH: It has ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery ; a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake ; it fascinated me as a snake would a bird. What does Marlow s language suggest about how he sees the African continent particularly the river and the role it would play in his life?

3 Smith On page 73, Marlow recalls Fresleven, the steamboat captain whose place Marlow has taken, and describes the events surrounding the man s death as a glorious affair. How do the details in Marlow s account suggest the opposite that what occurred was anything but glorious? 23. Marlow calls the offices of his employer a whited sepulcher (73). What do you infer from the IMAGE? What might it SYMBOLIZE? How does the description of the street leading to the offices and the offices themselves develop or dispute this METAPHOR? 24. Why do you think Conrad JUXTAPOSES a description of the dying natives (83-84) with a description of the meticulously attired chief accountant (84)? How does the proximity of these two descriptions help you visualize the Company s station? 25. What does the double negative in the sentence It was unearthly, and the men were No, they were not inhuman (108) suggest about Marlow s response to the Africans he encounters? What does it suggest about Marlow s state of mind at this point in the journey? 26. As the steamboat approaches Inner Station ( ), a white fog surrounds Marlow s company, very warm and clammy, and more blinding than the night... The rest of the world was nowhere, as far as our eyes and ears were concerned. Just nowhere. Gone, disappeared; swept off without leaving a whisper or a shadow behind. What might this fog SYMBOLIZE? 27. What does Kurtz s repetition (ANAPHORA) of my in My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river (125) and My Intended, my station, my career, my ideas (152) reveal about him? What do you think Conrad is suggesting about men like Kurtz? 28. Marlow says about the harlequin-like character who greets him at the Inner Station, His face was like the autumn sky, overcast one moment and bright the next (131). What does the SIMILIE help you understand about the young man s character? 29. Explain what Marlow means when he says, Kurtz discoursed. A voice! a voice! It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart (152). 30. On page 124, Conrad returns readers to the deck of the Nellie, reminding them of the FRAME for Marlow s story. Why do you think the author chose to do so at this point in the tale? 31. On page 130, Marlow at first mistakes shrunken human heads for ivory ornaments. What is the significance of the heads themselves as well as Marlow s misperception? Is the description of the heads (137) poetic? grisly? Refer to specific choices in DICTION and SYNTAX that support your interpretation. 32. Why does Conrad set the face-to-face encounter between Kurtz and Marlow in a forest with the two of them alone? Marlow says, the foundations of our intimacy were being laid to endure to endure even to end even beyond (148) How does Conrad s use of ANAPHORA and dashes contribute to your understanding of Marlow s comment? 33. On pages , Marlow describes his initial interaction with Kurtz. The description is filled with CONTRASTS in Marlow s responses to an impression of Kurtz, such as his exalted and incredible degradation. Identify other OXYMORONS, and discuss whether you interpret the oxymorons as true CONFLICTS or PARADOXES that is, only seemingly contradictory. 34. Marlow asserts that Kurtz is a remarkable man (144). He calls Kurtz s dying words an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions. But it was a victory! That is why I have remained loyal to Kurtz (154). How do you interpret Marlow s use of the word victory in this passage? What does he mean by loyalty specifically in this passage but also elsewhere in the text?

4 Smith Compare the descriptions of the two women in Kurtz s life the one in Africa and the Intended in England. Pay special attention to how the women respond to Kurtz s departure and their expressions of grief. Do you fine either of these descriptions to be STEREOTYPES of women? Cite specific passages to support your response. 36. How do you interpret the final paragraph of the novel? Why does Conrad give the last spoken word to the Director? 37. On pages 68-69, Conrad FORESHODOWS what Marlow experiences on his journey into the heart of darkness. What did you make of this passage when you first read it? How do you interpret it now upon reading it and in light of the whole tale? 38. Marlow first refers to Kurtz as the poor chap (70). In retrospect, do you think this is an accurate description, an UNDERSTATEMENT, an IRONIC comment, or a combination of all three? ################################################################################### Once you have read the ENTIRE book and written the responses to the above 38 questions, select ONE of the following ESSAY ideas and write an ANALYSES that has a THESIS with PRIMARY and SECONDARY SUPPORT. Your support is to be in the form of QUOTED lines from the NOVELLA. Do not use any information garnered from Internet sources. If you are easily confused by whether or not you incorporate PLAGARIZED material into your essays, run the text through Turn-It-In. com. It is expected that you have a thorough understanding of MLA FROMAT for papers submitted to me. I suggest that you purchase: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7 th edition, 2009 so that you can avoid making format errors. Your own copy of this reference book will serve you will when you go to college. I rarely suggest a length for my assignments. It is expected that senior AP literature students can develop an appropriate THESIS statement and adequately SUPPORT it. Complete and COHERENT essays have nothing to do with forcing ideas into a certain number of words or pages or templates learned in ninth grade English. Create an artistic TITLE for the essay. Indicate the number of the essay chosen as the fifth line of your HEADING ( your name, my name, the course name, the date of submission, and then the essay number) on page one. 1. Choose one of the following TENSIONS in Heart of Darkness and write an essay that traces its evolution throughout the novel: (a) appearance vs. reality, (b) primitivism vs. civilization, (c) light vs. dark, or (d) innocence vs. experience. 2. This NOVELLA is both an actual journey and a psychological one. Write an essay discussing Marlow s psychological journey. What changes does he experience? Pay particular attention to the values he claims to have yet violates or abandons. In what ways does he learn to accept ambiguities? 3. Marlow s initial encounter with Africans occurs as he travels along the coast of the continent. Write an essay explaining how the LANGUAGE Conrad employs to describe the natives and the colonials conveys Marlow s emerging attitudes toward these two groups. For example, what is the significance of using the word Pop to describe the sound of six-inch guns firing into the continent (78)? How is this first encounter with Africans reflective of what can occur when cultures collide?

5 Smith 5 4. Analyze Marlow s obsession with Kurtz. Why does he pursue Kurtz? Why does he defend and attempt to save him? Why does he choose Kurtz over the other colonials. What do Kurtz and Marlow have in common? 5. On page 125, with the paragraph beginning, I laid the ghost of his gifts we hear Marlow s analyses of Kurtz. Write an essay analyzing the LITERARY DEVISES Conrad uses to achieve his purpose in this passage. 6. Many nineteenth-and twentieth-century writers (e.g., Nietzsche, Twain, Balzac, Ibsen, Hardy, Crane) express a tragic conception of human life that its purpose is impenetrable, its joys and sorrows meaningless. Write an essay exploring your interpretation of Conrad s conception of human life. 7. Conrad has been taken to task by some feminist readers and critics who claim that the few women he does depict are passive and stereotyped. Write a DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE in the VOICE of Marlow s aunt, Kurtz s mistress in Africa, or his Intended to explain what Conrad left out or failed to understand about that character. 8. Imagine that Marlow kept a BLOG as he made his journey up the river to Kurtz. Write eight to ten posts in the voice of Marlow, or create a real blog with Marlow as its author. 9. The complex NARRATION is a distinctive quality of Heart of Darkness. Write an essay explaining how this narrative strategy reflects the theme(s) of the novella.

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