Objective: You will synthesize and evaluate the text in an analysis based on themes, characters, and/or symbols in a literary work. You will sharpen your editing/revision skills by reworking one paragraph for this essay via classmate and instructor feedback.
Instructions: You should have chosen one of the prompts below for your literary analysis essay on Between the World and Me or contacted me via private message about another topic of interest.
If needed, review the Modules Weeks 1-3 that offer you specific advice on how to organize your essay and create quality content.
Revise your sample paragraph based on Instructor and classmate feedback and incorporate your revised paragraph into a longer 4-5 page literary analysis of Coates’ book.
Choose from the following prompts:
- Argue one or the other stance. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is about human alienation, how we live our lives disconnected from ourselves and from others. OR Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is about our inherent desire for connection as we struggle to belong to humankind.
- Analyze Ta-Nehisi Coates’work through the lens of literary theory. Here are some websites you might access to get a general overview of different theories. http://www.iep.utm.edu/literary/ (Links to an external site.)链接到外部网站。
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/01/ (Links to an external site.)链接到外部网站。
Then choose one as a way to analyze the book. The Purdue website offers a great series of questions along with each school of thought to begin to analyze a text. Feel free to use any school of literary criticism listed to analyze Coates’ work. I think deconstructionism literary theory would also work to analyze his use of language in the text. Below are some options for applying postcolonial literary theory and feminist literary theory.
a. For example, if you select to analyze the book through a Postcolonial approach, you would look at theories of “the other” and/or how Coates’ book challenges a complicit silence surrounding the impact of America’s colonization of African people through slavery.
b. Coates suggests in interviews that he has been deeply influenced by feminist literary theory in his writing about the black body. You might analyze where you see the feminist literary theory pop up in Coates’ work in his references to the body, or you might challenge the exclusively male perspective in the book via this theory.
- The title of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work Between the World and Me comes from a Richard Wright poem with the same title. Analyze both the thematic similarities and differences in the poem and the book. Is the overall message and tone of each the same or different? Why? Here is a link to the poem. https://www.edhelper.com/poetry/Between_the_World_and_Me_by_Richard_Wright.htm (Links to an external site.)链接到外部网站。
- Coates explores several broad themes, including race, racism, and systemic oppression; fear; father-son relationships; the search for identity; education; and justice, among others. Trace the development of one or more of these themes throughout the text. How does Coates develop this theme? What events or details are most central to his development of this theme? (question from: http://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/teachers-guide/220290/between-the-world-and-me/ (Links to an external site.)链接到外部网站。)
- Explore the notion of “The Dream” according to Coates. What is it? How is it maintained? How does “The Dream” compare to Coates’ reality? If you’d like, you can add into the mix how “The Dream” compares to your reality. How does your lived experience intersect with Coates’ reality and/or how does his text either affirm your experience or perhaps “wake you up” from “The Dream”?
- Coates struggles with the institution of education both as a child and later as an adult in college who decides to drop out. He writes, “I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance” (26). How/why does Coates challenge the notion of education today? How/why does his curiosity continue to lead his intellect? Is his curiosity a key to his emotional, intellectual, and spiritual survival? Why or why not?
- Who are the people both in the physical and the historical sense of Coates’ “tribe”(56)–the people to which he feels he belongs? How does his tribe grow and change as he leaves Baltimore and enters Howard University, or more importantly for him “The Mecca”? How does he straddle both the individual and the group in this text? How/why does he manage to break the generalizations that form from grouping into “tribes”?
- Coates argues that violence against the black body isn’t just an issue of police reform, but an issue of recognizing the violence against the black body within the very roots of our democracy and only then re-envisioning a society that is built on a very different foundation, one that lives up to the high moral standard it purports to be true. What are the many ways he looks honestly and critically at his experience in America to support this claim? Describe a time you came up against the ideology of our nation and either found it lacking or found it to ring true in your experience. Compare your experience and opinions with Coates.
- Explore the ways Coates uses his writing as power from childhood up through his career in journalism. Do you believe the sort of reflection and self expression that happens when we write is power? Why or why not? Is it power in Coates’ case? Why or why not? Does his writing and writing in general make real the possibility of social change?
- How does parenthood shape Ta-Nehisi beliefs and observations about the world? How is being the father of a black boy underlie much of his self reflection and socio-political observations? Could the same book be written by a man who wasn’t a father? Why or why not? How might the novel be different? How would you receive it? How does his fatherhood link to his conclusion about planet Earth at the end of the book?
13. What is it that travel provides to Coates when he travels to France? Analyze his attitudes toward travel. Why does he feel this way? Analyze his feelings abroad. What does he experience in leaving his country that he never felt within its borders? Trace the symbols in this section regarding doors and vision–“my eyes”. What do these passages symbolize? How do they deepen your understanding of the text?
14. The ending of this book rises to a crescendo with an apocalyptic view of humankind’s future, and then in the last paragraph closes on a snapshot of the way things are, the author driving through the ghetto in his car in the pouring rain. Why do you think the book ends in this way? Do you find the ending effective? Why or why not? Analyze how the ending of the book ties into the tone of the text and many of the central themes. If the novel ended in a different way, would it be true to Coates central argument? Why or why not?