27. 1996 AP Question:
The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings:
"The wrirers, I do believe,. who get the best and most lasting response from readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not me~ mere fortunate events -- a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death -- but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death.
Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well-written essay, identify the "spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation" evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole. You may select a work from the list below or another novel or play of literary merit.
28. 1997 AP Question: Novels and plays often include scenes of weddings, funerals, parties, and other social occasions. Such scenes may reveal the values of the characters and the society in which they live. Select a novel or play that includes such a scene and, in a focused essay, discuss the contribution the scene makes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
29. 1998 AP Question: In his essay "Walking," Henry David Thoreau offers the following assessment of literature:
In literature it is only the wild that attracts us.
Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and The Iliad, in all scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools, that delights us. c
From the works you have studied in school, choose a novel, play, or epic poem that you may initially have thought was conventional and tame but that you value for its "uncivilized free and wild thinking." Write an essay in which you explain what constitutes its "uncivilized free and wild, thinking" and how that thinking is central to the value of the work as a whole. Support your ideas with specific references to the work you choose.
30. 1999 AP Question: The eighteenth-century British novelist Laurence Sterne wrote, "No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind tom asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time."
From a novel or play choose a character (not necessarily the protagonist) whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences. Then, in a well-organized essay, identify each of the two conflicting forces and explain how this conflict within one character illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may use one of the novels or plays listed below or another novel or play of similar literary quality.
31. 2000 AP Question: Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery or detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characrers confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.
32. 2001 AP Question: One definition of madness i, "mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it." But Emily Dickinson wrote
Much madness is divinest SenseTo a discerning Eye-
Novelist and playwrights have often seen madness with a "discerning Eye." Select a novel or a play in which a character's apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the "madness" to the work as a whole. Due not merely summarize the plot.
33. 2002 AP Question: Morally ambiguous characters-characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good~are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is sigmficant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.
34. 2002 (B): Often in literature a character's success in achieving goals depends on keeping a secret and divulging it only at the right moment, if at all.
Choose a novel or play ofliterary merit that requires a character to keep a secret. In a wellorganized essay, briefly explain the necessity for secrecy and how the character's choice to reveal or keep the secret affects the plot and contnbutes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
You may select a work from the list below, or you may choose another work of recognized literary merit suitable to the topic. Do NOT write about a short story, poem, or film.
35. 2003: According to critic Northrop Frye, "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning."
Select a novel or play in which a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others.
Then write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.
36. 2003 (B): Novels and plays often depict characters caught between colliding cultures-national, regional, ethnic, religious, institutional. Such collisions can call a character's sense of identity into question. Select a novel or play in which a character responds to such cultural collisions. Then write a well-organized e,ssay in which you describe the character's response and explain its relevance to the work as a whole.
37. 2004: Critic Roland Barthes has said, "Literature is the question minus the answer." Choose a novel or play and, considering Barthes' observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers any answers. Explain how the author's treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid plot summary.
38. 2004 (B): The most important themes in literature are sometimes developed in scenes in which a death or deaths take place. Choose a novel or play and write a weU-organized essay in which you show: how a specific death scene helps to illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole.
39. 2005: In Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899), protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess ''that outw'ard existence which conforms, the inward tife wllich questions." In a novel or play that you have studied, identify a character who conforms outWardly while questioning inwardly. Then write an essay in which you analyze how this tension between outward conformity and· inward questioning contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid mere plot summary.