2010 AP ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION FREE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS
(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)
Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience.
Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is the character’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.
Angle of Repose
As You Like It
Brave New World
Crime and Punishment
Heart of Darkness
Jude the Obscure
The Little Foxes
The Mayor of Casterbridge
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The Poisonwood Bible
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Sister of My Heart
Snow Falling on Cedars
Things Fall Apart
The Women of Brewster Place
END OF EXAM
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Notes and drafts toward essay-answer to Question 2
highlight or note the give-away terms: substantive nouns or value-terms that indicate what your readers or graders will be looking for.
compelling + terrible
unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place
self and its true home
essential sadness . . . can become “a potent, even enriching” experience.
novel, play, or epic (literary)
rift, cut off from “home,”
birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place
Also highlight or note relational or transitional terms that give clues to logic or relations between terms or parts of the question.
both alienating and enriching
meaning of the work as a whole.
Do not merely summarize the plot.
Selection of text: Volunteers?
Attempt at drafting an opening for essay in response:
The theme of exile appears as a defining characteristic of modern culture in one of Europe's first modern novels, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The title of this book or the name of its main character are known all over the world as a symbol for being cast away or lost from one's home, and thus being forced to make a new home out of nothing.
Where would you take it from here? What possibilities does this open?