American Literature
Essay II
Fall 2014


Choose one of the topics below for a 500-750-word essay. Your essay should follow MLA (Modern Language Association ) Guidelines in all ways.  For example, your margins should be 1" all around the page.  You should use continuous pagination throughout.  Your essay should be double-spaced.  You should have a header on each page that includes your last name and the page number.  You must include in-text citations for all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized work.  You must create a Works Cited page that is continuously paginated with your essay and that contains a list of all sources that were actually used in the essay.  This list will include both primary and secondary sources.

You must use at least one outside source in your essay.  Your essay should contain a minimum of four quotations from primary/secondary works, as well as at least two paraphrases/summaries.  In-text citations should contain author's last name and page number inside parenthesis. 

Example: (Jones 24).

Works Cited entries are alphabetized by author's last name and contain the following when available: Author's last name, author's first name, article (or poem or short story) title, book or periodical title, publication city, publication date, electronic information (if it is an electronic source), date posted, and date accessed.

1.    Discuss the theme of decay in the drama A Streetcar Named Desire. In what ways do the characters, the plot, and the setting all contribute to this theme?  Which characters and their interactions contribute most to the development of the theme?  How does Blanche's early reference to the loss of Belle Reve foreshadow what becomes of her at the end of the play?

2.    Discuss how the drama Long Day's Journey into Night depicts the erosion of the American family.  Explain how each major character and his/her personal dysfunction contributes to the theme.  What elements that may exist in a well-adjusted family are missing from this family?  Who is to blame for the situation?  Could it be resolved?  If so, how?

3.    Although Roth's "Conversion of the Jews" is a distinctly Jewish short story in many ways such as character names and stereotypes, some elements are universal including Roth's message to readers as it is delivered via Oscar.  What is this message?  What elements in the story are universal?  How does Roth take a universal experience and use it to convey his message?  What ironic situation crowns the end of the story?  Why is this situation necessary?