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American literature. Xue Ling. Chapter One. Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849). Born in Boston, the son of itinerant actors who died before he was 3 years old. Became the ward of a Virginia couple, the Allans, whose name he added to his own.

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chapter one
Chapter One
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
Born in Boston, the son of itinerant actors who died before he was 3 years old.
  • Became the ward of a Virginia couple, the Allans, whose name he added to his own.
  • An editor of a number of magazines and won a number of literary prizes for his poems and fiction.
His short fiction, with its effects of terror and its supernatural trappings, made him a household name for American readers.
  • He is regarded as father of modern American short story.
  • His poems have been highly appreciated for their aesthetical quality and music is essential in them as it is associated with indefinite sensations.
literary terms
Literary terms
  • Romanticism
  • As a literary trend or movement, it occurred and developed in Europe and America at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries under the historical background of the Industrial Revolution around 1760 and the French Revolution (1789 – 1799).
characteristics of romanticism
Characteristics of Romanticism
  • It was a rebellion against the objectivity of rationalism.
  • For romantics, the feelings, intuitions and emotions were more important than reason and common sense.
Romantics did not think of the world as a ticking watch made by God. They thought of the world as a living, breathing being. They stressed the close relationship between man and nature.
  • They emphasized individualism, placing the individual against the group, against authority.
They affirmed the inner life of the self, and wanted each person to be free to develop and express his own inner thought.
  • They cherished strong interest in the past, especially the medieval.
They are attracted by the wild, the irregular, the indefinite, the remote, the mysterious, and the strange.
  • They are interested in variety. They aspired the sublime and the wonderful, and tried to find the absolute, the ideal by transcending the actual.
american romanticism
American Romanticism
  • American romantics tend to moralize, to edify rather than to entertain.
  • It presented an entirely new experience alien to European culture.
  • The exotic landscape, the frontier life, the westward expansion, the myth of a New Garden of Eden in America, and the Puritan heritage were just a few examples of the native material for an indigenous literature.
literary theories
Literary theories
  • Poe preferred the tale to other fictional forms such as novel because it is brief.
  • The writer must decide the effect first and then determine the incidents.
Truth rather than beauty is often the aim of the tale. As beauty can be better treated in the poems, tales can deal with terror, passion, horror, humor, sarcasm, wit, and ratiocination.
  • The merit of a work of art should be judged by its psychological effect upon the reader.
text study the cask of amontillado
Text study: The Cask of Amontillado
  • Setting: a nameless Italian city
  • Time: an unspecified year (possibly in the 18th century)
  • Theme: Itconcerns the deadly revenge taken by the narrator on a friend whom he claims has insulted him.
  • Writing style: Poe conveys the story through the murderer's perspective.
class activities
Class activities
  • Read the dialogue parts by pair-work.
  • Recite the parts from the last paragraph on P15 to the end.
questions to ponder
Questions to ponder
  • Who is the narrator of the story?
  • Is the murderer punished by law or not? What evidence can you give?
  • How do you comment on the two characters in the story?
  • What romantic elements are expressed through the story?
further reading recommendation
Further reading recommendation
  • 1. The Black Cat

  • 2. The Tell-Tale Heart

chapter two
Chapter Two
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne ( 1804 – 1864)

1.Born in Salem, Massachusetts and studied at Bowdoin College.

2.The Scarlet Letter (1850) brought him recognition as a major literary figure.

literary term
Literary term
  • Romance

An ideal combination of facts and fancy, idealistic details and fanciful things, or reality and imagination.

text study the scarlet letter
Text study: The Scarlet Letter
  • The Scarlet Letter (1850) is a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, considered to be his masterpiece and most famous work. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
major themes
Major themes

1、 Sin

2、 Past and present

the scarlet letter symbolism imagery allegory
The Scarlet Letter Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

The Prison Door

Pearl, Hester’s Daughter

The Scarlet Letter

The Red Mark on Dimmesdale’s Chest

The Meteor

The Black Man

The Forest and the Wilderness

the scarlet letter genre
The Scarlet Letter Genre




class activities1
Class activities
  • 1. Role-play:

The five women’s comments on Hester Prynne’s punishment.

  • 2. Group discussion:

-Why should the women be so hard on Hester Prynne?

-What social norm do you see through the women’s words?

questions to ponder1
Questions to ponder
  • Do you agree with Hester’s folk that she should be punished? Why or why not?
  • What image is Hester Prynne set before readers?
  • Why Hawthorne describes Hester’s appearance in such a way? What might be his purpose?
further reading recommendation1
Further reading recommendation
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Minister’s Black Veil
chapter three
Chapter Three

19th-Century American Poets

henry wadsworth longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(1807 – 1882)

to helen
To Helen

Helen, thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of yore

That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,

The weary, way-worn wanderer bore

To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs, have brought me home

To the glory that was Greece,

And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! In yon brilliant window-niche

How statue-like I see thee stand,

The agate lamp within thy hand!

Ah, Psyche, from the regions which

Are Holy-Land!

poe s principles on poetry writing
Poe’s principles on poetry writing
  • A poem should be short, readable at one sitting.
  • The chief aim of a poem is to produce a sense of beauty.
  • The most appropriate tone for all poems is melancholy.
  • A poem must be composed with rhythms.
  • A poem must be pure, written for its own sake.
literary term1
Literary term

Free verse:

A form of poetry which refrains from meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern.

poetic theory
Poetic theory
  • Whitman wrote in the preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it." He believed there was a vital, symbiotic relationship between the poet and society.This connection was emphasized especially in "Song of Myself" by using an all-powerful first-person narration.
As an American epic, it deviated from the historic use of an elevated hero and instead assumed the identity of the common people. Leaves of Grass also responded to the impact that recent urbanization in the United States had on the masses.
emily dickinson 1830 1886
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)
  • frequent use of dashes;
  • sporadic capitalization of nouns;
  • convoluted and ungrammatical phrasing;
  • off-rhymes;
  • broken meters;
  • bold and unconventional and often startling metaphors;
  • aphoristic wit.
to make a prairie
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,

One clover and a bee,

And revery.

Revery alone will do,

If bees are few.

To Make a Prairie…
class activities2
Class activities
  • Recite all the poems in this chapter.
  • Perform recitation of one of you favorite poems in this chapter.
questions to ponder2
Questions to ponder
  • How do you like the poems in this chapter?
  • Whose poems do you like best? Why?
  • What are the differences in writing style in these poems?
  • What have you learned through these poems?
chapter four
Chapter Four
  • Stephen Crane (1871 – 1900)
  • Born in Newark, New Jersey.
  • In 1893, he published at his own expense Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, a pioneering work of sociological naturalism.
  • His short stories were collected in The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure (1898).
literary term naturalism
Literary term: Naturalism
  • Naturalism was a literary movement taking place from 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character. It was depicted as a literary movement that seeks to replicate a believable everyday reality, as opposed to such movements as Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment.
Naturalism is the outgrowth of Realism, a prominent literary movement in mid-19th-century France and elsewhere. Naturalistic writers were influenced by the evolution theory of Charles Darwin. They believed that one's heredity and social environment determine one's character. Whereas realism seeks only to describe subjects as they really are, naturalism also attempts to determine "scientifically" the underlying forces (e.g. the environment or heredity) influencing the actions of its subjects.
Naturalistic works often include uncouth or sordid subject matter; for example, Émile Zola's works had a frankness about sexuality along with a pervasive pessimism. Naturalistic works exposed the dark harshness of life, including poverty, racism, sex, prejudice, disease, prostitution, and filth. As a result, naturalistic writers were frequently criticized for being too blunt.
literary realism
Literary realism
  • Most often literary realism refers to the trend, beginning with certain works of nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors in various countries, towards depictions of contemporary life and society "as they were." In the spirit of general "realism," Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation.
impressionistic literature
Impressionistic literature
  • Impressionistic literature can basically be defined as when an author centers his story/attention on the character's mental life such as the character's impressions, feelings, sensations and emotions, rather than trying to interpret them.
Authors such as Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway) and Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness and The Lagoon) are among the foremost creators of the type. These novels have been said to be the finest examples of a genre which is not easily comprehensible.
the four characters
The four characters
  • The correspondent -- a pretentious, erudite, and mocking observer;
  • The cook -- fat and comic;
  • The captain -- morose and indifferent;
  • The oiler -- physically strong and industrious.
major themes1
Major themes
  • They are Naturalistic and Realistic concerns, including ideals versus realities, spiritual crises and fear.
  • Extreme isolation from society and community is also apparent in Crane's work.
class activities3
Class activities
  • Group work: find out different words in description of the sea waves.
  • Share your favorite part(s) with your partner.
questions to ponder3
Questions to ponder
  • What do you feel after reading the story?
  • How do you explain the death of the oiler, the strongest of the four?
  • What is the theme of the story?
  • What have you learned from story from the perspective of naturalism?
  • What is the relationship between man and nature?
further reading recommendation2
Further reading recommendation
  • The Red Badge of Courage

chapter five
Chapter Five
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • (1890 – 1980)
Born in Indian Creek, Texas and educated at home, in private schools, and in an Ursualine convent.
  • Her first book of stories, Flowering Judas was published in 1930.
She lived for a time in Mexico, which provided material for some of her most famous stories.
  • Her novel A Ship of Fools was published in 1962.
  • The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter appeared in 1965, winning the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
stream of consciousness
Stream of consciousness
  • Stream of consciousness is a method of narrative representation of "random" thoughts which follow in a freely-flowing style.
Primarily associated with the modernist movement, stream of consciousness is a form of interior monologue which claims as its goal the representation of a lead consciousness in a narrative (typically fiction).
This representation of consciousness can include perceptions or impressions, thoughts incited by outside sensory stimuli, and fragments of random, disconnected thoughts. Stream of consciousness writing often lacks "correct" punctuation or syntax, favoring a looser, more incomplete style.
text study
Text study

1. Characters

2. Setting : the bedroom where Granny Weatherall is dying

3. Theme



4. Style


class activities4
Class activities
  • Class discussion:

What impression have you got from Granny Weatherall?

  • Identification of the parts written in stream of consciousness with your partners.
questions to ponder4
Questions to ponder
  • Do you find reading this text difficult? Why or why not?
  • Is Porter’s writing technique most proper in this story? Why?
  • What pain has tortured Granny Weatherall for sixty years?
  • What weakness can you see in Granny Weatherall?
further reading recommendation3
Further reading recommendation
  • The Flowering Judas

(Source from libraries or elsewhere)

  • A Ship of Fools

(Source from libraries or elsewhere)

chapter six
Chapter Six
  • F·Scott Fitzgerald

(1896 – 1940)

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • A spokesman for the so-called Jazz Age, setting a personal as well as literary example for a generation whose first commandment was: Do what you will.
  • His novels such as The Great Gatsby (1925), Tender Is the Night (1934), and The Last Tycoon (1941), amplify the melancholy he discovered beneath the glitter of American-style success.
literary term2
Literary term
  • Jazz Age:
  • It is an epithet applied, often invidiously, to the era of the 1920s in the U.S., whose frenetic youth of the post war period were conceived as more juvenile and hedonistic than the contemporary “lost generation” of expatriates. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tales of the Jazz Age (1922) was a classic representation of the period.
text study1
Text study
  • Character analysis

Nick Carraway

Jay Gatsby

-Origins: Jimmy Gatz

-The Man: Jay Gatsby

-The Legend: The Great Gatsby

Daisy Buchannan

Tom Buchannan

Jordan Baker

George Wilson

Myrtle Wilson

Meyer Wolfsheim

Owl Eyes and Klipspringer

  • Geographical setting: in New York City and on Long Island, in two areas known as "West Egg" and "East Egg" in the early 1920s.
  • Social setting: The social setting is among wealthy, educated people, those with a good deal of leisure time and little concern about people who are not in their social milieu.
symbolism imagery allegory
Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory
  • Gatsby’s "books“
  • The Owl-Eyed Man
plot type tragedy
Plot type: Tragedy
  • Anticipation Stage
  • Dream Stage
  • Frustration Stage
  • Nightmare Stage
  • Destruction or Death Wish Stage
narrative technique
Narrative technique
  • The story is told through Nick Carraway who functions both as a character in the story and the narrator of the whole work.
  • As a character, he is “within”, involving himself in the actions of the story.
As a narrator, he is standing away from the story and able to give an objective presentation to the events and characters of the novel.
  • Fitzgerald inherits this narrative technique from James and Conrad.
class activities5
Class activities

Class discussion:

1. What is the social significance of the story?

2. What life value is expressed through this part of the story?

questions to ponder5
Questions to ponder
  • In what way do you see the shadow of Jazz Age over the story?
  • How do you comment on Gatsby’s greatness?
  • What does the tragic end of Gatsby imply?
  • What have you learned from the writing technique of this story?
further reading recommendation4
Further reading recommendation
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Tender is the Night
chapter seven
Chapter Seven
  • William Faulkner (1897 – 1962)
Born in New Albany, Mississippi.
  • The work which won Faulkner a Nobel Prize in 1950 is often a depiction of life in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, an imaginative reconstruction of the area adjacent to Oxford.
His major novels include The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctury (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), and The Hamlet (1940).
  • His books of short stories include These Thirteen (1931), Go Down, Moses (1942), and The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1950).
text study barn burning
Text study: Barn Burning
  • Characters and Themes
  • Plot Structure and Setting
  • Fire
  • Rug
  • Cheese
modernist themes and techniques
Modernist Themes and Techniques
  • Faulkner is a modernist writer as well as a Southern writer. “Barn Burning” therefore demonstrates some of the themes and experimental techniques typical of American and European modernist fiction of the first half of the twentieth century.
Experimentation with Consciousness
  • Experimentation with Time
  • Experimentation with Space
  • Writing Style
language study
Language study

- description of motion.

- description of inner world.

- complex sentences

class activities6
Class activities
  • Discuss your impression on Faulkner’s writing technique.
  • Analyze the boy’s inner world with your partner.
questions to ponder6
Questions to ponder
  • What is the living condition of the Snopes?
  • In what ways do you see conflicts between father and son?
  • What’s your comment on Sarty’s father?
  • What does the end of the story imply?
further reading recommendation5
Further reading recommendation

A Rose for Emily

chapter eight
Chapter Eight
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) born in Oak Park, Illinois, volunteered for service as an ambulance driver with the Italian Army, was seriously wounded during WWI. From the publication of his first books he was acclaimed as a spokesman for the “Lost Generation”—the young who had been disillusioned and cast adrift by the murderous blunders of those who had plunged the world into war.
literary achievements
Literary achievements
  • Novels:

The Sun Also Rises (1926)

A Farewell to Arms (1929)

To Have and Have Not (1937)

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)

The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

Story collections:

In Our Time (1925)

Men without Women(1927)

Winner Take Nothing (1933)

  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954.
the lost generation
The Lost Generation
  • The term “Lost Generation” was first used by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), one of the leaders of this group.
  • It included the young English and American expatriates as well as men and women caught in the war and cut off from the old values and yet unable to come to terms with the new era when civilization had gone mad.
It means this generation had lost the beautiful sense of the calm idyllic past.
  • Stein’s comment suggests the ambiguous and pointless lives of expatriates as they aimlessly wandered about the Continent, drinking, making love, traveling from place to place and from party to party. These activities seem to justify their search for new meanings to replace the old ones.
Yet in fact, being cut off from their past, disillusioned in reality, and without a meaningful future to fall on, they were lost in disillusionment and existential voids. They indulged in hedonism in order to make their life less unbearable.
  • Theme of Dissatisfaction
  • Theme of Mortality
  • Theme of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Theme of Old Age
writing style
Writing style
  • Sparse, Simple, Unornamented – classic Hemingway

His writing is journalistic and no-nonsense; he reports dialogue cleanly and directly, without any froufy adjectives or fancy-pants descriptions. This sparse, tight economy of words is one of the things that made Hemingway so very, very famous in the 1920s, and his distinctive style is still much admired to this day.

class activities7
Class activities
  • Role play the whole parts in dialogue.
questions to ponder7
Questions to ponder
  • Why is the old man so unhappy?
  • Do you think that the world, as conceived of by Hemingway, is really made up of two kinds of people – those who are happy and those who aren't?
  • What do you think the older waiter means when he says "It was all a nothing and a man was a nothing too" ?
  • Why is it different to drink alone in a café than to drink alone at home?
  • What does the younger waiter understand about old age?
further reading recommendation6
Further reading recommendation
  • Hills Like White Elephants
  • The Old Man and the Sea (Source from library or elsewhere)
Ezra Pound

(1885 – 1972)

literary term3
Literary Term
  • Imagism:
  • It refers a poetic expression that was embraced by some American poets, including some of the European ones, in the early 20th century, aiming at a full expression of the modern spirit, the sense of fragmentation and dislocation.
Imagism came as a reaction to the traditional English poetics with its iambic pentameter, its verbosity, and extra-poetic padding; but it also voiced the spirit of the age. The most outstanding American spokesman for the Imagist Movement is Ezra Pound.
images in chinese poetry
Images in Chinese poetry

江 雪






three imagist poetic principles
Three Imagist poetic principles
  • direct treatment of the thing, whether subjective or objective;
  • to use absolute no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
  • to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome in regarding to rhythm.
in a station of the metro
In A Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

Wallace Stevens
  • (1879 –1955)
  • A cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members.
  • Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artifact.
the red wheelbarrow
The Red Wheelbarrow

So much depends


A red wheel


Glazed with rain


beside the white


Robert Frost

(1874 – 1963)

plot and major characters
Plot and Major Characters
  • The speaker (presumably a man, although no gender is specified), while traveling on horseback (or in a horse-drawn sleigh) on the darkest evening of the year, stops to watch the woods fill up with snow. He thinks the owner of these woods is someone who lives in the village and will not see the speaker stopping on his property.
While the speaker continues to gaze into the snowy woods, his little horse impatiently shakes the bells of its harness. The speaker describes the beauty and allure of the woods as “lovely, dark, and deep,” but reminds himself that he must not remain there, for he has “promises to keep,” and a long journey ahead of him.
major theme
Major Theme
  • The individual caught between nature and civilization
langston hughes
Langston Hughes
  • (1902 –1967) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best-known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the Harlem Renaissance saying that "Harlem was in vogue."
ars poetica
Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute

As a globed fruit,


As old medallions

to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone

Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless

As the flight of birds.

Leaving, as the moon releases

Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind winter leaves,

Memory by memory the mind—

For all the history of grief

An Empty doorway and maple leaf.

For love

The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

class activities8
Class activities
  • Recite all the poems in this chapter in pairs.
  • Class recitation performance.
questions to ponder8
Questions to ponder
  • What are the differences between 19th century and 20th century poems?
  • How do you comment on the different writing styles in this chapter?
  • How should we appreciate the poems in this chapter?
  • Whose poems do you like best? Why?
chapter ten
Chapter Ten
  • Eugene O’Neill ( 1888 – 1953)
Born in a Broadway hotel in New York City, a son of a famous and popular actor, best know for his role as the Count of Monte Cristo.
  • He came in close contact with the outcasts of society and tasted the bitterness of life.
  • In 1920 his first full-length play, Beyond the Horizon, was professionally produced on Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize.
His major works include The Iceman Cometh (1946), and Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956).
  • Four Pulitzer Prizes (1920, 1922, 1928, 1957) and the Nobel Prize in 1936 show his achievement and influence at home and abroad.
text study2
Text study
  • Language learning
  • Form of drama
  • Outline of the story
  • Source of the tragedy: Oedipus, Phaedra, Medea
  • Theme of the play: Desire of various kinds.
class activities9
Class activities
  • Performance of the play
questions to ponder9
Questions to ponder
  • What is the family relationship in Cabot’s family?
  • What are the desires expressed through different characters?
  • What is your comment on Cabot’s marriage with Abbie?
  • What’s your comment on the relationship between Abbie and Eben?
further reading recommendation7
Further reading recommendation
  • Long Day’s Journey into Night (Source from libraries or elsewhere)
  • The Iceman Cometh (Source from libraries or elsewhere)
desire under the elms
Desire Under the Elms
  • (Online reference by a group of lovers of American literature)
chapter eleven
Chapter Eleven
  • Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914 – 1994)
Black novelist.
  • Born in Oklahoma City and educated at Tuskegee Institute.
  • Though his publications have been few, his novel Invisible Man (1952) is one of the most discussed and praised books published in America since World War II.
In his other writings, including the essays published in Shadow and Act (1964), Ellison explored the problem of identity within the context of black culture.
text study3
Text study
  • Writing style


A life-long lover of jazz, Ellison conceived of Invisible Man as jazz's literary equivalent. By turns sad, playful, shy, loud, fast-paced, drawing on different styles and traditions of writing, weaving constant refrains throughout the book, and creating a whole new aesthetic, the novel doesn't just have a style, it's got style.

narrator point of view
Narrator point of view
  • First Person (Central Narrator)
  • The invisible man is our narrator throughout the entire novel, sandwiching the bulk of his story with a prologue and epilogue from his manhole.
  • The American South and Harlem, New York in the late 1930s.
  • Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age, African-American Literature

- Invisible Man is literary fiction because of its in-depth exploration of one man's psyche and its innovative style.

class activities10
Class activities
  • Discussion:

-What is the living situation of “I” in the story?

-Find out the parts that show racial discrimination in the text.

questions to ponder10
Questions to ponder
  • What does boomeranging symbolize?
  • Why is the main character in the story invisible?
  • What special effect does grandfather’s deathbed curse have?
  • What social significance does the story have?
further reading recommendation8
Further reading recommendation
  • Invisible Man (source from libraries or elsewhere)
chapter twelve
Chapter Twelve
  • Joseph Heller (1923 – 1999)
New York author who served in the air force in World War II.
  • Received an A. B. from New York University, an M.A. from Columbia, studied at Oxford, and taught briefly before writing Catch-22 (1961).
literary term4
Literary term
  • Black humor

Black humor, in literature, drama, and film, refers to grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox, and cruelty of the modern world. Ordinary characters or situations are usually exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony. Black humor uses devices often associated with tragedy and is sometimes equated with tragic farce.

catch 22
  • Novel by Joseph Heller, published in 1961.
text study4
Text study
  • General review of the text: the three incidents
  • Yossarian’s having an operation.
  • Yossarian’s deal with Colonels Cathcart & Korn.
  • Yossarain’s attempt to save Snowden.
points for discussion
Points for discussion

1. Is it really necessary for Yossarian to have this operation?

2. Why does one of the doctors insist that Yossarian have an operation?

3. How should Yossarian feel from this hospital scene?

4. What do we readers feel through this part ?

points to ponder
Points to ponder
  • What is the “deal”?
  • “They’ll let me go home a big hero if I say nice things about them to everyone and never criticize them to anyone for making the rest of the men fly more missions.”P315.
  • “It’s that or a court-martial.” P316.
2.What predicament is Yossarian in?
  • Go home but sell his soul to say nice things about the colonels.
  • Fly more missions to get killed.
  • Go into the prison to stay with a bunch of criminals.
3. What kind of people are the colonels?
  • Liars.
  • Regardless of the soldiers lives in order to achieve their promotions.
  • Opportunists: war for them is a chance to make a fortune, to get promotion.
4. Is there a humor in this part?

Yes, but it’s twisted and disgusting. On Yossarian’s part, we again see that “the giant standing with its back to the plight of the ants.”

what is catch 22
What is Catch-22?

If the men are really crazy, then they will want to fly the missions, regardless of whether or not they want to be killed. If they do not want to fly the missions, then they are sane and must fly them.

  • War is only disaster for small people.
  • War is the source to make sb. famous and rich through unreasonable ways.
  • “Catch” is a trap for common people that they find it hard to get rid of.
class activities11
Class activities
  • Role play the part that Yossarian is having an operation in the hospital.
further reading recommendation9
Further reading recommendation
  • Catch-22

(Source from libraries or elsewhere)

chapter thirteen
Chapter Thirteen
  • Toni Morrison
  • (1931 - )
    • Born in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931, originally called Chloe Anthony Wofford.
    • Black female novelist.
Major works include: The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1998).
  • Nobel Prize winner in1993.
text study5
Text study
  • Definition of “Recitatif”

The word “recitatif” will likely be unfamiliar to you. It is derived from the word “recitative,” which has a number of definitions, all of which hold possible significance for Toni Morrison’s story.

The word may refer to a style of expression between song and ordinary speech used by performers during the narrative or dialogue parts of an opera. It also has a now obsolete definition: “the tone or rhythm peculiar to any language.” Recitative may also refer to anything that has the nature of a recital or repetition.  
  • Race and Racism

The issue of race and racism is central to the story. Twyla's first response to rooming with Roberta at St. Bonny's is to feel sick to her stomach. "It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning—it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race."

Throughout the story Twyla and Roberta's friendship is inhibited by this sense of an uncrossable racial divide, played out against the background of national racial tensions such as the busing crisis. Racial conflicts provide the main turning points in the story's plot.
class activities12
Class activities
  • Group discussion: Find evidence to prove which is black and which is white between Twyla and Roberta.
questions to ponder11
Questions to ponder
  • What role does Maggie play in the whole story?
  • What are the themes in this story?
  • What have you learned from the story?
further reading recommendation10
Further reading recommendation
  • The Bluest eye

(Source from libraries or elsewhere)

  • Beloved

(Source from Libraries or elsewhere)