Thanks to everyone for your interesting proposals for exam questions and topics.
Most of you have presented some valid, and often compelling suggestions for midterm topics/questions. As in the case for most students, the most troublesome challenge with this assignment is narrowing the topic. Remember, on the exam, you will be asked to respond in paragraph form, so you will need to make sure your topic sentences are appropriate for a paragraph.
Several of you mention ideas that connect to a journey model, to the search for enlightenment, or to the protagonist as the hero. These are valid topics, of course, and ones we have spent a good deal of time discussing, but you will need to narrow these ideas quite a bit, in order to write a convincing response.
For example, some of you talk about the protagonist as a hero, and that’s a good place to start, but if you were asked to use the idea of the “hero” to compare or contrast two protagonists, how would you narrow this very large idea to a paragraph sized topic (one paragraph for each protagonist)?
Some suggestions: First, decide on what kind of hero this protagonist is: Traditional Hero (and if so, Campbell’s or Aristotle’s)? Anti-hero? Satanic Hero? A mixture of more than one? Your own definition? And you are absolutely welcome to use your own definition of a hero, but if you do so, be VERY specific. Then, after you decide what kind of hero the protagonist is, you would need to focus on a specific trait of that hero, yes, one specific character trait. This is very important, because if your topic sentence is not focused on something very specific, your entire paragraph will be much too general. Each paragraph should be an analysis, not a summary or paraphrase.
Remember our paragraph form: (and these items need not be in this order)
1 Concise topic sentence (your assertion, which is actually a sub-topic of your thesis)
2 Short introduction to your support (putting your quote in a context).
3 Support for your topic sentence/assertion (not more than one or two sentences). You are only to use one quote per paragraph, so make sure it is a very rich quote.
4 Explanation of why, very specifically, your quote defends your assertion. This is most of your paragraph, so you need to make sure you are doing an in-depth analysis of your chosen piece of text, and not simply a summary or paraphrase. You will certainly want to go back into the quote and point out specific words that “prove” your assertion.