INSTRUCTIONS: Write an outstanding 5-6 page essay on any of the novels we have covered in the course, or any combination thereof. You can write on any topic that interests you so long as you deal with our course readings, but some suggestions are below. You can modify them as you see fit. You need not use external sources, but if you do, cite them properly. Make use of evidence from the books in all cases.
Double-spaced, any standard 12-point font.
1) Do you find 1984 a realistic prediction of the future from the standpoint of 1948? Is it still a possible future? What features of the totalitarian regime could still become a reality? What features are less likely?
2) Look up some of the political features of the Soviet Union in the Stalin era, particularly the 1930’s. Which of these does Orwell seem to be incorporating into the world of 1984? Are these still widely practiced in the world?
3) Brainwashing: look up this ideological technique of prisoner treatment, which became widespread by the 1950’s. What features of it appear in 1984? Is it possible to change human nature beliefs radically and permanently through such methods?
4) A common feature of the post-apocalyptic genre is a loner attempting to survive and find meaning in a destroyed world. Compare Tamura and Winston as apocalyptic survivors. What features of their characters distinguish them from others in their environment? How do they attempt to find a purpose or significance in horrible conditions?
5) Both 1984 and Fires in the Plain are, among other things, studies in the limitations of human nature. In what novels, what weaknesses of human behavior, both social and individual, are exposed under extreme stress? How do the characters attempt to compensate?
6) Consider Tamura’s account of his experiences, written in retrospect. Is this simply an insane attempt to find some order in horrible circumstances? Or has he experienced a genuine religious revelation? Or are both explanations valid?
7) Consider the theme of cannibalism in Fires in the Plain and Otared. How are they related to spiritual themes, such as Christian communion or the Feast of Sacrifice?
8) What social and political features of contemporary Egypt seem to be mirrored in Otared, and what is the author’s comment on his society?
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