ENGH 201 Midterm Paper

ENGH 201 Midterm Paper

The topic options:


Option 1. The comparative character essay


Choose two characters from any two texts we’ve read (except for The Hostage, because it’s not a character-driven story) and compare them to one another. You should make your selection based on characters who could have at least something in common, be it their situation/context, age, upbringing, personality traits, gender, etc., even if you do not believe the characters are similar as people. They should be characters that you know a significant amount of information about. Compare and contrast how each character interacts with the world around them; how they handle adversities/problems happening to them; and/or what choices they make that tell you what kind of person they are. Do NOT just summarize what each character does in the story; tell me how the characters are similar, how they are different, and how you can tell. Here is a list of character pairs you might want to write about (you can choose any of these, or you can mix-and-match/go off-list):

  • Izzy from Little Fires Everywhere and Ronnie from Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters
  • Pearl from Little Fires Everywhere and Ronnie from Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters
  • Margot from Cat Person and Claire from Boys Go to Jupiter
  • Robert from Cat Person and Claire from Boys Go to Jupiter
  • Claire from Boys Go to Jupiter and Ronnie from Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters
  • Margot from Cat Person and Pearl from Little Fires Everywhere
  • Claire from Boys Go to Jupiter and Lexie from Little Fires Everywhere
  • Robert from Cat Person and Moody from Little Fires Everywhere


You do not have to argue that your characters are exactly alike, or that they are complete opposites; you can (and, really, should) argue how they are alike in some ways, but different in others. Overall, I want to see you carefully analyze each character, highlighting the ways the characters are similar and/or different.

ENGH 201 Midterm Paper


Option 2: the “one-word” (or symbol, idea, or object) essay


Choose one word, object, or symbol that shows up frequently in ONE of the texts that we’ve read so far. It should be a significant word/symbol in the text that is noteworthy to you. Explain the context of this word, phrase, object, or symbol (what is it? When is it first mentioned? When is it last mentioned?); how it is given importance by the story (is it in the title? Is it mentioned a lot?); why it’s important (Is it something the characters want? Does it describe the character(s)? Does it mean something to someone in the story, or to you as a reader?); and what you think it means in the text (is it literal? Is there more than one way to read its significance or meaning? Who does it apply to or affect?). For example, think back to the cats in Cat Person—in class, we talked about how there are a few different reasons why they might be important, upon analyzing their role in story more. (I don’t recommend that as a topic, but if you’re really into it, you’re welcome to try.) Here is a list of objects/words you might want to choose, though you can also choose your own:

  • The word “hostage” in The Hostage
  • The word “Mom” in Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters
  • The word “name” in Little Fires Everywhere
  • The word “fires” in Little Fires Everywhere
  • The idea of belonging in Little Fires Everywhere
  • The Confederate Flag in Boys Go to Jupiter
  • The idea of silence in Boys Go to Jupiter
  • The texts in Cat Person
  • The idea of power/control in Cat Person

Your essay should go beyond just talking about what happens in the plot of the text; I expect to see your interpretation of the word/symbol/idea’s importance, as well as how you are drawing the conclusions you make.



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