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The first assignment is the discussion and part of that discussion is a peer response.. what that means is that you have to reply to two classmates and comment on there discussion . Your initial response to the discussion prompt, which should be several well-developed paragraphs long…

  • Textbook readings: “Reading Drama,” pages 22-29; Poof! by Lynn Nottage, pages 976-983; The Sandbox by Edward Albee, pages 1160-1166. (Objective 1)

Discussion #1: Analyzing Drama

Purpose: To use tools of literary analysis to interpret drama.

Poof! is a play about a very serious subject – domestic abuse – that combines elements of realism and surrealism to achieve a tone and mood that belie the gravity of the play’s subject. The Sandbox is a play that intimates a family dynamic and an impending death through an absurd setting and plot. Each of these plays uses very unique approaches to create characters and plots that establish universal themes in somewhat unusual ways.

WRITING PROMPT: For your discussion, explain what readers come to understand about the subjects of each play as they are presented through the experiences of the characters. (Hint: do not simply summarize the plots!Rather, explain what the plots of each play seems to be suggesting about their respective topics.) Then, argue the themes in each play and explain your rationale using textual evidence. Discuss how the themes are developed through the plots and characters. Finally, compare/contrast the methods of each author. How are they similar/different? What connections exist between the subjects and methods of each author?

Classmate one…..

Poof! by Lynn Nottage is a play about the accidental murder of a man named Samuel by his wife Loureen followed by Loureen’s reaction and a subsequent discussion with her friend Florence about what to do next. The play begins with a note, stating: “Nearly half the women on death row in the United States were convicted of killing abusive husbands. Spontaneous combustion is not recognized as a capital crime” (Nottage 976). The last line relates to the manner in which Samuel dies, by explosion, which also relates to the title of the play. What the reader can learn from the subject matter through the method that Nottage provides is that the truth of the statistic in the note represents an absurdity, and this seems to be the overall theme. This can clearly be seen throughout the play. Firstly, the title itself is taking the death of a man by explosion in a light-hearted manner, as well as the last line in the note. Secondly, there is an instance where Loureen looks at Samuel’s ashes: “A fatuous grin spreads across her face” (Nottage 977). If fatuous is taken to mean pointless, then it seems to touch on the deeper thematic point that the conflict within this story is absurd and pointless and that women should not have to resort to killing their abusive husbands. Thirdly, the entire plot and dialogue in the story is quite reminiscent of a sit-com. A woman’s husband explodes into ashes, she freaks out, and her friend thinks she is joking saying, “You smoking crack?” (Nottage 979), “. . . don’t tell me you’ve been messing with them mojo women again? What did I tell ya” (Nottage 979), and “You swear on your right tit?” (Nottage 980). The absurd and comical circumstances and dialogue are supposed to represent the absurd nature of domestic abuse cases. Further examples of this comical over-exaggeration are seen when Loureen suggests that she mail Samuel’s ashes to his mother and also by saying, “He was always threatening not to come back” (Nottage 982). Overall, the exaggerated circumstances of the play are an effective method of getting the theme across to the audience.

The Sandbox by Edward Albee takes a very different turn regarding the tone and style. This play was quite difficult for me to analyze, so I will do my best to uncover a theme. Firstly, while the characters in Poof! are lively and relatable, most of the characters in The Sandbox are very robotic aside from Grandma. The Young Man always has a smile on his face and repeats the same overly gleeful “Hi!” multiple times (Albee 1161). Mommy repeats the same laugh multiple times (Albee 1160-61). Daddy is the same predictable character throughout the play as well, and The Musician likewise. Perhaps this is best explained by the fourth wall breaks within the play, as many lines show that the characters in the play are aware that they’re in a play: “It was an off-stage rumble and you know what thatmeans. . . .” (Albee 1164). Mommy and Daddy seem to treat Grandma pretty poorly as they carry her and dump her into a sandbox and then essentially wait for her to die as she buries herself with a toy shovel as a kind of symbol of a funeral (Albee 1161-1165). Perhaps the underlying themes parallel how many treat their parents today; perhaps the sandbox is a metaphor for a nursing home, whereas Grandma buries herself with the sand in the sandbox, the elderly in a nursing home bury themselves with medication and television. The “funeral” for Grandma is extremely short and quite cold as well (Albee 1165). Perhaps the robotic nature of the characters and the short funeral are supposed to symbolize how the everyday person lives life as a routine, simply going through the motions as it were. You go to a funeral, say the things you are supposed to say, and then forget about it and get back on the routine. Maybe the recognition by the characters that they are in a play is supposed to show that we recognize that life is a sort of play in itself, but fail to admit it, allowing the daily routine to trap us.

The methods and styles are very different between Poof! and The Sandbox but are similar in some ways. A major difference is the tone; where Poof! is comedic, light-hearted, and human while touching on a dark subject, The Sandbox goes in the other direction, being a bit robotic and inhuman. However, within this difference there is also a similarity. Although the plays have quite different tones and methods, they are both types of exaggeration of the human condition. Both plays exaggerate negative aspects of human experience, but Poof! takes a different approach by exaggerating the absurdity of spousal abuse in a comedic light while The Sandbox exaggerates the absurdity of societal treatment of elders and the way we live our lives in a darker fashion. Overall, they were both interesting reads. I feel like I clicked better with Poof! in understanding the theme, so I am curious to see what my classmates’ interpretations are.

Works Cited

Albee, Edward. The Sandbox. Literature: The Human Experience, by Richard Abcarian et al., Thirteenth ed., Bedford/St. Martins, Boston, MA, 2019, pp. 1160-1165.

Nottage, Lynn. Poof!. Literature: The Human Experience, by Richard Abcarian et al., Thirteenth ed., Bedford/St. Martin

Classmate two….

The melodramatic play, Poof!, focuses on the consequences of domestic abuse in a marriage, where the wife, Loureen, struggles to survive her husband’s violent tendencies. As Loureen endures years of hardship and maltreatment from her husband, Samuel, she becomes intolerant of his acts of superiority. She, unknowingly, kills Samuel as a result of her distressed feeling of physical and emotional pain. Through Loureen’s perturbing experience through domestic abuse, the audience is exposed to the main idea that domestic abuse tears away marital values, and it leads to an unforgiving life of insanity and regret. Not only has Loureen’s marriage fallen apart due to her loss of feelings for Samuel and the overwhelming abuse enacted upon her, but Loureen has also lost a part of herself. She has lost touch of reality and her senses when Samuel turned to ashes. Through his death, Loureen found freedom and liberation in knowing that her husband no longer controls her. However, she also gains remorse and worrisome feelings of imprisonment as she fears conviction, anticipating her mother-in-law’s sorrowful wails of loss. The play’s topic on domestic abuse provides the audience with an insight into a woman’s perspective and the effect of such torture in a marriage.

The theme of Poof! centers around the idea that what comes around goes around. As Loureen has struggled for far too long in her relationship with her husband, Samuel has finally endured the same hardships that his wife has. He has faced his punishment for wronging his wife through his cruel and brutal death. Furthermore, the play focuses on the theme of being careful of one’s wishes and desires. At the beginning of the play, Loureen shouts, “Damn you to hell, Samuel!” (Nottage 976). It is the wish of her husband’s death that sends him to fiery oblivion where he meets his end. Although Loureen did not participate in physical violence, her empowering words of hatred sent Samuel to his eternal doom. Furthermore, Loureen remarks, “Samuel always said that if I raised my voice something horrible would happen. And it did. I’m a witch . . . the devil spawn” (Nottage 978). Loureen believes that it is her words of demise that turned Samuel to ashes as she remembers her threats and warnings. His menacing words still stay with her as he has previously used such comments to influence and manipulate Loureen in keeping her under his control. Loureen further comments, “There were some good things. And out of my mouth those words made him disappear. All these years and just words, Florence. That’s all they were” (Nottage 980). Loureen still holds on to the good memories that she had with Samuel despite his abusive persona. She regrets her desires for Samuel’s death and wishes to take her words back.

The one-act play, The Sandbox, focuses on the family values of an American household where a daughter must face the tragic, impending death of her mother. She awaits her mother’s decease as she distracts herself with everyday luxuries, such as music and days at the beach. However, despite her mother’s passing, she seems rather apathetic in response to her mother’s demise. She ignores her mother’s cries for help as she leaves her to rot in a sandbox alone. She leaves Grandma on the beach during a storm, even forcing her to dig her own grave. The audience is exposed to the lack of familial values and empathy in an American family. Readers soon realize that Grandma no longer holds any emotional significance in her daughter’s life as she grows more independent of her mother. As the connections between the mother and daughter fade away, they become more estranged and lose affection for one another. As children grow to care for their own families, parents become a burden and lose their relevance as life continues on.

The theme of The Sandbox centers around the hypocrisy of society as children often take their parents for granted while they are alive. Throughout the entirety of the play, Mommy has mistreated Grandma as she turned away when her mother was in need. She has repeatedly bashed and scolded her mother, expressing her annoyance directly. For instance, Mommy nagged, “She’s throwing sand at me! You stop that, Grandma; you stop throwing sand at Mommy!” (Albee 1163). Mommy yells at Grandma as she shoves her into a sandbox to cripple by her lonesome. She feels little to no remorse for her mother as she waits for her to pass away. However, it is only until her mother dies that she feels empathy towards Grandma. Mommy cries, “Ohhhhhhhhhh . . . poor Grandma . . . poor Grandma” (Albee 1165). She begins to mourn her mother and feel much affection for her only when she has faced her final demise.

The methods of each play vary on a dramatic level as Edward Albee and Lynn Nottage approach their themes through contrasting techniques. In The Sandbox, Edward Albee largely focuses on soliloquies in order to communicate with the audience and provide background to Grandma’s story. He uses her thoughts and feelings to spread information to the audience, building on the plot, and character development. As Grandma communicates her emotions, the viewers develop a better understanding of Grandma’s relentless attitude and painful woes as she faces her death. They become more aware of the relationship between Mommy and Grandma as Grandma reveals that “they moved me into the big townhouse with them . . . fixed a nice place for me under the stove” (Albee 1164). The maltreatment of her mother further characterizes Mommy and develops a deeper relationship with Grandma. It is through Grandma’s soliloquy that this information is presented to the audience, holding much significance to the progression of the play.

In Poof!, Lynn Nottage uses allusions to foreshadow the significance of Samuel’s death. The biblical allusion of being “smited” by God is used in the play as Samuel is turned to ash. This is usually referred to as a punishment for one’s sins, where Loureen has acted as the “Saint”, enacting her husband’s death. While the methods of the plays differ, both authors continue to use their settings to create a deeper connection within the story. As Nottage focuses on a historical period where domestic abuse was widely acceptable, Albee rather focuses on the cultural standards of America in relation to familial ties. The setting of both plays drives the plot and sets the story in motion as they comply with certain societal standards.

Works Cited

Nottage, Lynn. Poof!. Literature: The Human Experience, 12thEd, edited by Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz, and Samual Cohen, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 976-983.

Albee, Edward. The Sandbox. Literature: The Human Experience, 12thEd, edited by Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz, and Samual Cohen, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 1160-1166.

Last assignment is the ESSAY,…

Your Final Research Paper will demonstrate that you can find, use, and document relevant, scholarly sources in a longer argumentative paper. It will also demonstrate that you can make a debatable claim about a literary work using the research you’ve found. Finally, the Final Research Paper will show your ability to conduct an in-depth analysis of both primary and secondary sources, as well as your ability to incorporate research into your own writing and reach original conclusions about a literary work and its corresponding secondary research.

Your paper must make a specific argument. To do that, you need to offer an interpretation of the literary work or topic you have chosen. Assert a claim about what something means, what an author attempted to do, or why a work (or a feature within a work) is significant. Use your body paragraph to support your argument by analyzing specific texts and incorporating research about your topic.

Your paper must use only high quality, credible academic research. First, look for articles from peer-reviewed journals and books from university presses in the Macomb Library databases. If you use material from the Internet, check that the author is a scholar or the source is reliable.

Please do not use sources that summarize literature or cater to a middle school or high school audience (examples include,,,, Don’t use Wikipedia or encyclopedias unless they are specialized (that is, an encyclopedia of feminist criticism, for instance).

Here are the basic requirements for the paper:

  • Use MLA formatting
  • Minimum 1,500 words (not counting the Works Cited page)
  • Minimum 6 sources
    • 4 sources MUST be scholarly or academic (from the Macomb library databases)
    • 4 sources must be secondary sources
    • 2 sources (or more, if you use more than six sources) may be popular sources (from the internet)
    • 2 sources (or more, if you use more than six sources) may be primary sources
    • Your textbook will NOT count as one of the six sources, but if you used it, you must cite it.
    • Please see the rubric for requirements about the content of your paper.

To view the rubric for this assignment, click the following links: “Grades” (to the left) > “Final Research Paper” > “Show Rubric” (upper right corner).

Choose ONE of the following topics:

1. One of Ernest Hemingway’s major contributions to American literature was his distinct style. Using six or more academically reliable sources, research the features of Hemingway’s style. Two of the six sources may be from Hemingway himself explaining his goals for his style. Illustrate the stylistic characteristics by showing how they were used in “Hills Like White Elephants.” OR feel free to research and use a different short story by Hemingway.

2. Some of the poems you’ve read in this class were written during the Romantic Era, and the textbook contains many more examples than what we read as a class. First, research characteristics of Romanticism (both generally and pertaining to poetry), finding six or more academically reliable sources, and use this research to write your own explanation of the period. Apply your understanding of this literary period to an explication and analysis of at least three poems from the textbook. Be sure the poems you choose were, in fact, written during the Romantic Era, and use your new knowledge of Romanticism to offer insights about the various elements of each poem, including its overall meaning. Also, be sure to rely heavily upon textual evidence from the poems to support your interpretations, and feel free to find and use authors/poems from this era in our textbook that were not assigned.

3. Both Toni Cade Bambara and Alice Walker are highly-esteemed 20th-century African American women who engaged in social and political activism, especially advocating for Civil Rights and women of color. Using six or more academically reliable sources, research the nature of their respective involvement with different movements from the 1960s (Bambara) to present day (Walker). Analyze aspects of the stories “The Lesson” and “Everyday Use” to show how they reflect the goals of each author’s advocacy.

4. Research the ideas and methods of feminist literary criticism, using at least six academically reliable sources. Given the large scope of this type of literary criticism, you may want to choose a particular “school” or type of feminist literary criticism in order to explain the thinking of its practitioners in some depth. Then apply the feminist methodology to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” using feminist critical insights to determine one major theme in the story.

5. New Historicist literary critics argue that an examination of a literary work should include information about the time period and culture in which the author was working and an acknowledgment that the critic’s cultural setting influences his or her interpretation. Using at least six academically reliable sources, learn about the history and culture that Ralph Ellison lived in. One or two of the sources can focus on Ellison’s biography to learn the events of his life and the major influences on his writing. Do an analysis of the conflicts and themes found in “Battle Royal,” or his larger work, Invisible Man (the novel that contains the story, “Battle Royal”), by showing how these themes might be related to historical or cultural events of the early 1950s (when Invisible Man was published). Then, show how the political and cultural events of our own time have influenced your own interpretation of the story. Given the different cultural attitudes, which themes from this story are relevant today?

6. Consult with me to choose your own topic. Self-chosen topics MUST be approved by me.

To view the rubric for this assignment, click the following links: “Grades” (to the left) > “Final Research Paper” > “Show Rubric” (upper right corner).


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