Instructional Materials for Craig White's Literature Courses


AP & pre-AP English Workshop

for Students of Galena Park ISD

(10 November 2012)

Writing About Fiction

Question 3 sample unmarked



Question 3


(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)


Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience.


Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is the character’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.



The American

Angle of Repose

Another Country

As You Like It

Brave New World

Crime and Punishment

Doctor Zhivago 

Heart of Darkness

Invisible Man

Jane Eyre


Jude the Obscure

King Lear

The Little Foxes

Madame Bovary

The Mayor of Casterbridge 

My Ántonia


The Odyssey

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The Other

Paradise Lost

The Poisonwood Bible

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The Road

Robinson Crusoe

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Sister Carrie

Sister of My Heart

Snow Falling on Cedars

The Tempest

Things Fall Apart

The Women of Brewster Place

Wuthering Heights






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How to react after reading the question and selection?


Two steps to question:

1. What's the question asking for?

2. Which text do you know that might answer what it's asking?



Don't panic over what you didn't understand. Focus instead on the parts that worked for you and ask yourself why.

Make the most of what you didn't understand, or anyway don't obsess over it--compartmentalize the problem areas so that you might be able to come back to them--but you might be OK even if you don't).

Don't react against yourself (as in "I'm a loser b/c I don't know all these books, and evidently I'm supposed to.")

React as positively as you can to the question's possibilities. Try to write something you would enjoy learning.



Work with the question, and keep in mind the titles you're familiar with. To keep your mind engaged, keep your hands busy.

Re-read everything, highlighting or making notes as you read.

What to highlight or note?

In the question prompt, highlight or note the give-away terms: substantive nouns or value-terms that indicate what your readers or graders will be looking for.

Connect to your own experience in reading and life.




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