Book and Essay Prompt Samples - Seventh and Eighth Graders

- By Kevin Zhen (Yale 2020)

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Though Ender’s Game is a young adult novel, many of the trials and conflicts Ender faces are force him to difficult decisions many adults do not need to make. Why does the author choose a child, as opposed to an adult, to be the protagonist in this book? What does this say about the author’s commentary on maturity and age?

What is the author's purpose in alternating between the stories of the four sisters? How does each perspective develop the plot and themes of the novel? Why does she choose not to portray a story of their mother?

The characters of Dogberry and Verges, the constable and deputy constable largely play a role of comic relief. While their role is important to the development of the play and to help explain the central tension of the play, Hero’s alleged infidelity, why does Shakespeare choose to use such ridiculous characters to achieve this goal? Explain the significance these characters and humor have on the overall course of the play.

Several times over the course of the novel Huck chooses to run away rather than dig in and confront his problems and issues. Discuss Huck’s reasons for rejecting his world and his choice to run away. Were these rational or irrational choices? In what way are Huck’s actions a product of his times?

One of the most controversial practices in the community is euthanasia (the killing of the old and infants who are not strong enough to contribute any longer to the betterment of the community). Compare and contrast Father and Jonas' perspectives on euthanasia, and how their role in the community affects their perspectives.

Comment on Tolken's use of languages (Elvish, Dwarvish, etc.) in the novel. How does each contribute to character and plot development, as well as the environment?

Five people die in The House on Mango Street. The characters span all ages, from an infant to an elderly man. How do the deaths in the novel relate to one another, and how do they influence Esperanza?

Describe the role of the greasers and the Socs in the novel. What attracts characters to each group?

The title “To Kill a Mockingbird” seems to have little to do with the story’s plot, but references to “songbirds” are made throughout the novel. Who do you believe the author is referring to as the mockingbird in the book? Why do you think he/she is the mockingbird?

Book and Essay Prompt Samples - Ninth and Tenth Graders

- By Kevin Zhen (Yale 2020)

Compare and contrast the Great Twitch versus the spider web theory.

Discuss the role that Boxer plays on the farm. Was his end inevitable? Write viewpoints supporting each side.

Why was Malcolm’s drawn to militant activism over nonviolent tactics espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.?

How does Esther’s attitude towards men change? What role does this attitude play in her madness and recovery?

What is the significance of Gil Vincente’s poem? How does it shape the themes in the book?

Why does the author choose to open and end the story through a series of letters written by Robert Walton to his sister? How does this choice affect the story’s overall message?

Steinbeck sets Of Mice and Men against the backdrop of the Great Depression. What, if any, role does the theme of the American Dream play in the novel?

Is there a tragic hero in this play, or is Othello merely another villain?

What does the author achieve by placing himself as a character in the novel? What this technique effective?

Is the character of Daisy Buchanan sympathetic? Is she a victim of her times or merely a victim of her own choices?

How does Jack use the Beast to control the other boys? Why does he choose this method of control? Is this method effective, why or why not?

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