Summer Reading List

American Literature and Composition - 11 CP

Select one novel from List A and one from List B:

List A
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller Catch-22 is a satirical novel that moves back and. forth from hilarity to horror - both outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off Italy. This is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. His efforts to avoid bombing missions is part of the "catch" in Catch 22.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne In early colonial Massachusetts, Hester Prynne is ostracized by her seventeenth-century Puritan community for refusing to reveal the identity of her child's father. As a young woman, she then endures the consequences of her sin of adultery and spends the rest of her life in atonement.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry An African-American family is united in love and pride as they struggle to overcome poverty and harsh living conditions, in the award-winning 1959 play about an embattled Chicago family.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twin. Huckleberry Finn is the main character, and it is through his eyes that the South is revealed and judged. His companion, a runaway slave named Jim, provides Huck with friendship and protection during their adventurous journey along the Mississippi. Though often controversial because of Twain's realistic portrayal of the South prior to the Civil War, the novel transports readers back to the age of slavery only to discover that Huck and Jim are able to look past their differences and find the meaning of true friendship.
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie was pieced together from -Williams' own tortured life and is an in-depth study of futility and failure. Centering around the life of the protagonist, a hopeless young man with grand aspirations, who is stuck forever in a menial job at a shoe-box factory. Amanda Wingfield, his mother, lives in a St. Louis tenement, clinging to the myth of her early years as a Southern belle. Her daughter Laura, who wears a leg brace, is painfully shy and often seeks solace in her collection of small glass animals. Amanda's son Tom is desperate to escape his stifling home life and his warehouse job. The Glass Menagerie is considered by many as Williams' finest play.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to." Hurston's use of dialect enraged other African American writers who accused her of pandering to white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later, however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and especially the lives of black women.

List B
A Farewell to Arms Hemingway, E. While serving with the Italian ambulance service during World War I, an American lieutenant, Frederick Henry, falls in love with his English nurse, Catherine Barkley, who tends to him after he is wounded. They are separated and he returns to his post. Henry deserts during the Italians' retreat after the Battle of Caporetto, and the reunited couple flee to Switzerland. Tragedy strikes again, and Henry is left desolate.
The Piano Lesson by August Wilson Set in 1936, The Piano Lesson is a powerful play from this Pulitzer Prize-winning author. A sister and brother fight over a piano that has been in the family for three generations, creating a remarkable drama that embodies the painful past and expectant future of black Americans.
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver A young child of Cherokee descent is abandoned when thrust into the arms of a woman who eventually adopts her - only to find that the adoption is not legal. While the Cherokee nation fights to bring her back to her family, a series of unlikely events bind the two families. This story is written in an earthy, witty style and is truly heartwarming.
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane Crane's first novel is a tale about a pretty young slum girl driven to brutal excesses by poverty and loneliness. It was considered so frank and realistic that the book had to be privately printed at first. It is considered a classic American novel written by an early American writer whose realistic style led to the artistic movement that would change the nation's literature.
Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor In this thought-provoking and beautifully written novel, Gloria Naylor explores complex issues of social class within the parameters of a black affluent community. While on the outside the residents of Linden Hills seem to revel in the glamorous lifestyles and social status they work so hard to obtain, the reality is quite different. Naylor allows the reader a glimpse behind the Porches and the Beverly Hills style mansions into the souls of several Linden Hills residents. With each one of their stories we begin to understand the price paid for material success.
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska This is a story of an early twentieth-century American immigrant Jewish family, a family without a son to lighten their load or brighten their lives. Sarah, the narrator, describes with urgency and in detail the lives she, her sisters, and her mother live to support their revered, torah-reading father: their crowded shared rooms so he can study undisturbed; the numerous jobs everyone works just so their father can buy books, clothes, etc. The father's constant and often impossible demands cause a struggle within Sarah to remain loyal to him and the family.