English 251:  Introduction to Literature

Prep Sheet for Exam #3 (Spring 2000)

Note:  If you print this prep sheet off, please keep in mind that any word or phrase that comes out underlined represents a link that can be accessed only if you have the prep sheet called up on-line in your browser.  After looking over the printed-out, you may want to go back on-line and check out some of these.
Important Notice:  Any student may take the final exam at any of the times officially scheduled for any of my sections of the course.  The room officially scheduled for each section is our regular classroom.  So if you attend a session for a different section, make sure you go to the right room for the final.  See the bottom of Part III of the Course Schedule for times and places.

Exam #3 covers all the assigned reading since Exam #2.  The main emphasis on the exam will be upon the stories in the light of the critical concepts cited later on, but you should by no means neglect the rest.


  1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" (pp. 196-206).
  2. Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Minister's Black Veil" (downloadable from here).
  3. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-23; available here).
  4. The Parable of the Good Seed (Matthew 13:24-30; p. 907).
  5. Flannery O'Connor, "Everything That Rises Must Converge" (pp. 340-51).
  6. Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (pp. 363-78).
  7. Flannery O'Connor, "Revelation" (pp. 363-78).
  8. John Steinbeck, "The Chrysanthemums" (p. 219-227).  (Don't forget to exploit the editors' useful questions over this story, on p. 228.)
  9. Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried" (pp. 600-612).
  10. Robert Owen Butler, "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" (pp. 397-406).  (There is a Study Guide to this story.)


  1. George Herbert, "Redemption" (p. 908).
  2. Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken" (p. 910).
  3. Christina Rossetti, "Uphill" (p. 911).
  4. Gjertrud Schnackenberg, "Signs" (pp. 911-912).
  5. Robinson Jeffers, "The Beaks of Eagles" (p. 912).
  6. Sara Teasdale, "The Flight" (p. 913).
  7. William Carlos Williams, "The Great Figure" (p. 752).
  8. Robert Bly, "Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter" (p. 753).
  9. Gary Snyder's "Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout" (p. 753).

Plays / Films

  1. William Inge, Picnic.  You can either have attended either the KSU Theatre production or viewed the 1956 film version (which is available on video from Blockbuster [537-2400] or Eastside Dillons [776-0367] in Manhattan or the Dillons store in Junction City [1-785-1564]).
  2. The Official Story (shown in class; available in video from the Manhattan Public Library [2 copies; 776-4741], Blockbuster [537-2400], Eastside Dillons [776-0367] in Manhattan).  I also have a copy which I can loan out.  You can call me at 539-5189.

For each work, expect to show that "your were there," and to have something interpretive to say (i.e., beyond report of the explicit facts of the plot).  You will have several options in each case.

Authorial commentary

  1. Flannery O'Connor on the element of suspense in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (pp. 379-81.
  2. Flannery O'Connor on the serious reader and the tired reader (pp. 382-83).

Critical analysis and explanation of critical concepts

  1. "Theme" (pp. 175-177).
  2. "Stating the Theme" (p. 215).
  3. "Symbol" [in our textbook's section on fiction] (pp. 217-219).
  4. "Recognizing Symbols" (p.242).
  5. "Explicating a Symbol:  The Case of Hawthorne's 'The Minister's Black Veil'" (which is here).
  6. "Symbol" [in our text's section on poetry] (pp. 718-724).
  7. "How to Read a Symbol" (p. 731).

The critical concepts the exam will expect you to be able to understand and use are the same as the ones focused on in Exam #2, plus the ones we have been focusing on since (symbol, allegory, parable, theme), discussed in the 8 expository selections just cited.  To refresh your memory about the ones carried over:

the basic functional elements of plot (dramatic situation; conflict; dramatic question; exposition, rising action, crisis, climax, denoument; epiphany; anagnorisis and peripeteia [aka recognition and reversal]).

Discussions of these are on pp. 9-11, 937-40.  (Note that the concept "dramatic question" doesn't just apply to plays!).

the basic concepts relating to characterization (dynamic vs. static characterization, round vs. flat characterization; motivation [including unconsious motivation] ).

Discussions of these are on pp. 60-63 and in the entry in our web glossary on repression.

our framework for classifying plots of with respect to the characterization of this protagonist.

basic concepts having to do with the voice of narrators, personas, dramatic characters (types of point of view; tone).

Discussions of these are on pp. 20-26, 137-141, 667-73.  (You are not responsible on the final exam for the particular poems used as illustrations in this last section.)

Be sure you know the difference between verbal irony and situational irony, including dramatic irony.

foil and motif.

For all of these there are discussions in our text.  To find your way to them, consult the "Index of Literary Terms" inside the back cover of our text.

You can expect to encounter the following question on the exam (30 points).

What is the point of view from which Flannery O'Connor arranges to tell "Revelation"?  What are the chief limitations of character that the protagonist exhibits before her anagnorisis at the end of the story?  How does the epiphany the protagonist experiences in the waiting room of the doctor's office help her (eventually) to "return to reality" by "preparing [her] to accept [her] moment of grace" [p. 382]?  What are the successive stages of the answer God gives to her question just before the story's climax?  (You should allocate the bulk of your essay to addressing this question by showing how these "answers" form a logical progression.)  What do we infer is the effect on the protagonist of this comprehensive revelation?

I will provide you with the text of the story's climax.  (For other relevant details you will have to rely on your memory of the story as a whole.)  On this question you should write at least a page of carefully reasoned analysis.  Take care to document your inferences with citation of the relevant details of the text.  Do not, however, just summarize the story and/or paraphrase the passage provided.  Summary and paraphrase are not the skills this question is designed to enable you to show.  I want to see whether you can arrive at a coherent comprehensive interpretation that is logically well-grounded in the explicit facts of the story.

You can also expect to rite a detailed, well-reasoned essay on one of the following topics, for 30 points. 

The organizational structure of your essay should be logical rather than chronological.  What the appropriate logical strategy for it is depends on the particular sorts of issues are that are logically imbedded in the particular question you choose.  Again, figure on producing at least a page-worth of non-repetitive, on-point discussion.

Describe a foil relationship that is important in Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil," and explain how it contributes to the story's overall theme.

Classify the plot of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" according to the characterization of the story's protagonist, and explain the role this outcome has in supporting the story's overall theme.

Explain how the central symbol works on behalf of the story's overall theme in Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums."

Explain how the title applies to three of the characters in O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."  Don't just describe what they carry:  explain how what they carry is significant.  Be sure to mention at least some of the non-material things they carry.  How does what you point out help to illuminate what you take to be O'Brien's purpose in writing this story?

Explain your answer to each of the following questions concerning Robert Owen Butler's "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain":  What seems to be the motivation behind the recurrent conversations the protagonist has with Quoc?  What resolution does he arrive at?  How does the author seem to want us to feel towards the protagonist?  What might be a reason the author felt moved to write this story?

Remaining questions will be of the short-answer type familiar from the previous two exams.  You will find it unavoidable to write something on Picnic and The Official Story.  There will be some options among other works covered upon the exam.

There will also be a few extra-credit questions that challenge you to focus on the logical properties of the critical concepts covered on the exam.  These will be of the sort you saw at the end of Exam #2.

An important resource in approaching the final exam is the extensive feedback for Exam #2.  From the commentary and examples there, you should be able to get a good idea of the sorts of moves that it makes sense to incorporate into your answers, long and short.

  Suggestions, comments and questions are welcome.  Please send them to lyman@ksu.edu .

      Contents copyright 2000 by Lyman A. Baker

Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.

      This page last updated 08 May 2000.