Trends in Literature
Earth Abides Essay Assignment
Earth Abides is a
novel that should make us contemplate what we value as individuals, as a civilization,
and as the human race. It’s time for you to delve deeper into the novel…it’s
time to explore the themes.
YOUR TASK: Write
an essay of 1000 words that explores one of the choices detailed below. This is
a scholarly work. You should critically
analyze the novel’s content, structure, and themes. Use text-based evidence
to develop and support your analysis.
In your essay, no matter what the topic, you
should explore: theme, characterization,
symbolism, point of view, mood, tone, and any other literary elements that you
may encounter. Remember, this is a literary
This essay will be due at the end of the Earth Abides Unit. You will submit a
hard copy to me and an electronic one to turnitin.com.
Topic Options: (You may want to combine options)
- Societal Implications
how wilderness challenges civilization (or causes a “de-civilization”),
values, and the development or maintenance of moral and psychological
Ish as the “Last Man” and/or the “Last American.” How is the novel a
commentary on what we value as a society? Consider that many of society’s
ills and positives have been eradicated and the characters have a clean
slate. What do they do with it?
how the role of technology impacts civilization. Ish realizes that seven
people can not possibly do it all or pass it all on. Trace how the new
generation cope with technological issues and needs. Consider the hammer,
roads, cars, education, libraries, etc.
a comparison between Ish as the Last American and Ishi as the Last Yahi.
Wells’ British The Time Machine
to Stewart’s American Earth Abides.
What classic values are being analyzed? How does each work reflect the
issues relevant to each country and time? In other words, what is the
- Critical Comparison/Analysis
a multi-genre essay in which you compare and contrast Earth Abides to a work from
another genre that is thematically links. For example, Thomas Hood’s
poem, “The Last Man.”-- http://www.gober.net/victorian/lastman.html
--You may choose your own supplementary text but it must be pre-approved.
This is your opportunity to make connections to another work. Juxtapose
is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper." Write a
critical lens analysis paper that utilizes T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, “The
Hollow Men.” http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/784/,
or simply use this quote as your criteria for analysis following the
critical lens format.
Hector St. John De Crevecoeur and write an essay that explores
Crevecoeur’s beliefs and what Stewart presents in Earth Abides.
What then is the American, this new man?...He is an American, who,
leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones
from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the
new rank he holds. He has become an American by being received in the broad lap
of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all races are melted into a new
race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the
world. Americans are the western pilgrims. (from Letters from an American Farmer, Hector
St. John De Crevecoeur, "Letter III,"
the inscription to part II by Crevecoeur to serve as a critical lens.
Ish as Koheleth from the “Book of Ecclesiastes.” Analyze how the novel is
inspired from the Book. Note how Ish and Em differ in how they view their
situation and life. How is the entire work an echo of Eccelsiastes?
a quote that you think would be a solid critical lens for the novel.
- Genre Studies
novel is certainly a “disaster novel,” but it also falls under the
sub-genre of the “cozy catastrophe,” a term used to describe a work where
all but a tiny handful are destroyed. This allows us to focus on our
interest and concern for these few for whom there is a sort of
"happy ending" while cozily contemplating the wholesale
extermination of the rest of the world. Examine how Earth Abides is a “cozy catastrophe.”
this novel a utopia? Choose a position and support it as you explore the
novel in a smart analysis.
speculative fiction provides a window from which to view the
"stuff" of which humankind is made. What does Stewart think we
are made of? What is humanity? Civilization?
- How is Earth Abides an apocalyptic text? Refer to your definition of
apocalypse to guide your analysis. What has been revealed? Research
through the library 2-3 articles that address the idea of apocalyptic
literature to serve as your guide.
- Science, History & Religion
myth, science, and religion explored through the novel? Consider Ish’s
scientific approach, the hammer, superstition, religion (or lack
thereof), and how the new
generation forms its own new set of beliefs.
- Many works of this genre read
like survival manuals for a worst-case scenario. Earth Abides
takes a perspective that civilization as we know is essentially over.
Technology, government, the arts – these things are finished. There is no
golden age of rebirth. Analyze what contributes to the regression of
civilization. Propose a thesis that might be Stewart’s theory about why
this happens. Consider what contributes to the tribe becoming
cave-man-like, Ish’s wish to honor the world he came from, and the
actions of all concerned. What is Stewart’s position on how humans will
react to this scenario? Consider: Ish’s obsession with observing and then
preserving civilization and intellectual legacy prevailing in the face of
how history repeats itself yet differently.
is this an ourobouros text?
See above in Societal Implications.
- I’ve Got My Own Style
your own criteria for analysis. Have it approved before commencing. You
might want to combine various elements from the above topics or implement
a new idea of your own.