|“Test Rubric” for American Literary Traditions
The hour exams are divided into two parts. The first is an identification section comprised of passages, terms, and names from works we have discussed or terms that we have defined in our class discussions. The second is an essay section that asks you to respond to a thematic or topical question by developing an essay that uses evidence to support your thesis or argument from material we have read and discussed.
Part I. Identifications (40 points)
Plan on one paragraph per identification. Be as specific as possible, mentioning the author and work from which an item is taken, when appropriate. For a character or a person, give a brief sketch of who he or she is, and then explain why he or she is important to the work. For a passage, explain the meaning of the passage itself and then explain why it is important to the work from which it is taken (how it relates to a central theme, issue or problem that the text raises).
Each answer is worth 8 points. You earn 4 points for the basic identification, another 1-2 for the brief sketch or explanation of meaning, and the last 1-2 for your explanation of significance. To earn 7 or 8 points, an answer must contain all of these elements.
3. Adele Ratignolle
Response: Adele Ratignolle is a character in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Adele is the ideal Creole woman. She is maternal, voluptuous, constantly pregnant, sweet, and a good wife and mother. She is everything that Edna Pontellier, the main character of the story, is not, but everything that Edna’s husband wishes her to be. Through Adele, Edna comes to see that she doesn’t want to be the “angel in the house,” the woman whose sole purpose in life is to take care of the house, her husband and children. Chopin juxtaposes these two women to contrast the image of the “angel in the house” and the image of the “new woman,” helping the reader understand Edna’s desire for freedom.
Part II. Essay (60 points)
You are asked to choose one of two essay questions to which you will respond. A good essay response presents the following:
An introductory paragraph that draws the reader into the discussion, establishes the thesis or central argument that the essay will present, and names the two works that will be used to develop the specific examples.
The body of the essay that consists of paragraphs that offer components of the argument, supported by specific examples drawn from the books that you have elected to use. These paragraphs also contain statements that link the examples back to the central thesis of the essay. The more developed the analysis presented, the greater the number of points awarded to the essay.
A brief conclusion that reasserts the central thesis in light of the evidence presented and brings the essay to a close.
1. In evaluating the work of realist writers, critics often note that many of them focus on moments of change for their characters, moments that reflect growth, understanding, or realization. Consider how two of the fiction writers we've discussed deal with change (or the lack of change) for their characters. Be as specific as possible.