Beginnings, Fall 2007 Assignment for Seminar Preparation Paper #12

Beginnings, Fall 2007
Assignment for Seminar Preparation Paper #12
Due: Monday, Nov. 26
Read: Ursula K. LeGuin, Four Ways to Forgiveness, “A Woman’s Liberation,” p. 195-239.
Reading Directions
Get to know the whole book – front and back cover, table of contents. Take a look at the “Notes
on Werel and Yeowe” at the back of the book (281-306); some of the definitions of terms may be
helpful in reading the story.
Read this section at least once, twice if you can manage it. As you read, underline, highlight,
note in the margin, or index in a reading journal or on blank pages at end of the book passages,
specific terms, sentences or paragraphs that strike you as important, interesting, confusing or
simply those you want to share with others in the seminar. Make a list of new words, names,
phrases that you looked up in a dictionary. Some of the words the author coined for the book are
explained in the “Notes” section.
Think about why the author wrote this novel. What major questions, problems, or ideas is she
concerned about? For seminar, be ready to point to specific passages and explain in your own
words what they mean and why they are important.
Seminar Preparation paper due Nov. 26
For this assignment, you’ll focus on just one of the “elements of literature” from our in-class
handout. (You can download the handout – see below for the web site address.) These elements
are: Character, Setting, or Symbolism. Note that Imagery (words that convey specific sensory
information such as appearance, sounds, tastes, etc) will contribute to each of these elements.
Choose one aspect of the story to focus on. Write at least three paragraphs – a full page or more
– discussing this aspect of the story. Cite specific passages to support your claims, using MLA
style. Most of this should come from you; cite selectively, to focus on a key word, phrase, or
sentence. When you do cite the text, make sure that you set up the quote by providing some
context and a signal phrase when needed. Make sure also to explain what in the quote is
important for supporting your claims.
AFTER your discussion, identify a main theme or idea of the story – something important that
the author seems to be saying, whether directly or indirectly.
The questions here just are to get you going and give you ideas for what to say.
How does Rakam evolve over the course of the story? What choices does she make? What
strengths does she have? What external and internal obstacles does she overcome? How does
she stay the same, and how does she change? What important idea or theme emerges from
Rakam’s personal story?
What are the main features of the world of the Shomeke family estate, the Zeskra estate, and the
City? Of the world called Werel? How is it similar to our own world, today or in the past? How
is it different? What did you notice about the social system, the religious life, the culture of this
alternate world? Why might the author have chosen to set her story on a world where slavery is
practiced and where people have differing degrees of freedom? What ideas or themes are
suggested by the setting?
To identify key symbols, consider what imagery you see in the text that strikes you as most
important, repetitive, or central. What images seem to convey more than mere description?
Identify some physical things that could represent something abstract, such as an idea or
emotion. Choose one to focus on. For example, imagery of gates and doors might suggest issues
of enslavement and freedom.
Once you’ve identified a possible symbol, find places where it appears. What words are used to
describe this symbol? How do characters respond to it? What ideas and emotions are suggested
by this symbol? What idea or theme in the text might the symbol be pointing to?
Follow the format guidelines in the syllabus.
To Hand In:
 List of words you looked up
 Three paragraphs, or more, on your choice: character, setting, or symbolism.
 A final theme statement or key idea you notice in the text.
For the Elements of Literature Handout, go to:
Choose Writing Handouts and then Literature Elements.