Pre-AP Summer Writing Prompts

Here are the writing prompts for the essay required of students scheduled to take Pre-AP English. If you have already received a list of prompts and written your essay, you may disregard this post. It is intended for those students whose packet was missing the list. 

Each prompt relates to Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon . Choose one and follow the directions in your summer work packet. For those of you who enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird more, don’t despair — you’ll have a chance to respond to that novel, too, once school starts. 

1.) In Chapter 4, Helen points out that her children (and all children in the 1950’s) “have lived under the shadow of war — atomic war.” Do you believe children of today live under a similar shadow or shadows? What events, states of mind, or other phenomena shape the “stage” on which children live their lives in the early 21st century?

2.) To what extent does “survival of the fittest” apply in Fort Repose after The Day? What do Randy and the others understand that phrase to mean? What do you understand it to mean? You may need to do a little background research to help you. 

3.) Why do you think the author used a phrase from the Revelation of John (in the Bible) as the title of the book? To what extent do you think he intended the references to Babylon in Chapters 17 and 18 of The Revelation to refer to the United States in the late 1950’s? To what extent do they relate to the United States today?

4.) What is the sequence of the escalating breakdown of “normal” order, institutions, and public services? How do people react to the sudden absence of services and procedures that they–we–take for granted? Would reactions today be different or similar? What do you think is the most serious loss?

5.) Note the importance of Alice and Florence in the novel. Analyze the development of these two characters and explain what they represent — consider their careers, family life, relationships to other characters, and brief but frequent appearances in the novel. 

6.) What is the sequence of the escalating breakdown of “normal” order, institutions, and public services? How do people react to the sudden absence of services and procedures that they–we–take for granted? Would reactions today be different or similar? What do you think is the most serious loss?

 

* Some of these prompts have been adapted from discussion questions on http://www.readinggroupguides.com 

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