U5 Essential Question Reflection

What are the complexities and and paradoxes of family?
With the concept of family comes the comfort and novelty of a small, special community unique to each person. These relationships are multifaceted connections that tend to be deeper than all other friendly bonds; family members share and express love that transcends chivalrous affection and even romantic passion – it lies somewhere in between. But something that I’ve come to learn over the course of my life is that familial love simply isn’t always a guarantee, and that sometimes the ones you’ve always held closest to your heart will let you down or leave you. And when family members hurt you, it’s far more upsetting than if it had been a friend or enemy because of what was understood to be this unspoken pact of mutual trust binding you together. In this sense, being part of a family opens you up to a world of unknown love and warmth, but simultaneously leaves you vulnerable to the most brutal kind of heartbreak. Literature taps into these complexities in a variety of ways – the first example that comes to mind is the Price family from the Poisonwood Bible (the novel I read for Unit 4), whose mother and 4 daughters take turns narrating the story multiple times each chapter. This allowed me to hear out almost every perspective in the family often in regards to the same shared experiences, which gave me strong insight into this particular family dynamic and showed me the universality of some of the obstacles they encountered together.
The part of the book that stood out to me most was the complexity of Orleanna and Nathan’s relationship, as husband and wife and as parents. Their bond is that of a tyrant and a subservient wife constantly living in fear that her husband would lose temper and lash out at her, and this disrupts the entire family dynamic in that the whole family is forced to tiptoe around him lest his short temper get the best of him. To be honest, this relationship and its consequences on the rest of the family hit very close to home and it was very difficult for me to read into these parents’ relationship. I identified a number of parallels between the emotions of fear and stifledness Orleanna described and what I saw in my own life growing up. Like I told Mrs. Brayko, I cried when I finished the book – not necessarily because of the grief surrounding Ruth May or any one plot point, but because I’d connected so strongly with the book the whole way through. The arc of Orleanna eventually breaking through her paralyzed fear of her husband and becoming the strongest for the sake of her children evoked so much hope and warmth in me; I saw so many of Orleanna’s best character traits in my own mother and made sure to tell her all about this character in this book I was reading for AP Lit who reminded me that she was my biggest blessing.
Family is something that is somehow both a privilege and a right. Literature reveals complex truths behind the concept of belonging to a family by capturing its most unglamorous, raw moments as well as its most beautiful. Family ties also lend a new dimension of reality and authenticity to a story because of their relevance to real life; everyone grapples with family-related conflicts at some stage and these unfiltered experiences contribute to the realism of the pieces we’ve studied this year (particularly in Unit 5). And it’s through literature like this that we’re able to witness the commonalities between us and these very human characters, fictional or not.

AP Q2 In-Class Essay

Completed April 16, 2019


9 out of 9 on AP scale.

Well-constructed. Clear & concise. You’re making each word count. No evidence of planning here, but that hasn’t hurt you. Insights to the writing & its effects are clearly understood and analyzed.

Original Poem

Completed February 14, 2019

I Belong to You (Statements in Self-Love)

Let us begin with a tender embrace
As my universe and yours collide
At once, I find myself caught in the space
Between your fear and my reckless pride

Your silent company is my treasure
A two-tone jive across my chest
To what do I owe the pleasure
Of your visit with which I am blessed?

By the surface of a polished vase
Or mirror or coin or the sea
I catch a glimpse of my lover’s face
It seems you, my dear, are me.

From now, while we stand in our glorious prime
It is only you I have, until the end of time.


I love the poem! Especially the strong imagery and rhythm of stanza 3. It is cohesive and meaningful. Structured as a sonnet but without the sonnet rhythm.

Q2 In-Class Writing (Hamlet)

December 7, 2018


“AP Scale score = 7 /9.”

[In photos of writing as well] “Caroline, you catch subtleties here & layers. You are clear in your approach. Being more explicit in the analysis is the next step.”

Semester 1 Reflection

Over the course of this first semester, I’ve been able to watch myself grow not only as a writer but also as a careful reader, collaborative worker, and peer editor. I’ve learned to read texts closely and analytically, which is a skill I really began to develop last year in AP Lang but didn’t feel very challenged in throughout the course. Entering AP Lit, I realized that the texts we would be reading were significantly more advanced (at least in my opinion). I came into the class with the misconception that fiction would be easier to analyze and work with because there was a clear storyline and characters to follow, but soon learned that, if anything, fiction was more difficult – the language was a lot more archaic (especially when we read much older texts) and convoluted, and I found that it was hard to switch between exclusively working with non-fiction writing in Lang to primarily fiction in Lit because, contrary to my initial  belief, the two are very different.

Of the first 3 units, I particularly enjoyed Poetry Blast. Poetry has always been one of my favorite forms of literature since, as a music and literature enthusiast, I’ve always considered poetry to be a kind of meeting point between the two. The Great Poet Teaching Project was a bit of a dream project for me – I’ve loved Sylvia Plath’s work for the longest time and I knew immediately that I wanted to present about her when the project was introduced. I put a lot of work and care into the presentation and ultimately, it was almost a labor of love for Plath and her writing. It hardly felt like a summative assessment to me because I fell down a number of rabbit holes reading her poetry and stories in the process.

I noticed over the semester that we do a lot of peer work and peer assessment, whether it be through reading classmates’ writing and giving feedback or discussing findings with group members, and it’s shown me how collaborative of a process reading literature is. Early on in the semester, I learned from Foster’s “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” that there is no wrong answer for interpretations of certain symbols in literature and that there are endless possible interpretations for a given object or concept. This means that the more people’s opinions you get on the meaning of something in a text, the more different understandings you obtain of the writer’s intent. I presume this is why we spend so much time talking to each other about what we thought of certain stories and poems, so as to get ourselves thinking about what we’re reading in new ways and understand other interpretations of the same text. I’ve come to appreciate the time we spend collaboratively reading because, especially with our most recent “Hamlet” readings, there are times I struggle to understand the author’s intent or even what is going on at the surface-level, and it helps significantly to hear my classmates’ thoughts and reflections on the writing.

In the same vein, I feel that I’ve become a lot more comfortable with sharing my work with those around me. It could be that I grew comfortable with the class group itself, or that I’ve gained confidence in my writing, or that I’ve just realized how useful peer feedback can be. Whatever the reason may be, I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve become a lot more open to letting other people read and critique my writing than I was last year. I feel that we’re pushed quite a bit to openly share our thoughts or our work with a classmate or even the whole class, and although this class dynamic was daunting at first, I’ve now realized that it’s played a key role in getting me to take ownership of my writing, have faith and confidence in my work, and be less afraid of being “wrong”. The beauty of AP Lit is that much of the time, you simply can’t be wrong because there are often no wrong answers when dealing with things as abstract and open as writing. I’m glad that I’ve been able to be proud of what I’ve created this first semester and look forward to what I’ll produce and be able to share in the coming months.