AP Lit Semester Two Reflection

Ryan Morris AP Lit Period 8 Semester Two Reflection:


In semester one, a large portion of my reflection revolved around struggling with poetry and how I was overcoming that hurdle. Things began to shift in semester two. This was the semester where we really started to dig into larger works of literature in more detail. Each unit in semester two had a choice of novels to read, and by the end everyone in the class had four novels under their belt. This wasn’t to say that novels were easier for me than poetry; they were very much equally as challenging. In my reflection below I will talk about the various novels I read, and how this helped me grow from the lit student I was in the first semester.


Novel 1: Hamlet


Hamlet was the first novel we read. I liked this unit because it was done as a class, as opposed to everyone going their own separate ways. Being able to read Hamlet as a class at the same pace as everyone else was very beneficial to me, because it meant I was always getting a lot from discussions, even without participating. Reading Shakespeare was definitely extremely difficult for me to understand, and at this point I was relying a lot on programs that helped with ‘translating’ Shakespeare’s work. I had never read much Shakespeare before, however, and having a knowledge of what exactly Shakespeare’s dramas are like is something I believe I will take with me, which set me up well for my next novel.


Novel 2: The Merchant of Venice


Because we had just read Hamlet, I wanted to take on another Shakespeare work to have an attempt two, if you will. While this play was also challenging for me to comprehend, the plot was very accessible which made it easier than Hamlet was. The main task for this unit was to practice public speaking in the form of a novel lecture. The lecture was designed to mirror one of the events I do in forensics: extemp. As such, I was really excited to complete this task. In the end, there was a lot gained from analyzing three different themes in the novel, and this project really help build my skill at discovering what themes authors and playwrights try to get across. Having three note cards instead of one I found to be very helpful for developing themes and spending time to analyze different audience reactions from different times.


Novel 3: Pride and Prejudice:


I choose Pride and Prejudice because I thought the plot sounded interesting from those who described it to me. I really enjoy reading romance-type novels in my free time. However, I found this book really difficult for me to read because of the archaic language. Some people said it wasn’t that bad, but personally I find pre-twentieth century texts very difficult to interact with. This was also a time where I didn’t do much work on time for various reasons, so I don’t have as much evidence for this novel. When writing the style paper for Pride and Prejudice, however, I still learned a lot about the specific type of narration that Jane Austen used. In this unit, I also got some other targets achieved in a Q3 rewrite I did on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in which I got some practice connecting the AP Q3 question on something I originally didn’t have any knowledge on to something we learned in class. I thought this was a strong skill. Additionally, I wrote my strongest prose analysis (question 2) of the year in unit 5 and recieved a 7/9.


Novel 4: Song of Solomon


I went into high gear for my unit 4 novel, keeping a strict timeline to finish all of the reading by. Additionally, I experimented with various methods for annotating the novel. For the first portion, I used sticky notes in the text, and for the latter two-thirds I was writing on index cards which were doubling up as bookmarks. Keeping track of all of the page numbers as I went proved very beneficial to collecting evidence for later assignments. I am glad I did such a careful reading of this text. Writing a lot while reading and interacting with the text really helped me understand it. When it came time to complete the discussion post, and then finally the style essay, I had a really strong understanding and was able to make theses and points quickly. The style paper took me a lot of time to gather my annotations, outline, match evidence with parts in my outline, write up the first draft, and receive some edits from my friends. All of this lead to the final product of my style paper, which was one of my strongest pieces of work in lit thus far.

U6: Novel Discussion Post

Discussion Post:

Song of Solomon is a novel written by Toni Morrison which examines African American society in 20th century United States. Set primarily in Michigan from the Great Depression onward, the book is written through the lens of Milkman Dead, the son of Macon Dead, a wealthy colored landowner in the region. Song of Solomon provides a strong commentary on the state of the African American community in the US pre-civil rights era and extent to which white/black strife is felt historically at that time.

The book does a good job contrasting the growing prosperous segment of the African American community with those that are poor and are looking for violent means to fight back against oppression. Milkman comes from a wealthy family, as Macon Dead owns and rents lots of real estate. When they were going to check out some beach property by the lake, Macon’s daughter Lena says, “What for? Those are white people houses” (33). It shouldn’t be the case that black people feel out of place doing things that are commonly associated with luxury. Is it somehow against African American society to own a beach house? To have a lot of money? The novel did a spectacular job pointing this out. At one point, someone with overdue rent was cursing out Macon for doing his job and collecting. While one can see the place for sympathy, it is in direct clash with his ability to be successful as an American American. Morrison expanded on this further with the friend between Milkman and Guitar. Guitar and Milkman are polar opposites in the African American community. Guitar believes that all whites are ‘unnatural’ (156) and want to lynch and kill Negroes for the fun of it. He thinks that even seemingly sympathetic whites when given the chance would still participate in such acts. On the other hand, Milkman gives whites the benefit of the doubt for their sacrifices. Guitar still thinks that it is because Milkman doesn’t understand the struggle being from a different socioeconomic background himself that he thinks this way. This escalates to the introduction of “the Seven Days” a society in which the members are responsible for killing innocent white people whenever a black person is killed by a white person (154). Milkman is shocked. The strife is evident. How are black people any better if they are killing innocent whites? Is this not any different? 

Besides just the historical and societal values of racial strife discussed in the book, Morrison also begins to hint at religion. Pilate is named from the Bible, and she doesn’t have a bellybutton. This leads people to believe that she is not a creation of God, and her would-be lovers treated her differently (167). Small cultural elements and the embracing of Christianity within African American culture give the book an extra layer of depth. I’m expecting Christianity to become more relevant as the book continues.

Morrison’s work is very strong because it reflects the problems within society at an important time leading up to the civil rights movement. She does so through rich plot lines and characters, namely Milkman and Guitar (but also Macon Dead, the dad), who are able to show the readers the deep societal issues. Christianity isn’t left out of it, and also makes its way into the book many times in naming rituals, as well as influencing how various characters are treated. Overall, the writing style and characterization lets me feel like I understand the problems the society is facing. 

Rubric and comments:


U5 Q3 In Class + Revised Version

Original in class writing:

Revised version:




This target is related to organization, the area which I believe is most improved from a rewrite. I use two body paragraphs, one in which I examine the sound of the name, and one in which I examine the inseparability of the two names and the effect that has on the characters. I tie this together in the conclusion by saying that the play couldn’t even exist without the names.


Using the feedback from my timed in-class writing, I attempted to separate my ideas better in making the two body paragraphs more distinct. Further, I fixed language issues at the end and created a more substantive conclusion which left the reader with a thought to ponder.

SC 11+12:

I used the rewriting time to tighten up language, removing sentences that all had the same structure in a row, instead attempting to vary the sentence structures and being more intentional to how they sound. As I was typing up from the written version, I was able to make a lot of these edits.

Rubric + Comment:


U4: Q1 In Class Writing

This was not one of my stronger in class writings, and I can no longer find the original copy of the document. The low marks largely came because the essay was very short and didn’t have a good understanding of the poem.

Schoology rubric and comments:

U4: Novel Lecture

Notecard 1 (chosen notecard):

Reflection on speech: I should have focused on doing a better job organizing my time, I was using a bit of the forensics style rambling on approach to explain my points. Time run out quickly, and I didn’t get to go into and discuss both the ironies I wanted to talk about and the role the audience plays in the play (that is where the title homogeny came from, the idea that a homogenous Christian audience would react much differently to the play). I also only used one direct quote, when I had many more available to me on my notecard/

Notecard 2:

Notecard 3:

Paper rubric (with feedback):


Online rubric:

EQ Reflection Unit 4

What are our deepest truths about ourselves and our society–both bright and dark?

No societies are perfect, and with that realization comes the fact that there are both bright and dark truths engrained in our society.  An example of a positive ‘bright’ truth would be love. People are always connected by their love for each other, for at least some other human beings out there in the world.  An example of a negative ‘dark’ truth would be that societies are always divided among various — racial, gender, nationality, etc. In Unit 4, we were able to examine literature that exemplified these themes. Personally, I chose to read and examine the text the Merchant of Venice. The main themes in this novel revolved around Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in Venice. When he was seeking to get the pound of flesh from the other characters in the play, the Christians believed they were holding up their ideals of “mercy” and “forgiveness”. In reality, they just had a superiority complex of themselves and their own religion over Shylock. This was seen by the end of the play, when they didn’t give mercy to Shylock either, forcing him into a much harsher punishment than merely forgiving the loan. Literature like this does present commentary on society, sometimes unintended.  Shakespeare didn’t originally mean the play to be this way. The multiple different audiences of the piece and how they can look at the plotline in different ways reveals many truths about how we see ourselves in society, and how we a lot of times only become compassionate once it is seen unanimously as the ‘right’ thing to do.