Essay Topics 1 How does the novel present the relationship between the past and present?

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Essay Topics
1) How does the novel present the relationship between the past and present?

The novel imagines recent events and conflicts, but also sets them against past events. To answer this question, think about how the novel invites us to think about the past, memory, or history, and how these things shape or influence the present. Develop a strong thesis in which you make a claim about the way the novel presents this relationship in the novel. Your body paragraphs should develop and support your claim, using specific evidence from the novel. You may choose one character or several to focus on—the choice is yours—but make sure that all your ideas are in support of your thesis.

2) How does Hosseini use symbolism to reflect important themes or ideas in the novel?

To answer this question, you’ll need to focus on the way the author reinforces key ideas by introducing images, scenes, or passages that reflect those ideas symbolically. Your thesis should identify one or two key ideas or themes from the novel, and make a claim about how these ideas are echoed or extended through the use of symbolism. Your body paragraphs should develop this claim by closely examining three specific passages as examples, using evidence to support your argument.

3) How are the characters’ private lives shaped by the larger forces of history or culture?

To answer this, you must consider the larger forces that influence these characters, such as the environment(s) they live in, the cultural beliefs that surround them, or political or economic forces that are at work. You may choose one character or several, but in your thesis you must make a specific and unified claim about how outside forces influence individual lives in the novel. Your body paragraphs should develop your claim by explaining the way your chosen character or characters are influenced by larger forces, using specific evidence to support each of your arguments.

4) In the first pages, Rahim Khan sets out a challenge to Amir: “There is a way to be good again” (2).
How does Amir attempt to take on this challenge and achieve redemption?

To answer this, first think carefully about what the novel suggests about goodness, about human flaws, their effects, and the possibility of redemption. Then, use Amir’s journey in the novel as a way to explore this idea thoughtfully. Develop a strong thesis about Amir, in which you make a claim about his struggle to achieve redemption. Your body paragraphs should develop this claim, explaining Amir’s conflicts and discussing specific steps he takes along his road to redemption, using evidence to support your points.

5) In what ways has Amir’s character been shaped or influenced by others?

The novel suggests the complex ways individual character is shaped or influenced by others. To answer this question, think about how Amir changes over the course of the novel. And ask yourself how other characters—whether major or minor—influence him. Write a thesis in which you make a clear claim about how Amir’s character is, directly or indirectly, the product of these influences. Your body paragraphs should develop this claim, discussing in detail how Amir changes and analyzing the specific role of the other characters, using evidence to support your points.

Whichever topic you choose, use your knowledge of the elements of fiction to help you develop and support your argument. Do not simply summarize events. Instead, look back at the novel and your notes, and choose evidence wisely. For example…

…if you choose topic 1, you’ll focus on theme, but in order to develop your ideas clearly, you’ll also need to look at character or conflict, and you may want to consider how Hosseini’s style contributes to his ideas.

…if you choose topic 2, you’ll focus on style, discussing how Hosseini uses symbolism to echo key ideas. You’ll also want to discuss how these passages dramatize conflicts or themes in the novel.

…if you choose topic 3, you should consider the novel’s setting(s) in some detail. In considering how these forces shape the characters, you may also look at conflict, character, or theme.

…if you choose topic 4, you’re going to talk about the conflict that Rahim Khan’s challenge sets in motion. You may also consider character and the important themes of the novel.

...if you choose topic 5, you’ll certainly focus on character. You may also discuss conflict, as you consider their relationships or the ways Amir changes.

E1FC – Mr. Weil The Kite Runner – Writing Assignment
For this assignment, you will write an essay about Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner. In your essay, you’ll respond to a question about the novel, and you’ll use our recent focus on the elements of fiction to help you develop a thoughtful response. Your essay will begin with an introductory paragraph that contains a thesis statement. You will then support that thesis statement in the rest of your essay (the body paragraphs), and bring closure to your essay in a conclusion.
Introduction: Your essay will begin with an introductory paragraph that contains a thesis statement. This will be the claim or argument that you support in your essay.

  • Each statement in your introduction should lead us closer to your thesis statement.

  • Your thesis statement should be one to two sentences long.

  • It should make a clear and supportable claim, and it should suggest how you’ll support it in your essay (Please refer back to the class handout on thesis statements).

Body Paragraphs: You will use your body paragraphs to develop and support your thesis, using evidence to support your key points.

  • Each body paragraph will focus on a different supporting point.

  • You should include specific evidence from the novel to support each point.

  • You should integrate quotations from the novel into your own writing using strong transitions.

  • You should develop your ideas fully, and explain the significance of your evidence and examples

  • You should avoid summary. Instead, your discussion will refer to key elements of the novel (plot, setting, character, conflict, style/language, dialogue, theme) as you support your thesis.

Conclusion: You’ll reconnect to your thesis in a brief concluding paragraph.

  • Instead of simply “restating” your introduction in new words, you’ll use the arguments and examples from your essay to help us understand it in a deeper way.

  • Your conclusion might also give us a sense of your essay’s significance beyond the novel.

Your choices for essay topics are on the reverse side of this handout.


    • Format: 2-3 pp., typed, double-spaced, stapled, Times New Roman 11 or12 point font, 1.25” margins

    • Include a title for your essay.

    • When you use quotations for support, make sure that you format them correctly, integrate them into your own writing, and cite page numbers.

    • Follow the conventions for writing about literature by referring to events in the novel in the present tense, even if they’re written in the past tense (but do not change the tense of a quote).

    • Follow key grammar rules that we’ve studied in class.

Due Dates:

Tuesday, 11/22 Proposed thesis statement due (We’ll work on these in class)

Monday, 11/28 A draft of introduction due (typed)

Thurs, 12/1 A draft of your essay is due for peer editing (typed)

Monday, 12/5 Your revised, typed, proofread essay is due, along with all earlier drafts

Note: As always, I expect you to uphold the standards of academic honesty. I am interested in your ideas about the novel, and we’ve had plenty of discussions from which you might build your essay. Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be tolerated, and will have serious consequences.

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