TTTC Playlists



…It Was a Love Story…

Wild World = On the Rainy River
Cello Suite #1 = Style
Telling Stories = Spin
The Walker = How To Tell A True War Story
The Beigeness = Lives of the Dead
Lavender = the whole book


Final Exam Study Guide

What should I expect?



Quote identification

Short answer

Reading comprehension

MLA Formatting


The exam will be CLOSED book, any reading material needed to complete the exam will be provided to you during the exam period.


I will use words from your LITERARY DEVICES, THE GREAT GATSBY and THE THINGS THEY CARRIED vocabulary within the questions on your exam. If you are unfamiliar with the words and meanings you will be unable to fully participate in the exam. I strongly suggest you re-familiarize yourself with these words. In addition, you should be prepared to write grammatically correct sentences that demonstrate the meaning of a variety of vocabulary words.

You might also be asked to define Meta-Fiction, Talisman and Transcendentalism


You should be prepared to accurately identify and discuss themes, symbols, motifs, characters, plot, narration style, and background information for the following texts as studied in class. In addition you should be able to identify quotes from the texts listed below based on content, word choice and style.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Selections from Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Honors)

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien


You will be asked to format or make corrections to a citation or a Works Cited page.


You will be provided with a non-fiction reading passage. The passage will be related to The Things They Carried. You will need to

  1. Read the passage
  2. Answer questions regarding the passage
  3. Make connections between the article and The Things They Carried

You will be provided with THREE essay questions. You will choose ONE and respond in a three paragraph essay. Honors students will respond in four or more paragraphs.


  1. In The Things They Carried, many of the soldiers’ actions are the result of social pressure: O’Brien’s unwillingness to dodge the draft by fleeing to Canada even though he opposed the war, the dark humor the unit displays in the villages, and the fact that they would kill and die “because they were embarrassed not to” (p. 21). Identify instances where social pressure affects a character or the unit as a whole. Is this pressure positive or is it a negative influence? Support your answers with passages from the text.
  1. What is the relationship between truth and fact in The Things They Carried? Why are facts important? How much factual information do we need to understand the truth? How might knowing all the factual information about O’Brien’s service in Vietnam hinder us from understanding the book? How does the search for truth enhance the book’s plot? Support your response with passages from the text.
  1. Discuss the character of Daisy. Is she a noble character, or does she have anything about her character that makes her in any sense honorable? What seems to be her major motivation in life? How does that motivation affect her?
  2. Magicians are often referred to as “The Great ______________” Considering this aspect of the word “great” how is the title The Great Gatsby an appropriate title? How is Gatsby “great”? Focus on more than Gatsby’s new identity.
  1. HONORS: Henry James himself, as recorded in Leon Edel’s comprehensive biography,Henry James: A     Life, said that The Turn of the Screw was a ghost story— the ghosts were to be taken as real, not imagined. Knowing this information, does it change your interpretation of the novella? If you support Mr. James’      claim that the ghosts are real, support that claim with proof from the text. If you disagree (and you are      allowed to disagree) refute that claim with proof from the text.

How to Tell a True War Story and The Dentist Questions: HANDWRITE YOUR RESPONSES ON A SHEET OF PAPER.

  1. Why do you think O’brien placed “The Dentist” directly following “How To Tell a True War Story”?
  1. Make a list of all the ways you’ll know if a story is a true war story.
  1. Use your list from #2 to determine if the story of Curt Lemon, as told in How To Tell A True War Story, is a true war story.
  1. Make connections between this quote and what you know about spin.

War is hell, but that’s not the half of it because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead. (76).

  1. What’s the deal with the yo-yo (67), (69), (72), (76)? What do yo-yo’s do?
  1. How is the story of the men in the mountains the same as the story of the baby water buffalo?
  1. What does O’brien mean when he says, “It wasn’t a war story, it was a love story” (81)?
  1. What’s the connection between these two quotes?

“In a way, I guess she’s right: I should forget about it. But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” (33).

“What I should do, she’ll say, is put it all behind me. Find new stories to tell” (81).

  1. What other stories are referenced in this quote from the end of “How to Tell a True War Story”?

And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It’s about sunlight. It’s about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow. It’s about sisters who never write back and people who never listen (81).

  1. Consider these quotes and write a paragraph explaining what “The Dentist” is actually about.

“They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to” (20).

“It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards” (21).

“It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do” (24).

“I was ashamed of my conscience, ashamed to be doing the right thing” (49).

“I would not do what I should do” (55).

“I would not be brave” (55).

“I would go to war – I would kill and maybe die – because I was embarrassed not to” (57).

“I was a coward. I went to the war” (58).

“The embarrassment must’ve turned a screw in his head” (84).


  1. Using both “Friends” and “Enemies” explain how war distorts the normal codes of society.
  1. How does Dave Jensen betray Lee Strunk’s trust in “Friends”?
  1. Fill in the blanks with information from “Friends”.

___________________________ said that ______________________________ took his jackknife.

____________________________ said that he did not take it.

The result of this was that Strunk and Jensen _________________________________________.

_____________________________ broke his _____________________________ because he wanted

to ____________________________________________.

This is ironic because ____________________________________________________________________.



On the Rainy River HW Response Questions: HANDWRITE YOUR ANSWERS ON A SHEET OF PAPER

  1. Who is the Lone Ranger that is mentioned on page 37 and 55? Look him up on google if you don’t readily understand this allusion. Why is this character significant?
  1. How does fictional O’brien think about the concept of courage? Refer, of course to pages 37-38 of the story but also to the character of Elroy, the events that transpire and the choices fictional O’brien must make.
  1. On page 45 fictional O’brien states, “The man who opened the door that day is the hero of my life.” Who is that man and what does he do that makes him so heroic?
  1. Consider these quotes and write a paragraph about how they are related:

“They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to” (20).

“It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards” (21)

“It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do” (24)

“I was ashamed of my conscience, ashamed to be doing the right thing” (49).

“I would not do what I should do” (55).

“I would not be brave” (55).

“I would go to war – I would kill and maybe die – because I was embarrassed not to” (57).

“I was a coward. I went to the war” (58).




  1. Summarize “Love” in a sentence or phrase that is at least two but not more than eight words long.
  1. Relate this quote from page 26 to the first story in the book. “Many years after the way Jimmy Cross came to visit me at my home in Massachusetts, and for a full day we drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and talked about everything we had seen and done so long ago, all the things we still carried through our lives.”
  1. On page 28 there is an allusion to Bonnie and Clyde. Who were Bonnie and Clyde? They are infamous in the United States. Why?
  1. “She didn’t understand how men could do those things? What things? He asked, and Martha said, The things men do”(28). Also consider this quote from page 24, “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do.” What does Martha mean? What things do men do? Are these things that only men do? Think about the allusion to Bonnie and Clyde. What’s the relationship between that allusion and this statement?
  1. What favor does Jimmy ask fictional Tim to do for him on page 29?

Things to know about the “Spin” chapter/story. Spin has to do with trajectory. You put a spin on a ball to determine the path it will take and ultimately the goal with which it will make contact. We do the same with stories. The spin we put on the basic elements of a story will determine its trajectory and the goal it will make contact with. How you spin the story determines how the listener will understand it. When telling a story you have a goal or purpose.

It’s also important to consider another definition of the word spin: turning around and around and around on a single point. When something spins it is in motion but it covers no ground. Imagine a dancer. Being in spin can mess with your equilibrium. It can throw you off balance, make you dizzy, and make you nauseous. A dancer must lock eyes on one grounding focal point with each rotation in order to maintain balance.

  1. What parts of this story relate to the first meaning of the word spin? Make a list and include page numbers.

Example: The story of the chocolate bar and the boy with one leg (30).

The story of the guy going AWOL (34)

  1. What parts of the story relate to the second meaning of the word spin? Make a list and include page numbers.

Example: “The remember is turned into a kind of rehappening” (31)

“The bad stuff never stops happening: it lives in its own dimension replaying itself over and over” (31)



Discussion Leadership Reminders

Leading a Class Discussion

(adapted from Tim Gillespie)



The Assignment


At some point this quarter you will be responsible for leading a thirty-ish minute class discussion on a work of literature we’ve been reading together. I’ll set out schedules of reading assignments each quarter and you can sign up for a date. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn something!


Your main goal is to orchestrate a rich, fruitful discussion. You’ll need to have read the selection, then come up with questions or talking points to guide the conversation. Being discussion leader does NOT mean you have to guide students to a particular interpretation. Your roll will be to ask questions, bring up troubling issues, keep the talk going, and generally ignite good thinking. Your aim is not necessarily to display your learning or insights; your aim is to get your classmates learning.


The day of your discussion, you will need to turn in a typed sheet of your discussion questions. Your time as a discussion leader will be graded; this grade will be saved and added to the grade book once each of your classmates has had an opportunity to lead a discussion.


Some Advice


There are several strategies and approaches for leading a class discussion.


Some prefer to throw things wide open from the start with open ended questions like “So what did you make of these chapters? Any questions? Issues? Problems? Anything you are enthusiastic about?” In this approach you are relying on reader response and don’t have a set agenda. You trust that your classmates will jump-start the conversation with their issues. If you are lucky a lively chat will ensue.

Throughout a discussion, you can return to this open ended strategy if conversation lags: “So, what was your response to the incident on page 72?” or “I’m going to read a few lines that this character speaks. What do you make of this passage?”


Other facilitators like to start with basic comprehension questions: who, what, when, where? Beginning with these factual questions about basic issues of character and plot gives your classmates a firm grasp on what happened. Next, it’s easy to jump to questions of inference and synthesis, the how and why questions that ask students to make connections and draw conclusions. Avoid getting stuck on only basic comprehension questions. You want to dig deeper.


Some facilitators like predictive questions, asking readers to make informed guesses about what will happen to a particular character, how a conflict will be resolved or how the book will end. There is a risk in such questions, since the answers are all speculative, and it’s easy to veer from the actual text. Plus, it puts those who have read ahead in a position of not being able to contribute.


However you decide to lead your discussion, you need to have a bunch of good questions prepared. For preparation, I recommend reading your section at least a couple of times, taking notes, and following your own curiosities. Often the best questions are things you’re wondering about that you haven’t come up with answers for yet. You should know the passage better than anyone else in the room.


It is the fear of every discussion leader that they will throw out a great questions and be met with a long, deathly silence. Don’t worry! It happens to everyone. The first thing to do is offer a bit of wait time. Don’t bail out on your question right away. People sometimes need a few moments to think. Wait at least ten seconds…it WILL seem like a lifetime…before you give up on your question. You’ll be suprised how often someone rises to the occasion. If silence still prevails, simply say, “Okay, maybe we’re not ready for that right now. Let’s try another question.”


Once the conversation starts, let it go where it will. You don’t have to direct it along the lines of your own agenda. If things are cooking along nicely, you may hear reactions to the human issues and moral dilemmas of the characters, comments on the writer’s craft, associations to other works of literature, reference to personal experiences, political and social responses, judgments about the book and arguments. In a good conversation, participants will analyze, evaluate, disagree, defend, compare, change their minds, get new insights, astound others with their ideas – in short, learn.


At this point your main job is just to keep things focused an moving for the    half hour or so allotted to the discussion. A few hints to help you do this:


Sometimes it’s helpful to ask people to give reasons for their opinions and to             defend their comments with evidence from the text.


Keep your classmates focused on the text. If the discussion drifts…bring it     back.


Every discussion leader has trouble recognizing people to speak. Figure out   your own method, but work at being equitable. Maintain a sense of who has       been waiting to speak, don’t only recognize your friends, the loudest   individuals or people in one area. Remind folks not to ramble, repeat           themselves or repeat comments that have already been made. Keep track of            the clock so you have a general sense of when your thirty minutes is ending.          Feel free to offer a summary of remarks at the end of the discussion if you    want.


Keep the conversation civil and respectful. Don’t let people interrupt others.             Graciously point out errors of fact. Don’t let anyone put down the ideas of          another. All disagreement must occur in an atmosphere of mutual respect. As           the moderator, you probably shouldn’t take a side in any debate.


You don’t have to be the predominant voice, if you are you’re probably not   going to have a very rich or democratic discussion. When people ask for            clarification of things they don’t understand in the reading you don’t always             have to have the answer. Present questions and issues to the whole class.


Remember, the goal is not to agree or to find a single “best” or “correct” interpretation of a work of literature. Rather, the goal is for us all to grow as readers and humans. We seek together to comprehend, enjoy and use the literature to help us better understand the human dilemma and ourselves.


The day of your discussion you will need to turn in a typed sheet of your discussion plan and questions.


Have fun! You’re in charge!


Class Discussion Expectations

(adapted from Tim Gillespie)



When You Are Speaking


Don’t just assert your ideas; explain them. Because something is stated forcefully does not make it convincing.


Give reasons for your opinions. Make your case with evidence. In discussing literature, the best evidence is from the text under consideration – the story, novel, essay, or poem you’re reading.


Refer to the text often


Be specific rather than general; specific examples are most convincing.


Please don’t repeat something that has already been said. Your job is to add new spices to the conversations soup.


Don’t ramble or repeat yourself. Saying a thing once and saying it well is the goal.



When Others Are Speaking


Listen carefully. Don’t interrupt. Reflect on what is being said.


If you disagree with a comment, explain the reason.


Don’t attack a person when you disagree with their idea. Stick to the idea.


Be careful not to label (for example “that’s stupid”). A label is not an argument. Make your point. State your reasons.



For Everyone All the Time


Be civil and respectful to each other.


Being civil doe not mean we must pretend like we agree, it means we resolve our disagreements respectfully.


Being civil to each other has nothing to do with whether we like each other or not.


In order to be civil we must listen to others with knowledge of the possibility that they may be right and we may be wrong.