1. What function might this text serve within its particular historical and cultural context? How is it responding to problems, dilemmas, or anxieties specific to that context—to the country and moment in history within which it was first written? Does it offer a way of responding to a situation, a strategy either for coping with or overcoming the problem that it addresses? If so, what is it? Why, in other words, might, the work have been appealing to readers living within the same context as the author?
2. How does the text resonate with your own life experiences as a twenty-first century New Yorker? Have you been in a situation similar to the one described by the author? Have you faced the same kinds of challenges? Have you found yourself viewing the world in the same way as one of the characters or the narrator? How has your life experience helped you to understand the text? And how has reading the work affected your way of thinking about the problems that you have confronted in your own life? Has it offered you a new understanding or attitude, a new way of addressing particular obstacles? Has it influenced the way you feel about a particular situation? If so, how? Please try to come up with a specific concrete example from your life. You will need to offer a first-person account of your own experience so as to explore how the text is relevant to that experience. Your paper, in other words, should combine an analysis of the text with a personal narrative and explore the connections between the two.
Please choose only #1 or #2 (not both). Since I am now asking you to address a larger context—either the text’s own cultural context or the context of your own life—in addition to offering an interpretation of passages within the text, you may need 6-7 pages.