Modernism: Millay / Cummings / Fitzgerald / Hemingway

Millay – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. How does Millay’s choice of the sonnet form distinguish her work from that of other Modernists such as Eliot, Moore, Stevens, and Williams? Also, why do writers like Cullen and Millay experiment with the sonnet form?
  2. Millay is one of the first American poets to write candidly about female sexuality. How does Millay’s poetry reflect the attitudes of Modernism in relation to female sexuality?

Cummings – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. How does cummings’s resistance to punctuation shape your understanding of this poem? Can you determine an internal structure in the poem that replaces the need for standard punctuation?
  2. How does cummings’s poetry compare to other iconic American poets like Whitman or Williams? Is cummings’s rejection of punctuation and traditional forms part of the American quality of his poetry?
  3. Analyze the ways in which cummings uses hyphenation and line breaks in “in Just-” to create a sense of overlapping time.

Fitzgerald- Reading and Review Questions:

  1. What do the female characters tell us about gender roles and expectations in Fitzgerald’s fiction?
  2. What do Fitzgerald’s stories tell us about the American dream?
  3. What role does money play in Fitzgerald’s story?

Hemingway – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Looking at the two stories, side by side, what similarities do you notice between Macomber and Harry? What message is Hemingway trying to send to readers?
  2. Do you notice any similarities between Margaret Macomber and Helen as well?
  3. Hemingway is often accused of being a chauvinistic writer, after reading this story do you think this is a fair critique? Does he have a preference for his male characters? Are his female characters fully formed and believable?


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American Literatures After 1865 Copyright © by Scott D. Peterson; Amy Berke; Robert Bleil; Jordan Cofer; and Doug Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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