AP Test Review Books

 

AP Literature Book Review Project

JP Lorié, Lauren Beveridge, Laura Vargas, Brandon Cassel, Spencer Levine, and Brittany Schager

 

Death in Venice

Lauren Beveridge

Summary

Gustav von Aschenbach is a man that prides himself on self-discipline. Yet, he convinces himself that he can find inspiration through a change of scenery, which ultimately leads him to Venice. Aschenbach’s choice to pursue his desire to change setting signifies the beginning of his decline. Upon his arrival in Venice, Aschenbach allows his new surroundings to render him defenseless. Therefore, he falls obsessively in love with Tadzio, a 14-year old boy that is visiting Venice with his family. He spotted the enticingly beautiful boy at his hotel. While Aschenbach stealthily follows Tadzio around Venice, there is an outbreak of Cholera and the disease begins to ravage the city. Though authorities try to conceal this fact from the tourists, Aschenbach learns of the infectious disease rather quickly. Due to his love for Tadzio, Aschenbach naively decides to stay in Venice despite the eminent danger because he cannot bear to leave Tadzio. As time wears on, Aschenbach becomes progressively more forward and risky in his pursuit of Tadzio. The plot concludes with the death of Aschenbach as a result of Cholera, yet he dies as a degraded and pathetic man in opposition to the character he was at the start of the novel.

 

Character Analysis

Gustav von Aschenbach:

Aschenbach is an old writer of solemn nature and high status in Germany. Out of character, he convinces himself to give into his desires and travels to Venice. Upon his arrival, he entirely loses sight of the man he previously was. The boy Tadzio, who is also a guest in Venice, serves as the device through which the reader learns about Aschenbach’s repressed sexuality. He is a dynamic character because he loses all sense of dignity and morality upon spotting this boy, which ultimately leads him to death.

 

Tadzio:

Tadzio is a strikingly beautiful 14-year old boy. He is from Poland. Tadzio serves as the catalyst to Aschenbach losing all dignity and morality. He is visiting Venice with his mother, sister, and governess, and is residing in the same hotel as Aschenbach, which is how they first encounter eachother. While Tadzio is exceedingly innocent, he is not entirely unaware of Aschenbach’s interest in him.

 

 

No Exit

JP Lorié

Summary

Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit is a short play about three people and their acceptance of their fate which is hell. The three characters find hell to be quite different then expected, a simple hotel made with unattractive furniture in which they are simply locked in. As the three begin to talk they soon discover that this entrapment with one another is the punishment itself. Two of the three each act as a torturer for the third. At first Garcin and Estelle try to validate their deaths through morale and just causes, however, Inez tells them not to lie. Throughout the majority of the play the three torture each other through malicious speech and unwanted action such as the girls’ talking and applying make up, Inez and Garcin’s teasing, and Garcin and Estelle’s flirting. All three characters furthermore, do divulge the truth of their sins and reasons for hell and Garcin and Inez do accept them. Part of the torture is also the ability to see people on Earth, this hurts them all as they watch people tarnish their memories. The end of the play is very important as they “torture” each other as Garcin confesses to being killed not for his stance but for abandonment, thus making him a coward. As Garcin looks for reasoning as to why he was brave rather then scared through Estelle, Inez continuously calls him coward. So much so that even when Garcin finds a chance to escape he doesn’t, saying that he will only be saved when he is told he isn’t a coward. Through all of the fuss after the three find themselves accepting their eternal fate and laughing as they laugh at their unfortunate fate.

 

Character Analysis

Garcin: 

Garcin is the first to enter the room, he has not accepted death in the beginning of the play as seen by his questions to the Valet and his human dignity tied to his death. He claims to have died standing for his belief when he was really shot for abandonment. His sins that landed him in hell are in the treatment of his wife as he consistently physically and emotionally abuses her, he does however, accept his sins and the responsibility of them. Garcin grows to accept his trapped situation within hell however not until he discovers that is now remembered as a coward. This thought rattles him so much that even when given the chance to escape he refuses saying that he will only be free when he’s not called a coward.

 

Inez:

A cold and rude woman Inez is the second to enter the room. She is much more accepting of both herself and the situation saying that they are already dead and thus don’t have anything else to worry about. Although more natural at first, as she tries to get along with the others, she does grow to exemplify the “torturer” more and more especially to Garcin as she reasonably says he must take responsibility, however, she also tries to hurt him through these remarks. Inez’s sin was seducing her cousin’s wife, saying that she thoroughly enjoys making vulnerable people uncomfortable as she toys with them. She is the fastest to accept the situation and is the first to suggest that they may be the torturers for one another. 

 

Estelle:

Estelle is the last to enter the room, once a wealthy and materialistic woman, Estelle is the least accepting of the situation as she continuously states that it must have been a misunderstanding. It becomes clear quite quickly that she requires the consistent validation of a man and thus flirts with Garcin, agreeing to everything he says even if she isn’t really listening to it. Although she dodges the question for a long time Estelle does go on to tell the truth about her sins, starting with the confessions that despite her lies she did cheat on her husband. Unfortunately Estelle became pregnant and gave birth to a child whom she killed in front of her lover who later committed suicide over it. By the end of the play she tries to kill Estelle with a knife and they all realize and accept their deaths through this.

 

 

 

Notes From the Underground

Brittany Schrager

Summary

“I am a sick man…I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.” The first words that the narrator tells readers sets the tone for the novel. The novel is the narrator’s story about his separation from mainstream society. He goes through the days hating everyone and seeing the negativity in everything. He is against the traditions of regular society and feels that he is too smart for everybody else; in fact, it turns out that he is too smart for others. He does not care about anyone or anything. He complains that men are obsessed with the concept of free will, even if it will hurt them. He turns away everybody from his life because of the fact that he cannot function in society. He lets go of a woman who truly cares about him as a result of his inability to somewhat conform.

 

Character Analysis

Narrator:

The narrator goes through a sort of love-hate relationship with himself. He believes that he is too smart for others, yet he says that he hates himself because he is so lazy that he cannot do anything, whether it is good or bad. He lives his life trying to exercise his spite for society, such as refusing to see a doctor. He insists he takes pleasure in unpleasant things, such as toothaches, to be able to prove that he does not care about the concept of free will that man is so wrapped around.

 

 

The Reader

Summary

The story starts with the protagonist catches a bad illness. As he is walking home one day

from school he begins to vomit and Hanna sees him and helps him walk back home. After many fretful sick days of staying in bed, Michael goes to Hanna’s house with flowers to thank her. After this the affair begins. The next several parts of the novel consist of Michael and Hanna as their affair deepens. The reader can sense a state of foreboding as the story is told in the past through Michael point of view. As Michael begins to fall in love with Hanna he is consumed with her. Unfortunately she, as it appears, does not feel the same. Michael is so consumed byHanna that he cannot even function as a normal teenager, instead spending every waking minute with her.

Suddenly out of the blue one day Hanna has disappeared, for many years Michael is without Hanna but he cannot stop thinking about her. While attending college as a law student he is surveying a case of Nazi guards being prosecuted. To his dismay one of them is Hanna. As he watches the scenes unfold he sees that each guard is blaming everything on Hanna. He realizes she is only taking the blame to hide the shame of her illiteracy. Because Hanna did not deny the blame and Michael never told the judge, she was sentenced to life in prison and the others were given lesser sentences.

Several years later, Michael has tried to move on with his life but cannot. He has sent Hanna nothing but cannot seem to stop thinking about her. He is consumed with desire and guilt for feeling the desire. Eventually he begins to send her tapes of her favorite stories that he used to read to her. Through this Hanna learns how to reader and sends a letter to Michael. He never writes her back, only sending tapes. After a long prison sentence Michael receives a call announcing to him that Hanna will be released. With this exciting news Michael calls Hanna and the relationship starts again. As the day nears he tell her to prepare herself as he has picked her an apartment, job and will be coming to get her tomorrow. On the day of her release, though Hanna commits suicide and leaves a note. In the note Michael is to give the money she has to the witness at the trial and the witness may decide to do with it what she pleases. The witness decides to give the money to a foundation of Jews that are illiterate. Novel ends with Michael visiting Hanna’s grave for the first and only time, after finally being able to truly move on with his life.

 

Character Analysis

Michael: 

Michael is the protagonist of the novel. He is the narrator of the novel and in the story fall

in love with Hanna. He is young when this occurs, around the age of 15. Michael is a character of stubbornness, impulsivity, kindness, and judgment.

 

Hanna:

Hanna is whom Michael falls in love with in the story. They have an affair throughout part

of the story and then she disappears. It is later learned that Hanna was a Nazi during Nazi Germany and worked in the Auschwitz camp as a guard. She is viewed as a sad woman that feels guilty for her crimes. She is also illiterate.

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