Summer reading, just explain the question please?

Okay i just want you to explain the question...i want to find the answer on my own.So i have to read, The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane. My english teacher wants us to write an essay on this,"Literature is the question minus the answer" Roland BarthesShe says to analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author's treatment of this question affects you understanding of the work as a whole...so my obvious reaction was..."Huh?"Please help :]



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2 Responses to “Summer reading, just explain the question please?”

  1. cartels says:

    Hahaha that was my first reaction, but a double take actually makes this a very wise and true quote, at least for good novels and classic ones.A good piece of literature raises issues in society and our world in which everyone can relate to, but no one has solved. These themes can be related to war, racism, human cruelty, mankind in general, or just life in general. Usually, these books have a lot of that subject in it, that unfairness, and, while the book might be resolved, the question it brings up never is, because no one can really answer it. The book leaves you reflecting upon a theme and how it can never really be figured out. You see? The book raises a question, but the question is one that really can’t be answered, usually because its opinion, faith, or simply unknown. So she wants you to get a good book, I guess the one you read, see what themes it raises, see how it ends and if there is any unfairness, etc., in it that you reflected upon once you finished the book. I would look for some sort of unfairness, because thats usually where it is. Then explain how much the author answered it through her book and what happened, and then explain how her approach to the book (ie what kind of tone she writes when relating to the subject, like does she support war? oppose it?) makes you view the subject. How much does she try to pursuade her readers? How biased is the book?I hope I was able to make sense for you! Haha sometimes I don’t even make sense myself :P And good luck! Just focus on the theme and how it makes you feel/the questions it makes you wanna ask.

  2. nimzod says:

    Yeah, “huh” would have been my first reaction as well. My take on it is that literature gives you the food for thought to which the reader then makes conclusions and comes up with subjective answers. The Red Badge of Courage, which I’ve never read, I assume is a war story about bravery or, perhaps, questions the rationale for war. So you have your central question, for example, why make war? Most times the author will let you draw your own conclusions, but may offer answers to some extent.