Category Archives: Assignments

BNW Non-fiction assignment

Each of you will read and share at least one non-fiction piece (news article, story published in an online magazine – NOT simply information) with some connection to Brave New World. You must post a link to the article here as a “comment” (click on “Leave a comment” above), along with your name. Whether you are logged in or not, be sure your name accompanies your comment.

Once you have posted, be patient. I must approve it before it appears on the site.

For your final presentation assignment, present your article to the class with the following information:

  1. Explain the connection to Brave New World.
  2. Give a short summary of the piece (article, essay, etc.) you read.
  3. Did you encounter any vocabulary words which were new or difficult?
  4. What was the main point the author wanted you to get from reading his/her work?
  5. With which points of the piece did you agree or find easy to accept? Why?
  6. With which points of the piece did you disagree or find difficult to believe? Why?
  7. What did you think of this piece? OR How did this piece influence your ideas?
  8. Comment on the responses posted by your peers.

Some suggested topics:

  • “test tube” babies
  • Technological advancements
  • New products
  • Birth and death
  • Stress or other “human” phenomena
  • People “locked away” or separated from society
  • Use/abuse of drugs, effects on society
  • The “War on Drugs
  • Articles on social classes in our society
  • Articles about education in our society

Wordly Wise!

Another vocabulary quiz is coming up. Get prepared with the help of these flashcards and activities:

Book 12 lesson 13

Book 12 lesson 14


BNW – Discussion ?s

1. Few of Huxley’s predictions have proven to be perfectly accurate, yet many aspects of the Utopia of Brave New World feel uncomfortably like our world. Talk about the book as a prophetic vision of the future. Which aspects of the book did you find most disturbing? Which hit closest to home? Which seem the most far-fetched?

2. When Brave New World was first published in 1932, the world was plunged in depression, fascism was on the rise in Western Europe, and Marxism appealed to increasing numbers of intellectuals in Europe and America. Place the book in the context of its historical moment. Which parts transcend its time and place?

3. The two greatest obscenities in the society of Brave New World are birth and mother. Why?

4. Toward the end of the book, the Controller Mustapha Mond sums up the benefits of living in the “brave new world” Utopia: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.” It sounds like perfection, and yet the world Mond describes is deeply, intentionally horrifying. Why? What exactly is so bad about this society of the future? Is there anything good about it, anything we could learn from and try to adapt to our own uses?

5. As dehumanizing and oppressive as the brave new world Utopia is, the alternative in the “savage reserve” is in many ways worse – dirty, violent, unhealthy, cruel, uncomfortable. What point is Huxley making about human nature and the nature of human communities? Is his vision totally negative – or does the book hold out some shred of hope, some alternative mode that fosters both freedom and community?

6. One of the most striking – and comic – aspects of Huxley’s Utopia is the way our sexual mores and assumptions have been turned on their head: monogamy is bad, passion is deviation, casual, meaningless sex is the socially approved norm. What is Huxley getting at here? Is there any expression of human sexuality that he finds acceptable? Is sex at the heart of the “problem” in his view of human nature?

7. Talk about the morality of the book. Is it a Christian morality? Socialist? Anarchist?

8. In many ways, the main characters of the book are cartoon figures – Helmholtz Watson the alienated superman, Bernard Marx the cowardly, hypocritical intellectual, Mustapha Mond the cynical all-knowing leader, John the doomed idealistic. Discuss the book as an allegory and elaborate on what each character stands for.

9. When John first starts reading Shakespeare, he discovers that the words make his emotions “more real” – they even make other people more real. Talk about the power of language in the book, the power of the word to influence thought and behavior. Why did Huxley choose Shakespeare as the medium of John’s intellectual awakening?

10. Huxley wrote many other books, yet this is his most popular and most enduring. What is it about this book that has captured our imaginations for so long? Are there aspects of it that seem dated?

11. Talk about Huxley’s use of narrator. Does the fact that Huxley’s vision was impaired for part of his life have any bearing on the way he narrates the story and sets the scenes?

12. Could anything like Brave New World really happen? Has it happened in some form that we don’t fully recognize?

Brave New World

Here is an online version of the text of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Chapters 1-3 should be read by Monday, January 12, 2015; there will be a reading comprehension quiz.

Annotations for chapters 1-6 are due Friday, January 15. You must write at least one annotation per chapter.

Things Fall Apart – Annotated!


Utilizing the features of the RapGenius site, seniors are now annotating Part I of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart:

Mr. Allen:


Amr and Youssef B:

Karim and Mason:







Yasmina and Kenza:

Yakout and Youssef K:

Younes and Sarah:

Things Fall Apart – Annotation Rubric

Annotation Rubric – Things Fall Apart

Discussion Questions for Heart of Darkness


As you read Heart of Darkness , mark passages and quotes in your text that will help you answer and/or illlustrate the following questions and issues:

1. The Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has claimed that Heart of Darkness is an “offensive and deplorable book” that “set[s] Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.” Achebe says that Conrad does not provide enough of an outside frame of reference to enable the book to be read as ironic or critical of imperialism. Based on the evidence in the text, argue for or against Achebe’s assertion.

2. As you read the novel, be aware of how Conrad uses repeated “doubling” patterns of opposition and contrast in Heart of Darkness: light and dark, white and black, “savagery” and “civilization,” outer and inner? What does Conrad accomplish by this contrast, especially of light and dark?

3. Marlow constantly uses vague and often redundant phrases like “unspeakable secrets” and “inconceivable mystery.” At other times, however, he is capable of powerful imagery and considerable eloquence. Why does Marlow use vague and “inconclusive” language so frequently?

4. Why does Heart of Darkness have two competing heroes? Make the case for either Marlow or Kurtz as the true “hero” of the book. How do you define “hero” for this book? Why doesn’t Marlow kill Kurtz?

5. Think about the framing story that structures Heart of Darkness. Why is it important to narrate Marlow in the act of telling his story? Why is the framing narrator unnamed?

6. Interpret Kurtz’s dying words (“The horror! The horror!”). What do they mean? What are the possible “horrors” to which he is referring? Why is Marlow the recipient of Kurtz’s last words?

7. What do women represent in Heart of Darkness? There are three significant women in this story: Kurtz’s Intended, Marlow’s aunt, and the African woman at Kurtz’s station. How are they described? Contrast Kurtz’s African mistress with his Intended. Are both negative portrayals of women? Describe how each functions in the narrative. Does it make any difference in your interpretation to know that Conrad supported the women’s suffrage movement? What does Marlow mean early in Part 1 when he suggests that women are “out of touch with truth” and live in a beautiful world of their own?

8. Describe the use of “darkness” both in the book’s title and as a symbol throughout the text. What does darkness represent? Is its meaning constant or does it change?

9. How does physical illness relate to madness? How does one’s environment relate to one’s mental state in this book?

10. Why does Marlow lie to Kurtz’s fiancée about Kurtz’s last words? Why not tell her the truth, or tell her that Kurtz had no last words, rather than affirming her sentimental and mundane ideas?

11. If you were, like Francis Ford Coppola (who shifted the setting to late 1960s Viet Nam in his 1979 film Apocalypse Now) to retell Heart of Darkness in another setting, where and when would you set it?

Two Readings of Heart of Darkness

Here’s a link “back to” the Imperial Archive and a brief analysis of Achebe’s critique of the language used in Conrad’s novella as “racist”; the topic is central to our classroom conversation and investigation of the “fairness” of Achebe’s indictment. Please read and comment on the information linked here. Questions and possible response topics will be developed during class discussion; feel free to organize your ideas in reaction to this information and begin posting them in response to this link: