State of Wonder Essay Topics

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Essay Topics

  1. The Amazon is the second longest river in the world, bridging the Atlantic Coast of Brazil to the deep jungle heart of the South American continent. Like many other literary classics featuring rivers—Huckleberry Finn and the Mississippi, Heart of Darkness and the Congo—State of Wonder uses the Amazon River as an important symbol. With this in mind, develop a multi-paragraph analysis examining how the Amazon River as symbol helps us to understand the novel as a whole.
  1. How would you characterize the author’s portrayal of the various tribes that make up the Amazon interior? What are the similarities and differences between tribes like the Lakashi, the Jinta, and the Hummocca? Does Patchett’s portrayal of these tribes offer larger insights into humanity?
  1. Like the Amazon River, the Martin tree and its rare compound function as an important symbol. Re-read Marina’s initial encounter with the Martin ecosystem in Chapter 9, and develop a multi-paragraph essay that explores the Martin ecosystem’s role as symbol. In at least part of your essay, address the following question: What truths or ideas do the Martin tree and its fragile and interconnected system reveal about the natural world and our relationship to it?
  1. We first come to know about Dr. Swenson from her letter, announcing Anders’ death in Chapter 1. How does our view of Dr. Swenson change (or does it change?) over the course of the novel?
  1. How would you characterize the nature of the conflict between Mr. Fox, the Vogel CEO, who is determined to develop a highly profitable fertility drug, and Dr. Swenson, a biomedical researcher funded by Vogel, who is driven to develop an inoculation against malaria? What specific ideas emerge from this conflict of personality, profession, and agenda?
  1. How does Marina’s traumatic past inform her reactions to the experiences she undergoes over the course of the novel?
  1. Barbara Bovender, Jackie Bovender, Milton, the Saturns, Dr. Budi, Dr. Nkomo, Karen Eckman, Anders Eckman and Benoit are among the novel’s minor characters that play a profound role in the development of its core themes and conflicts. Choose at least two and no more…
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