Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise and Rabih Alameddine’s The Wrong End of the Telescope are both contemporary works of fiction by Arab American writers the focus on the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. There are many parallels between the two novels as well as important differences. To produce a strong paper, focus on one aspect that you see in common or in parallel in both novels and address the similarities and differences in how this one parallel or common aspect is treated in each novel.
Below are some suggestions on aspects you might focus on for this paper:
Theme. Compare and contrast a theme in What Strange Paradise with a related theme in The Wrong End of the Telescope (e.g. fantasy vs. reality; hope and despair; the narratives we like to hear and the narratives we need to tell; indifference and care; xenophobia, racism, sexism, class hierarchies in both the places of origin and places of destination as well as the places in between where the refugees find themselves)
Major characters. Compare and contrast a major character in one novel with another major character in the other novel (e.g. Amir in What Strange Paradise and Sumaiya or in The Wrong End of the Telescope, or Vänna in What Strange Paradise and Mina in The Wrong End of the Telescope)
Minor characters. Compare and contrast a minor character in one novel with another minor character in the other novel (e.g. Umm Ibrahim in What Strange Paradise and Mazen in The Wrong End of the Telescope) Specific Scenes. In both novels, there are specific scenes that develop particular ideas (e.g. the scene between Kethros and Amir in What Strange Paradise and the scene when “Selfie Girl” loses her phone in The Wrong End of the Telescope).
Each one of those scenes conveys an important insight about the refugee crisis or attitudes toward it that the novel is trying to develop. Compare and contrast how each scene develops this insight. The idea of crossing. The prefix “trans,” which comes from Latin means “across, over, or beyond.” We see it in words that have to do with movement or change such as transit, transfer, transcontinental, transmute, and transgender.
Both Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise and Rabih Alameddine’s The Wrong End of the Telescope explore the idea of crossing. Explore the parallels and differences in how each writer treats this idea. The uses of allusion to Greek myth, fairytales, historical events, or other works of art. Focus on one type of allusion in each work (e.g. Hermes and Charon in What Strange Paradise and Icarus in The Wrong End of the Telescope) and compare and contrast how knowledge of the myths referenced in each work add a layer or layers of meaning to the work. Nature Descriptions. Both novels describe vivid scenes of the natural environment. Ecocriticism is a type of analysis that focuses on the uses of nature in literature. Things you might focus on could be: the relationship between characters and their natural environment; symbolic uses of nature in the work of literature; the connection between a certain theme and attitudes toward nature in the work of literature; the connection between environmental and social issues; etc. If you choose this option, you might compare and contrast some aspect of the depiction of nature and its significance in Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise and Rabih Alameddine’s The Wrong End of the Telescope Create your own angle of focus for your comparison/contrast paper but check with me before proceeding with it to make sure it would work for this course. How to write a strong comparison/contrast paper The best comparison/contrast papers are focused, well supported, and insightful.
In addition, you might double-check to ensure that your paper contains the following: A thesis statement. End your introduction paragraph with a thesis that identifies the point of the comparison/contrast between two texts you’re analyzing. What meaningful idea are you trying to convey to your reader through your comparison and contrast reflection about the two novels? You need to clearly identify this in your thesis.
Citations. Cite your sources in MLA style. Use in-text citations immediately after referring to your sources and supply full citations in a Works Cited page. See the guide here. Analysis. Highlight the significance of your observations. In other words, explain how your observations illustrate and support the main claim of your paper (your thesis) and address the question “so what?” Logical flow. Create a logical organization for your paper.
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