Provocative Fiction

2. Read

Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison, p. 303;

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, p. 315;

Sonnys Blues by James Baldwin, p. 455; and

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien, p. 846.

3. Thats a chunk, but not too much and I used to assign Roberto Bolanos Nazi Literature in the Americas and thats over two hundred pages. The Ellison is a short excerpt from the novel Invisible Man and the OBrien is from a collection of stories bearing that name. Jackson was a master of short fiction and the author of the finest haunted house novel of the twentieth century, The Haunting of Hill House. Baldwin was a novel and essayist and a political activist.

4. Youve done quite a bit of work up to this point and read a lot of different things. These texts (the first and last are parts of larger works) are among the more provocative in this anthology. Once youve read them, read the short excerpt on deconstruction in the anthology, on p. 948.

5. Deconstruction is a complicated and troublesome approach to criticism, philosophy, and literature that takes a long time to get, and the book kinda sorta gives you what you need to know. See if this helps:
6. OKAY THEN. I dont expect the short description here or in the book to convey all the complexities of deconstruction, but I would like you to give it a try. The four texts we are reading this week want you to deconstruct things. Each of them provocatively attacks or undermines something about the world. I want you to read all of them and then write on Jacksons The Lottery plus one of the other three. Heres the question: Where are these texts provoking us to examine fundamental assumptions about our lives and culture? What words and phrases point us toward an unexamined value, probably contained in a binary like masculine/feminine? Deconstruction usually starts with key words and phrases and radiates out from there, so look for the choice words that help you out.
TO RECAP: Read everything then take The Lottery and one of the other three and describe how the texts invite us to deconstruct meaning; find something hidden, a value or assumption that is a foundation of other values.