In William Styron's Darkness Visible, what relationships seem to be supportive or unsupportive for the people involved? How do those relationships play out as they deal with their mental health challenges? How is symbol or metaphor operating in the work? What do those symbols or metaphors seem to mean for the people involved, and what meaning do they hold for us as readers? What meaning or power do voices have in the work? These voices could be present in consensus reality or only heard by the person or character, and they may be implied, suggested, or hinted.

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Let's start by breaking down each question into parts that you might find easier to understand.

What relationships seem to be supportive or unsupportive for the characters or actual people involved?

This question asks you to focus on the relationships between the characters in the work. First, identify the characters and then think about how they connect to one another; are they friends, or lovers, or relatives, or work colleagues, for example? Once you know what kind of relationship you're dealing with, you can decide if you think the relationship is supportive for one of the characters involved or unsupportive.

How do those relationships play out as these personages deal with their mental health challenges?

This question asks you to look at the impact of a character's mental health issues on their relationships. For example, can the friendship survive the pressure, or does it crumble when things get tough? Is a marriage strengthened by challenge or weakened by it? Does someone get fired because their work relationships cannot handle the mental health issues?

How is symbol or metaphor operating in the work or works? What do those symbols or metaphors seem to mean for the characters (or real people), and what meaning do they hold for us as readers?

These questions are complicated because they are asking you to analyze the work within the context of two complex literary terms: the symbol and the metaphor. Both symbols and metaphors are used by writers to represent something else meaningful; for example, a pattern of sunny days may symbolize optimism, while descriptions of nighttime may be a metaphor for inner darkness. These questions ask you to discuss the writer's use of these kinds of literary terms throughout the work, so it would best to start by finding examples of symbols and metaphors in the text that make sense to you.

What meaning or power do voices have in the work or works? These voices could be present in consensus reality or only heard by the person or character, and they may be implied, suggested, or hinted at.

These questions ask you to concentrate on voices. Locate descriptions of voices and important moments in the work when voices play a big part before tackling the second part of the question. Decide for yourself why voices are important enough to be mentioned in this question. The second part of the question simply lists examples of voices that might make for an interesting discussion.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

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