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Write a 3-4 page comparative essay in which you discuss key similarities and/or differences between a story and a poem.

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An interesting pairing for this assignment would be "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin and "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes. (Both are linked below.)

Here are some commonalities you could discuss:

  • Theme: Both focus on overcoming adversity. In "Sonny's Blues," the narrator finally finds a way to empathize with his brother Sonny's drug troubles after he loses his own infant daughter, and he finally opens himself up to supporting Sonny's dream of creating music. In "Mother to Son," the son (to whom the poem is addressed) has stumbled into unknown troubles and is given encouragement by his mother, who has seen troubles of her own.
  • Characterization: The son in "Mother to Son" is ready to give up. Whatever trouble has found him, he is so despondent that his mother feels compelled to tell him, "Don't you set down on...

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