AP Lit 9/24


Ann Petry’s 1946 novel, The Street, shows how Lutie Johnson has a connection with the setting of an urban street. Throughout this passage, Petry establishes Lutie Johnson’s relationship to the urban setting through the use of imagery, by using phrases like “rattled the tops of garbage cans”. Petry uses personification, by saying “Fingering its way along the curb, the wind set the bits of paper to dancing high in the air, “. Petry also uses figurative language such as good diction, with “barrage of paper” and “grit stung their skins”.


Imagery is used very heavily throughout this passage. Petry says “rattled the tops of garbage cans” to show how strong the wind is, and to make the reader feel as if there is a rattling noise of metal on metal. She says “sucked window shades out through the top of opened windows and set them flapping back” to show that the wind was really powerful and changing; it was fluid. This gives the impression of the wind playing around with the people in the streets of this urban place. This wind later encounters Lutie, and all of these images start to make sense as it mercilessly drives her to find a warm room.


Personification is used to show the relationship between Lutie and the setting. By saying “Fingering its way along the curb, the wind set the bits of paper to dancing high in the air, “ Petry shows that the wind is moving across all of the people around it. It is trying to be as much of a nuisance as it can, by makes the streets dirtier, and by touching each person in a certain way. “She shivered as the cold fingers of the wind touched the back of her neck” shows that the wind is exposing everyone, and it is making people feel uncomfortable. The wind blowing through this less crowded city is unmasking everyone and making them feel like they need a safe place. This very wind that Lutie is trying to avoid quickly annoys her right before she finds a room to hide from it.


Petry also uses figurative language such as good diction, with “barrage of paper” and “grit stung their skins”. The barrage of paper really puts a picture in your head. You can almost see a tornado of paper being driven through the dirty streets. The grit flying into people’s faces makes them blind and hurt. “dark red stain like blood” tells you exactly the color that this rusted sign has, and it makes you feel a bit more afraid for the protagonist. “impossible angle on the rod that suspended it from the building” shows you just how precariously the sign was placed, and that the wind is so strong that it can makes even the impossible happen. This wind is so powerful that it has, in some ways, created this urban setting that Lutie is trying to navigate.


In conclusion, the wind is used in many different literary ways to show the connection between Lutie and the city she is in. The author uses very powerful techniques to put a picture in the readers’ heads of what this wind can do, and how it touches everyone. Petry truly  establishes Lutie Johnson’s relationship to the urban setting through the use of such literary devices as imagery, personification, and figurative language, and makes the passage a pleasure to read.


AP Lit Blog Post 9/10

2006 AP Lit Free Response

“The following passage is an excerpt from Lady Windermere’s Fan, a play by Oscar Wilde, produced in 1892. Read the passage carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the playwright reveals the values of the characters and the nature of their society.”

First Response

Author A answers the prompt. They point out the differences in character between the women and the Lord Darlington. However, this response focuses too much on what is being revealed, rather than how. The prompt is asking for how the writer reveals details about the characters. Author A says about that is “a mundane situation to reveal character”, and then picks apart a few lines of dialogue to show how and what it means for the character. I feel that they could have included more dialogue, and started with the dialogue, rather than their impressions of the characters. The last paragraph is the most organized of them all, and it finishes out a strong argument. The author is able to back their claims with solid quotes, and I found myself agreeing with them on a few points. Overall, this response is quite good, but the author could have been more direct in answering the prompt. EDIT: After reading the other responses, I feel like I was too critical of this one. This response is the strongest one of them all, but it could use a little bit of work, like I mentioned above.


Second Response

This author barely answers the prompt. There are very few direct quotations, and they only talk about their impressions about the characters. The introduction is okay. The author simply rephrases part of the prompt and then provides what they thought of each character. The second paragraph deals with what they thought of Lord Darlington, which happens to agree with the first author. In this paragraph, the author mostly talks about how the lord is funny and doesn’t judge people based on their “scandals”. While I agree with the author, this does not answer the prompt. There is very little analysis on how the author reveals the character. The piece reads more as an argument for what each character is like. In the second to last paragraph, author B references the text a lot more, trying to answer the prompt better. In the last paragraph, they conclude by mentioning that dialogue is shows the personalities of each person, but they don’t mention how or why.


Third Response

This response is the weakest of them all. It only covers one character, artificially limiting the author to a set amount of content. The response also spends a lot of time directly “translating” the dialogue that is said, rather than analyzing it. This author also does not really answer the prompt. In their conclusion statement, they talk about how our society and the society mentioned in the play are not that different. Their central claim is based on comparing our world to the world described in the text. This response makes it feel like they’re answering a completely different prompt than the one that is mentioned. They talk far too much about the world, and they end with a call to action, on making the world a better place. This read like an essay that was based on a similar prompt. It does all the right things, but it doesn’t even remotely answer the prompt, and it doesn’t have the content that was in the other two responses.