Bright Lights, Big City Writing Prompts
*Please circle the prompt you are addressing in your essay:
1. What is the rhetorical purpose behind this novel’s second person perspective? Explain the effect of this unique perspective and how it contributes to the underlying purpose or message of the novel as a whole.
2. What kind of “American Dream” does this novel portray? Does the novel glamorize or criticize this dream (or both)? Explore the underlying message behind the novel’s depiction of the 1980s “American Dream.”
3. Is this a novel about success or a novel about failure (or both)? Analyze the literary or rhetorical devices that are used to convey an underlying thematic message in terms of success and/or failure.
4. Consider the tension between fact and fiction that is present throughout the novel. Analyze the literary or rhetorical devices that are used to convey a thematic message regarding this incessant tension between what is real and what is not.
5. Explore the novel’s depiction of ‘80s culture: In what way is this novel a satire of life in the ‘80s? Explore the underlying message behind the humor to expose the social commentary.
6. Consider the relationships in this novel in terms of superficiality and authenticity. What is the underlying thematic message behind these relationships?
7. Investigate how and why Bright Lights, Big City plays around with any of the literary conventions of the Ancient Greeks such as the Classical Tragedy formula and/or Ancient Greek allusions (Oedipus or the Oedipus Complex, Odysseus, Helen, etc). What’s the rhetorical purpose?
8. Take one or more of the conventions of Classical Tragedy to apply to the protagonist of Bright Lights, Big City, connecting this application to the underlying message of the novel as a whole: Do we feel sympathy for this character?
What is the protagonist’s tragic flaw?
Does fate cause the protagonist’s downfall or is it his own free will? Does the...
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