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1

Outline Animal Farm

This short novel written by George Orwell in 1945 is a parable (a short story used to illustrate a lesson) about the Russian Revolution. It describes a farm's animals banding together to overthrow the farmer who exploits their work and products (milk, eggs, etc.) so they can take control of the farm themselves. However, the pigs (with specially bred dogs as guards) immediately begin scheming to control the farm themselves, and ultimately take advantage of the other animals in the same way the farmer did.

2

Should people pay more attention to the opinions of people who are older and more experienced?

Yes; in Animal Farm, the only animal who suspects the pigs' deception is Benjamin, the oldest animal on the farm. He tries to warn the other animals that the pigs have sent the loyal horse, Boxer, to be killed, but no one listens to him, and the pigs' reign of terror continues to go unchecked.

3

Is it best to always suspect that others may have ulterior motives?

Yes; the animals in Animal Farm would have been better off if they had suspected that the pigs were planning to exploit them.

4

Are important discoveries the result of focusing on one subject?

No; in Animal Farm, the success of the animals in running the farm depends on their ability to teach themselves how to read, do math, build structures, and harness electricity, among other skills.

5

Outline Frankenstein

This classic novel by Mary Shelley, first published anonymously in 1818, tells the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who alienates his family by following his obsession with animating a man made of corpses, creating artificial life for the first time. But he is horrified by his creation, and the monster, lonely and miserable, wanders the earth, rejected by everyone. He develops anger toward his creator and kills Victor's brother, and then Victor's wife, on their wedding day. Victor then chases the monster all over the world, trying to kill him, and dies in the process.

6

Is self-knowledge the result of adversity?

Yes; Dr. Frankenstein can only understand the horror of artificially creating life (or "playing God") after multiple people are killed.

7

Can success to be disastrous?

Yes; in the first part of the book, Dr. Frankenstein sacrifices everything to achieve his goal of bringing his monster to life. But as soon as he does, his life becomes more and more miserable until he finally dies in the Arctic.

8

Is it better to decide one's own ideas of right and wrong or follow the crowd?

Follow the crowd; Dr. Frankenstein ignores everyone's warnings that his obsession is dangerous. His creation of the monster is a direct result of his deciding for himself what is right and wrong, because his obsession clouds his judgment.

9

Outline the Atomic Bombing

During the last stage of World War II, after Germany surrendered to the Allies, Japan refused to surrender. Instead of a military invasion of the mainland of Japan, the U.S. decided to end the war by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan with no warning: one on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and the other on the city of Nagasaki on August 9. Japan surrendered on August 15, but the immediate effects of the explosions killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; about half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Over the next few months, large numbers of people—mostly civilians—died from radiation burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, exacerbated by illness and malnutrition.

10

Can knowledge be a burden?

Yes; some of the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb, in 1945, signed the Szilárd petition, which asked President Truman not to bomb Japan without warning. This shows that their understanding of the possible effects of the bombs was a burden on their respective consciences.

11

Are bad and good choices equally likely to have negative consequences?

Yes; the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused massive civilian casualties, but had the cities not been bombed, many Americans and Japanese would have died in further ocean- and land-based warfare.

12

Should people weight all opinions equally, or place more weight on informed opinions?

Place more weight on informed opinions; After Pearl Harbor, many Americans hated the Japanese and wanted their whole country eradicated. But the scientists who understood the awful power of the atom bomb had a different view; they were wary of dropping it on Japan with no warning. Many fewer civilians would have had to die if the concerned scientists had been heeded and the Japanese had been warned about the bombings ahead of time

13

Who was Fredrick Douglass?

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an African-American social reformer, public speaker, writer, and politician. Born a slave in Maryland, he taught himself to read and write (despite literacy being forbidden to slaves) and eventually escaped to the North. He became an important leader of the abolitionist movement through his persuasive writing in antislavery publications and the talks he gave during his frequent speaking tours. He made it clear that slaveholders' arguments about slaves' inferior intelligence were fabricated and helped see the country through the Civil War and out of the era of slavery.

14

Should people be valued according to their capabilities rather than their achievements?

Yes; Douglass, like many others even today, faced nearly insurmountable difficulties in achieving even literacy. For these people, opportunities for achievement are rare, and capabilities are the only accurate measure of their value.

15

Can dishonesty be appropriate in some circumstances?

Yes; Douglass had to be dishonest with the slaveholders who 'owned' him in order to learn how to read and write, because slaves were not allowed that privilege. He later had a large influence on the abolishment of slavery, so his dishonesty was well worth the cost.

16

Is productivity the result of the demands of others?

No; Douglass achieved and an unimaginable amount and published a number of books despite the fact that he was a slave and nothing at all was expected of him.

17

Outline The American Wealth Gap

In 2014, the Washington Times reported that the top wealthiest 1% of Americans hold 40% of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 80%, by contrast, hold 7%. Another way to put it is that the "richest 1% in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90%." The top 10% of Americans has 1,000% of (or ten times) the wealth of the middle class; that increases another 1000% for the top 1% of Americans. This means that the average employee needs to work more than a month to earn what the average CEO earns in one hour.

18

Is success the result of effort or luck?

Luck; most of the wealthiest people in the U.S. were born into wealth, and have been lucky enough to have their investments not fail. Effort clearly does not factor into the wealth differences between a CEO and a minimum-wage worker.

19

Should people look up to celebrities?

No; celebrities, like other super-rich people, have all of their needs handled by other people and lead lives that are totally different from average people's. To look up to people who are rich because of modeling or acting careers is to compare ourselves to people who live in a different world from average people because they happen to be beautiful or good at acting.

20

Are people more motivated by conscience or by money, power, and fame?

Power, money, and fame; The wealth gap implies that power and money (which are strongly connected, of course) are such powerful motivators that, once people become rich, much of their energy goes into becoming more rich. This is the only way to build the kind of wealth that creates the American income gap: to focus completely on what will bring in more money, regardless of the consequences.

21

Outline Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is all about the pursuit of happiness. Lenny and George are juxtaposed as friends traveling together. Each represents a different view of the same situation. They are both migrant workers during a time period denoted by the euphamism "The Dust Bowl". Each of them is looking for some similance of comfort in this time. Lenny, who is mildly mentally challenged, finds comfort is soft things such as a dead mouse in his pocket that he can pet occasionally. George finds comfort in his dreams of the future; a farm, a family and enough money to maintain them both. What sets these two apart from other migrant workers is the fact that they have each other. Most workers travel from place to place alone. This is both a blessing and a curse for George. Although he appreciates having Lenny to talk to, he finds that Lenny's propensity to get into trouble regularlly becomes a problem and forces them to move much more than they would generally need to. George and Lenny find themeselves on a ranch where they run into a number of characters who are also looking for some type of happiness. In a nutshell, Lenny's pursuit of comfort causes him to touch things and people he shouldn't. The result is the accidental murder of one of the worker's wife. Rather than have a mob torture and kill Lenny, George has to make a very tough decision. However, George's course of action leaves the reader wondering was his decision based on the love of his friend or the love of his dream and his own desire for happiness.