Discuss the idea of transformation in the novel,

Discuss the idea of transformation in the novel, as it pertains to Jean Valjean and Javert.


Part 1: Les Mis (20%)

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You have read almost 1200 pages–what an accomplishment! In one paragraph, please discuss the idea of transformation in the novel, as it pertains to Jean Valjean and Javert. Make sure you begin with a strong topic sentence claim and use at least one quote in your response.


Part 2: Cry the Beloved Country (80%)

In Cry, the Beloved Country, we follow Kumalo on his journey—a journey that begins in fear, progresses to devastation and despair, yet ends with the light of a beautiful sunrise. Along the way, we see the power of fear to overwhelm, to isolate, and even to influence government policy! There are a lot of challenges facing South Africa, but in the midst of the difficulties, we see individuals who desire to bring about restoration and change. Outside of our fictional world, Nelson Mandela was one of these individuals—he spoke of the challenges facing his country and his people and testified to the means he took to try to bring about positive change.

Prompt:  In a well-organized essay, discuss the challenges presented in Cry, the Beloved Country and the role that fear plays in the striving for change. According to Paton, how can fear be overcome—what is the solution? Why does Kumalo’s story end with a hopeful sunset, even as Absalom is moving toward his death?

This prompt allows for many options in terms of focus. You might focus on Kumalo and his family, on the relationship between Kumalo and Jarvis, on the collective whole of South Africa, or on another area of your choice. As you discuss the circumstances in Cry, the Beloved Country, you will use ideas in the Mandela speech to complement your discussion.

Spend adequate time brainstorming and outlining your essay before you begin writing.

Essay requirements:

  • five well developed paragraphs (an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion)
  • a strong thesis claim—do not merely summarize the plot!
  • at least four brief quotes from the text
  • at least two quotes from the Nelson Mandela speech
  • smooth transitions, building connections between body paragraph points
  • all work and ideas must be your own!


Let this essay reflect the skills you’ve practiced and developed this year! Save time at the end to read through what you’ve written, making adjustments for grammar issues, weak verbs, and awkward phrasing.


Submit your responses on Schoology.

I have enjoyed teaching all of you this year, and I wish you all the best! I appreciate all your hard work and effort, and your amazing insight into our texts. You have made tremendous growth in your writing, and I hope that serves you well next year. Have a wonderful summer! J

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