My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Literary Journal Outline
Read “Response Journal Criteria” and consult “Literary Journal Questions”. These readings will give you ideas for journal entries. Please note that the “Literary Journal Questions” are not meant to be answered as a set of questions; rather, they are to be used as prompts for responses. Compose your journal according to the directions on “Response Journal Criteria” and submit it to your instructor.
Feel free to discuss any aspect of your novel you find interesting. However, if you aren’t sure, then the questions which follow are useful for getting you started on your journal responses. Your entries should include reaction to each of the different sections in the handout; that way you will widen your range of things to discuss. You are also welcome to draw, write music, or write a creative writing response as part of your work. You are not required to answer all the questions.

Response Journal Criteria:
50% – 60%: 1200 words. Discussion centers on plot with some character and theme discussion. Writing has more than fifteen errors. Vocabulary is limited. Discussion shows the entire work has been read.
61% – 72%: 1600 words. Some discussion of plot, but more on character and theme. Writing has ten or fewer errors. Vocabulary includes some literary terms and demonstrates variety. Discussion shows good grasp of the work.
73% – 85%: 2000 words. Most of the discussion centers on character, theme and/or style. Very few writing errors. Strong vocabulary with clear understanding of literary terms. Discussion shows originality and thorough grasp of the novel
86% – 100%: 2400+ words. Discussion covers character, theme, symbols and style. Writing is mature: sentences are varied and punctuation and spelling accurate. Vocabulary is broad and accurate. Discussion reflects an original and thoughtful understanding of the work.



1) General Instructions
a) Don’t write general entries (Heart of Darkness was an exciting story that I recommend to everyone. I really enjoyed it.) Don’t feel required to compliment the author.
b) List the following: Title of work (underlined); author; date it was written and/or published.
c) Don’t summarize the plot.
2) First Round of Responses
a) Immediately after finishing the book, write your reactions. Do not become muddled in the neatness or the words or whether your reader is going to understand all you are saying. Simply write.
b) Try to relate the action or outcome of the book to your own life. Did you see yourself in the book? Did you learn a lesson? Did you have an insight into why things are the way they are? Did you remember something from your past you had forgotten? Were you inspired to write a great novel or paint a picture or make a new friend? What did you learn that you didn’t know before? (This last question is the most important; the earliest ones are to help you generate ideas.)
3) Plot and other Mechanics
a) Setting – consider the following:
• actual geographic location, physical arrangement of rooms
• the time period, history or season in which the action takes place
• general environment of characters (for example, the religious, mental, moral, social, economic, and/or economic conditions)

b) Characters: list major characters of book and include the following for each:
• conflicts (internal or external) that motivate and shape the character
• two or three words (key personality traits) that characterize each person (example: ambitions, lonely, overprotected)

c) Point of view
• identify point of view used (first person narrator; third person limited; third person omniscient)

d) Plot
• summarize the plot (50 words or fewer)
• do a plot line for the entire story (one sheet)
• identify where the major climax is, what conflict is solved, and the reactions of people in the book to this solution
• list any parallel or recurring events you see (example: in Portrait, Stephen goes walking frequently and learns something about himself each time)
• see if you can make a connection between this work and another story with similar plot lines or similar characters, etc.
• how did the book end? Did you like the ending? Why/why not?

e) Opening chapter/first few pages
• summarize how the book began (beginning chapter, scene, etc.)

4) Commentary on Plot
f) What is the significance of the title to the work?
g) What effect is created by the opening pages? What purpose did the author have in beginning the work this way?
h) For each character, consider the following: What values did each hold? What purpose did each character have in the book? How did the society of the book influence each character?
i) About the conclusion: Was it a satisfactory ending to the work? Why/why not? If not, how would you have ended the work, and why?
j) How did each of the settings make the work more interesting?
k) Describe the society of the book (the fictional one created by the author).
5) Theme and Other Abstract Ideas
l) What are the major themes (short phrase for each) of the work?
m) How is each of these themes portrayed in the book?
n) What are the moral and ethical problems explored in the story?
o) What was the author’s purpose in writing this book?
p) Archetypal themes or motifs or patterns? Describe.
q) List three cause/effect relationships found in the book.
r) Does the author use imagery, symbolism, allusions, etc. to develop his themes? How?

6) Memorable Lines, Scenes:
s) Write down any memorable lines from the book that you liked or that illustrated important ideas in the work.
t) Write commentary on these (a). Why is each memorable and how does it enhance the meaning of the work?
u) Find quotations that illustrate the writer’s skill in establishing mood/tone, imagery, symbolism, and characterization.
7) Style
a. Describe the author’s overall style and pick several examples that illustrate it (and pick two different but complementary words to describe the style).
b. How do the author’s diction, grammar, sentence structure, organization, point of view, detail, syntax, and use of irony enhance the meaning of the work and show his/her attitude?
8) Interpretive Questions
c. Write five interpretive questions on the whole of the book to bring up during discussion.
d. Are there any questions you would like to ask the author? If so, which questions?
9) Personal relevance of the Work to You
e. Write a different ending to the book. Tell why you changed it.
f. Tell five ways in which the main character is like you.
g. How is this work relevant to our time?
h. Did this book remind you of anything that has happened to you? What?
i. Did this book give you any new ideas about yourself? What?
j. Write a letter to a friend recommending this book.
k. Tell about a time when something similar in the story happened to you or to someone you know.
l. Pretend you are one of the characters in the book. Write a diary about the happenings in your life for two consecutive days.
m. What changes would have to be made if the book occurred 200 years ago?
n. What difference did it make to you (in your life) that you read this book? What do you think you will remember about this book in the future? (Don’t say, “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.”)


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