AP English Literature Books Review

The Fountainhead
By Ayn Rand

Roark gets expelled from architecture school for not conforming. Works for Cameron, while his classmate Keating works for Francon and Heyer. Roark and Cameron create, but get no recognition while Keating does. Cameron retires and Roark opens his own office. Eventually Roark must close his office, but falls in love with Dominique in a granite quarry. Toohey rises to power and begins to destroy Roark, ending in a ruinous lawsuit. Dominique marries Keating.

Howard Roark – Protagonist. Brilliant architect, lots of integrity. Works at construction sites through college until kicked out and starting own practice. Loves Dominique Francon. Ideal image of man.
Elssworth Toohey – Villainous character. After power, despises ambitions and talents. Newspaper commentator of significance.
Dominique Francon – Daughter of prestigious architect, dispassionate and cynical. Loves Roark but initially tries to destroy him. Marries Peter Keating.
Peter Keating – Roark’s classmate. Fame-hungry. Successful architect, but steals his ideas from Roark.
Henry Cameron – Roark’s mentor and incorruptible architect.
Catherine Halsey – Toohey’s niece, Keating’s fiancee. Keating loves her, but abandons here.
Stephen Mallory – gifted sculptor, incorruptible like Roark. Tries to kill Toohey and works on Roark’s buildings.

Hamlet
By William Shakespeare

Ghost tells Hamlet to get revenge on Claudius for King’s murder. Hamlet plots to avenge the death. Claudius and Gertrude begin to worry and employ R+G to watch Hamlet. Hamlet stages a play to freak out Claudius due to guilt. Hamlet confronts his mother, but ends up murdering Polonius. Dispatched to England, but escapes. Ophelia goes mad and drowns. Laertes gets mad at Hamlet and plots to kill him. Sword-fight ensues, Gertrude dies of poisoning from plot to kill Hamlet, Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poison, but then also is poisoned in the same fashion. Hamlet kills Claudius and makes him drink Poison too, and everyone dies. Fortinbras enters with the army to take over the kingdom.

Hamlet – Prince of Denmark, hates his uncle Claudius, studies at Wittenberg.
Claudius – Current King of Denmark, antagonist, calculating villainous politician. Loves Gertrude.
Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother, married Claudius after Kings’s death.
Polonius – Father of Laertes and Ophelia, conniving old man of the court.
Horatio – Hamlet’s university friend, loyal to Hamlet and “alone lives to tell the tale.”
Ophelia – Sweet young girl who is Hamlet’s love object. Begins to spy on Hamlet, but becomes mad and dies.
Laertes – Defender of his sister Ophelia.
Fortinbras – Prince of Norway who will lead an attack on Denmark.
Ghost – Hamlet’s father, murdered by Claudius, in ghost form
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – former friends of Hamlet who die

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
By Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern go through the wilderness and continue to flip coins which land on heads. Encounter Tragedians, and see the performance. Begin spying on Hamlet, but become confused quickly. Tragedians perform play. Escort Hamlet to England, but then read the letter. Hamlet switches the letter and dooms them to die. Kidnapped by Pirates, R+G kill the Player and then are killed.

Rosencrantz – childhood friend of Hamlet, gets confused with Guildenstern. Carefree and confused
Guildenstern – childhood friend of Hamlet, gets confused with Rosencrantz. Carefree and confused, but more reflective.
The Player – leads the Tragedians, knows more than he lets on
Tragedians – travelling actors, perform sexual performances too, perform for the king
Hamlet – prince of Denmark, see Hamlet card
Claudius – see Hamlet card
Gertrude – see Hamlet card

The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde

Jack is a Justice of the Peace in the country, and he has pretended to have a scandalous brother, Ernest. Ernest is Jack’s alibi in London. He is in love with Gwendolyn. Algernon, Jack’s friend, also leads a double life pursuing a relationship with an invalid named Bunbury. Jack says he will propose to Gwendolyn, but he needs Lady Bracknell’s approval. Lady Bracknell discover’s Jack was discovered in a train station and disapproves. Algernon poses as Ernest, while Jack has said Ernest is dead. He goes along with the charade, and Algernon falls in love with Cecily. Cecily thinks they are engaged already, and Gwendolyn arrives. The two of them talk and both devolve into talking about their engagement to an Ernest Worthing, which causes them to confront each other. Jack and Algernon happen upon this, and the ladies discover the deception. Lady Bracknell then reiterates that a union is out of the question for Jack and Gwendolyn, and Algernon gets permission to be married to Cecily when she discovers Cecily has money. Jack refuses to allow the marriage until Gwendolyn can marry him. Jack is discovered to be Algernon’s brother through Ms. Prism’s mix-up, and his name is actually Ernest.

Jack/Ernest Worthing – Protagonist, respectable man who leads a double life. In the country he is Jack and in London he is Ernest. He was discovered in a handbag in Victoria Station as a baby, in love with Gwendolen.
Algernon Moncrieff – Gwendolen’s cousin, best friend of Jack, whom he knows as Ernest, has a fictional friend named Bunbury
Gwendolen Fairfax – Lady Bracknell’s daughter, in love with “Ernest,” will not marry a man not named Ernest.
Cecily Cardew – Jack’s ward, granddaughter of the guy who found Jack in the train station, in love with Ernest in an invention of a romance
Lady Bracknell – Algernon’s snobbish aunt, controlling high-society type, cunning and authoritarian
Miss Prism – tutor of Cecily and love interest of Dr. Chasuble, accidentally abandoned Jack years ago

Great Expectations
By Charles Dickens

Pip gets ordered to bring food and a file to the convict. Taken by Pumblechook to play with Ms. Havisham. Pip becomes apprenticed to Joe. Mrs. Joe gets attacked, then Pip receives his great expectations. Pip begins training, and expresses disdain for his former life. Learns Magwitch, not Havisham is his benefactor. Protects Magwitch from police and hears Havisham apologize, but she becomes an invalid in a fire accident. Drummle marries Estella, and Pip et al must take Magwitch away from London. Orlick, though, lures Pip and attempts to kill him. Herbert shows up in time and saves Pip. Compeyson dies, Magwitch gets caught, and he is sentenced to death. Pip loses his fortune. Ms. Havisham dies, but the Pockets get her fortune. Biddy and Joe get married, and Joe learns how to read. Pip goes abroad to work with Herbert as a merchant, and he returns to find Estella, with Drummle already dead. The two leave and go hand in hand.

Pip – Protagonist and young orphan. Wants to improve himself deeply.
Estella – Pip’s love interest, ward of Ms. Havisham, raised to break men’s hearts
Ms. Havisham – insane woman, lives in Satis House, left by her fiancee at the altar as a young bride, raises Estella as a tool of revenge
Abel Magwitch – convict, helped by Pip early on and becomes his rich benefactor later
Joe Gargery – Pip’s brother-in-law, a lovable blacksmith, uneducated, but loving and sympathetic
Jaggers – Magwitch hires this lawyer to oversee Pip’s elevation, helps Ms. Havisham adopt Estella initially, most prominent criminal lawyer in London, knows where the skeletons are hidden
Herbert Pocket – Pip’s friend, nicknames Pip Handel, son of Ms. Havisham’s cousin, becomes a merchant due to Pip’s goodness
Wemmick – Jaggers’ clerk, dualistic character, caretaker of the Aged Parent
Mrs. Joe – abusive wife of Joe
Uncle Pumblechook – obsessive about money and attempts to take credit for Pip’s elevation
Compeyson – evil nemesis of Magwitch

Moby Dick
By Herman Melville

Ishmael goes to New Bedford and begins rooming with Queequeg at the Spouter Inn. They ship out on the Pequod. Ahab appears after shipping and announces the desire to pursue Moby Dick. The Pequod voyages and encounters whales and other Whaling vessells. Tashtego almost drowns after falling off the ship in a whale head. Pip jumps into the ocean and goes crazy. The Pequod finds Moby Dick and fights for three days before finally being destroyed, with only Ishmael surviving to tell the tale.

Ishmael – narrator and crewmember on the Pequod.
Ahab – monomanical pursuer of Moby Dick, to which he lost his leg. Captain of the Pequod
Moby Dick – giant white sperm whale
Starbuck – first mate, questions Ahab’s judgement
Queequeg – Starbuck’s harpooner and Ishmael’s best friend, native islander
Stubb – Pequod second mate, has a good humor but is slightly nihilistic and dependent on fate
Tashtego – Stubb’s harpooner, Indian,
Flask – third mate
Daggoo – enormous Indian, Flask’s harpooner
Pip – young black cabin boy
Fedallah – Ahab’s harpooner and Asian hunter
Peleg/Bildad – managing Captains of the Pequod’s voyage

The Crossing
By Cormac McCarthy

Billy and his family know of a wolf travelled from Mexico killing animals. Billy and Boyd encounter an Indian much like Magwitch. Billy catches the wolf and takes it to Mexico. He loses the wolf when some officials take his wolf from him, and Billy trades his rifle for the body. Billy returns home to find his house deserted and his parents murdered. Billy and Boyd wander back to Mexico to find horses stolen from their farm. The boys rescue a girl, and Boyd gets shot. Billy returns to the US, but where he later learns Boyd is dead. Billy returns Boyd’s body to the US and buries him. Billy tries to join the Army, but he can’t due to a medical issue.

Billy Parham – sixteen year old son of a rancher, the companion of the wolf
Boyd Parham – Billy’s brother
Carolyn/Will Parham – Billy’s parents, murdered when Billy is in Mexico for the first time
Mr. Echols – owns the traps that Billy uses to catch the wolf
Mr. Sanders – owns the SK Bar ranch, tells Billy about his parents’ murders

King Lear
By William Shakespeare

Lear decides to step down and divide his kingdom among his daughters, but disowns Cordelia after she refuses to pander. Goneril and Regan begin to undermine Lear’s authority, Lear goes insane. Edmund tricks Gloucester into thinking that Edgar is trying to kill him. Gloucester gets blinded by Regan and Cornwall, French army lands in Dover in Cordelia’s effort to save her father. Goneril and Edmund conspire to kill Albany. Edgar saves his father from suicide, and Cordelia’s troops lose. Edgar duels and kills Edmund. Gloucester dies, Goneril poisons Regan and commits suicide. Lear dies because of Cordelia’s execution after the war. Albany, Edgar, and Kent remain amid sorrow.

King Lear – Aging King of Britain, prioritizes appearance of love over actual devotion
Cordelia – Lear’s youngest daughter, disowned though she loves him truly, King of France marries her, remains loyal to Lear later
Goneril – Lear’s oldest daughter, wife of Albany, treacherous, competes with Edmund
Regan – Lear’s middle daughter and wife of Cornwall, competes for Edmund
Gloucester – father of Edmund and Edgar, loyal to Lear
Edgar – Gloucester’s legitimate son
Edmund – Gloucester’s illegitimate son, has designs on power, scheming
Kent – nobleman loyal to Lear, disguised as a peasant to seve Lear even though he was banished
Albany – denounces cruelty, indecisive, but good
Cornwall – cruel and violent, works with Regan and Goneril to prosecute Lear and Gloucester

Catch-22
By Joseph Heller

Yossarian is stationed in Pianosa, the required number of missions is continuously raised. Yossarian takes the whole war personally, and he remains unswayed by justifications. He fakes illnesses a lot, remaining in the hospital. Troubled by Snowden’s death in his arms. The Catch-22 is evident throughout. Other modular stories include Milo’s syndicate, Nately and the old man, the bureaucracy, and Doc Daneeka’s experience. At the end, Yossarian is pursued by Nately’s whore after his death, and he manages to desert and break free of the army.

Yossarian – protagonist, strong desire to live
Milo Minderbinder – mess officer and controls the syndicate
Doc Daneeka – Medical officer upset because the war upset his lucrative private practice
The chaplain – Yossarian’s friend who begins to lose faith
Colonel Cathcart – officer in charge o Yossarian’s squadron, and he volunteers his men for more missions and more dangerous tours
Hungry Joe – former photographer, unhinged
Nately – good-natured young boy who loves the war and America, keeps a whore in Rome
Major Major Major Major – fate’s out to get him
Major — de Coverly – plays horseshoes and rents apartments, dies after Yossarian moves the bombing line
General Dreedle/Peckem – commanders

Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro

Kathy H is a clone at Hailsham, a school for organ donors. She’s friends with Ruth and Tommy, who has a temper. Hailsham emphasizes art, and Ruth is a pathological liar. Ms. Lucy explains the tragic life they will have as donors. Tommy and Ruth date, and they all graduate and go to live at the Cottage. Ruth becomes fixated on impressing the Veterans, and at one point thinks she’s found her original only to be disappointed. Kathy finds her Never Let Me Go tape during this adventure into Norfolk. Kathy becomes a carer and cares for Ruth. They visit Tommy, and Kathy becomes his carer and they fall in love. Ruth dies, and Tommy goes with her to ask for a deferral but they learn the story of Havisham. Tommy asks Kathy to leave, and he eventually dies. Ruth goes back to Norfolk to find the things she’s lost, but she eventually will become a donor.

Kathy – clone who works as carer and protagonist
Ruth – Kathy’s best friend, socially good, clone, loves Tommy but splits up and destroys relationships. Later tries to make amends.
Tommy – Another of Kathy’s classmates, not good at art, becomes kindhearted and na├»ve

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
By T.S. Eliot

Relays the thoughts of a sexually frustrated man who wants to say something. He never does. Prufrock is attempting to ask some overwhelming question. It’s written in stream of consciousness, and its language is that of aging and decay.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

About a sailor who returns from a long voyage who begins to narrate a story. Story is about a ship departing, but it becomes off course and the Mariner shoots a bird. The crew gets angry because a gale comes, but the weather gets warmer. They raise the wraths of the spirits, and now blame the Mariner. The rest are taken up by Death’s ship, and Life-in-Death wins the Mariner. All the crewmembers die, but he lives on to tell the tale.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
By John Donne

Compares parting to death. The parting should be without struggle and voluntary, even though it is inevitable. The separation is equivalent to soul separating from body. The extraordinary complexity and violence is ultimately innocent in comparison to separation. Don’t admit that we’re apart. Our love is so refined that we can’t figure out what it is but they know that among themselves there is a connection that transcends physicality. Use gold to describe the love. The distance between the lovers just makes it more pervasive, like bigger area of coverage for gold. Analogy of a compass drawing a circle. One lover stays fixed while the other roams around. Despite this disconnect, they are both connected and interdependent and inseparable despite the increasing distance.

Six Degrees of Separation
By John Guare

Ouisa and Flan are having a dinner party with a wealthy friend, Geoffrey from South Africa. Paul says he got mugged and has a bloody shirt. Says he’s a Harvard classmate of the Kitrredge’s children, and he gains their confidence. They discover him the next morning in bed with a trashy man. They discover he is a conman who found out about their family from a former high school friend of theirs, Trent Conway. Paul then scams a poor family, and Rick commits suicide. Paul is arrested, and Ouisa tries to help him. It is later implied that he commits suicide.

Ouisa Kittredge – Wife of Flan, becomes sympathetic to Paul, initially hates him
Flan Kittredge – Husband of Ouisa, remains caustic to Paul
Paul Poitier – Conman based on a real person, leaves a trail of problems for people he contacts
Trent Conway – Paul’s onetime lover and Paul’s source of information
Elizabeth/Rick – Aspiring actors in New York. Paul betrays them and Rick commits suicide, and Elizabeth becomes distraught.