English 2 Honors
To: 2021-22 English 2 Honors Students
From: FHS English Department
Re: Summer Reading Assignment
Congratulations on completing freshman year of high school. We have planned a challenging and exciting English 2 Honors class for you next year. You will have a myriad of opportunities to hone your skills in literary and rhetorical analysis, vocabulary, critical thinking, composition and grammar.
Your required summer assignment is to read the novel, The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho. We will begin the next school year with meaningful analysis and discussion of the text, as well as a comprehensive exam on the novel. The novel focuses on the significance of the quest or journey in one’s life, the power of dreams, the conflict between fate and destiny, and the interconnectedness of all things.
To facilitate active reading, to encourage meaningful and critical thinking, and to grow accustomed to the
rigor in Sophomore Honors English, we require that you interact with the text. What does that mean? It
means you should choose one significant passage (typically one to two significant paragraphs of the
novel) for every 10 pages of the novel (i.e. one passage on page 12, another on page 18, a third on
page 29, etc.). You should highlight, annotate and make margin notes of questions and specific themes,
symbols, motifs, conflicts, style, characterization, figurative language, purpose, and tone. We will assess
your annotations on quality, not quantity. More is not necessarily better. Further, we will assess your
understanding of the book in an expository synthesis essay as one of your initial assignments next year.
You should highlight and annotate according to the following criteria:
✓PINK - symbols & motifs (label them as well)
✓BLUE - thematic ideas (label them as well) – Some you should consider include:
▪The interconnectedness of all things
▪Fate vs. Destiny
▪Life as a journey or quest
▪The power of dreams
✓YELLOW – Imagery
✓GREEN – Characterization
✓ORANGE – Figurative Language
You should also draw comparisons and contrasts between the writing style, themes, and ideas presented in
the novel. Your ability to synthesize information from multiple sources into a comprehensive analysis will
form much of the basis of your writing, thinking, and discourse for the year. Finally, you may purchase
copies of the novel from your local bookseller or check them out from the FHS library. If you check out a
copy from the library, use Post-it Notes to highlight and annotate the text. Enjoy!
Mrs. Furniss, Mr. Hermanson and Ms. Subherwal
How to study a novel…
Studying on your own requires self-discipline and a carefully thought out plan in order to be effective. Keep the following guidelines in mind while you read The Alchemist this summer. This is meant as a guideline; you need not actually answer each of the questions separately, but prepare to discuss many, if not all of them.
1. You will need to read the novel more than once. Start by reading it quickly for pleasure, then read it
slowly and thoroughly.
2. If there are any words you do not understand, look them up in a dictionary. Use this as a learning
opportunity to expand your vocabulary.
3. On your second reading, make detailed notes on the characters, conflicts, symbolism and themes
in the novel. Further readings will generate new ideas and help you remember details of the plot.
4. Some of the characters will develop as the plot unfolds. How do your responses towards them
change during the course of the novel? What type of characterization does the author use? Are the
characters static or dynamic; flat or round? Do they have an epiphany during the novel?
5. From whose point-of-view are the events described? How does this point-of-view affect the plot?
Does the point-of-view change? If there is a first-person narrator, is he/she reliable?
6. A novel may or may not present events chronologically; there may be flashbacks. The time scheme
may be a key to its structure and organization.
7. What types of conflicts are present in the work? What do they reveal about the theme and the
author’s purpose? What is the primary conflict?
8. What part does/do the setting/s play in the novel? Are certain events, characters or conflicts
associated with particular settings? (Setting is the time and location where the novel takes place.)
9. Are words, images, or incidents repeated so as to give the work a pattern? Do such patterns or motifs
help you to understand the novel’s themes?
10.Identify which styles of language are used in the novel. (e.g. prose, poetry, slang, figurative language,
colloquialisms, imagery, etc.) How does the author’s diction reveal the tone of the piece?
11. What is the effect of the ending? Is the action completed and closed, or left incomplete and open?
12.Does the novel present a moral and just world? What does this reveal about the author’s purpose?
13.Cite exact sources for all quotations, whether from the text or from critical commentaries. Wherever
possible, find all your own examples (textual evidence) from the novel to support your opinions.
14.Always express your ideas in your own words thus, avoiding plagiarism.
15.Remember, there is NO substitute for thoroughly reading the novel and formulating your own
thoughtful opinions. Not only do merely using Cliffs Notes and Spark Notes violate the FHS
Academic Honesty Policy, but it also deprives you of the joy of independent reading, discovery, and
learning that is vital to your integrity, maturity and academic growth.
California Distinguished School - National Blue Ribbon School