AP English Literature and Composition
Summer Reading Assignment
Candide by Voltaire – “Inspiration? Head Down the Back Road, and Stop for the Yard Sales” by Annie Proulx Trishna Kumar
Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Annie Proulx portrayed an analogous opinion in her article “Inspiration? Head Down the Back Road, and Stop for the Yard Sales” where she explained her inclination to indulge in knowledge in the most authentic way in order to learn more for her own gratification. Contrarily, the main character in Voltaire’s Candide goes through life also enlightening himself on the world, but not for his own pleasure. Instead, Candide’s search for erudition is a mission to prove the theory that the world we live in is the “best of all possible worlds” as he was taught to assume. These two personalities defend the concept that a person’s opinion of the world does not change the idea that the best way to acquire and understand information is directly. No matter what an individual’s assessment of life is, the only way to attain a complete conclusion is if that person himself makes the journey. A full presumption is impossible based on another’s opinions. Annie Proulx goes through life living only for indubitable and infallible information, not caring what it is about. “On the jumbly shelves in my house I can find directions for replacing a broken pipe stem…a booklet of Spam recipes…and ‘Character Reading From the Face.’” She will store random books on the history of corncribs and search for a description of the smell of mushrooms, gaining satisfaction from the simple thought that she just learned a bit more on the multifarious world we reside in. Where she states, “I rarely use the Internet for research… The information gained is often untrustworthy,” she affirms her lack of a tolerance for sources like the Internet and its artificial inceptions where false information could be easily spread. For Proulx, knowledge is a utopia to reach,...
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