written by: Peter Boysen•edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 8/20/2009
This would work best as a take-home essay test, or you could use it as an essay for block-scheduling. It is geared for Pre-AP (honors) 8th grade, or regular 9th grade.
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The Martian Chronicles Essay Test
Choose ONE (1) of the following questions for your essay. Answers should be 1 - 1 ½ pages typed (double-spaced, 12 point font), or 2-3 pages written (single-spaced).
Format: 5-paragraph essay (introduction, 3 body paragraphs, conclusion)
1. Spender's ideas about the colonization of Mars are obviously different from those of the majority of people on Earth, including the American government. Find a newspaper or magazine article about a current topic that is controversial, and compare and contrast that controversy with the colonization of Mars in the novel.
2. Select ONE of the following passages: the opening page of the novel, the description of Yll's return home from murdering Captain York, or "The Musicians." Explain how literary devices create the tone of each passage. You must include figurative language in your discussion.
3. Explain how the desire for a simpler life motivates THREE (3) of the following characters: Yll, Mr. Xxx, Samuel Teece, or Spender. In other words, why does their drive to life without complication spur them to action in the book?
4. Compare and contrast the experiences that the Third Expedition undergoes while on Mars with a hero from another story that goes into strange, unfamiliar surroundings. This could be from any story that you have read, or from a movie or television show that you have watched; the hero must go into completely alien surroundings, but it is all right if your hero emerges from the story in better shape than the Third Expedition.
Note to Teacher: Your evaluation of The Martian Chronicles essay test should take into account the way in which your students support their opinions with text evidence from the novel. It would be good to teach the concepts of embedding (working a quotation into a sentence) as part of this novel unit.