A Guide to Your 10th Grade Reading

Oren Eldor, Staff Writer

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In 10th grade, students are exposed to many different writings; some are classics with difficult vocabulary, while others are more modern and easier to navigate. Below is a quick review of some of the novels and plays read in 10th grade English classes:

 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rating: 10/10

In To Kill a Mockingbird, themes such as civil rights, racism in 1930s United States, and poverty during the Great Depression are highly evinced. Told from the perspective of eight-year-old girl Scout Finch, readers learn about her father, Atticus, a dedicated attorney who strives to achieve equality through helping those who need it the most.

He takes on a hopeless case to prove a black man’s innocence in a society that judges individuals purely by their race.

This novel is often a favorite among tenth grade students. Although the story is told from the perspective of an 8-year-old, the speaker is actually an adult Scout who is reminiscing on her childhood and recounting the details as she did when she was younger.

As a result of this story-telling, the reader not only grasps a child-like innocence that is comical and limited, but also reads between the lines of each moment from an adult perspective and sees the larger theme.

The book is engaging and easy to read, and its relatively modern time period helps readers relate to many of the characters. The highly interesting and realistic plot opens eyes through displaying the rampant racism and prejudice that ravaged these Southern societies.

I enjoyed reading this book because it revealed the cracks and prejudices of society, but it also showed society’s progression since the early 1900s and what we still need to improve.

Othello by William Shakespeare

Rating: 7/10

Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy about jealousy and love that takes place in 16th century Venice on the island Cyprus. Shakespeare tells the story of two love birds: Othello, a respected black soldier, and his love, Desdemona, a beautiful white woman who is the daughter of a powerful senator.

Their interracial relationship is highly criticized by society, and thus, ulterior forces spark jealousy in Othello. The play ends when Othello kills Desdemona after he was tricked into believing that she cheated on him. When he realizes his mistake, it is already too late. He kills himself as he could not bare his guilt.

Like every Shakespeare play, this tragedy was at times difficult to understand due to the usage of dramatic English vocabulary. There were many times when students did not understand what happened in a scene and thus had to rely on SparkNotes for comprehension.

Overall, I liked being exposed to one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. However, the challenging language was difficult to understand, and the heartbreaking tragedy was hard to swallow.

Lord of The Flies by William Golding

Rating: 8.5/10

Lord of The Flies tells the story of a group of boys stranded on an isolated island. In the beginning, the boys attempt to establish a “government” with rules and laws, but it soon fails. The once well-mannered boys fall into chaos, hunting and killing and ultimately becoming savages.

The book proposes a flaw of human nature, that once an individual is set free from society’s rules and laws, it’s easy to become ditch civilized life and become a savage.

In terms of likeability, this novel was the most controversial. While many readers are intrigued by the brutal darkness the characters portray as their stay on the island prolongs, others found the story disturbing.

Lord of The Flies contains a lot of eye-opening moments that introduce the discussions of the human impulse towards savagery and the rules of civilization, but there are also some chapters that feel dull and tedious to read. Lord of The Flies was my second favorite novel from 10th grade, ranking right below To Kill a Mockingbird.

Antigone by Sophocles

Rating: 6/10

 Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written around 441 BC (get SparkNotes ready!).

The novel is set during a bloody civil war and follows the titular Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. In the war, Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, fight each other and are both killed. Eteocles was given a proper burial, as he was fighting for his home city, while Creon, the new king, refused and banned the burial of Polyneices, who fought against his city.

Antigone defies the law and buries her brother secretly. This choice leads to a trial, which leaves Antigone’s fate unsettled.

Written in ancient Greek that is translated to English, the diction in Antigone is difficult to navigate without the help of Sparknotes. After reading an act or a scene, I was often at a loss for comprehension and had to reread the scene again to make more sense of it.

Most students believe this was the hardest reading we had all year, and they are right. It was only after class discussions that I could understand each scene and their underlying themes.

Overall, 10th grade English class exposed me to new genres and difficult levels of books, novels, and plays that I would have probably never read outside of class. Although I preferred reading some books over others, each book and its following discussion helped to broaden my perspective as a reader of not only books, but also of the world.

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