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World Literature Essay 2 Ib

The Paper 2 exam consists of six essay questions, only one of which must be answered during the timed period. The essay is to be written about the Part 3 literary texts. Therefore, it is a test of understanding literature in context. Although the questions will change from exam to exam, they will always focus on the connection between, style, form, author, purpose and audience. Selecting good Part 3 texts is therefore essential. 

These pages offer an overview of the requirements, the criteria, sample student work and tips on Paper 2 essay writing. Besides familiarizing yourself with these pages, you will want to study previous exam questions, practice writing under exam conditions and research your literary texts carefully. You can find several activities that help you develop the skills you need for the Paper 2 exam on the 'skills' page. 

Although it seems as if a quarter of your IB grade is determined in one brief sitting, in fact you can do a lot to prepare for this exam so that it is not so nerve-racking. Careful planning and a clear strategy are half the battle. What one writes is only the tip of a very large iceberg. 

The basics

Sample questions

Are you curious to see what Paper 2 questions look like? Here is a sample of questions that represent the kinds of questions that could appear on the exam. They are inspired by the sample questions that appear in the Language A: Language and Literature guide. 

  1. Explain how the authors of at least two literary works have portrayed a social group in a particular way. How might the contexts of the authors have influenced their portrayal of these social groups?

  2. It is often said that literature is a voice for social commentary. How is this true of at least two works that you have read.

  3. To what extent can the meaning of a literary work change over time? How does this question apply to at least two works that you have read?

  4. To what degree are readers influenced by their culture and context. Explain how at least two works could be read differently depending on the culture of their audience. 

  5. 'Coming of age' is a common theme in literary works. With regards to at least two literary works, explain how the author's own youth influenced their portrayal of this theme. 

  6. With regards to at least two literary works, explain how the setting both influences the characters and reflects the author's own context.

  7. How are the characters from at least two literary works representational of people from the time and place in which they were written?

  8. Why might two of your Part 3 works be considered 'timeless'?

  9. With regards to two literary texts, explain why authors may have chosen to depict events in a particular sequence or order. 

  10. How do two literary works both reflect and challenge the spirit of the times in which they were written?



In Camus’

The Stranger,

and Yoshimoto’s


both authors use the literarytechnique of pathetic fallacy – a branch of personification – which gives to the weather and physical world, human attributes. In both texts, this technique enriches the narratives bothaesthetically and in terms of meaning – by telling the inner emotions of the characters.However, while in


the pathetic fallacy is employed throughout the text, in


it takes centre stage only at the most crucial point in the book – with Meursault, the protagonist killing the Arab. This paper will examine the purpose of both authors in using the pathetic fallacy, and the significance each place on this technique.Yoshimoto places great emphasis on the pathetic fallacy, using it frequently. Thisfrequency is due largely to the cultural context of the story.


is based in Japan, where aculture of covert and coded language abounds in daily life and conversation; in a country wherethere are two social modes – ‘honne’, one’s true but generally hidden feelings, and ‘tatemae’,the feelings which one shows when in public and which literally means ‘facade’


.Thus, the pathetic fallacy is Yoshimoto’s way of augmenting the ‘honne’ moments of her protagonist,Mikage. In the weather and the elements we see reflected, Mikage’s deep and true emotions;emotions which a culture of facetious conversations has made difficult to convey, even inmoments of self conversation – the ‘honne’In Camus’

The Stranger,

the justification for the use of the pathetic fallacy lies, not inculture, as is in Yoshimoto’s


, but in characterization, Meursault being set up as theabsurd man. Meursault’s killing of the Arab is at a crossroads in definition: Is it a murder, andthus an ‘act,’ or is it merely an ‘event.’ The pathetic fallacy of the scene dissuades an ‘act’definition by incriminating “the sweat and sun” (Camus 59). Thus, Meursault is absolved of murder, and the killing of the Arab becomes just an “event.” If Meursault’s killing of the Arabis not premeditated, motivated, wilful, nor intended, then Meursault kills in a state of absurd


( Wiktitionary © Wikipedia)

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