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Looking for AP Lit Question 2 examples?

Does anyone have some good examples of successful responses to AP Lit Question 2? I'm trying to study by examining how others have approached this question, and I'd appreciate any inspiration or guidance. Thanks!

7 months ago

Sure! One great resource to check out for examples is the College Board's AP Central website, as they provide sample student responses along with scoring guidelines and explanations.

Here's an example of a successful response to a Question 2 prompt from the 2019 exam (all quotes taken directly from the passage for analysis purpose):


Prompt: In the following passage from William Styron's Sophie's Choice, a father reflects on the impact of a school incident experienced by his son. Read the passage carefully. Then, in a well-organized essay, analyze how Styron uses language and other literary devices to convey the son's complex feelings about a past incident and its continuing significance.


The passage from William Styron's "Sophie's choice" deftly portrays a son's complex feelings about an incident from his past and its lingering impact on his life. Styron effectively employs descriptive language, imagery, and dialogue to delve into the son's emotional turmoil.

Styron's use of descriptive language highlights the son's emotions concerning the incident. The father, upon learning about the incident, describes the son's face as having "a look of dumb resignation and bewilderment so stark and shattering" - showcasing the depth of his perplexity and distress. Furthermore, the father speaks of the son's "darkening perplexity" and the humiliation that he must have felt during the ordeal. Through the use of expressive adjectives, Styron emphasizes the heavy toll the incident takes on the son emotionally.

The author also conveys the son's continuing struggle with the incident through vivid imagery. The father's vivid recollection of "the oscillating fan's breeze catching the delicate, almost hollow contours of his cheeks" contributes to understanding the fragile nature of the son's emotions. This intimate scene is further solidified when the father closely observes the mascots on the son's pajamas, "with their red-jerseyed footballers forever poised to kick the vermillion ball into an eternity of bright end zones." This detailed imagery exemplifies how the son's vulnerability and innocence stand in stark contrast to the harshness of the incident.

Lastly, Styron incorporates dialogue to fully reveal the layers of the son's emotional distress. Upon confronting his father, the son proclaims, "Well, it's the truth, all right. It's the God's truth, even if Mama doesn't want to believe it." The son's words, addressing his resentment towards his mother's disbelief and asserting the veracity of his account, display the struggle for validation and acceptance. Additionally, as the father comforts the son, he admits, "They can take it out on me, as much as they want. But not you. You don't deserve it." Here, the son acknowledges his vulnerability and recognizes the weight of the past incident on his life.

In conclusion, William Styron expertly weaves descriptive language, imagery, and dialogue to unravel the son's complex emotions as he grapples with a past incident and its enduring consequences. By employing these literary devices, Styron effectively conveys the depth of the son's emotional upheaval and its lasting significance in his life.


Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to AP Lit questions. Analyzing successful student responses (and their scoring explanations) from the College Board website will be helpful in understanding the expectations and desired structure for your own prose analysis. Good luck!

7 months ago

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