Community of Readers

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury — October 2006

As part of our Community of Readers for the SEEK Pre-freshman Summer Program, all entering SEEK students, faculty and tutors will read Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.

The Community Read discussions will take place the week of Oct. 30, 2006. Please make sure you have completed the book prior to your class meeting.

Your assignment is in two parts. The first part is due on the day of your counseling class meeting the week of Oct. 30. It will be handed in to your CUNYCAP and should also be included in your Benchmarks Portfolio. The second part is due on Nov. 10 as part of your Benchmarks assignment. All answers should be typed and should be written in clear essay form. You may use the tutors in the SEEK Tutoring Center to assist you with your assignment.

Part I

You may choose either question 1 or 2, and everyone must complete questions 3 and 4.

1. Is there a positive side to censorship that allows communities to function smoothly even though people might not have access to books or information? Is there censorship today and if there is, can it be justified? Explain your answer.


2. This book was published in 1953, more than 50 years ago. Many of the technological trends in this book have come true in the past 50 years. Reflect on how technology was controlling the lives of the characters in Fahrenheit 451 and how technology shapes our lives today. Please be specific.


3. If you had an opportunity to save only one book or a single document, what book would you choose? Why? Please choose a book or document other than the books mentioned in the text.


4. Write two interpretive and two evaluative Critical Inquiry questions based on your reading of the book.

Part II

Reflect on your summer Critical Inquiry readings, keeping our theme of  "Freedom and Responsibility" in mind. Here are some examples from your Critical Inquiry course:

  • Antigone's statement of "having criminally done holy things."
  • The Declaration of Independence — "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…"
  • Martin Luther King Jr. in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" — "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

With your summer readings in mind, consider Fahrenheit 451.

  1. How do Guy Montag’s actions fit into the themes presented by these quotes? Were his actions justified? Why or why not?
  2. Is it ever OK to break the law? Use evidence from your readings to support your answer.

The Moon Is Down, by John Steinbeck — October 2004

As part of our Community of Readers for the SEEK Pre-freshman Summer Program, all entering SEEK students, faculty and tutors will read The Moon Is Down, by John Steinbeck.

By this time, you should have completed your reading of The Moon Is Down. There will be a series of meetings in your counseling classes to discuss the book and its implications. This is a two-part assignment for your reading:

Part 1

Write nine Critical Inquiry questions based on The Moon Is Down (three factual, three interpretive and three evaluative). Explain, for each, why you have written that question.

On page 106 of the text, one of the characters quotes Socrates as follows: 'Someone will say, "And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end?" To him I may fairly answer, "There you are mistaken: A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought to consider whether he is doing right or wrong."' Explain why John Steinbeck has inserted the quote from Socrates in The Moon Is Down. How does it relate to the story?

Part 1 is due on the date your counseling class is scheduled to meet to discuss the text. It must be turned in to your counselor on that day.

Part 2

This book was written in 1942. Some people have said that this book has taken on new relevance in today's world. Please discuss how The Moon Is Down relates to the theme of freedom and responsibility both in the book and its setting in 1942 as well as in light of events in the world today. Select a current event or situation and specifically discuss the relevance of the book to this event or issue.

Part 2 is due in your Benchmark Portfolio on Nov. 18. It should be approximately two to three typewritten pages.

The Moon Is Down Community Read Discussion

Please answer at least two of the questions.

Group 1

  1. If your town was being invaded and you had the opportunity to fight back, would you or would you not fight against this action and why?
  2. Why didn't the mayor stop his people from using the dynamite? How does it reveal the responsibility of a mayor in today's world?
  3. Do you agree that the enemy was everywhere, in every woman, in every man and in every child? Why?
  4. Would you fight for your country knowing that you could die at any time or would you rather run away? Relate this to The Moon Is Down.

Group 2: Interpretive

  1. By using Steinbeck's techniques of making the soldiers human, describe the terrorists who attacked the United States.
  2. If there was an invasion of New York City today, would Mayor Bloomberg be able to handle it better than Mayor Ordain?
  3. If the book was about current circumstances, would the United States be the aggressor or the victim?

Group 3: Evaluative

  • How did the novel convey propaganda?
  • Did Steinbeck try to show the enemy soldiers as "more human’ "ince he wrote about them having feelings and missing their families at home?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of being able to choose the future of your town or country?


  • Why did the invaders decide to hold the trial against Alexander Molden in the mayor’s house?
  • What did Tonder mean when he said "“conquered and we are afraid; conquered and we are surrounded"?

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." — Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1949)

"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost." — Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." — Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." — Malcolm X (1925 – 1965)

Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara — November 2002

As part of our Community of Readers for the SEEK Pre-freshman Summer Program, all entering SEEK students, faculty and tutors will read Rise to Rebellion, by Jeff Shaara.

Benchmark Portfolio Assignments

  1. For their Freshman Benchmark Portfolios, students will write at least two questions that can be posted on the SEEK website as discussion questions for other readers. Interesting questions will be submitted to the author.
  2. Choose two examples from Shaara's book that illustrate the theme, freedom and responsibility, and explain why you think these examples have significance for Americans today. In addition, choose another example illustrating freedom and responsibility from any of the readings assigned for this semester's courses and explain the significance of that quote.
    1. Copy the quote correctly.
    2. Cite the source of all of your examples.
    3. Write no less than one paragraph explaining why the quotes are meaningful.
    4. Type your paper, double-spaced and approximately 250 words.
    5. Due, with the Benchmarks, Nov. 18, 2002.