Ap language and Composition Summer Reading Assignment

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AP Language and Composition

Summer Reading Assignment

The Fountainhead
By Ayn Rand
On the surface, this book is the story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes:  the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.

  1. There will be a reading check with sections on identifying quotations and short answer questions.

  2. During the first full week of class, students will participate in a debate on one of three topics from the novel. 

To prepare for the debate and the reading check, you should actively take notes as you read the novel. Please keep in mind that as AP students, you are expected to read independently, not consulting notes or commercial study aids.

Taking Notes on Literature

You don’t want to read a novel, then find out a few days later before the reading check that you have forgotten the entire story and have no choice but to reread all or part of the novel. Even worse, how can you remember the important elements of the novel for a debate, essay, or project, many weeks or months later? Taking solid, reliable notes will make your life easier and give you material to study when you need it. Thus, the following suggestions.
Before you begin reading, find a sensible method for organizing your notes; in many longer works, dividing notes by chapters will work.

I strongly suggest that rather than attempting to take notes simultaneously as you read, you take breaks to write up notes at the end of each chapter or whatever section you have read for the day – it’s a great way to test your recall of what you have just read, and it’s a more natural process than constantly stopping to jot notes as you are reading. I also strongly suggest that you handwrite notes rather than typing them – this is proven to enhance recall and understanding of the notes you take.

  1. Consider chapters– is there any thematic significance to the organization of the story? Do chapter titles, if chapters have titles, have any significance?

  2. Consider the characters - address how they have changed and the significant events that have affected them in each chapter or section of the novel.

  3. Note the Setting – list the locale, time period, and length of time that passes in each section of the novel.

  4. Consider themes and motifs – reflecting on your earlier notes can be helpful with this, especially as you progress through the piece. Do you see any repetition of concepts? Images? Significant meaning in the piece?

  5. Consider the author’s style – what literary devices are important to the author’s style? Which are used most often? What effect do they have?

  6. Quotations – although at this point it is difficult to predict exactly which quotations will be useful for future assignments and tests, you should still make note of powerful lines or scenes, lines that are well-written or are particularly interesting to you, and lines that reflect important qualities or changes in characters. Record in your notes the page number and some description of the quotations that you find important.

AP Debate Topics

Students will be split into groups of 2-4. Each group will be assigned a pro or con stance on one of three issues from the novel that will be debated before the class.  Each of the three debates will follow a standard debate format. You should have these guidelines read by the time the year starts. The topics are:

  1. The world would be a better place if the values and behavior modeled by Roark in The Fountainhead were embraced by the majority.

  1. Dominique is meant to be Rand’s representation of the ideal female.

  1. Gore Vidal: “[Rand] has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the welfare state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good…” [use The Fountainhead as the basis for your argument]

Debate Guidelines

Each of the three debates will follow standard debate format – see the chart below for a graphical representation of the procedure and ordering of the group.
The first person on each team will deliver the constructive segment, the second will deliver the rebuttal, and the third will deliver the summation. There will be a 3 minute break preceding the rebuttal phase for the teams to coordinate their notes. There will be a 2 minute break before the summation phase for final preparation. Although individuals are responsible for their delivery, the content of each segment should be the result of group effort.
Each team will have 10-12 minutes to present their arguments. Teams going over that time limit will be stopped. Each group must include two or three quotations from the novel as support for their thesis.
Those who are observing the debate, the audience, will have partial responsibility in deciding which team has been most convincing. They are to take notes which include the criteria mentioned above as well as the sense of teamwork they evidence. They need to consider the question and whether the book or author allowed one side to be naturally more persuasive.

Order of Debate Segments

Affirmative Constructive

Negative Constructive

Affirmative Rebuttal

Negative Rebuttal

Affirmative Summation

Negative Summation

Affirmative Arguments











Best Arguments


Negative Arguments












Best Arguments


Each person will be graded on the following four criteria:

  1. Use of Quotations/facts/examples—Every major point must be well supported with specific evidence from the text.

  2. Presentation style—Team members consistently use good oral skills and keep the attention of the audience. Presentations are given with confidence and enthusiasm.

  3. Organization of ideas—All arguments are clearly tied to a main thesis and the points are not overlapping.
  4. Understanding of the Topic—An in-depth understanding of the topic and the novel being discussed is evidenced in the discussion.


When you debate you will spend as much or more time listening as you spend speaking. It is your listening skills as much as your speaking skills that will determine the quality of your performance in the round. You will need to listen actively to understand your opponents’ argument so that you can develop a proper response.
Some elements of active listening:

  • Come to class prepared

  • Listen for the main ideas that organize each speech

  • Distinguish between the speaker’s argument and their support

  • Take notes

  • Ask yourself how each part of a person’s speech supports (or does not support!) their thesis

  • Identify gaps in your understanding of the speaker’s argument. Are they due to incomplete understanding on your part? Are they due to flaws in the speaker’s reasoning or communication?

  • Wait until the speaker has completed a thought before you evaluate it

  • Give great attention to the particular words a speaker chooses. The meaning of vocabulary chosen by the speaker can have great effect on the meaning of an entire argument

  • At the end of each speech ask yourself whether the speaker supported all the claims they made in their thesis

  • Demonstrate that you are listening attentively by making eye contact and responding, (verbally or non-verbally), where appropriate

Questions about the assignment should be directed via email to Mr. Ionescu at mionescu@johncarroll.org

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