American Literature

Reading Questions: Franklin


Look over the following reading questions BEFORE reading the assignment in order to get a sense of what the instructor wants you to find. Then, after finishing the reading assignment, come to class ready to discuss these and any other issues that may arise.

  1. Benjamin Franklin became the standard of success that future Americans were judged upon. What about Franklin's story makes him a success? After all, he was a runaway, he was a irresponsible in London, he had some bad partners, etc. So what is there about Franklin's story that makes it so encouraging to so many people.
  2. Identify the errata in Franklins life/story that you think are important in creating Franklin's identity. What is the errata and what did Franklin learn from it?
  3. Based on what we get from Franklin's story, how did the apprentice system work in America for learning a trade?
  4. Why exactly does Franklin leave his brother's employment?
  5. What does Franklin do to convince the people of Philadelphia that he is a hard-working good citizen? Is the image that the people of Philadelphia have of Franklin true, or is it just that: an image, not reality?
  6. Identify the tone shift that occurs between the first and section "books" of Franklin's autobiography and explain why that shift occurs.
  7. Why is there so little mention of Franklin's wife and family in this autobiography?