The Younger family of five lives in a small apartment on Chicago's South Side, in a year between 1945 and "the present" (1959, when the play was performed). Walter Lee Younger, a chauffeur in his mid-30s, is unhappy with his job and wants to purchase a liquor store with two friends. His wife, Ruth, isn't so sure about the plan. The Youngers have little money—they live with Walter's mother and younger sister Beneatha—and they have a young son, Travis, to support. The whole family eagerly awaits a $10,000 check from a settlement awarded for the work-related death of Big Walter—Mama's husband and Walter and Beneatha's father. Mama, practical and hardworking, will receive and distribute the funds. Walter tries to convince her to finance his investment, but the devoutly religious Mama believes selling liquor is wrong.
Beneatha wants money to attend medical school. While Walter ridicules Beneatha's aspirations, Mama supports her. The family encourages her to pursue wealthy suitor George Murchison, a man Beneatha doesn't love. Another suitor, Nigerian classmate Joseph Asagai, helps Beneatha explore her African heritage.
The day the check comes Ruth discovers she's pregnant with an unplanned child. She considers terminating the pregnancy to Mama's dismay. Walter, upset by the family's lack of belief in his dream, begins drinking heavily.
Without telling her family ahead of time, Mama uses part of the settlement money to make a down payment on a house. Ruth, at first overjoyed by the purchase, becomes concerned when she learns the house is in a white neighborhood. When Mama sees Walter's distress—he's begun to miss work—she gives him the remainder of the money. She tells him to use some for his liquor store investment and put the rest in an account for Beneatha's education. Ruth decides to keep the baby.
While the Youngers are excitedly packing for their move, they are visited by Karl Lindner, a white representative of the "welcoming committee" in their new neighborhood. Lindner is initially polite and claims he wants to start a dialogue. He eventually reveals that the neighborhood residents want to buy back the house at a financial gain to the Youngers to prevent integrating the community. Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha angrily reject the offer and ask him to leave.
On moving day Walter's fellow investor Bobo visits the apartment with bad news. Willy Harris, the man to whom Walter and Bobo gave the investment money, has left town with the funds. A devastated Walter tells the family that he gave Beneatha's school funds to Willy as well as his own share. Mama becomes enraged and begins to beat him.
The family, now in need of cash, considers staying in the apartment. Beneatha talks to Asagai and questions in despair whether progress is possible for the human race. Asagai asks Beneatha to move with him to Africa, where he plans to work to improve the lives of his people.
Defeated, Walter prepares to call Karl Lindner and accept the buyout offer. While Beneatha's ready to disown her brother, Mama asserts that Walter needs their love now more than ever.
When Lindner returns Walter surprises and delights the family by telling Lindner they plan to move into the house after all. As they load the truck Beneatha reveals she wants to go to Africa. Mama tells Ruth that Walter has finally come into his manhood. The play closes with the Youngers vacating their apartment and going to their new house.
The Last of the Mohicans is a historical novel set in 1757 in central New York during the French and Indian War between the French, English, and their respective Native American allies. However, in Cooper's novel, the actual British/Iroquois and French/Lenape or Delaware alliances are reversed. At the beginning of the novel, four travelers begin a hazardous journey from one British fort to another. Cora Munro, her half sister Alice, and their escort, Major Duncan Heyward, ride on horseback from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry through the woods. An offbeat singing teacher from Connecticut named David Gamut accompanies them. Magua, a Huron scout, guides them.
The travelers and their guide encounter the talkative white woodsman Natty Bumppo (otherwise known as Hawkeye), a Mohican chief named Chingachgook, and his son Uncas. Hawkeye tells the group their Huron scout cannot be trusted and has led them astray. At first, Heyward refuses to believe Hawkeye, but then he realizes that they have been duped. Magua runs away, but Hawkeye and the two Mohicans agree to accompany the travelers.
For safety's sake, the travelers are brought to a secure place at the foot of Glenn's Falls for the night. Hidden in a cave, the travelers rest. The next morning, Iroquois attack. Since Hawkeye and the Mohicans run out of ammunition, they cannot fight. At Cora's urging, the three men float downstream to get help.
Magua and his band of warriors capture Cora, Alice, Heyward, and Gamut. Heyward tries to persuade Magua to take the women back to their father, but the Huron warrior refuses unless Cora agrees to become his wife. Horrified, Cora refuses, and the captives are tied up and threatened with violence. Just in time, Hawkeye and his companions arrive and attack the Iroquois. The travelers are saved, but Magua escapes. The group sings a hymn of thanks for their successful rescue.
That night, the group takes shelter in the ruins of a remote fort. Chingachgook keeps watch while the rest of the party sleeps. When the moon rises, the group moves on. At dawn, they reach the outskirts of Fort William Henry, which is under siege. A French lookout stops them from going farther, but Heyward speaks to the soldier in French. After lying that he is bringing the prisoners to Montcalm, the travelers are allowed to pass. In the meantime, Chingachgook kills the lookout and disposes of his body.
Although French troops have encircled the fort, the embattled group is able to find their way through dense fog and gun smoke to the front gates. They enter the safety of the fort, and Cora and Alice are reunited with their father.
During the siege, Hawkeye acts as a messenger. He is sent to Fort Edward to ask General Webb for reinforcements. When Hawkeye returns, he carries a letter from Webb, but the French intercept it. After the French and English call a temporary truce, Montcalm and Munro meet. Once Munro realizes Webb's letter indicates that he is not sending additional troops, Munro accepts his men will no longer be able to adequately defend the fort. Munro accepts the terms of surrender and prepares to evacuate.
The next day, English soldiers and their families march out of Fort William Henry. As soon as they go into the forest, the Iroquois allies of the French mercilessly kill many of them. French troops do nothing to help. In the confusion, Magua captures Alice, Cora, and Gamut and takes them far from the massacre.
The rest of the group—Hawkeye, Uncas, Chingachgook, and Heyward—join Munro. For three days, Hawkeye carefully tracks Magua and his captives. In close pursuit, they follow Magua toward the Huron camp. On the way, they meet Gamut, who informs them the Hurons have Alice, and the Delawares are holding Cora. This makes their rescue efforts even more challenging. To make matters worse, a Huron war party captures Uncas.
Through the use of clever disguises, Heyward rescues Alice, and Hawkeye rescues Uncas from the Hurons. Leaving Gamut behind, they retreat to the Delaware village. Meanwhile, Magua comes in peace to the village to plead his case before the aged Delaware chief, Tamenund. Magua reveals the true identify of Hawkeye and Uncas and argues he should be allowed to marry Cora. Ultimately, Tamenund frees Uncas and Hawkeye, but he rules in Magua's favor. Magua leaves the Delaware village with Cora.
After Magua leaves, Uncas convinces the Delaware warriors to fight the Hurons. Along with Hawkeye, Chingachgook, Munro, and Gamut, the Delawares defeat the Hurons. Amazingly, Magua escapes once more, but this time Hawkeye, Heyward, and Gamut pursue him into a dark cave and up a steep hill. On a narrow ledge, the foes face off. One of the Huron warriors kills Cora, Magua kills Uncas, and Hawkeye kills Magua.
Afterward, the Delawares mourn the dead and bury Cora and Uncas. Munro and Heyward escort Alice from the village, and Hawkeye and Chingachgook together grieve for Uncas, the last of the Mohicans.
Frankenstein takes place in the 1790s. It's a wild scenic ride, beginning in St. Petersburgh (spelling later changed to St. Petersburg), Russia, and then shifting to the Archangel, Russia; the waters of the Arctic Ocean; Geneva, Switzerland; Ingolstadt, Germany; Mont Blanc, between Italy and France; Germany; the Netherlands; London; the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland; and finally back to the Arctic Ocean.
Robert Walton, an explorer headed for the North Pole, opens the story by relating his adventures in letters to his sister Margaret Saville. Walton and his crew see a manlike giant driving a dogsled in the distance. Soon after, they see another man, skeletal and nearly frozen to death, also driving a dogsled. They rescue the latter figure and learn that he is Victor Frankenstein and has been chasing the huge creature. As Victor regains his strength, he tells Walton his story.
Victor takes up the narration. He and his younger brothers, Ernest and William, enjoyed a happy childhood in Geneva, Switzerland, thanks to their loving and wealthy parents, Alphonse and Caroline, who adopted Alphonse's sister's daughter, Elizabeth Lavenza. Elizabeth and Victor were both five years old at the time. They became close friends. Victor's other close companion was Henry Clerval, a classmate who enjoyed stories of knights in shining armor, a contrast to Victor's obsession with science.
The family's happiness dimmed when Elizabeth became ill with scarlet fever and Caroline contracted the illness while nursing her. Before dying she communicated her great wish: that Victor and Elizabeth marry. After recovering from the loss of his mother, Victor left home to study science at the University of Ingolstadt in Germany. The top chemistry student, he was determined to discover "the principle of life." Victor studied day and night, dug up corpses from cemeteries, and set up his own laboratory. Stitching together body parts from various corpses, he made a creature 8 feet tall. Using electricity, he gave the Monster life, but it was terrifically strong and grotesquely hideous. Repelled by his gruesome creation, Victor rejected the Monster.
Later, Victor was relieved to find that the Monster has disappeared. Exhausted from two years of nonstop work and the horrid results, Victor collapsed. Henry nursed Victor back to health.
Returning home more than a year later, Victor was shocked to learn of the murder of his brother William. A servant, Justine Moritz, was blamed for the crime after a locket belonging to William was found in her pocket. Although Justine was hanged for the crime, Victor was sure that the Monster committed the murder, seeking revenge for Victor's rejection. Victor did not reveal his suspicions, because he did not think that anyone would believe him.
Victor went hiking at Montanvert to help deal with his guilt and grief, but the Monster found him and recounted his own history. The Monster explained that he had found refuge in an abandoned cottage. There he spied on a family in a neighboring cottage, the De Laceys, learning to speak and to read by observing them through a window. The Monster grew very fond of the family for their kindness to each other. Finally he got up the courage to approach the family, but they rejected him and fled from their home. Furious, the Monster burned their home to the ground and both murdered Victor's brother William and framed Justine for the crime. Bitterly lonely and isolated, the Monster told Victor that he would leave his creator in peace only if Victor created a mate for him. Victor reluctantly agreed.
Victor resumes his narration of events. Victor and Henry traveled together to England, where they parted ways. Suspecting that the Monster was shadowing him to make sure that he kept his word, Victor set up a new laboratory in the isolated Orkney Islands. There he began building the female monster, but just before he gave her life, he tore the body apart, fearful that she and the male would mate and create a race of monsters. The Monster, watching through the window, became enraged and threatened that he would be with Victor on his wedding night. The Monster then strangled Henry, leaving evidence (through witness sightings) that Victor was responsible. Victor was found innocent after a trial, but his health became shattered. He returned to Geneva, recovered, and made plans to marry Elizabeth.
On Elizabeth and Victor's wedding night, the Monster killed Elizabeth. The shock proved too much for Victor's father, who died soon after. Determined to get revenge, Victor tracked the Monster around the world, ending near the North Pole.
The story ends where it began, with Walton listening to Victor's story. Walton's voyage is brutally hard, and the sailors want to turn back, but Victor wants them to push on so that he can continue to track the Monster, reminding them of their goals for the voyage. With the voyage endangering their lives, Walton agrees with the men to turn around, and Victor dies soon after. Walton is shocked to see the Monster appear and mourn over Victor's corpse. The Monster explains that he killed Victor's family and Henry because of his rage at being shunned by all humans—even his creator. The Monster has found no comfort in his actions, however, and promises to kill himself. At the conclusion Walton watches the Monster spring "from the cabin-window ... upon the ice-raft" that lies close to the vessel. He is "soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance."
1984 is set in a possible future in which the world has been ravaged by war and hungry and fearful citizens must pledge allegiance to a paranoid regime that keeps them ignorant through misinformation. Winston Smith, the main character of the novel, lives in London—though England is now called Airstrip One. Airstrip One is part of a large superstate called Oceania, which comprises all of Britain, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the Americas and southern Africa.
In Oceania a force called Big Brother watches and spies on people through telescreens, which are like TVs that transmit both ways. It does double duty, spying on citizens and transmitting pro-Party propaganda, instructions, calisthenics, pro–Big Brother music, and more. The city is plastered with Party slogans such as WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. This is doublethink, a concept that rules Oceania. Doublethink is the ability to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time and accept both of them. But doublethink concepts cancel each other out and, therefore, make no sense.
The Ministry of Truth, where Winston works, is in charge of rewriting history to align with what the Party decides is truth at the moment. The Ministry of Love is in charge of law, order, and torture; the Ministry of Plenty is in charge of economic affairs and the perpetuation of artificial scarcity; and the Ministry of Peace is in charge of perpetual war.
Winston writes in his diary about his hatred for the Party. As he writes—itself a crime punishable by death—he remembers two people he noticed that morning at work. The first is a coworker named O'Brien. O'Brien appears to be an orthodox Party member, but Winston decides that he is really a rebel. The other is a young woman known at first only as "a dark-haired girl."
At work one day, Winston discusses editing the Newspeak dictionary with Syme, a coworker. Syme's job is to eliminate words from Oldspeak (Standard English) and come up with a language with very few words. Newspeak deprives people of the ability to express themselves in any nuanced way or have individual ideas.
Winston visits Mr. Charrington, the unassuming cockney owner of an antique shop. Mr. Charrington shows him an upstairs room that appears to be without a telescreen. Winston imagines renting it as a refuge, and, as he leaves the shop, he sees the dark-haired girl again.
The dark-haired girl, Julia, surreptitiously drops a note into Winston's hand that says, "I love you." Winston and Julia begin to meet away from telescreens and microphones. They meet often in the midst of loud, angry, crowds thick enough that they can touch hands without being noticed. Once they make love in the belfry of a church. Eventually Winston rents the room above the antique shop, and they meet more frequently.
Winston takes notice of an elderly woman whom he sees often doing laundry and singing. He thinks she is happy and free. Like other proles (or working-class people), she is "off the radar" of the Party. Many proles don't even have telescreens in their houses. Winston realizes that the Party will only be overthrown if the proles come to understand their power and rise up.
One day at work, O'Brien invites Winston to his posh apartment. Julia goes along, and they tell O'Brien they want to join the Brotherhood, the group believed to be fighting the Party. O'Brien asks them a series of grisly questions to determine what they are willing to do for the cause. Julia's only condition is that she is unwilling to be separated from Winston. O'Brien accepts them and makes plans to get Winston a copy of the manifesto (nicknamed "the book"), or mission statement, of the counterrevolutionary leader Emmanuel Goldstein.
Later Winston reads aloud to Julia from "the book" in the room above the antique shop. When a voice comes from behind a picture on the wall, they realize there is a telescreen in the room and that they have been discovered. Thought Police come into the room along with Mr. Charrington, who is revealed to be an orthodox Party member.
Winston and Julia have been separated and presumably taken to different prisons. Winston is being held prisoner with other suspected dissidents. One man piteously begs to be taken anywhere but Room 101. Eventually O'Brien enters and reveals that he is also a true member of the Party. A guard takes Winston to a private cell, where he is tortured and admits to things he's never done. O'Brien alternately dials the pain level up and down, but Winston holds onto what he knows to be true and does not betray Julia. Although he eventually agrees to believe whatever O'Brien says, one night he calls out Julia's name, showing his humanity is still intact.
Winston is eventually taken to Room 101, the place where prisoners are forced to face their worst nightmares. O'Brien shows Winston a cage with rats in it and tells him that the hungry rats will eat his face if they're let free. Winston, who has a phobia of rats so severe that it makes him faint, is defeated and calls out, "Do it to Julia!" before losing consciousness.
Winston is released, and, in the next scene, he is at his favorite café. He has gained weight, has a better job at the Ministry, and has enough money to drink all the gin he wants. In fact, he lives for gin, doesn't care about truth or untruth, and accepts doublethink. He sees Julia on the street one day, and they each admit that they betrayed the other. They talk briefly, but they don't seem to connect. In the dust of the table, Winston draws 2 + 2 = 5 and then looks at a poster of Big Brother and asks himself why he ever rebelled against that loving face.