Please write an analytical essay about some aspect(s) of the short fiction. Of course, your literary analysis should discuss the narrative in depth and move far beyond mere summary. Yes, you should summarize the story, but that summary should not be longer than one paragraph. The rest should be your analysis. Strive to tell why the author uses a particular literary device. What does that literary device – or aspect of the story – demonstrate? You may focus on one aspect or more than one aspect of the story -- but don't go overboard on that. The fewer aspects you discuss, the greater depth you'll tend to go; the more aspects you discuss, the more superficial your analysis will seem.
Since each of these stories has been anthologized and discussed for many years, you are sure to find an abundance of critical approaches throughout your searches. (In addition to the Internet, don’t forget to check out our library’s wonderful set of databases.) Please plan to include at least two sources beyond your own brilliance (not including the textbook). When including sources, please remember to incorporate, explain, interpret, and cite those sources correctly in MLA format. Remember that you are analyzing literature, and when you analyze literature, you are making judgments. Don’t be shy about having an opinion! Think in big ideas. And do not feel shy about having your own opinion. What you say has value!
- You enter a party and there is a conversation going on. At first, you don’t know what it’s about so you stay off to the sidelines and listen in. After a while, you get the gist of the conversation and begin to take part in the discussion. You add your thoughts, confirm other people’s thoughts, and maybe even challenge a few thoughts as well. You talk for a nice long time. The evening wears on and you get tired, so you decide to leave. You leave but the party continues and the conversations are continued as well – some of them taking off from where you left. Writing about literature is the same as attending this party. You will add your own thoughts, but in order to frame your thoughts you must first listen in and get the gist of what others are saying. You convey your thoughts to confirm or challenge or add to the other people’s thoughts.
- The thoughts, of course, are the outside sources – and you must include at least two outside sources in your essay.
Although you will certainly not address each of these questions, here are some things to consider when drafting your essay.
- Consider how a particular story exemplifies or fits into the entire genre of short stories. Does the story adhere to the general guidelines of what short stories are considered to be or does the story change that in some way? In other words, does it confirm the genre’s mandates or contradict or challenge those mandates – and develop and expand the genre in new ways?
- Is the story a good one or a bad one? How do we know? How do we judge the qualities of the story? (Usually, we judge the overall quality of a story by taking it apart, examining its separate aspects, and seeing how they fit together to create a satisfying whole.)
- Does the story have a recognizable message or theme? How does that theme relate to the reader or a broader audience?
- When you examine a particular aspect of a story, consider how that aspect (say, plot or character or setting) contributes to the message/theme or overall quality of the story. For example, what is it about the point of view that renders the story universal or personal?
Your essay should adhere to the following guidelines, please:
- All text double-spaced
- Use a sans-serif font such as Arial or Calibri
- 12 point height
- Follow consistent MLA formatting, including citations and Works Cited page
- Submitted as a Microsoft Word document in Canvas
- Length: 5-7 pages, plus a Works Cited page
- An outline, submitted as a separate assignment
- Given an appropriate title (not a label)
Probably the most difficult part of this assignment is to actually decide on what to write about. Read the story -- again, this is a story of your choice from the "Reading More Fiction" section of our textbook (this works for both versions of the textbook, by the way) -- and notice what stands out to you. Focus on those things. Think deeply about them and then do a bit of research (two sources, please) that discuss the same aspect(s) that you are concerned with. Shape your paper to convey your analysis and incorporate these sources as support for your own thinking.
Most of all, try to have fun doing this.
A couple of reminders:
- Put together an outline first and two of your classmates will anonymously review it. Revise as necessary. (I will review it as well.)
- You should submit this essay by the end of the week. I will grade it and comment upon it.
- As long as your work is original -- no plagiarism please -- you may revise it to improve your grade (if you wish) by the end of the semester. Alas, plagiarized work receives a zero and cannot be revised or redone.