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Write an essay that analyzes short stories from textbook

Write an essay that analyzes short stories from textbook

Write an essay that analyzes short stories from textbook

Fiction Analysis Essay: Assignment Details

Assignment: 100 points possible — Write an essay of 3 pages minimum, maximum of 5 pages (double-spaced) that analyzes one of these short stories from our textbook: Achebe’s “Dead Men’s Path”; Cather’s “Paul’s Case”; or Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.”

Topic/Thesis: You should not summarize the text, point out its moral only, or make general comments about the story. Instead, have a strong point that analyzes an aspect of the text (take it apart and observe it carefully). Some readers should be able to disagree with you – this means your topic is arguable and interesting! You need to show us exactly what you see and where you see it in the story, so we can see it, too. Use the notes “Reading Fiction” and “Literary Analysis” to be sure you are on track. Many of the topics you have written about in the forums could be expanded in this essay.

Research Required: You must cite the short story in the textbook; additional research is optional and must be listed on the Works Cited list and marked and cited within your essay. No more than 1/3 of your essay should be quoted material.

Works Cited: Use the MLA citation sample for a “Story, Poem, or Play Reprinted in Anthology or Textbook” on page 985 of your textbook to list the story at the end of your essay.


Jewett, Sarah Orne. “A White Heron.” Literature. A Pocket Anthology6th ed. Ed. RS. Gwynn. Boston: Pearson, 2015. 38-46. Print.

Format: You will use MLA format for your essay’s layout and documentation, including a header, heading and Works Cited list. Quote directly from the short story in your essay to provide support for your ideas; use quotation marks and provide a page number, “like this” (Cheever 175) when you do so, even for a word or short phrase. If you mention a detail from the story but do not quote directly word-for-word from the story, you should still provide a page number, like this (Cheever 175).

If you add additional research, be sure to cite it properly, as well, using proper MLA format. See the MLA Format document and the handout from OWL at Purdue for additional help with format.

Important Notes:

• Keep your focus on the text- the story. Be sure to relate all of your ideas back to quoting and analyzing the story itself, not just a topic related to the text.

• Revise your writing to take out any wordy sentences and be simple, clear, and direct about your main point and what you are arguing about the story.

• This is not a reflection on your experience reading the story or a review of the story- leave that out of it. Avoid using first person or second person (you). Your subject is the story itself. If you aren’t sure what sort of point to make about what you’ve read.

A Few Ideas for Coming Up With a Topic:

1. Make a claim about what the author is exploring with regard to race, class, gender, philosophy, or spirituality – analyze how and why the author has done this.

2. Examine a particular literary device/symbol/technique very closely. Analyze what the author is doing and how this choice functions in the text as a whole.

3. Select a word or phrase that the author uses and analyze the larger text in light of this small detail. Analyze how and why the author may have used this particular word, phrase, or detail.

4. Make a bold claim or take a side on how, exactly, the author is presenting the theme/issue that the author has raised in the text. Remember -this is not the moral or lesson of the story – you should analyze details from the story to provide clear evidence for your claims about it.

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