In a paper of 4-5 pages, (1,000-1,250 words) give an in-depth, interpretative analysis of a selected literary or contextual element in one of the stories we readin the first weeks of class, excluding the Hawthorne story:
o Mary Ladd Gavell, “The Rotifer”
o Eugene Walter, “Connecticut”
o Edith Wharton, “The Eyes”
o Truman Capote, “Miriam”
o Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby”
Possible writing topics are:
o The Role of the Setting
o The Meaning of Symbolism in the Story
o A Psychological Interpretation of the Story
o Gender Issues in the Story
o The Role of Cultural or Historical Contexts
o The Story’s RelevancetoToday’s Issues
To prepare for this assignment, give the selected story a close second and third reading. Also, review the files about character, setting, or critical approaches such as psychological criticism—depending on your topic choice—in Blackboard’s Documents folder. In your paper, aim at thoroughly discussing the selected element or context in the light of one central idea.
Since the paper must present a central idea about the selected element within the story, it is not sufficient to simply list details. Rather, your paper needs to address the question why the details you found are important to an interpretation of the topic you have chosen to analyze. Also, be sure to avoid summing up the plot of the story; assume that the reader is familiar with the overall storyline but may not necessarily recall specific details.
o This assignment does not require the use of any secondary sources (i.e., sources about the author or about the story, including commentaries on web sites), especially if you focus on one literary element. Rely on your own reading and interpretation of the story. If you do use any outside sources to read up the story or contexts, however, you must cite the source material and document all sources used in order to avoid plagiarism.
o It is important to back up your interpretation by selected examples from the story. Use well-selected quotations from the story to illustrate your claims.
o Use the MLA style for this paper and the list of works cited. For an overview of MLA-style requirements, see the course syllabus and the links given in Blackboard.
o Put titles of short stories in quotation marks; e.g., “ The Eyes.” Titles of books are italicized, e.g., The Story and Its Writer.
o Center the title of your paper. Do not underline the title of your paper, and only put the title of the story in quotation marks. Example:
The Road to Nowhere: The Function of Setting in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”
o Use in-text, parenthetical citations for documenting sources. Example: The narrator describes herself as “a sort of Paganini, or Escoffier, of recognizing” (Gavell 30).
o Provide a Works-Cited Listing for all sources used and clearly indicate wherever you used the sources in your paper.
o Use the present tense when discussing a work of literature and its details.
Example 1: The villagers torture the old man. NOT: The villagers tortured the old man.
Example 2: The story reflects the author’s view of society. NOT: The story reflected the author’s view of society.
Example 3: Faulkner portraysBenjy as a thirty-three-year-old man with the mental capabilities of a child. NOT: Faulkner portrayed …
o Avoid the use of the first person in your paper, also if you choose the topic about the relevance of the story to contemporary issues. Use generally applicable examples instead of personal narratives. For example, instead of writing, “I think [or, in my opinion,] character X is a strong advocate of vanishing values,” firmly and clearly state your idea about the character without the use of the first person: “Character X is a strong advocate of vanishing values.” Then give evidence, i.e., specific examples from the story, including quotations, in support of your interpretative statements.