November 5th and 7th (schedule times during class
to meet with me one-on-one). The paper must be complete and
typed for our meeting or you will take a zero for the
November 19th (at beginning of class)
Minimum Length: 2 pages, double-spaced, typed (@ 650
For this paper, you should make use only of the story and
your own imagination. Do not consult secondary sources for
ideas or theories. You may, though, refer to other stories
we have read to provide a contrast or comparison. You can
also refer to a dictionary or the information about short
stories in our textbook and handouts I’ve given you.
Select a theme
you wish to explore,
such as family,
marriage, quest, betrayal, supernatural, sin, death, love,
the relationship between men and women, appearance versus
2. Choose a short story, or stories, from our
anthology/reading list that deal with this theme.
You may need to read each story
several times, taking notes as you go.
Go through each story and mark how the author uses
narrative, character, setting, symbolism, etc., to convey
Then, write an
of the short story/stories; employ as many of the literary
terms that we have studied as you legitimately can to
present a thorough literary analysis of how the theme
“works” in the story/stories you have selected (as if to
enlighten an educated reader about the important aspects of
this particular short story.) You
select AT LEAST TWO of
Some of those
literary terms are:
point of view
4. Construct a thesis that
indicates a) your focus, and b) the relation of that focus
to the story as a whole. For example, a thesis for “A
Good Man is Hard to Find” might be: Characterization and
irony help convey O’Connor’s theme that perhaps we should
first be good men ourselves rather than judging others.
For “The Cask of the Amontillado,” a thesis might be:
The narrator’s revelations of his own vices as well as the
actions of Fortunato underscore the lesson in this short
story: overwhelming pride leads to ruin. Though not as
obvious as the first thesis, the second thesis will focus on
narrative/POV and characterization. To use more than one
story, you might argue: Lack of communication can lead to
disaster in marriage, as it does in the stories “The Yellow
Wallpaper,” “Story of an Hour,” and “The Jewelry.”
Another one might be: “The use of foreshadowing in the
stories “A Cask of Amontillado” and “A Good Man is Hard to
Find” helps create tension and interest. Also note that
there is some latitude in assigning meaning to a short
story. What I see as the major theme may be different than
what you see. The important criterion to keep in mind is:
can you prove it? Therefore, you need a thesis because you
are arguing for your interpretation of the story. The thesis
should not be so obvious that your reader will say “so
what?” Don’t settle for trite generalizations. Instead, make
a statement which indicates thought and depth, and which
requires support and proof. Your goal should be to
illuminate for the readers some point that they might not
have noticed upon first reading the story.
5. Find evidence in the text to
support your thesis, and organize the rest of your essay
around these quotations and examples. Don’t rely on
generalizations about or paraphrases of the story to
convince your reader, but provide specific evidence and
discuss the importance of that evidence for your thesis.
Please note: you should not insert huge chunks of quotes in
your paper and count that against your minimum page length.
Roughly 70% of the paper should be your own words and
6. Conclude your paper by summing up your argument so
that the readers see that your evidence does support your
Format and Conventions:
1) Put quotation marks around
2) Follow direct quotations
with the author’s name (not the editors’ name or the title)
and page numbers from your text, in parentheses. Close the
quotation marks before the citation; put the end punctuation
after it. For example: “Thus she passed from generation to
generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil,
perverse” (Faulkner 31).
3) Always write about
literature in the present tense.
4) Your essay should be
analytical, thus you should not waste your (or your
reader’s) time with plot summary.
5) Your paper should be typed,
double–spaced, on 8 1/2" by 11" white paper. In the upper
left-hand corner of your first page, include:
Ms. McBride: ENG/HUM 2413
Assignment (Short Story Analysis)
Below this block of information, center your title; begin
your text below that. Use an interesting, informative
title—“Paper #1” is mildly informative, but completely
uninteresting. Number your pages (after the first) in the
top right-hand corner, with your last name and the page
It is important to write succinctly.
DO NOT JUST RE-TELL THE STORY. DO NOT
– if you use information from our textbook, then you must
cite that information correctly – the Norton Anthology
discusses how to write a paper, including how to document
outside sources; DO NOT write a plot outline—this assignment
is to analyze: what is the author “saying” to the reader.
What literary techniques and conventions does he or she use
to say it? What is the “point” of the story? Does it show
us anything worthwhile about people or about life?
Keep your discussion focused on
analyzing how the THEME works within the short story.
Sample body paragraph:
Of all the
characters in Flannery O’Connor’s short story, the
grandmother is the worst at judging others for poor behavior
without any recognition of her own failings.
[insert examples from story,
using transitions to link them together and build to
Grandmother’s lies lead the family to this dirt road where
they cross the path of the Misfit. Had she been more
concerned about being a good “man” herself rather than
judging others, the tragedy would have been avoided.