ENGLISH 1102 SHORT STORY ESSAY
Minimum: 750 words
The assignment for this essay is to analyze a short story. You may choose a story that we have not discussed in class; however, if you do this, you must have the story approved by me (this is to prevent you from choosing a topic that will give you problems and lower your grade, so do not ignore this rule). No outside sources (whether books, articles, or internet sources) may be used in this first paper. This includes the sample essays in your textbook. Do not disregard this rule; it is meant to prevent you from failing for plagiarism.
Your essay must have a strong, clear thesis. For example, “There is symbolism in ‘The Lottery’” is not making a strong point. A better thesis would be: “The story’s symbolism reflects Jackson’s critique of our culture’s tendency to scapegoat.” Another example of an acceptable thesis would be: “The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is not originally insane, but is driven insane by her treatment.” The thesis should be the last sentence in your introduction and each body paragraph of the essay should have a topic sentence that relates clearly to the thesis. The reader of your essay should be able to read only your thesis and topic sentences and still see a clear outline of the essay. One way to find a thesis is to discuss the characters in a story with strong characterization, such as the characters in “The Necklace” or “Everyday Use.” Some of the aspects to consider for a character analysis are: What details in the story show you what kind of person the character is? What are some of the personality traits of the character and how are these suggested in the story? What does the character interaction (the way the character reacts to other characters) tell you about the character? What function does the character serve in the story? How does the author use the character to reveal the story’s theme or the issues it presents?
Another way to find a thesis is to discuss the theme of a story. Here you are discussing what the story means and what the author is using the story to suggest. An example of a strong thesis about theme would be, “In ‘Everyday Use,’ Alice Walker suggests that in order to appreciate one’s heritage, one must first appreciate one’s own family.”
All essays should be in third person and double-spaced using MLA format. Finally, AVOID summarizing the plot. Assume that the reader of your paper has read the story and remembers it well. Don’t tell the reader what happens in the story; instead, explain the meaning of the the story (or some aspect of the story such as a character or symbolism). Begin now on your essay. Choose a topic in the next two days and begin brainstorming. Students who wait until the last week generally fail. You are given several weeks to work on the essay so that you will have enough time to write a good essay, revise it several times, and proofread it carefully before your conference. If you procrastinate or do not fully use all the time allowed, you will not like your grade and may even fail the class. Use your student appointment calendar to plan to have your essay ready by the conference date. For example: Mark in your appointment calendar one week before the essay is due to begin multiple proofreading sessions and to have a tutor go over the paper if you have problems. Mark in your appointment calendar two weeks before the essay is due to begin multiple revisions of the essay. Mark in your appointment calendar three weeks before the essay is due to complete the writing of the essay. Mark in your appointment calendar four weeks before the essay is due to choose your topic, brainstorm, and write an outline of the essay. (For other papers, you may need to revise this schedule depending on the amount of time you have and allowing at least a week to research and to read and highlight your sources. However, remember that no research is allowed for this first essay.) Let me know during office hours, before class or by email or phone if you have any questions or problems. Contact me as soon as you realize there is a problem; do not wait until the week before the paper is due.