LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY #1: Short Fiction

  •  3 1⁄2 -5 page essay (not counting Works Cited)
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  •  Times New Roman 12pt or Calibri 11pt font double-spaced, MLA header
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  •  Include MLA in-text citations and a Works Cited page
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  •  You may write on any of the texts included in the Norton
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  •  You must develop your thesis with textual analysis and support your analysis with evidence from the text in the form of specific examples and quotations
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  •  Back-up your own insights and analysis with reference to at least one critical essay accessed through the BCCC Library Subscription Databases (you also can use any of the ones I’ve posted already in Canvas)

  • Chose one from the following
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  • The difference between physical sight and insight, blindness and seeing, is central to Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral.” How does Carver illustrate this distinction? Write an essay in which you discuss this theme with a focused thesis. For example: How do the characters develop and exemplify this theme? How does the plot (sequence, pacing, the motif of drinking) and/or the ‘zero endings’ of the story develop this theme? Are there any metaphors or symbols that relate to this question of seeing vs. looking? (One of these follow-up questions gives you enough material for a whole essay.)

  • Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif” is layered with ‘traps,’ forcing the reader to rethink stereotypes in an effort to racially identify the work’s main characters. Readers desire to ‘label’ the characters as they read, yet Morrison does not offer a firm conclusion—reading the story is less about ‘finding out’ who is who and more about the process of reading ‘clues’ and how this may lead to false assumptions and expose implicit bias. Details about food, clothing and social position keep readers guessing throughout the story. Analyzing a few key passages, write an essay in which you describe this effect at play in Morrison’s story. You may want to refer to Fredrick Douglas’s idea of “double consciousness” (look this up or talk to me) and/or Elizabeth Abel’s critical essay.

  • Analyze the structure of Morrison’s “Recitatif.” How does the plot/pacing/sequencing of the narrative reflect the nature of memory? On the whole, what does the story say about the theme of memory? Avoid summarizing the action in this essay. Focus on details, select quotes, and the language of the text. Consider starting off with an explanation of the work’s title.
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