300 pt short story essay

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Compose an argumentative essay of at least 1000 words, in which you analyze one of the stories we’ve read. Your thesis should require an argument. In other words, it shouldn’t be obviously true at first glance.

Frame your main claim as a response to a contrasting viewpoint. You could respond to someone else’s viewpoint, to your own initial impression of the story, or to a viewpoint that you imagine someone else might have about the story. Feel free to use or adapt the templates from They Say / I Say by Graff and Birkenstein.

Use MLA formatting (including 12-point font, double-spaced lines, etc.). Include a works-cited page. See the sample essay

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for an example of correct formatting.

Your goal for this assignment is to offer a strong critical analysis of a literary text, which means that you should:

  • Make interpretive claims about the story, rather than simply summarizing it
  • Use specific pieces of evidence (quotations, summaries) to support more general claims (made in body paragraphs), which support or illuminate your thesis (main argument)
  • Structure your argument (paragraphs within the essay, sentences within paragraphs) in a way that communicates your argument clearly, showing your reader how you analyze specific pieces of evidence to reach your conclusions.

You may use outside sources, including supplementary readings provided in class, if you wish. Do consider the ethos (credibility) of sources you find on your own, however. Don’t use Wikipedia, SparkNotes, other “study websites,” or student papers from the internet. Consider using books and articles available through the library website. You may also use articles and reference materials provided in class.

Your essay should directly respond to one of the following prompts. Note that you don’t necessarily need to answer the “questions to consider” for each prompt. Those questions are designed to help get you thinking.

PROMPT 1:

In “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” the characters engage in a kind of wishful thinking or self-delusion. What is the story suggesting by having its characters accept a reality that doesn’t seem objectively true?

Questions to consider in connection with this prompt:

  • Are the villagers’ beliefs harmful, helpful, or both? In what way?
  • Is this story allegorical? What is the story’s theme? Is it saying something about religion, politics, art, imagination, etc.?

PROMPT 2:

In “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” with which character should our sympathies lie–Julian, his mother, both, neither? Explain your reasoning.

Questions to consider in connection with this prompt:

  • Is the story critical of the characters? How does it criticize them? How do you know it’s being critical of them?
  • Does the story portray the characters in sympathetic ways? In what ways does the story encourage us to sympathize with the characters?

PROMPT 3:

What point is “The Lottery” making about human nature? How do you know it is making that point?

Questions to consider in connection with this prompt:

  • Is the story allegorical? Is it satirical?
  • Is the story critical of the characters? How does it criticize them?
  • Does the story portray the characters in sympathetic ways? In what ways does the story encourage us to sympathize with the characters?

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