annotated bibliography that connects to a research paper
If you are writing an annotated bibliography that connects to a research paper, you may find it helpful to state the thesis before you begin your summaries of your sources.
For example, if the articles that I have summarized below are for a research paper on “Sonny’s Blues,” I would write my thesis as follows:
Thesis: The imagery and symbols in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” reveal the growth of the narrator and Sonny as they reconcile and re-affirm their family bonds. Darkness and light, conformity and creativity, and suffering and redemption are the main thematic “pairs” that Baldwin intertwines to give his story a unified and coherent structure.
Writing a thesis above your annotated bibliography helps you remember to keep it in focus, and if you are handing in the annotated bibliography as an accompanying assignment to a research paper, the thesis statement alerts your instructor that you have a clear direction in mind!
The two entries that follow are just summaries of the articles. However, often it is helpful to write a brief analysis of your source as a second paragraph. Adding an analysis of the source to your annotation can save you work later on when you write the research paper.
The formatting for the bibliography varies according to style guides and changes in editing policies. An online search for formatting for MLA papers provides multiple options. Therefore, ask your instructor any questions that you have about his or her preferred format.
An Annotated Bibliography for “Sonny’s Blues”
Champion, Laurie. “James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues.” Literary Contexts in Short Stories, Sept. 2006, Literary Reference Center Plus, web.b.ebscohost.com.db11.linccweb.org/lrc/detail/detail?vid=8&sid=
Champion looks at the interchange between the themes of music and suffering in the story. She presents the brothers as seeking a “Holy Grail” of redemption for their respective “sins” by reconciling their differences and re-establishing their family bonds. The final scene presents the narrator as understanding the value of music as a means to insight and catharsis with Sonny as his guide. Sonny, with the narrator’s help, has found the stability of family life in his own battle with heroin addiction. The two have now achieved a peace and understanding (that will always be precarious as all human relationships are) that is symbolized by the “cup of trembling” that the narrator has placed on Sonny’s piano. The mix of milk and whiskey also symbolized their family relationship as two brothers who shared the same mother and father.
Murray, Donald C. “James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues’: Complicated and Simple.” Studies in
Short Fiction, vol. 14, no. 4, Fall 1977, pp. 353-57. Literary Reference Center Plus,
Murray analyzes the story as a portrait of two brothers, each one on a quest for his personal identity. For the narrator, following the path of respectability and security provides him with an identity that is nevertheless incomplete as long as he denies the importance of dissent and creativity. For Sonny, choosing creativity without a strong family support system renders him vulnerable to the dangers of drug addiction. Only by reconciling and re-affirming their family bonds as brothers can they complete their “divided selves” and discover their own personal identities.