Analytical Paper for Introduction to Literature
Format: Follow MLA formal as outlined in your textbook. Follow meticulously the instructions on page 2083 of your textbook, “Manuscript Form.” An explanation of writing the literary research paper is in Chapter 55 of your text.
My own PowerPoint summary of how to write a literary analysis, and one on writing an essay are posted for your use on Canvas, along with a PowerPoint on writing literary analysis produced by Purdue University. Refer to these diligently and often.
Utilize the free resources that are available to you, such as the OWL at Purdue (Online Writing Lab). You may go to their website and find detailed help on all types of writing questions including grammar and style, plagiarism, documentation, organization, unity, coherence—you name it. (http://owl.english.purdue.edu)
The Writing Center, Kethley 201, is available to consult with you about your writing projects. Take your drafts to them for help. They are available for help and feedback at all stages of the writing process. They offer individual help with
· considering audience and purpose
· finding a thesis
· organizing and developing an argument
· identifying and resolving problems of sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation
· using style manuals (MLA, APA, etc.) for writing in various disciplines.
While they do not proofread for students, they will help students go through their papers to identify patterns of error.
Topic: This essay is to be a detailed critical analysis, using your own observations expressed in third person, present tense, and selected secondary sources (a minimum of 3) . You may find this list of possible topics helpful:
1. Show how the setting of a short story relates to the inner life of the protagonist by analyzing how _____ brings out behavior that the characters would not demonstrate elsewhere.
2. Analyze why a protagonist takes a crucial, life-changing action by exploring what motivates _______ to _______.
3. Study a dynamic character in a story, showing exactly how that character changed, or grew and developed. Possible subjects include, Sammy in Updike’s “A&P”, or the boy Sarty Snopes in “Barn Burning.”
4. Consider a short story in which the narrator is the central character, such as “Why I Live at the P.O.” Show how the character of the narrator determines the style of the story. Examine language in particular—words or phases, slang expressions, figures of speech, local or regional speech.
5. Find a story in the textbook in which there is a strong central symbol. Citing specific moments in the text, demonstrate how the symbol helps communicate the meaning of the story.
6. After reading the section on Formula Fiction and the two pieces, the excerpt from A Secret Sorrow and “A Sorrowful Woman,” write an essay in which you consider a book, film, or television program that seems to appeal to male fantasies and explore some of the similarities and differences between male and female tastes in popular fiction.
7. Compare and contrast the views of marriage in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman.”
8. Compare and contrast the effect on the reader of the ending of Oates’ “Three Girls” to Updike’s “Summer.”
9. Compare and contrast “Love in the Air” by Jin, “Three Girls” by Oates, and “Summer” by Updike. How are imagination and desire central to all three stories?
10. Contrast Faulkner’s ordering of events in “A Rose for Emily” with O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” (p. 617). How does each author’s arrangement of incidents create different effects for the reader?
11. Compare and contrast the father-son relationships in Dubus’ “Killings” and Faulkner’s “Barn Burning.”
12. Compare and contrast the pyromania of the fathers and its affect on their children in Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” and the poem by Barecca, “Nighttime Fires.”
13. Compare and contrast Bartleby’s withdrawal from life with that of the protagonist in Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman.” Why does each character choose death?
14. Explore the significance to our understanding of Bartleby our knowledge that he once worked in the Dead Letter Office.
15. Discuss how the descriptions of the tattoos help to create portraits of the inmates in “Mines” by Susan Straight.
16. In “Soldier’s Home,” how does Krebs’s mother embody the community’s values? What does Krebs think of those values?
17. What is the symbolic significance of the naked blonde in “Battle Royal” by Ellison? What details reveal that she represents more than a sexual tease in the story?
18. Consider Jake’s relationship with his car in “Love in L.A.” and the narrator’s relationship with his car in E. E. Cummings’s poem “she being Brand” (p. 834). Explore how the cars reveal each character’s aspirations.
19. Walker’s title, “I Am the Grass” derives from an eleven-line poem by Carl Sandburg titled “Grass” that the narrator quotes in the context of revisiting Long Binh (para. 19).Read the entire poem (online or in the library) and explore how it is related to the theme(s) in Walker’s story.
20. Discuss how racial issues are treated in Z.Z. Packer’s “Brownies” or in Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal.”
21. Discuss Eudora Welty’s use of the unreliable narrator in “Why I Live at the P. O.” or another story that uses this technique.
22. Compare and contrast Goodman Brown’s reasons for withdrawal in the story by Hawthorne, and Melville’s Bartleby. Does either character arouse your sympathy?
23. To what extent is Hawthorne’s use of dreams crucial in “Young Goodman Brown” and in “The Birthmark”? Explain how Hawthorne uses dreams as a means to complicate our view of his characters.
24. Show the similarities in the themes of “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil.”
25. Consider the setting of each of Hawthorne’s stories in chapter 11. Why are they significant? How are they related to the stories’ respective themes? Determine which story relies most heavily on setting to convey its meanings.
26. Explore the comic and tragic ways O’Connor portrays the family in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Are you shocked by what happens to them? Does your attitude toward them remain constant during the course of the story?
27. Examine O’Connor’s use of tone in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
28. Explore how O’Connor uses irony to reveal Hulga’s character in “Good Country People.” Show how Hulga’s perspective on life is ironic and how she is also the subject of irony.
29. Compare and contrast Faulkner’s characterizations of Abner Snopes in “Barn Burning” and Miss Emily in “A Rose for Emily.” How does the author generate sympathy for each character even though both are guilty of terrible crimes? Which character do you find more sympathetic? Explain why.
30. Write a character analysis of Abner Snopes. Does he change or develop through the course of the story? Do you identify with him in any way? Think about whether you might characterize his behavior as criminal, insane, or heroic.
31. Write a paper comparing and contrasting Lee Smith’s ideas about the changing nature of the South (p. 560) with Donald R. Nobles’ views (p. 558). Do you think they essentially agree or disagree in their assessment of the South? Explain.
32. Any of hundreds of topics that could be related to the two novels we will read and study this semester. Look in online literary databases for ideas. Here are a few:
Patterns in The Great Gatsby
Modernism in The Great Gatsby
The Changing Role of Women in the Jazz Age as Shown in The Great Gatsby
Style and Shape in The Great Gatsby
The Myth of Renewal in The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald’s Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby
Money, Love, and Aspiration in The Great Gatsby
The American Dream in Two Novels: The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy
Fitzgerald’s Meditation on American History in The Great Gatsby
Gatsby as Trimalchio
Structural Imagery in The Great Gatsby
Love, Death, and Resurrection in The Great Gatsby
The Unreality of Reality: Metaphors in The Great Gatsby
Why Is Gatsby Great?
Fable of East and West in The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy
Color Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby as a Story of America
The Essential Houses of The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby: Grief, Jazz, and the Eye-Witness
The Role of Owl Eyes as Seer in The Great Gatsby
Blindness as Theme in The Great Gatsby
The Eyes Motif in The Great Gatsby
The Automobile Culture in The Great Gatsby
Deceitful Traces of Power: An Analysis of the Decadence of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby
The American Historical Tradition: Jay Gatz and Young Benjamin Franklin
Jay Gatsby: False Prophet of the American Dream
Gatsby and the Grail Quest
Tragic Inevitability in The Great Gatsby
Materialism in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby and Hopalong Cassidy
Gatsby as Gangster
Gatsby and the Imagination of Wonder
Time and The Great Gatsby
Tom Buchanan as Racist in The Great Gatsby
The Importance of Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby
The Theme of Reconciliation between Fathers and Sons in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Role of Christianity in Cry, the Beloved Country in Improving the Moral Framework
of the Tribal System in South Africa
The Vicious Cycle of Inequality and Injustice in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Role of the Landscape in Cry, the Beloved Country
Cry, the Beloved Country as Treatise on the Value of Equality
Contrast Rural and Urban Life as Presented in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Role of Women in Cry, the Beloved Country
Compare and Contrast the Realizations about Injustice Made by Kumalo and Jarvis
Historical Background of South Africa in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Theme of Repentance in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Church in Cry, the Beloved Country
Repeated Phrases in Cry, the Beloved Country
The Motif of Brightness in Cry, the Beloved Country
Language, Style, and Structure in Cry, the Beloved Country
The End of Apartheid in South Africa
The Lessons Learned from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa
South Africa and Mississippi: A Comparison