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Literary Analysis Assignment

One reason we read short stories in English II is because they lend themselves so well to
literary analyses. Unlike novels, short stories arewell, short, and they provide us with the
limited space and the focus needed to conduct in-depth literary analyses.
What is a literary analysis? The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully
examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As
with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts.
Examining the different elements (example: character, conflict, point of view, setting, etc.) of a
piece of literature is not an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and
understand the work of literature as a whole.
When writing your literary analysis for this assignment, you should bear in mind that any
strong analysis essay revolves around a central idea or point. An essay should be a short,
accurate, and forceful presentation of ideas or descriptions. An essay should never ramble in any
way, but should be clearly united around a dominating central thought or thesis. Here is an
example of a strong, carefully constructed thesis statement: Cigarette smoking harms the body by
constricting the blood vessels, accelerating the heartbeat, and activating excess gastric
secretions in the stomach. The reader can immediately see, from the structure of this thesis
statement, what the structure of the essay as a whole will look like: the essay as a whole will be
about the negative effects smoking cigarettes can cause; in the first body paragraph, the author
will argue how cigarette smoke hurts the blood vessels; in the second body paragraph, he will
argue how such smoke accelerates the heartbeat; in the third body paragraph, he will argue how
smoke activates excess secretions.

Your Assignment
Here is your assignment for this literary analysis essay: In a five-paragraph essay, answer
ONE of the following questions:
1. Is the Grandmother in OConnors A Good Man is Hard to Find a sympathetic
character? Why or why not?

2. If the Misfit in OConnors A Good Man is Hard to Find a sympathetic


character? Why or why not?
Make sure to provide evidence (quotes and examples) from the text to support your claims
and arguments.
If I were you and I received this essay assignment, here is what I would do. First, I would look
back over or re-read the story A Good Man is Hard to Find, making notes and looking for
specific moments in the story where I as a reader feel sympathy for the Grandmother, and
moments where I do not feel sympathy for her. Then, I would brainstorm ideas, possibly using a
chart like this:
Grandmother is sympathetic because

Grandmother is NOT sympathetic because...

In this chart, I would list both reasons why readers may feel sympathy for the Grandmother and
care about her, and reasons why a reader may not feel sympathy for the Grandmother. Once I
had this list, I would determine which side I tended to take and I would take a final stance on the
topic; I would either decide The Grandmother is worth the readers sympathy or The
Grandmother is not worth the readers sympathy. Pick only one side of this argument and
stick to it in your paper!
After this, I would develop my three-part thesis statement, which previews what I will be writing
about throughout my essay.
So again, here are the topics you can choose from for this literary analysis: (1) Is the
Grandmother in OConnors A Good Man is Hard to Find a sympathetic character?
Why or why not? (2) Is the Misfit a sympathetic character? Why or why not? Remember,
your analysis should be five-paragraphs long, beginning with an introduction that hooks the
readers interest and ends with the thesis statement, and ends with a concluding paragraph that
restates the main points of your paper (three reasons you found the Grandmother is or is not a
sympathetic character).

Introductory Paragraph
The Purpose: To introduce the topics that you are writing about to your readers

Reminders:

This should be the only part in your essay where you will have any summary

Begin with the titles of the work and the authors name

Always end with a thesis statement that previews the body paragraphs for your
reader

Avoid 1st person (ex., I, we, us, me) and 2nd person (you, your) pronouns

Follow the outline; thats why I created it


Outline

Part 1. Title of the work + authors name + a general statement about the work (this is
where the theme could be used)

Part 2. Brief summary of the piece of literature (avoid simple, choppy sentences)

Part 3. Thesis statement


Character name + the piece of literature he/she is in + if the character is or is not
sympathetic + why

Example Introductory Paragraph

Kate Chopins short story Desirees Baby shows what happens when people let
prejudices cloud their unconditional love for their partner in life. In the short story, the
reader can infer that Armand and Desiree are completely in love through the way that
he treats her and speaks to her in the beginning of the story. However, Armand owns a
plantation and falls victim to the racial prejudices that rules the South during the time the
story was written and when his wife has a baby who skin color is different from his own
he reacts harshly and accuses her of being part black. Because she was adopted at a
young age her husband assumes it is her background that contributed to their baby
being black, but in the end Armand discovers it was his mother who had an affair with a
former slave and it is he who is actually part black. In Desirees Baby Armand is
clearly guilty in the death of Desiree and their baby because of his ignorance of his own
family history and his inability to listen to the love of his life.

Body Paragraph Outline


Writing Reminders

Avoid 1st person (I, me, we, us) and 2nd person (you, your) pronouns
Make sure your quote matches the example you are giving
When you explain your quote do not use exact wording because it will sound
repetitive
Use the punctuation and sentence type rules that we have been working on to
enhance your writing.
Follow the outline; thats why I made it!
Body Paragraph Outline

1. Introductory sentence for paragraph


a. Think about what your paragraph is about. This sentence should be used to
inform your reader what you are writing about.

2. 1st Example that proves whether your character is/is not a sympathetic character

3. Quote that supports your example

4. Explanation for the quote


a. Here you are explaining how the quote supports the example and supports
your belief of why or why not the character is a sympathetic character.

5. 2nd example that proves whether the character is/is not a sympathetic character

6. Quote that supports your example

7. Explanation for the quote


a. Here you are explaining how the quote supports the example and supports
your belief of why or why not the character is a sympathetic character.

8. Summary of the two examples


a. Think about what these two examples that you used are saying about the
characterization of your character. Theme should also be included.
Sample Body Paragraph
Not only does Mrs. Jones display courage, but she also proves to be a trusting
person. She decides that Roger needs to wash and to eat and that she will take him to
her home in order to do so. I got a great mind to wash your face for you, (Hughes 78)
she tells Roger. You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I
can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry? (78). In just a few words, she
assumes the role of a teacher and a mother substitute. She not only takes Roger home
but she also continues to display a trusting nature once they arrive. When she gets up
to prepare supper, Mrs. Jones did not watch the boy to see if he was going to run now,
nor did she watch her purse which she left behind her on the daybed (79). Roger
begins to respond to Mrs. Jones in a positive way. Hughes tells the readers that Roger
did not want to be mistrusted now (79). Her trust in Roger is beginning to create a
relationship between them.

Name __________________________________________
Literary Analysis Essay Rubric
20

17

14

Meaning

Offer insightful
interpretations of the
text that go well
beyond the literal
level.

Convey an accurate
although somewhat
basic
understanding of
text .

Convey a confused or
largely inaccurate
understanding of the text
and offer unclear
interpretations.

Development

Develop ideas
clearly, explain key
textual evidence
included, and reveal
an understanding of
the authors use of
literary elements /
techniques.

Use of MLA
Citation

Frequently includes
textual evidence that
is correctly cited
using the MLA
format.

Develop some
ideas more fully
than others, using
relevant textual
evidence and reveal
some
understanding of
the authors use of
literary elements /
techniques.
Includes some
textual evidence
that is almost
always correctly
cited using the
MLA format.
Contains a clear,
three-part thesis
statement but ideas
within paragraphs
may be
inconsistently
organized. Make
some attempt to
use basic
transitions.
Demonstrate partial
control, exhibiting
occasional errors
that do not hinder
comprehension.

Convey a partly
accurate
understanding of the
text with a tendency
to simply retell the
story.
Develop ideas briefly
and/or partially, using
some textual
evidence but without
much elaboration and
a vague
understanding of the
authors use of
literary elements /
techniques.
Includes some textual
evidence that is rarely
correctly cited using
the MLA format.

Organization

Writing
Conventions
(Spelling,
punctuation,
capitalization, usage)

Contains a clear,
three-part thesis
statement, use topic
and concluding
sentences, and make
use of transition
words and phrases.

Demonstrate a
control of the
conventions,
exhibiting only
occasional errors.

Fail to maintain focus


on the thesis
statement. Exhibit a
basic structure but
lack coherence.
Make an inconsistent
attempt to use
transitions.
Exhibit frequent
errors that somewhat
hinder
comprehension.

Contain textual evidence


that is vague, irrelevant,
repetitive, and/or
unjustified and reveal a
confused understanding
of the authors literary
elements / techniques.

Includes little to no
textual evidence, and
evidence that is included
is incorrectly cited or not
cited at all using MLA
format.
Establish a confused or
irrelevant thesis
statement. Exhibit some
attempt to provide a
beginning, middle, and an
end. Make little attempt
to use transitions.

Exhibit frequent errors


that make comprehension
difficult.

Grade: ______ / 100