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Memoir Essay Organizer

Think about the SEVEN memoirs you read/watched/heard over the past five lessons.
Then pat yourself on the back. When’s the last time you read seven essays in a week?
And seriously...they were pretty good. Or at least good for school reading.

Now we have to do some work, but before you suddenly remember you have some
chores to do or that RIGHT NOW would be a great time to clean your room, relax.
You’re just going to take some of the thoughts that are already in your head and transfer
them to this document. Easy.

First of all, here are the links to the seven essays you read in case you need to go back
and look at a few of them.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities by Mindy Kaling
My Dad Tried to Kill Me with and Alligator by Harrison Scott Key
Ask Me What I’m Doing Tonight by George Watsky
How to be Black by Barutunde Thurston
Marbles by Ellen Forney
Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris

Second, think about the driving question we’ve had for each lesson in this unit:

How do setting, character, theme, and narrative structures work in fiction and/or literary

Third, it’s time for you to answer that question and demonstrate some of that language
arts knowledge and skills you have in your big brain.

Your task: Pick ONE of the essays your read (links above) and complete the organizer
below. Take your time with this. One word answers are not going to be enough for this
assignment. I want to see thoughtful analysis and deep understanding of the text. You
may have to read the text again or mark important passages. Take your time.

When you are finished, submit your completed organizer/answers to the Memoir
Organizer Dropbox.

1. SETTING (15 points)

In the memoir/essay you picked, how does the setting affect the story? Does the setting
play a major or minor role in the story? Could the author have written the same story in
a different setting?

In the story, the setting is in an office with a psychiatrist. The setting affects the story by
letting the reader know that the character is in the office for a behavioral issue. It also
lets the reader know that the character is trying to get better at something that they are
struggling with. The setting plays a major role because it affects the mood of the story
by not making it a happy environment to be in. The author could have written the same
story in a different setting but it would still have to be in an environment where the
reader knows that the character is not there for fun.

2. CHARACTER (15 points)

In the memoir/essay you picked, how does the author use characterization? How does
the author use action, thoughts, or dialogue to show the character? Do you find one
method more effective?

In the memoir, the author uses characterization to describe what the character is going
through in their life. For example, she uses the character’s dialogue with the psychiatrist
to let the reader know the exact reason why they are at the location that they are at.
Also, the author uses dialogue and thoughts to describe the character. I find dialogue to
be more effective because when there is dialogue, there is usually a response to what
one person is saying. This allows the reader to truly understand how bad the character
is feeling about their problem.

3. THEME (15 points)

In the memoir/essay you picked, what is the theme or universal message the author is
trying to convey? Does the author ever directly state the theme, or do you have to infer
the theme like a detective using clues.

The theme of the memoir is mental illness. Throughout the memoir, the author is giving
details to help the reader understand the severity of the problem that the character is
going through. The author does not directly state the theme so you have to use context
clues to figure out the theme.

4. TONE/MOOD (15 points)

In the memoir/essay you picked, how would you describe the tone/mood the author was
trying to convey? Provide a quote or a few specific words from the text to support your

The author’s words give the memoir a personal tone. To support, in the memoir the
author says, “Well... last summer I was in a fog, I felt like I could never quite wake up...”
This quote is giving the reader insight into what the character was really going through
as a result of her mental illness.


In the memoir/essay you picked, what is one narrative structure or device (conflict,
suspense, action, humor) the author uses. How did this narrative structure or device
improve (or take away) from the story?

The structure of the memoir made it easier for the reader to understand the importance
of each thought or piece of dialogue. This memoir does not use any paragraphs; it just
has multiple speech bubbles all around it. This structure made it easier for me to follow
the story as a result of all of the dialogue.

6. FAVORITE (30 points)

This does not have to be the memoir/essay you picked to discuss. Which memoir essay
was your favorite? Tell me why. You don’t have to use language arts terms here. You
can just say you like it because it made you laugh your you identified with the story.
Provide a quote or a few specific words from the text that stood out to you because they
were funny, profound, or interesting.
This memoir was my favorite because it gave insight into a problem that a lot of people
in the world have. For example, she describes her life within a span of a couple of
months. These events were interesting because it allowed me to truly understand how
severe the mental illness was.