Interpretation of a literary element

*This is a two-part assignment. The rough draft is worth 70 points of the grade, and the peer reviews are worth 30 points.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your professor has assigned the following short stories for the class to read and discuss this week: Welty, ‘A Worn Path’ Faulkner, ‘A Rose for Emily’ Hawthorne, ‘Young Goodman Brown’ O’Brien, ‘The Things They Carried’ O’Connor, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’

You must choose one of these stories to earn credit on the assignment.

Prompt: Compose an analytical essay of at least 1,200 words in which you offer an interpretation of a literary element in one of the assigned short stories. Write your analysis focusing on one of the following elements in one of the assigned stories:

  • Character
  • Theme
  • Symbolism
  • Imagery
  • Setting

Start by selecting one of the short stories assigned by your professor. Brainstorm to identify the literary element that you would like to explore in the story. Choose from character, theme, symbolism, imagery, or setting. Then, develop a thesis that offers a specific interpretation of this element.

If you have trouble coming up with a thesis, contact your instructor, who will help you. Do not do any outside research at this point. When finished, the draft should be at least 1,200 words (approximately four double-spaced pages). Use APA formatting and citations.

NOTE: Your professor may allow you to combine two literary elements in your thesis statement if they work together to support your point. Also, she may allow you to compare or contrast some element in two of the assigned stories (e.g., the grandmother characters in ‘A Worn Path’ and ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’). Ask for approval before beginning one of these approaches.

Tips for the Essay

Open your introduction with an engaging opener, such as a question, quote from the story, or interesting idea. Then, connect to the short story and mention the title and the author. End your introduction with a thesis statement that interprets a literary element of the story. The body paragraphs should support your thesis. Present specific aspects of the short story that help to illustrate your points. Make sure to quote from the story and analyze specific lines that support your argument. Body paragraphs typically have at least two short quotations each as supporting evidence. Include a strong concluding paragraph that summarizes your main points and explains the significance of the thesis. Finish this paragraph with a strong and satisfying ending.

APA Reminder

Use APA style for formatting the essay and for source citations. Begin with a title page. Include a running header, and use proper font and spacing. End with a separate references page. Refer to the Week 1 lecture on avoiding plagiarism for an APA essay template and additional resources.

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