Assignment Prompt:

“Analysis” is similar to “investigation.” When writing about literature, there are limitless options for “investigating” short stories, or explaining something about them that a typical reader may not know.

For this assignment, you will compare Strangers to Temptation and Staff Picks, comparing and/or contrasting how each author uses “atmosphere” to enhance the message of his story. Keep in mind that “atmosphere” is more than just physical setting; it can also be psychological, social, historical, etc.

You will also investigate other sources that relate to your analysis, including relevant quotes or paraphrases (cited in MLA format) within your paper.

Format Requirements:

4-5 pages (minimum), Times New Roman font (12 point), double-spaced, one inch margins (on all sides), and heading on first page (Name, Course, Date, Assignment in the upper left corner)

Sources: Each paper must include:

1. Quotations and paraphrases from the story to support the thesis statement and individual statements made throughout the paper.

2. 4-5 outside sources (in addition to the story itself) that relate to the topic. Only one source may be a website (ending in .edu or .gov only). You must include each source within the paper (it’s ok if a few sources are only quoted once or twice, as long as they are referenced).

3. Accurate citation for all quoted or paraphrased material. All other writing must be the student’s original thoughts and words. Citation must include the author’s name and the page number. Otherwise, it is plagiarism and will result in a zero for the paper. Example of accurate citation: In “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, Flannery O’Connor describes the grandmother as “seizing every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (427).

4. MLA Works Cited Page: Included at the end of the paper (in addition to 4-5 pages)

Required Steps for the Fiction Essay:

  1. Read Strangers to Temptation and Staff Picks
  2. Within each story, figure out what type of atmosphere is being used and how the author uses this to represent a hidden meaning (example: a gloomy, foggy village may emphasize the misery experienced by a woman living in a secluded boarding house). Compare or contrast how each author does this. Find examples from each story to support your statements about atmosphere.
  • Write an introduction with the thesis statement (main point of the paper) in the first paragraph. The thesis must be an analysisand not a summary, and placed in the introduction paragraph. The thesis statement must include the author’s names, the title of the stories, and how the atmosphere portrays a “hidden meaning” in each story. The entire paper must also be an analysis, not a dry list of what happened in the story. Example of a good thesis: “In ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’ Flannery O’Connor uses a sunny day as an ironic atmosphere in the midst of a message of overarching suffering; similarly, Sherman Alexie incorporates moody images within his settings….”

4.   Finding Sources: The first source you need to review is the primary sources (the novels \            themselves).  Go through the story and find quotes that support your discussion.  Then, start researching secondary sources (you’ll need 4-5 of these).  For this step, you may need to go to the library on campus.  Two good starting places are Short Stories for Students and Short Story Criticism (both set of books may be found in the reference section).  Next, check out the card catalog or the link on the library home page to “area libraries” to find other books of criticism on the story or author.  Also pick up a MLA handout in the library or from the library website under “handouts”- English- MLA.

Next, turn your focus to electronic databases on the library home page. Here, look at the right-hand corner and under electronic databases where it says “Literary Criticism”.  Click here and use these databases to continue your research.  You should use a variety of outside sources and a MINIMUM of 4-5 sources.  I do not want internet sources (www.something).  You may use one internet source and it must be a .edu, or .gov source.  These are not always more valid and reliable, but can weed out many unsubstantial sources.

            Read these sources, underlining or highlighting any sections that relate to your topic and which you might be able to use in your paper. Then create an outline of points you want to make in the paper, including your own analysis along with the quotes or paraphrases you want to use from your sources.

      5.   Drafting: When you are ready to begin drafting, you need to focus on integrating your quotes. Remember:

  • Introduce all quotes; when you first use an outside source, introduce the author and the title of the source
  • Explain all quotes and how they support your own analysis
  • Use proper in-text citations (include the author’s name and the page number either in the sentence or in parenthesis)
  • Create a conclusion paragraph that reiterates your main points, giving a final “send-off” to your investigation of atmosphere within your short story.
  • Create an MLA Works Cited page, which includes your short story AND the 4-5 outside sources.

6.   Draft Submission: Write a draft, using this outline. Submit your draft to the draft folder under the Assignments tab. Also submit your draft to The Learning Center, which will earn you extra credit points for the final paper submission! Just remember to include a screenshot of the receipt from The Learning Center.

      7.   Finally, submit the final paper by the due date under the correct Assignment tab.  When in doubt, always ask questions!!! Your instructor and classmates are here to help as are the TLC and library on campus.

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