understanding of literary analysis

Assignment Description

In this assignment, you will demonstrate your understanding of literary analysis. You will choose one of the following short stories (full texts on eCampus) and write an analysis of the story.

Your literary analysis must include:

  • A thesis statement in the form of an argument that represents your interpretation of the story
  • Textual evidence from the story to support your argument
  • Commentary for each piece of evidence that explains how your support proves your points; explain the “So what? Who cares? Why does it matter?” aspect of the section you are writing about. How does it relate to the real world or the human experience? What does it mean? What is the point?
  • Clearly organized paragraphs including an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion

Be careful not to simply summarize the story. Your job is to interpret the story to find a deeper meaning or offer a new way to view the story (that is make the implicit explicit).

General questions for consideration when analyzing:

  • Does the short story illuminate or dispel a social issue? How does the story give insight into that particular social issue?
  • Does the story show the ridiculousness of a social or cultural issue?
  • Does the story illuminate the serious need for awareness and change in society? Examine how the story brings this problem to the surface through the narrative.
  • Is the story an allegory for a larger controversy?
  • What is the author trying to say through the short story narrative about life, human nature, or society?
  • What is the conflict in the story (there may be more than one), and how does that conflict reflect a deeper understanding of life, human nature, or society?
  • Consider the larger context (biography, history, social, political, and religious). What meaning can you gain from understanding the biography of the author or the history surrounding him or her? What about the social or political context it was written in? Does the author’s religion play a part?

Choose one (links to full texts below):

Anzia Yezierska’s “Soap and Water”

Isaac Asimov’s “The Feeling of Power”

Gabrial Garcia Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”

Tim O’Brien’s “On the Rainy River”

Minimum Requirements

Length: 3-4 pages, not including the Works Cited page.

Style: Essay needs to conform to MLA standards, including double spacing in Times New Roman font, and must include a Works Cited page with correct in-text (parenthetical) citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries.

Sources:  Do NOT use sources that offer an explanation/interpretation of the story, but you may use sources to offer context for the story. In other words, do not search “What does Harrison Bergeron mean?” You must create your own interpretation! While you can use sources for context, they are not required.

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