An analyze essay about a short story. The short story should choose from:
Oates Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Walker Everyday Use
Kafka The Metamorphosis
Cather Pauls Case
Cheever The Swimmer
Paper should be about 3-4 pages (typed, double spaced, one inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font). For each paper, you should choose one of the following broadly defined topics, using that topic to focus your analysis of a single story. These topics present broad areas of inquiry rather than specific analyses. I would like to see you select a different topic for each paper to showcase your broad understanding of our work in the class, but it is not required. Your essays should not simply provide answers to the following questions. Rather, these questions are merely a starting point to help you develop your own ideas and arguments about a story. Choose one from the following three topics.
1. Write an analysis of how the way a story is told (that is, its narrative structure and techniques) affects the meaning of the story. Is the narrator a character in the story, or not? What is the relationship of the narrator to the characters in the story and the events being narrated? Is he sympathetic? Critical? Ironic? A mixture of attitudes? Is she a member of the community depicted (or, in the case of a narrator who is not a character, seemingly a member of a similar community)? Or is she an outsider of a different status (class, race, educational level, region)? What is the implied narrative situation (letter, oral telling, etc.)? Are the events presented in chronological order, or are there deviations from chronology? What difference do those deviations make to a reader’s experience of the story?
2. Write an essay on the significance of setting to a story. What sorts of details does the author provide about time and place? If the story is very specific and concrete, how does that specificity contribute to the meaning of the story? If there are elements of vagueness to the setting, what is the significance of that vagueness? What sort of community is the story set in, and how does that community shape the development of the story? For instance, throughout the19th and 20th centuries, Americans debated the comparative values of rural versus city life to American culture and identity. What position does the story seem to take in favor of one or the other?
3. Write an essay analyzing the gender, race, and/or class politics of a story. Who is in power in the social hierarchy depicted in the story, and why? How do the events of the story implicitly or explicitly argue for the social status quo or for a change in that status quo? For example, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Americans debated the meaning of “democracy” and democratic citizenship. Does the story seem to be arguing for or against a version of democracy? According to this story, who should be allowed to participate in democracy, and how?
You may assume an audience of readers who have read the story with some attentionthat means that you do not need to summarize the plot (retell the events of the story). Instead, your primary focus should be on analyzing elements of the story and only providing summary information when necessary to make your argument. You should consider and thoroughly digest the biographical and historical information about each writer and that writers work presented in the introductions in the text, and through class discussions and videos. However, your primary focus should be on the particular work being analyzed and your primary evidence should be derived from the text itself. No further research is required. Look closely at how each author writes about the topic you have chosen and use brief quotations and other concrete evidence from the texts to support your argument. You must use the MLA format and style of documentation.
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