Essay 2: Argumentative interpretation of an aspect or aspects of short stories
By Editorial Team Jul 03, 2022
Essay 2 should be an argumentative interpretation of an aspect or aspects of one of the short stories below. These are to be read and analyzed in addition to your weekly class assignments. Each story is available as a .pdf file; perform a search for these using Google, Yahoo, or the like. For best results, enter the story title, the author’s last name, and the abbreviation pdf.
- T. Coraghessan Boyle, “Greasy Lake”
- Raymond Carver, “Cathedral”
- Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal”
- Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
- Tillie Olsen, “I Stand Here Ironing”
- Daniel Orozco, “Orientation
- George Saunders, “The 400-Pound CEO”
Limit the scope of your essay to one of these stories; each should provide plenty of potential approaches. Also read the biographical headnotes preceding the stories, which provide some insight and background. Some possible approaches are listed below. Note that these are broad approaches, only beginning points. It is your job to narrow and limit these in order to properly fit the cope of your essay. If you have another idea which isn’t listed, please check with me first.
- One or more of the literary terms we discuss as they apply to short stories (metaphor, symbol, setting, character, tone, etc.).
- Conflict(s) rooted in gender, race, age, culture, and/or economic class
- Societal “norms”: how do characters function within and/or rebel against their communities?
- Male/female relationships
- Manhood, womanhood: how do characters fit and not fit traditional gender roles?
- Parental roles
- How male and/or female characters deal with trauma or misfortune
- Family relationships
- Coming of age/loss of innocence
- Narration/point of view: how does the telling style govern what story gets told?
- Rituals/ceremonies and their significances: marriages, funerals, parties, etc.
- A character analysis, in which you pick a character (or two) from a story that interests you and explore his/her motivations, desires, etc.
Discussion threads will also hopefully be a springboard for your writing; take a topic or angle we’ve broached and explore it further. But please don’t simply repeat things you’ve read in discussions; put your own stamp on them. Don’t forget you have additional sources for feedback on your work. GSU’s Learning and Tutoring Center offers online assistance with your writing at this link: https://success.students.gsu.edu/learning-tutoring-center/
Alternately, email me or post your question to the Q & A discussion in Start Here.
- The final draft of your paper should be a well-developed essay. It should have a recognizable introduction, body, and conclusion and should have a minimum of five paragraphs, each with a topic sentence and supporting details from the work you are analyzing. The essay should also contain a thesis statement at the end of the introduction that sums up the main argument of your paper. I should be able to detect a flow and “path” to your analysis. Make sure all parts of your essay are working together.
- Specific details from your chosen story are essential to make your main points and thesis statement clear. When you write a paper of this kind, you become the teacher—you are illustrating some facet of a work of literature for an audience who doesn’t have the same insight you do. Keep your reader in mind.
- No plot summaries. The goal of this essay (as with the others) is interpretation—advancing a main point which asserts something debatable, and illustrating that main point with concrete and appropriate evidence. Rehash and summary is not interpretation. It’s fine to explain the significance of a small portion of the story to advance the argument you are making, but plot summarywill be penalized if done in excess.
- As before, proper parenthetical documentation and a Works Cited page, both in MLA format, are required. Five points will be deducted for failure to include both of these. When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize passages from a piece of prose, you need to parenthetically cite the page numbers they come from. (And make sure you place quotation marks around exact quotes.)
- Re-consult the document “Submitting Your Essays and Formatting Requirements” in the Start Here folder as you move through this process. Also re-consult the grading policy in the syllabus for details on late submissions.
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