Analyzing a Work of Fiction

 

Objective
 identify the types of stylistic elements appropriate for fiction
 use literary analysis to evaluate a work of fiction
 create a written literary analysis response
Fiction Response should be a literary analysis of the following topic, complete with specific
details and MLA documentation. Submit all parts (essay, works cited page, and outline) as one
MS Word document.
Important Note: If you taken this course before, you may not submit the same essay as
before. Doing so will result in a zero on this assignment.
Topic of Essay: Choose ONE short story from the course schedule and discuss it, providing
concrete details and quotations from the work in order to support your ideas. Mere plot
summary will not be accepted. Please think in creative, original, unique ways. In order to
understand and write about any work, you must necessarily “live” with it for a while. That is,
you should read and re-read it many times over the course of several days and give yourself
time to reflect.
Identify at least three symbols in one of the stories we have read for this course. Write a
response explaining what each symbol represents and how these symbols communicate the
story’s theme (meaning). Be certain to include direct textual support for your ideas.
LENGTH: a minimum of 300 words and a maximum of 500 words.
AUDIENCE: your classmates. Write as though you are telling them your essay, not as though
you were writing about a scientific experiment or making a speech before strangers. Assume
your readers are familiar with the work you are discussing; you don’t have to summarize the
plot or tell us who’s who.
TITLE: Don’t just give the title of the work you are discussing. Clue us in on the topic of your
response. Your title should not be set off in any way (but capitalize major words). If you refer
to an author’s title within your title (such as “Tell-Tale Heart”), set it off correctly.
INTRODUCTION: Remember your readers and get us involved from the very start. The
introductory paragraph should at least the do the following (note the nice use of parallel
structure):
 Grab the reader’s attention
 Present the essay’s thesis
 Prepare the reader for what to expect in the essay
 Preview the essay’s organizational plan
 Establish the tone for the essay (Funny? Sad? Ironic? Resigned?)
 Create a transition into the first body paragraph
BODY: The body should offer 3 paragraphs with clear topic sentences supported by careful
illustrations from the work you are discussing. Use either a series of carefully chosenexamples. Be sure to cite both quotations and

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paraphrases with parenthetical references
to the text.
LANGUAGE and TERMS: Refer to literary terms and use them correctly. Define any unfamiliar
terms for the reader. It should contain paraphrases and quotations from the primary
source.
CONCLUSION: The conclusion has summarize key points and bring the response to a close.
Avoid bringing up new ideas in the conclusion. It’s often worthwhile to refer the reader to
something you said in the intro, to bring the piece full circle. Don’t simply restate the thesis.
OUTLINE: Formal outline, complete with parallel items (see your handbook), is required.
TONE: The tone should be interested and heightened, but not offensively formal (no
“moreovers” or “furthermores,” for example). You should write in 3rd person. (The words
you and I have no place in this essay.) Also, write in literary present tense. Discuss the
events as if they are happening now rather than in the past.
THEME STANDARD: The Theme Standard (ENG 102 rubric) applies in full force, so study the
Standard and the major errors that will cost the most points if found in your essay. Take your
proofreading seriously, and refer to your handbook to help you avoid errors. Certainly allow
time to proofread carefully, and get help from your instructor or the Writing Center staff as
you work. Understand that mechanical and spelling errors can fail an otherwise worthy essay.
PEER REVIEWING: You will find that it’s often a good idea to have another person look over a
document before the final reader sees it–not just to see if the spelling is ok, but to consider
the ideas and how they are presented well before the draft is ready for the final proofreading
step.

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