Textual Analysis

 

For this essay you must use The Parable Of The Sower, and analyze it using a method known as close reading. Close reading is defined by M.H. Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms as “the detailed and subtle analysis of the complex interrelations and ambiguities (multiple meanings) of the components within a work” (247).

You may not use any secondary works for this essay. Your claims, and all the evidence you use to support these claims, must come only from the text itself. In the essay, you will argue for a particular interpretation of the text reached by practicing this particular method of analysis. The close reading analysis essay must demonstrate your ability to develop a clear interpretation of a text based on evidence from the text.

Analyze your chosen text, DO NOT merely summarize and DO NOT argue for or against the issue presented in the text you analyze.

Creating a good thesis and then supporting it properly is the key to the essay. Above all else, I am examining your ability to present a central claim about the story and then back it up. Make sure that your thesis is as fully developed as possible.

Undeveloped: In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, Thomas and Victor are very different people..

Better: In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, Thomas represents the past, and Victor represents the present.

Even better: In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, Thomas represents past traditions and desires a renewal of that heritage, but Victor represents a modern present day that has stopped having any use for the past.

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Best: In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, both Thomas and Victor share the common link of Victor’s father, who is a symbol of family heritage, but the two men are opposites, each representing a different philosophy about the value of cultural heritage; Thomas represents the past, practicing abandoned traditions such as story-telling with a vision of the renewal and rebirth of such traditions, but Victor represents the present day, his modern views see no value or use in his cultural heritage.

Keep your thesis directly about the story and its characters. Do not write a general essay about a subject that is related to the story.

Not about the story: All people should value their cultural heritage, but in our modern world we often want to abandon our family traditions.

(While "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" is indeed about the present day value of cultural heritage, the above thesis does not directly analyze the story.)

Do not take make any personal judgments about the story or its characters!

Personal judgment: In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, Victor is a soulless jerk who has no joy in his life, and people should really try and be more like Thomas because he is happy and nice.

Some things you may want to consider while forming a thesis: What theme is prevalent in this story? What character traits are presented, and what do they mean? What subtle elements can be found (underlying emotions or concepts)? What is the point of this story? Is there a point?

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A gentle reminder: I want to see very focused and specific essays. Choose a thesis and stick with it. Don’t try and answer all the questions above. Just choose one thought or idea and work with that. I’m looking to see how well you support your claims; I am not judging you on the merit of these claims.

-Summary of the book

-a good thesis

EXAMPLE OF THE THESIS:

In "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, both Thomas and Victor share the common link of Victor’s father, who is a symbol of family heritage, but the two men are opposites, each representing a different philosophy about the value of cultural heritage; Thomas represents the past, practicing abandoned traditions such as story-telling with a vision of the renewal and rebirth of such traditions, but Victor represents the present day, his modern views see no value or use in his cultural heritage.

<BODY PARAGRAPHS>

-Each paragraph MUST contains a TOPIC SENTENCE, POINT, ILLUSTRATION, EXPLANATION, TRANSITION

-Topic Sentence: Declares the topic.

-Point: A claim, analysis, or interpretation.

-Illustration: Evidence to support the previous point such as a direct quote, summary, or paraphrase.

-Explanation: Detail and further discussion showing how the previous evidence illustrates the point.

-Transition or Conclusion Sentence: A preview of the following paragraph or a conclusion of the current paragraph.

EXAMPLE OF THE PARAGRAPH:

Topic sentence: Thomas Builds-The-Fire can be interpreted as a traditional Native American character who is evocative of the past and lost traditions.

Point: Thomas has a strong connection to his past and his heritage, and that connection provides for him what are seemingly mystical and ancient powers.

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Illustration: Thomas is thought of as crazy for telling his endless stories, but both people of the reservation as well as Victor acknowledge that Thomas’ stories actually come true.

Explanation: Thomas is therefore representative of an older era, when storytellers more commonly were thought portend the future.

Point: Thomas can also be seen as a mystical or spiritual being due to

Illustration: the insistence by Victor and the other children that when he was young, Thomas could fly.

Explanation: Thomas is also capable of flight as an adult, although more symbolically, when he flies Victor from Washington to Arizona to collect his father’s ashes.

Transition: Victor is a strong contrast to Thomas, representing not the past but the present, which is often a selfish, spiritually bereft time.

-Restate the thesis using different words

-Restate the major topic using different words