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1. Select a theme you wish to explore, such as family, marriage, infinity, mental health, betrayal, the
supernatural, sin, the value of life, death, addiction, obsession, love, the relationship between men and women,
appearance versus reality, etc.
2. Choose a short story that deals with this theme. You may need to read each story several times, taking
notes as you go.
3. Go through your story and mark how the author uses narrative, character, setting, symbolism, other
elements, to convey that theme. Then, write an analysis of the short story; employ as many of the literary
terms introduced in class. Be sure to include the following techniques/terms/elements/tools.
Some of those the literary terms that you will need to be familiar with to analyze these texts:
allusion setting plot characterization conflict
character symbolism point of view irony tone
subject stereotypes exposition rising action falling action
theme climax foreshadowing flashback protagonist
scene metaphor tone narrator narration
climax dialogue motif exposition antagonist
realism romanticism modernism magical realism voice
4. Construct a thesis that indicates a) your focus, and b) the relation of that focus to the story as a whole.
For example, a thesis for “A Good Man is Hard to Find” might be: Characterization and irony help convey
O’Connor’s theme that perhaps men should first be good men themselves rather than judging others. For “The
Storm,” a thesis might be: “The symbolic meanings of the storm are clear, but what is less clear is to whom
those meanings should be applied and thus the characterization and irony in the story correlates directly to the
title of the work.” Though not as obvious as the first thesis, the second thesis would focus on narrative/POV and
characterization. To use more than one story, you might argue: Lack of communication can lead to disaster in
marriage, as it does in the stories “Story of an Hour.”
Also note that there is some latitude in assigning meaning to a short story. What I see as the major theme may
be different than what you see. The important criterion to keep in mind is: can you prove it? Therefore, you
need a thesis because you are arguing for your interpretation of the story. The thesis should not be so obvious
that your reader will say “so what?” Don’t settle for trite generalizations. Instead, make a statement which
indicates thought and depth, and which requires support and proof. Your goal should be to illuminate for the
readers some point that they might not have noticed upon first reading the story.
5. Find evidence in the text to support your thesis, and organize the rest of your essay around these
quotations and examples. Do not rely on generalizations about or paraphrases of the story to convince your
reader, but provide specific evidence and discuss the importance of that evidence for your thesis. Please note:
you should not insert huge chunks of quotes in your paper and count that against your minimum page length.
Roughly 80% of the paper should be your own words and thoughts.
6. Conclude your paper by summing up your argument so that the readers see that your evidence does
support your thesis. (WITHOUT INTRODUCING ANY NEW IDEAS)
FORMAT AND CONVENTIONS:
1) Put quotation marks around short story titles.
2) Follow direct quotations with the author’s name (not the title) and page numbers from your text, in
parentheses. Close the quotation marks before the citation; put the end punctuation after it. For example:
“Thus she passed from generation to generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, perverse”
3) Always write about literature in the present tense.
4) Your essay should be analytical, thus you should not waste too much of your time with plot summary.
5) Your paper should be typed, double–spaced, 12 point font. In the upper left-hand corner of your first page,
include: Your last name and page number
6) Your essay should have a creative title. Not just ‘Essay 2’ or ‘Short Story Analysis.’ Use a creative and
informative title or else have the decency to make it funny like “Essay 2: The Fellowship of the Essay”
It is important to write succinctly. DO NOT JUST RE-TELL THE STORY. DO NOT risk plagiarism – if
you use information from a textbook, then you must cite that information correctly – the Norton Anthology
discusses how to write a paper, including how to document outside sources; DO NOT write a plot outline—this
assignment is to analyze: what is the author “saying” to the reader. What literary techniques and
conventions does he or she use to say it? What is the “point” of the story? Does it show us anything
worthwhile about people or about life? Keep your discussion focused on analyzing how the THEME
works within the short story
short story is attached below