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English Composition 1

Essay Assignment 2

Due Dates

ENG 1001-07 (Mon/Wed/Fri 11:00-11:50 a.m., A-301)
Wednesday, September 21
:: Draft of at least 600 words due for peer critique.
Monday, October 3: Revised draft of at least 800 words due.

ENG 1001-410 (Thurs 6:30-9:15 p.m., Princeton High School)
Thursday, September 15
: Draft of at least 600 words due for peer critique.
Thursday, September 22
: Revised draft of at least 800 words due.

Essay Assignment 2: Analysis of a Short Story

For Essay 2, you need to analyze and explain one of the following short stories by Katherine Mansfield: 

Just click the links above to access the stories.

The minimum required length for the revised draft of Essay 2 is 800 words. Your essay should be written in a formal voice and needs at least five paragraphs, including an introduction with a clear one-sentence thesis statement and a conclusion with a restatement of that thesis. Your essay should have at least three body paragraphs.

Your Analysis

You can assume that your audience has read the short story that you choose for your subject but has not studied or analyzed it. Your job is not to summarize the story but to help readers appreciate it and to understand its meaning. To help you go beyond a simple summary of the story, you should ask yourself what point the writer is trying to make. What is the author trying to tell us through the story? 

You might start by thinking about the theme or themes conveyed in the story. "Theme" can be defined as the "main point" or, more specifically, the "comment about life" that an author conveys in a story (or other work of literature). In other words, what is the story telling us about life? With a possible theme in mind, you should then reread the story carefully, making notes on anything that seems to relate to the theme.

As you consider a possible thesis for your essay, it might be helpful if you come up with three or four important and related claims (or critical insights about the story) that you think you can support with specific evidence from the story. These claims could then be the bases for the different body paragraphs of your essay. From the claims, you could then formulate a one-sentence thesis statement. Each claim you present in your essay should be supported with ample evidence from the story itself.

Be an active reader. Read the story you are writing about several times. When you reread the story, you should have a pen or pencil in hand, making marginal notes to help you remember things you notice and to write down any questions that come to mind.

The Web page linked below provides useful information about writing a critical analysis of a story, and it uses Mansfield's "Miss Brill" as its example:

We will discuss each story as a class, and you should use some of the ideas we discuss to help you develop your interpretation of the story.

Sample Essays

No Need for Citations and Documentation

Sometimes, an essay on a short story will include parenthetical citations for page numbers of quoted words and a separate "Work Cited" page listing publication information for the story, all according to Modern Language Association (MLA) standards. However, please do not include parenthetical citations or a "Work Cited" page with your essay. Understanding how to cite and document material properly can get somewhat complicated, and, at this point, I would prefer than you focus on developing and presenting your interpretation well without having to think about the proper citation and documentation of your subject. Later in the course, we will discuss MLA citation and documentation of sources.

Referring to the Narrator

Typically, essays are written in the voice of the author, whereas short stories are written in the voice of a narrator, a persona created by the author to tell the story. As you are writing about a short story and are referring to what the storyteller says, you should not refer to what the "author" says but to what the narrator says.

The Writing Process

As your work on your essay, it may be helpful to review the information about the writing process presented on our course pages. Although the Web pages linked below use a photograph as the subject of an essay, the same principles apply to an essay on a short story.

Additional Resources

The information on the Web pages linked above can help you with your writing.

This page was last updated on June 06, 2013. Copyright Randy Rambo, 2011.