Writing Prompt: Write a 3.5-4-page literary analysis essay (this means no fewer than 11 lines written on page 4) that demonstrates how 1 or 2 identified literary elements (characterization, setting, point of view, style, etc.) support the theme of a contemporary short story.
- The story you analyze must have been published no earlier than 2016 in either the The O. Henry Prize Stories or The Best American Short Stories—both are collections published yearly. Here is a LibGuide with links to many of these stories: Partial List of Approved Stories (Links to an external site.)
- Participation in Peer Review (PeerMark on MindTap). This requires you to submit 2 pages of your essay on Friday, 3/6 and review 4 of your classmates’ essays by Sunday, 3/8.
- 3.5-4 pages, MLA 8 format (also, be sure to have a Works Cited page even though the only work cited will be quotes from the story).
- 3.5-4 pages means there are at least 11 lines written on page 4. Any less that and your essay will be considered incomplete, and incomplete work receives a grade of less than 70.
- The Works Cited page is part of the essay, it should be page 5, and it does not count toward the page-length requirement.
- 12-point font, Cambria or Times New Roman only.
- The introductory paragraph of your essay must introduce the title of the story and author, briefly summarize the story in 2-3 sentences, and end with a thesis that specifically mentions the work’s theme and how you will analyze it. This paragraph should not exceed ½ page.
- Do not explain literary elements and how they function–remember your audience.
Example thesis statements:
- The author uses setting and characterization to demonstrate a theme of fear.
- The author illustrates the theme of faith through the story’s main plot points.
- Using humorous style and irony, the story’s meaning—coming of age—is made clear.
- No outside research is allowed; you must make extensive use of the primary source for support.
- Do not quote the story for more than 3 consecutive lines of text in your essay. In other words, no block quotes!
Please be sure to consult the student essay, “The Secret Lion”: Everything Changes, beginning on page 21 of your book. This is an excellent example of this style of writing. In other words, write your analysis essay very similarly to this one. Note, however, that the first paragraph includes shifts to 1st-person point-of-view, which you should avoid in your essay.