In this unit, we have focused on the conventions of reading and writing about narrative literature. This short essay asks you to show what you have learned about interpreting and writing about a short story. To do this you should review the album on Flannery O’Connor’s work in The Norton Introduction to Literature (pages 419-458).
After reviewing the album and the context for her work, choose one of the short stories (“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” or “Everything that Rises Must Converge”) and choose one of the following prompts to complete your essay:
Option 1: Write an essay that states and supports a claim about the importance of the story’s point of view. Review the information on point of view that was assigned this week and consider how the narrator’s voice and focus affects the ways you understand the relationships among the different characters in the story or how it affects your understanding of a theme of the story. Your thesis statement should not simply state that the point of view is important in understanding the relationships or the theme; rather, the thesis statement should spell out what you understand about the relationships or theme and how the point of view helped to shape that understanding.
Option 2: Write an essay that makes an argument about the importance of figurative language or visual imagery in the story you chose. Review the information on figurative language and on imagery that was assigned this week and consider how these things affect the ways you understand the relationships among the different characters in the story or how they affect your understanding of a theme of the story. Your thesis statement should not simply state that the figurative language or imagery is important in understanding the relationships or the theme; rather, the thesis statement should spell out what you understand about the relationships or theme and how the figurative language or imagery helped to shape that understanding.
Option 3: See the chart on pages 337-38 of your textbook. This chart gives you 5 “tips” for reading a story to understand the themes. Read through all of the tips to identify which one helps you to unlock the story you selected. In the introduction of your essay, state which tip you used to help you understand the theme of your essay, then make an argument for the importance of that theme in the story. Be sure to review pages 335-36 for information on how specific your thesis statement should be about what the story says regarding the theme and follow this advice.
Be sure to review the course materials we have studied about the conventions for writing about literature, and narrative specifically.
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