Literary Analysis First Draft

Short Story Literary Analysis

Assignment Description

You will choose either the short story “Dog Heaven” or “The Swimmer” and write an analysis of the story. You must have a thesis statement in the form of an argument that represents your interpretation of the story and include textual evidence from the story to support your argument. When writing, focus on the TELL, SHOW, SHARE method. First, TELL the reader what your argument (claim) is, your thesis or topic sentences. Then, SHOW the reader your evidence. Evidence begins with text from the story. Finally, SHARE and explain what it means. Share something significant about your findings. Explain the “So what? Who cares? Why does it matter?” aspect of the section you are writing about. What does it mean? What is the point?

Be careful not to simply summarize the story. Your job is to interpret the story to find a deeper meaning, that is make the implicit explicit, within the text and illuminate it for the audience. You are looking for the gaps. What is left unstated in the story? What is missing? You have to look beyond the obvious and discover what the motivating reasons for actions or choices in the story are.

Questions for consideration when analyzing:

  • What motivates the main character? What are the real reasons behind his or her actions or choices?
  • Why does the character act the way they do?
  • Why does the character make the choices they make?
  • Is the character telling the truth or lying to himself and others? Why?
  • What is missing from the story? What are the gaps?
  • What things are significant? Why are they significant? Do they symbolize or represent something?
  • What is the author trying to say through the short story narrative about life, human nature, or society?
  • What is the conflict in the story (there may be more than one), and how does that conflict reflect a deeper understanding of life, human nature, or society? (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Society, Man vs. another conflict of importance)
  • Consider the larger context (other critics’ opinions, biography, history, social, political, and religious). What meaning can you gain from understanding the biography of the author or the history surrounding him or her? What about the social or political context it was written in?
Minimum Requirements

Length: 3-4 FULL pages, not including the Works Cited page. Style: Essay needs to conform to MLA standards, including double spacing in Times New Roman font, and must include a Works Cited page with correct in-text (parenthetical) citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries. Sources: No outside source required, but you can use some. Even if you choose not to, you must cite the short story itself, as it is a text under discussion and you will be citing passages from it.


Due Dates/Points Possible

Worth: 100 points; 10% of your total grade

First Draft/Peer Review: see syllabus for date

Second Draft: Safe Assign on eCampus by 11:59 PM, see syllabus for date

Final Draft: Safe Assign on eCampus by 11:59 PM, see syllabus for date

Purpose and Learning Objectives

The purpose of this assignment is to practice analysis and critical thinking skills in order to prepare your for the final argumentative research paper. You will look closely at your chosen work in order to pull discover the meaning under the surface. Your job is to look beyond the superficial meaning and understanding of the story in order to form an interpretation of the work. Writing, research, and eloquent written expression are vital for a successful future. You will express all of these in this assignment.

Your literary analysis should demonstrate the following learning objectives:

  1. Generate notes and annotate
  2. Analyze and think critically in order to formulate an interpretation in literature
  3. Reflect on literature’s cultural and political contexts
  4. Examine and analyze culture and society 
  5. Summarize, paraphrase, and quote correctly
  6. Create a literary analysis essay
  7. Create documents in MLA style
  8. Apply formal, academic English in writing
Process of Completion
  1. Choose a short story from the list above and reread or review the story to refresh your memory. Then read over this assignment carefully before beginning!
  2. In your Writer’s Notebook, analyze and interpret the short story. You can focus on the plot, the characters, a conflict, or rhetorical device within the work. Visit Purdue OWL Close Reading for more help.
  3. Come up with a thesis that represents your interpretation/analysis.
  4. Put together an outline to help organize your ideas.
  5. Choose the sections of the story and quotes you want to include in your essay. Be careful you do not focus too much on summarizing, but instead, focus on analyzing what it all means in relation to your thesis.
  6. Write your rough draft using the Tell, Show, Share Method of paragraph development.
  7. Put your essay away for twenty-four hours before revising it for grammar and punctuation mistakes. Visit the English Corner for more help with revision or expanding your ideas.
  8. Review your Safe Assign report for plagiarism BEFORE turning in your final draft!
  9. Reread your essay one last time and make any final edits or changes before turning in your final! 

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism includes failing to cite a direct quote with quotation marks and an in-text citation, borrowing someone else’s work without a correct citation, bad paraphrasing (Safe Assign will not identify a good or fair paraphrase), purchasing a paper, having someone else write your essay, or turning in the same paper to two different classes. Any paper with plagiarism, even accidental (I forgot to cite that!), will receive a zero as a final grade. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite correctly. See both MLA citation PPTs on eCampus or visit Purdue OWL for more help.

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