Essay Prompt 2: Short Stories
In this essay, you are required to pick one of the stories that we have read during our “short story” section. From this story you should pick one or two technical (or “formal”) elements of the story that you think advance, emphasize, or complicate a principal thematic concern of the text. I strongly recommend that you choose one or two passages that illustrate the technical aspect you are addressing. For example, if you were discussing diction, you would need to find one or two passages that show that the author/narrator uses flowery language (lots of descriptive/overly-descriptive adjectives and adverbs) to build a romantic aura around the story (or that the author uses very few, if any, adjectives or adverbs in order to heighten the atmospheric and emotional dryness of the story). One detailed, well analyzed example makes a much stronger argument than several generalized comments that are only supported vaguely by your impression of a work.
Your assignment is to make an argument about what your story wants to “say” (i.e. what it wants the reader to think, believe, reconsider, etc.) and to demonstrate how the technical element(s) you have chosen supports, reinforces, complicates, or advances that “point.” The more specific and complicated your “point” the more interesting your paper will be. The more clearly you demonstrate the link between technical aspects of the work and the conclusion you come to about the story, the more convincing your argument will be. I do not need to agree with your reading of the story; I do need to see that you can muster evidence to support your reading. This being the case, it is not impressive to repeat arguments that I have made in class. Pick a technique or thematic concern that I did not bring up in class (if you brought it up in class, by all means, use it in your paper).
Your papers should be two-three full pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, with one inch margins on all sides....