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“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin

The Literary Analysis Essay
You’ve had the chance to explore several texts and respond to what you’ve seen expressed within them. Between the variations in style and the range of themes both familiar and unfamiliar, some may have resonated with you more than others.

An essay is thoughts put to the page in an organized manner. When developing a literary analysis essay, you are responding to a work of the imagination. Your goal is to write out your thoughts about a text, the ideas it contains, and the literary elements that develop these ideas. Think of it as a way of unpacking the text, just as you have in your reading responses.

The Literary Analysis Essay will be worth 100 points. We will work on it in a couple of stages in Module 4. See the grading rubric attached to the Literary Analysis Essay dropbox folder.

1. You have a few options:

(DO THIS ONE)Choose 1 story. Explain how 3 literary elements are present in the story and help develop the action and a major theme.

Compare 2 short stories. You will need to narrow the focus significantly, and do a fair comparison. For example, you could compare 2 protagonists, or the settings and conflicts in 2 stories, or the way the same theme plays out differently in 2 stories.

Discuss and interpret two poems. Explain how 3 literary elements help carry the overriding theme or message in the poem. Pay special attention to the speaker, situation, and emotion present in each.

Either way, you MUST look at how 3 literary elements – conflict, symbolism, personification, theme, imagery, setting, characterization, etc – are present in the text(s). This sort of focus will help you go BEYOND PLOT SUMMARY.

2. Review your reading responses in the discussions from this module by going to Submission Review > Discussions using the navigation menu above. Consider whether one or two are worth expanding on for the upcoming Literary Analysis Essay.

This will be a five paragraph essay. Utilize the 5-8-8-8-5 sentence structure. (Intro will have minimum of five sentences. Body paragraph 1. will have minimum of eight complete sentences, Body paragraph 2. will have eight complete sentences and so on.) You will not use any outside sources beyond the short stories or poetry being discussed and critiqued. You will need to brush-up on the elements of story explained in the textbook and your notes from our classes.

Essay Proposal Assignment

The purpose of an essay is to put your thoughts to the page in an organized fashion. In this essay, you need to focus how works of imagination use language and words to draw us in to a story, to move us emotionally, or to put themes into play. Just as you had a plan for your Research Essay, you’ll want to plan out your Literary Analysis Essay. Just as you had a plan for your Research Essay, you’ll want to plan out your Literary Analysis Essay. This essay should be about 700-900 words in length, and will focus on elements of one work. Check with your instructor for your options.

The Literary Analysis Proposal dropbox is worth 10 points.

The Proposal must include what you plan to focus on about your chosen work(s), a working thesis, a detailed explanation of what you want to explore about your chosen texts, and an outline. You should raise two or three questions or points that reflect on specific aspects of the work– its characters, conflict, theme, or use of literary techniques and elements. The proposal should also be relatively error-free.

1. Revisit the Writing a Thesis Statement activity. Although this essay is NOT research-supported, the principles of writing a thesis statement are still the same. You need to select a topic and narrow your focus.

Writing a Thesis Statement activity
Developing a Thesis for Literary Analysis, Purdue OWL Guide
2. Review your reading responses by revisiting them in the Submission Review > Discussions menu above. If one particular story resonated with you, consider whether you want to expand on your response to it. If you choose to compare two stories, consider the common elements between them.