What is literary analysis? What’s a theme? How does one write about literature?
This topic addresses these questions by asking you to come up with a unified interpretation (a theme) of a text that shows a close reading of the text (literary analysis) and makes an argument that uses the text itself–along with logic and clear language–as evidence to support your interpretation of the story, poem or play.
The primary goal is for you to understand the conventions and process for writing about literature. You’ll learn the conventions by simply following the directions listed in the Conventions for Writing about Literature file. You’ll learn the process by practice, by writing the first draft of Paper One, a focused interpretation of the story “The Handsomest Drowned Man in The World.”
1. Read the story “The Handsomest Drowned Man in The World” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, se Readings in the Introduction.
2. Read the Reading Questions about the story. They are meant to help you think more deeply about the story. Answer them in your Reading Notebook.
3. it should be at least a paragraph long
4. 5-10 SENTENCES LONG
5. Read the Conventions for Writing About Literature file linked in this topic. Apply each standard to the papers that you write in this course.
6. Read the Introduction, Literature Topics and Research, & Formatting sections here.
7. Read the Paper One: Introduction to Literary Analysis assignment. The first draft should be competed this week; it does not need to be submitted, but the final draft is due by the end of next week (and it should read like a final draft, i.e., applying all the standards for writing about literature listed in this week’s files).
1. Look at the title. What is the meaning of it? What type of tone does it set for the story?
2. What person is the story written in? (1st, 2nd, 3rd?) Whose perspective is it from, or whose eyes are you looking through as you read?
3. Why aren’t the villagers repulsed by the corpse?
4. What are some of the signs that the drowned man is not like the villagers?
5. Who are the first ones to accept the dead man and to incorporate him into their lives?
6. Why are the women able to say that “‘he’s ours!'” How do they arrive at this conclusion?
7. Read the last sentence out loud. What is the effect of ending a story with a sentence that long?
8. Describe the physical environment of the village before and at the time of the dead man’s arrival.
9. What effect does the drowned man have on the women of the village?
10. Why do the women name the drowned man Esteban? After naming him, what do the women do?
11. Look at the phrase “the big boob finally died.” Who is speaking here? What is the tone and how does it add to your picture of Esteban and the villagers?
12. What are the men’s attitudes toward the drowned man?
13. What is the significance of the drowned man’s funeral and the nature of the transformation that occurs in the village as a result of his presence?
14. What are some of the main themes of the story? Think about the types of figurative language that keep cropping up, as well as about the plot itself.
Paper One Assignment
Read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in The World” and write down your impressions as you read, underlining text that seems especially important. Read the text closely; examine it thoroughly.
Determine the theme of the story. During your reading, you should think about an aspect of the story that resonates imaginatively with you. Ideas about change, beauty, resurrection, the nature of the body are all relevant. Try to start large, and get more precise in your thinking about the story’s characters, setting and/or symbols. This is a brainstorming process. Write as you brainstorm to keep track of your thoughts. Now, organize your thoughts. Compose a focused essay in which you describe your understanding of the story, using the text to illustrate your points. The paper should be at least five pages long.
* Use quotations from the story to support your argument, but use them sparingly and integrate them into your sentences (see the Literary Analysis Resource file)
* Do not use secondary sources
* Follow the Conventions for Writing about Literature (use present tense, include author and title in first sentence, etc: Read the file!)
* Use MLA Format, i.e., standard font size, etc.
* Submit your paper at the TurnItIn link in the Course Information and Paper Submission section of the site.
Conventions for Writing about Literature
Every paper that you write for this course asks that you analyze some form (poetry, fiction, drama) of literature. Your papers should meet these nine standards:
1. Identify the author and title within the first three sentences
2. State and develop your theme in the introductory paragraph. “The theme is that Esteban changes the village” is a simplification. Avoid using the phrase “The theme is….”; instead, be specific, as in “Esteban changes the village by delighting the villagers’ imaginations, etc…”.
3. Write in the present tense
4. Avoid “I” and “you”
5. Use quotations around titles of short stories and poems; italicize longer works
6. Make sure the selections from the text that you use to illustrate your interpretation are in quotation marks
7. Keep the quotations to a minimum; quote only what you need and paraphrase the rest (avoid using quotations as filler)
8. Introduce quotes; incorporate them into your sentence (avoid dropped or hanging quotations) . See the linked literary resource to understand the correct way to incorporate quotations.
9. Provide a contextual summary (introduce characters relevant to your thematic analysis) that relates to theme in the introduction
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