I’m asking you to choose any three stories from our course schedule and compare
I’m asking you to choose any three stories from our course schedule and compare / contrast them in terms of one of our major elements of fiction: plot; character; narration and point of view; setting; symbol and figurative language; or theme.
For example, you might examine how the first-person perspective in both “Sonny’s Blues” and “Cathedral” help develop the characters of Sonny and Robert, the blind man, whereas the third-person limited perspective of Connie in “Where Are You Going…” keeps her at arm’s length from the reader.
Or, you might discuss how plot construction differs between “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” which mostly takes place in an afternoon; “The Lives of the Dead,” which moves back and forth in time; and “Puppy,” which views the same incident from multiple angles.
There are virtually endless options here.
For sources, you should employ direct quotes and paraphrases from all of the stories you address. Additionally, you should use a combination of direct quotes and paraphrases from the craft-discussion chapters hyperlinked on our Course Schedule (namely the section for the element of fiction you’re addressing). Do not bring in any additional texts–the purpose being I want you to bear down on the specifics of the texts we already have at our disposal. Your in-text citations must be in MLA format; but because all of your sources are coming from the Course Schedule, there is no works cited page necessary.
Your paper should have a guiding thesis statement (a.k.a. a central argument) at the end of your introduction paragraph. All of your paragraphs should then go toward arguing that thesis.
I would encourage the class to get as explicit as possible with their guiding argument. A thesis that is too broad and vague might sound like this: “In these stories the characters play important roles, which can be seen through symbol and figurative language.” That doesn’t tell us what stories, which characters, or what’s important about the symbolism and language. Construct an argument that only you can make, because it relies on your original insight into the texts. Try something like, “All three of these stories contain protagonists–Charlie, Jimmy Cross, and Connie–who must confront loss and separation beyond their maturity level, though the reader is left to imagine the impact of Charlie’s bad day with his father, while Cross demonstrates how this pressure has changed him by tossing out the pebble, and Connie must pay dearly for her adolescent mistakes.” (Or some such thing.:)
Your paper should be 1,500-2,000 words.