Objective: To identify a pattern of connected details in a character’s actions, thoughts, and/or feelings, and to interpret that pattern to infer meaning and significance. For example, Bub (“Cathedral”) demonstrates a pattern of excessive consumption of alcohol, weed, and food. Why? Hint: He states he does not believe in anything. How can the two concepts be connected? Remember to use summary, paraphrase, and quoted passages from the text appropriately to support your thesis statement. Audience: Someone who has not read the story (but do NOT write a summary essay). Topics: Choose a character from one of the stories read so far (not one from a previous essay) who most interests, intrigues or puzzles you. List of stories: “Rose for Emily,” “Cathedral,” “Gimpel the Fool,” “Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Powder,” “Tits-up in a Ditch,” “The Things They Carried” Pre-writing Suggestions: DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR NOTES. To help yourself pick up on cues that you’ll later be able to use as “evidence” in an essay, you can ask yourself questions as you read and re-read. For example, to prepare for writing an essay describing and analyzing a character, you might ask (for your brainstorming benefit; don’t email): What is the character feeling in the story? What do other characters think or feel about this character? What does the character want? What does s/he think s/he needs to do, or have, to get it? What is s/he willing to do to get it? What do the character’s actions show us about him/her? What surprises him/her? Scares? Hurts? Brings joy? How does the character change? Are the changes internal, growth that naturally comes with age and experience? Are the changes responses to external forces, such as family pressures, community expectations or social upheaval? Does the character experience both kinds of change, and if so, how are they related? Based on your journal notes and your knowledge of the character you’ve chosen to analyze, develop your own list of questions, or use any of the above, that will help you focus on your particular topic as you re-read the story. Then make a list of passages from the text that help answer your questions. Include the page number and a brief note explaining what the passage reveals about the character. This is information for you to use in writing your essay. Do not send this pre-writing suggestion to me; these are just working notes for your benefit. When you finish, set your list and free-writing or journal entries aside for at least an hour. Come back and re-read them, asking yourself, “Does this give me enough material to fit the requirements of this assignment (at least 4 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins)? Does it give me too little information? Too much? If your list is very short, you probably have too little information and need to find more or select a different topic. If your list is very long, you may have to think about ways of dividing your subject or tightening your focus. When your list and free-write seem adequate to you, write a working thesis statement. For example, “In this paper, I’m going to analyze the characteristics of _______ to demonstrate _____.” Remember that a working thesis statements is simply a starting point; working thesis statements often change once you gain a deeper understanding of the subject in the actual writing phase of your essay body section–or conclusion! In fact, often the conclusion becomes a great introductory paragraph! Brainstorm at lease three topic sentences (the main idea for each body paragraph). Remember paragraphing skills: state the main point of the paragraph, support it, explain how/why the support works, add a concluding sentence that reinforces/re-states the topic. Draft: From your journal, notes, free-writing, discussion, draft the essay. Follow the formatting guidelines set forth in proper manuscript format for 1000 words (at least four-five pages). Work on smoothly integrating material from the text to support your thesis (use introductory “signal” phrases such as, “According to …” or “The author shows…”), but don’t use so much textual material and descriptive detail that makes this becomes a summary essay. Do not write a summary essay. Remember that I’m interested in your interpretation of the details and the patterns they create. Also, feel free to bring up any problems or questions you encounter while drafting; chances are other people have the same questions, and we can explore possible solutions as a collaborative effort. Sources: Add a last page of works cited (not in bold! 😉 to the end of the essay consisting of three different source materials: 1. Your textbook plus 2. Two scholarly sources (see NSC website for scholarly databases). Revision: Remember that you’re writing for an interested audience that has not read the book. Some questions you can ask yourself are: Is my thesis clear? Will a reader understand what I’m saying about the story? Have I understood the assignment and remained focused to prove my objective to: identify a pattern of connected details in a character’s actions, thoughts, and/or feelings, and to interpret that pattern for meaning and significance. Are my ideas supported by appropriate evidence from the text? Am I using summary, paraphrase and quotation appropriately, and have I cited them correctly? Will readers be able to argue with my ideas because I’ve used evidence that seems to weaken my case? Is my structure clear? Are transitions smooth? Are my sentences varied and well constructed? Do they read well aloud? Am I using words accurately? Does the writing give the sense of a confident, individual voice?