Explore and analyze one of the major characters we’ve encountered in the one of the assigned stories.

Instructions: Read the following topics carefully and choose one. Write a 3-4 page, typed, double-spaced essay that includes an introduction with a thesis statement, body paragraphs with supporting quotations, and a conclusion.

Format your paper according to the MLA standards outlined in the syllabus, class materials (the Writing Resources module), and the Little DK Handbook (see pages 126-135 for a paper formatted in MLA style).

You must have citations within the paper and a works cited entry for the story.  If you would like to see some sample papers, your Norton anthology includes a number of sample papers throughout the readings.


You are not required to use secondary sources, but if  you do, you must cite anything that you use within the body of your paper and must have a works cited entry on the works cited page for the secondary source.


You may choose any of the assigned stories (listed below) for any one of these topics.  Some stories may work better for some of these options than others, so keep that thought in mind as you decide what on a topic and a story.

  1. Discuss the setting in one of the stories we have read as an indicator of that story’s theme. Show, for example, how setting mirrors conflicts within or around a character or characters, or explain how setting limits or constrains the character(s). No matter what you focus on, remember that your goal is to use a specific focus to uncover a general theme in the story.
  2. Explore and analyze one of the major characters we’ve encountered in the one of the assigned stories. Explain the major factors in the makeup of his or her identity, and describe the major conflicts (if any) he or she faces. Does the character change or develop by the end of the story? If so, how? If not, why not?
  3. Focus on point of view in one of the stories we’ve read, and explain how perspective plays an important role in the overall story. Remember to identify the point of view (first or third, omniscient or limited, objective or subjective) and then connect it to the story’s broader theme.
  4. Write an essay discussing how a particular event or moment in the plot of one of the stories is pivotal, for example, how it complicates and/or resolves a central conflict. For example, how does the pivotal event help create or resolve tension, or mystery, or confusion, or conflict in the story?
  5. Discuss the author’s use of symbol and figurative language in one story. Why did the author use this specific type of symbol/figurative language?  What impact does the figurative language have on characterization, setting, mood, tone, foreshadowing, theme, or the story overall?

Assigned Stories (You must choose one of these stories)

“Sonny’s Blues”


“Hills Like White Elephants”

“The Yellow Wallpaper”

“The Lady with the Dog”


“Jesus Shaves”

“A & P”

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She used Little DK book as pointers on how to type paper.


Some Reminders about MLA Format and Literary Analysis Use one-inch margins and a standard font of Times New Roman or Arial in 12 point size. Everything in the paper is double-spaced. Set your line spacing to double and don’t change it. Each page (including the first one) has—one-half inch down from the top on the right side of the paper—your last name, a space, and the page number (Example: Germany 3). A cover page is not necessary. On the first page only, beginning at the top left margin (one inch down), you will have a four-line identification. The first line is your name, the second is my name, the third is the name of the class, and the fourth is the date. (All of this is double-spaced.) Again only on the first page, after your four-line identification, center your title. You must have a title! When you cite poetry, line numbers are used for in-text citations. The first time you cite from a poem, your citation uses the word “line” [Example: (line 3)]. After that first time, use just the line number itself [Example: (5-6)]. When citing from Psalms, use the verse number just as you would a line number. When citing from Biblical books as printed in your text with no verse numbers (except in the case of the Psalms), use page numbers in your citations. When citing from prose selections such as A True History Of The Captivity And Restoration Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, A Minister’s Wife In New England, use page numbers. Long quotations (to be avoided except in cases in which a long quotation is necessary to make your point) must be indented one inch from the left margin (two inches from the left edge of the paper). No change is required for the right margin. “Long” means more than four lines of prose or three lines of poetry. Again, everything is still double-spaced. Indented quotations DO NOT use quotation marks. In-text quotations must use quotation marks. When you use poetry quotations of two or three lines in the text of your essay, enclose the quotation in quotation marks and separate the lines with a slash mark surrounded by space. [Example: In “Death of the Hired Man,” Robert Frost defines home as “the place where, when you have to go there, / They have to take you in” (119-120).] Do not use first and second person pronouns (I, you, etc.). The analysis is your opinion, so saying things such as “I believe” is unnecessary. Second person is too informal. Obviously, if those pronouns are in a quotation from the source, they will remain there. You should use the literary present tense when referring to events within the text of the work (Example: Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut down the cedar forest and make a cedar gate for Uruk. They then build a cedar raft and float down the Euphrates to Urek). You should use the past tense when referring to historical facts about the work (Example: Gilgamesh was an actual king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates. He lived about 2700 B.C.). Each paper must have a Work(s) Cited page. This will be on a separate and final sheet of paper. The title–Work(s) Cited–is centered on the page.Your page numbering continues on the Works Cited page; for example, if your paper itself is seven pages long, the Works Cited page is page eight. If you have used other sources in addition to your text, they must also be listed on the Works Cited page and cited in your paper. Do not list any sources on the Works Cited page that are not cited in your paper. The first line of the entry is flush left and subsequent lines are indented one-half inch. The entries on the Works Cited page are listed alphabetically

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