Write a short essay (750 words) that defends a thesis you developed through a close critical reading/analysis of one (or two) works listed on the syllabus. The “critical response” essay relies on textual support from the primary text (secondary sources are not required) – not plot summary to develop the student’s argument. Do not confuse “critical analysis” with “plot summary”; the goal is to develop, sustain, and advance a thesis based on a critique of the primary text. Some potential topics are listed below:
- What impact does the point of view in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” have on a readers’ understanding of and reaction to both Dee and Maggie?
- What do the quilts in “Everyday Use” represent, and how are the quilts significant to the story’s plot, conflict, and character development?
- What general attitudes toward sex, love, and marriage does Chopin imply in “The Storm”? Cite evidence from the story to support your answer.
- What themes and ideas is Hemingway exploring in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”? How does he use style and symbolism to express these themes?
- Why are the lines of dialogue so brief in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”? Why are the speakers so seldom identified? (For examples, Hemingway very rarely uses phrases such as “he said” after a line of dialogue.)
- Define the central theme of “Harrison Bergeron.” Is Vonnegut’s early 1960’s vision of the future still relevant today? Why or why not?
- Take a close look at Jackson’s description of the black wooden box (paragraph 5) and of the black spot on the fatal slip of paper (paragraph 72) in “The Lottery”. What do these objects suggest to you? Are there any other symbols in the story?