For this essay, you will explore the deeper meaning behind a short story. What does the short story tell us about the world, about life, about people, about society–or about anything else? In short, what does the story mean? For example, someone might make the following claim: “The short story ‘A&P,’ by John Updike, illustrates the foolishness of making a life-changing decision based on a momentary feeling.”
As an alternative, you may choose to focus on one specific aspect of a story, such as character or setting, and explain its meaning. For example: “The character Arnold Friend from Joyce Carol Oates’ story ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,’ represents the type of evil that tends to arise as a result of vanity.”
Once you have formulated some theory about the meaning of the story (or some part within the story), construct your essay using specific language from the story as evidence to support your view. As always, include an introduction and a conclusion, along with a well-developed body that adequately supports your viewpoint. The viewpoint or claim you are making about the short story will be your thesis statement.
For your essay, you may choose to write about one of the following stories:
- The Decline and Fall, by P.J. Devlin (https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2012/12/decline-fall/ (Links to an external site.) ): online at
- Calculus 1, by John M. Floyd (https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2019/03/calculus-1/ (Links to an external site.) ): online at
- Everything in Time Travel Has Been Done, by Doug Lane (https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2019/04/everything-in-time-travel-has-been-done/ (Links to an external site.) ): online at
- The Happiness Machine, by Ray Bradbury (PDF version only):
- Miss Temptation, by Kurt Vonnegut (http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2011/10/24/post-fiction/classic-fiction/miss-temptation.html (Links to an external site.) ): online at
- (Links to an external site.)Ride Along, by Brendan DuBois ( ): online at https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2012/04/ride-along-brendan-dubois/ (Links to an external site.)
Your literary analysis essay should be a minimum of 3 pages in length (750 words). A Works Cited page is only required if you cite sources other than the short story your essay analyzes. The entire document should be properly formatted in MLA style. You should be sure to include well-formed introduction and conclusion paragraphs, and your body paragraphs should be well-organized with clear topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph.
Here are some sample essays to give you a sense of what an A essay looks like:
- Draft essays will earn full credit for submission (25 points) if they are complete and adhere to assignment instructions. Incomplete drafts or drafts that do not adhere to the assignment instructions will not receive credit.
- Please review the Essay Structure module to ensure that the introduction, body, and conclusion of this essay are all doing their proper jobs.
- Before submitting your assignment, review the MLA Formatting and Citations page to ensure that your document adheres to those requirements.
- All draft essays will be checked for plagiarism using an online tool. Plagiarism will result in a grade of ‘0’ and potential disciplinary action.