Fiction Critical Analysis

Pick 1 of these stories for the assignment. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, “The Ones who walk away from Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin


Analysis topic. Please choose one of the stories we’ve read for class as your topic for this 3-4 page analysis (plus works cited). Your task is to analyze a theme in the story. What are they saying about human nature/politics/economics/gender roles/parenthood/a law, policy, tradition, attitude, system, etc.?


As a short essay, your scope should be very narrow. As always, it’s better to dig deep than wide, so examine a narrow topic thoroughly rather than briefly discuss all the topics within too broad of a topic


Assume the author chooses every word, plants every clue, and sublimates every message intentionally. Of course we don’t KNOW exactly what the author intended but argue your thesis as if you do. Prove you’ve unearthed a new secret in the text. Remember, if you clearly show the connection between the text and your interpretation of the text, your analysis cannot be wrong! An analysis fails only when the connection between text and interpretation is not clearly made!


Discuss ways literary devices “prove” your interpretation. In other words, HOW do you know what the author is saying through her use of setting, character, plot, pace, tone, symbol, dialog, point of view, etc.?



You will use one or two outside source to support your thesis. This can be biographical information about the author, historical background about the time period the text was written or literary criticism. Be sure to properly cite any interpretations that are not your own and explain how that idea supports YOUR idea. Don’t just include another scholar’s analysis without adding to it in some way (even if it’s to disagree with their analysis or parts of their analysis).


You will choose two short quotes from your research incorporated smoothly with your own prose (avoiding dropped quotes). You will explicitly analyze this new information in a way that makes it clear to your reader how this source supports YOUR own thesis.




1. Have a strong, focused thesis with the subject (the story) AND your analysis of the theme


2. Your paper must be literary-based throughout. This means it’s based on the text and your understanding of the text. Remember you cannot project things into the story that can’t be backed up by evidence in the text. To keep it literary-based, use of relevant examples and direct quotes from the stories is necessary and expected. Remember proper MLA citations. As you develop your interpretations step by step, quote and paraphrases the work in order to show how they exist. In this way, your readers can see for themselves that the way you interpret each element appears reasonable. You are, in effect, proving to the reader that your interpretation is sensible, both at each step of the way and in the overall view.


3. When you use a quote, don’t let it exist in a vacuum. Put it to work by showing your audience how the quote helps you explain and support your point. Make sure you embed quotes naturally into your discussion. To put a quote in context means to establish for your audience the significance of the quote. Don’t make the reader figure things out; it’s your job to do the work for them. *See your Powerpoints for how to do this effectively.


4. Avoid long plot summary. This is not a book report. Simply recounting at length what happened in the story serves no purpose. Remember your audience (your classmates and I) have read the story. A very brief summary with do (2-3 sentences). As you discuss and support your thesis, you will be able to tie more of the story in with specific relevance to the point you are making. Allbits of summary should be in support of an interpretive point or comment.


5. Title your paper with something creative that summarizes your thesis or interpretation.

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