Fiction Essay Prompt

Write an essay about one of the following stories:
• Chinua Achebe, “Dead Men’s Path”
• Alice Walker, “Everyday Use”
• Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder”
Your essay should focus on one of these elements in the story you choose (the questions below are meant
to get you thinking and do not necessarily need to be answered in your paper):
• SETTING: How does the setting enhance the story? How would the story be different without it?
How does it help the author develop the plot, as well as the themes in the story? Are any
characters interrelated to the setting in the story? If so, how does the setting, especially at the
climax of the story, contribute to a change in the characters’ personal perspectives?
• CHARACTER: Perform a character study of one of the major or minor characters in your selected
story. What is unique about this character? Is he or she flat or round? How does he or she evolve
throughout the course of the story, if at all? How does his or her presence in the story add to its
complexity? Is there anything unstated about the character that we can discover through careful
close-reading? How does this character contribute to the overall theme of the story?
• SYMBOLISM AND THEME: Write an essay in which you analyze the relationship between the
symbolism in the text and the theme(s) you believe is underlying the the narrative’s plot. What
specific symbols does the author use, and what do they mean? How do these meanings contribute
to the story’s progress and help the reader better arrive at the text’s overall meaning? Are the
theme(s) and symbolism intertwined or at odds with each other?
Your essay should have a thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. Each body paragraph should
begin with a topic sentence stating the subject and purpose for that paragraph. Conclude your essay by
addressing some type of “so what?” question: Why does this matter? What can we learn from this? How
does this reading affect us or make us realize something interesting or new about ourselves, as illuminated
by this approach to the literature? Support your points with evidence from the story, presenting it in the
form of quotation, summary, or paraphrase. Do NOT use secondary sources; use only the story itself,
and do NOT simply rehash or summarize the plot (if you read your topic sentences for your body
paragraphs in order, they should reprent an outline of your paper’s topics and points and not an
outline of the story’s plot).
Essays should:
• showcase your comprehension of and proficiency with relevant literary concepts and terms we
learned in this unit by using them correctly and in proper contexts.
• be a minimum of 1000 words; any assignments not meeting this minimum word count will
receive a ZERO.
• be thoroughly checked for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors and formatted according to
MLA conventions.
• be uploaded to Canvas by the deadline. Late papers will be docked 10% of the paper grade for
each day they are late.

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