Language, culture, identity

Summary of a Narrative Essay

The narrative is somewhat of a hybrid writing genre—in that it is part story, but also part argumentative essay. A narrative is typically written in first person point of view with a structure that’s similar to a fictional story—in that paragraphs can be short, there will be dialogue, etc.—but it also has a lesson, moral, or argument that it is attempting to convey to the reader or persuade the reader of. Narratives can vary in length, but their structure is typical to a short story, in that it will likely follow some kind of narrative arc (there will be an introduction, rising action, a climax, and some kind of resolution). A narrative won’t have formal in-text citations like an essay, but it could make references or allusions to other popular works, though it doesn’t have to. A narrative uses personal experiences as “evidence” to prove the moral, lesson, or underlying argument that an author is trying to make to their readers. One of the big keys to a narrative is to enter into specific moments—go into the setting, the scene, the dialogue, etc.—as a means of bringing your reader into that moment, which serves as evidence for the moral or lesson that you are attempting to “prove” to your reader.


Assigned Readings (on Canvas)

  • “Los Intersticios” by Alsultany
  • “La Guera” by Moraga
  • “Mother Tongue” by Tan
  • “He is not One of Us” by Sun Elk


What You Have to Do

  • Read and annotate the assigned readings (above), using them as an example to inform your own writing and the connections between language, culture, and identity—do not formally cite these in your own paper
  • Write a narrative essay about your language use and/or other “elements of representation” and how it connects to your own identity, and/or even your specific culture—there should be some larger or overarching moral you are trying to teach your reader through this story


Paper Characteristics

This paper needs to be:

  • 6 pages in length (at minimum)
  • Double spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides, 12-point font, and a standard font (Times New Roman or Garamond)
  • MLA formatted with a proper header and page numbers (see Purdue OWL MLA guide)
  • Given a proper title—not just titled “Narrative”
  • Easily identifiable as a paper of the narrative genre (see summary of narrative essay, top of page)
  • Clearly connected to the theme of language, identity, and culture
  • Proofread and relatively free of grammatical errors
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