Literary Analysis

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Essay #5 Final Exam: Literary Analysis

Submit your essay to Turnitin by the deadline, Wednesday 5/6

( Friday, 5/8, is the deadline for a late submission. No essays will be accepted after that date. Essays are docked 1/2 grade for each day late.)

Assignment: In a 900-1500 word essay (3-5 pages), address ONE of the following prompts. Provide an argumentative thesis, one that reflects your interpretation of the text, and organization to develop that thesis. Support your claims with textual evidence—include quotations from the text, in MLA format.


Writing Tips:

  • Include a brief summary of the novel in your introduction (2-3 sentences is good, but be sure to include the basics: the author’s full name and title of the book, the setting, and main ideas).
  • Use present tense when writing about the book, i.e. “O’Brien tells a story…”
  • Make sure your thesis is a direct response to the prompt and a debatable statement, NOT a factual statement such as: Many characters in The Things They Carried have internal conflicts about war. Your thesis, as always, must take a position you can argue. Remember to ask yourself “how” and “why” questions to develop a claim you can argue.
  • Follow essay structure – this is part of what you’re being “tested” on in

    terms of
    the final exam. Review the Writing Resources materials (located in the Getting Started module) and our text for help.
  • Aside from the introduction, avoid summarizing the novel unless necessary for

    Focus on supporting and developing your thesis. An essay that simply retells the stories in the book will not earn a passing grade.
  • Avoid using four or more lines of quotes. If you do, you must set them up using block format (see OWL Purdue). In general, you should avoid using long quotes. If you do use any, your analysis of the quote should be equal in length.

Note well: The only source for your paper should be the novel itself. Do not use any other sources please! This is a literary analysis paper, not a research paper. What’s most important is developing YOUR interpretation of the novel.

TOPICS (Choose One):

  1. Why does O’Brien write a war story in which there are no heroes?
  2. What is the effect of dividing the book up into short stories rather than producing chapters that convey a continuous, sequential plot line?
  3. Analyze why O’Brien begins and ends his novel with the chapters, “The Things They Carried” and “The Lives of the Dead.”
  4. O’Brien claims that he is not a Vietnam writer. He states, “It’s like calling Toni Morrison a black writer or Joseph Conrad an ocean writer or Shakespeare a royalty writer. . . I don’t write about bombs and bullets, I write about the human heart. It’s just the subject matter that was given to me.” What does the novel teach us about the “human heart”?

Required to earn a passing score:

  • Include a works cited list in MLA format.
  • Include at least one quotation in each body paragraph using MLA format: “—-” (O’Brien 57).
  • Avoid plagiarism at all costs. If you consult any online sources for ideas (i.e. Sparknotes, etc…) you must be aware that using the ideas and/or words of others without giving them credit is plagiarism. So my advice is don’t consult anything except the novel. I am interested in your ideas, not someone else’s.

Literary Analysis

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