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Paper #2: The Short Story
Essay Prompt:
Write a paper that analyzes the deeper meaning of one of the stories listed below AND
makes an argument about why this story should still matter today. Your story choices are:
Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge;” Ellison “Battle Royale;” O’Connor, “A
Good Man is Hard to Find;” Walker, “Everyday Use;” Kafka, “The Metamorphosis.”
You may not write on Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
Your paper should do 2 things:
1) Analyze/interpret the story you chose from the list above. Spend around 2 pages
or half the paper just thoroughly working through the story’s ideas to show the
deeper meaning of the story. The analysis needs to be precise and sophisticated
and should try to capture as much of the story’s complexity as possible.
2) Argue why the story’s ideas are still important today. Spend around 2 pages or
the last half of your paper connecting the story to one important issue today.
When talking about the present, focus on just one current issue and try to be as
concrete and precise about that issue as possible. Research is not required, but it
would likely help all essays be a bit more detailed and insightful about what they
discuss. Show how the story’s specific ideas would give us insight into this issue
or would help us criticize or resist this issue. In other words, how would reading
this story perhaps assist people in dealing with this issue from today?
Paper requirements:
___The paper must at least reach the middle of page 5, not including the Works Cited.
___The paper must have a title, introduction, thesis, a series of body paragraphs,
conclusion, and Works Cited.
___Use Times New Roman size 12 font throughout.
___At least one well-chosen source must be used, either to help with the literary analysis
of the story or to present facts or insight into the contemporary issue.
___MLA guidelines must be followed for all in-text citations and the Works Cited page
Your grade will be based on the following:
1) The sophistication of your interpretation of the story,
2) The insightfulness of your argument about the story’s current relevance, and
3) The quality of your writing, including its grammar and style.
The interpretation should aim to capture as much of the story’s complexity as possible.
Be sure to avoid clichés and reductive generalizations. The argument about the story’s
current relevance should demonstrate deep, original thinking about our current situation
as well as what the story could contribute to it. The writing needs to be carefully
proofread so that it is not only grammatically correct but also a pleasure to read. All
citations and formatting standards also must be perfectly met.
Essay #2 Possible Outline:
However you organize your essay, make sure
you spend at least 2 pages minimum closely
analyzing the story. Also, make sure you spend
at least 2 pages minimum arguing how the
story is relevant to the contemporary issue you
1) Introduc on: Introduce your author. Or,
introduce your theme/problem in general
terms. Eventually, name your author and
your story and very brie y outline it.
2) Thesis: Argue that the story’s ideas would
help one cri cize or understand the
speci c contemporary issue. It might take
the form of: The story’s idea X would help
readers today deal with contemporary
issue Z.
3) Series of body paragraphs analyzing the
deeper meaning of the story. These
should be organized into uni ed
paragraphs with good topic sentences.
Quote o en, and always analyze the
quota on for at least a sentence or two
a erwards.
4) Turn to your contemporary issue and in a
series of body paragraphs argue what is
happening and how the story is relevant
to it. Show how, today, this issue is similar
to what the story examined, or how the
story would give us insight into what is
happening, or how the story would help
us cri cize and resist this issue. Be sure
that you connect the speci c ideas of the
story to the problem. For example, and
Ellison discusses racism, but he has very
speci c ideas about this topic, and those
speci c ideas should be connected to the
contemporary issue. This argument
should probably be 2-3 paragraphs
minimum. Each paragraph should be
uni ed with a good topic sentence.
5) Conclusion
6) Works Cited with entries for the story and
your one source.

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