Literature Online--English 112

Understanding Fiction:The Short Story

Writing a Critical Analysis Paper
about a Short Story


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Now it is time to write a critical analysis paper about "A Rose for Emily." Writing a critical analysis about a short story does mean writing an argument paper that identifies your interpretation and supports it with direct proof, often as quotes, from the story being analyzed. Sometimes you may be asked to include as part of your proof quotes and paraphrases from others who have interpreted the work.

Careful reading of An Introduction to the Study of Literature, focusing on "What Do You Mean, 'Literary Theory,'" "How Do I Read (and Write) Like That," and "Is Using this Page OK," will provide you with excellent tips for writing this kind of paper. Also carefully read the following resource pages for additional strategies for writing about fiction:

Writing About Fiction,
Logic in Argumentative Writing, and
Writing with Computers .

Finally, review the format for completing papers defined in the Submit Formats pages in the opening of the VCCS Literature Online web.

Below are listed two critical analysis papers that others have written about this story. One is from a graduate student and one is from an ENG 112 student who attends a community college in the Virginia Community College System. Read each to see how each author

Also review the essays' structures for introductory, body, and concluding paragraphs.

An Analysis of the short story "A Rose for Emily"
published on the Web

An Analysis of the short story "A Rose for Emily"
written by a previous ENG 112 student

Assignment: (Click on the rose for an electronic version of the story.)

For this assignment, you may write about how the author used any of the conventions of the short story to convey his message. This essay will be posted for feedback and will eventually be emailed to your instructor. The following are possible topics:

1. Discuss the influence that the setting exerts on the main characters.

2. Describe the turning point or climax to the story. Explain what conflicts are resolved and unresolved.

3. Discuss how the major character's development helps the reader to explore a central issue or theme in the story.

4. Locate several significant symbols in the story and explain how each contributes to the development of a major theme.

5. Identify a major theme in the story and explain how the author explores it.

For the discussion about the conventions of the short story reread the Strategies page. Remember to use the glossary of literary terms located here and there, too.

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