5 page essay

Close Reading /Literary Analysis

15% of Final Grade (5 pages typed)

Due Date:By 11:59 pm, Thursday, October 11th


Typed using double-spacing and Times NR or Calibri 12 pt font

Student’s name, assignment, class meeting time in top left corner of first page only (no cover page)

Works Cited page if sources are used

Drafting assistance:

By me in my office, S 1098 (during office hours), or by a in the Writing Center, N 925 (by appointment only)

Plagiarism or cheating: Grade of zero. No make-ups.


For this paper, you will choose onetext to read through and explain closely. You will only be responsible for the interpretation of the work you identify as your focus—there is no need to retell the entire text.

You can choose between:

Whitman Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, Song of Myself

Dickinson There’s a certain Slant of light, I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, Because I could not stop for Death, I heard a Fly buzz- when I died, The Brain—is wider than the Sky , Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

Twain The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Bierce An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Harris The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story, How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox

Winnemucca Life Among the Piutes

ZitkalaŠa fromImpressions of an Indian Childhood, fromThe School Days of an Indian Girl, The Soft-Hearted Sioux,Why I Am a Pagan

Chopin Desiree’s Baby, The Story of an Hour, The Storm

Gilman The Yellow Wall-paper, Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Washington Atlanta Exposition Address

DuBois from The Souls of Black Folk

Johnson Lift Every Voice and Sing,Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Dunbar We Wear the Mask

Crane The Open Boat

London To Build a Fire

I am not interested in how other works or people interpret the work. It is not beneficial, for this assignment at least, to write a summary of what someone else thinks. Instead, rely on yourself. Look up place names, specific references, or words you do not know—but rely on your own thoughts overall. If you do end up using information that you looked up, CITE IT. Write as if you were teaching the work to this class.

For the five pages, you will

  • present the major characters (or voice of author) and explain their actions/thoughts/dreams/concerns
  • identify any shift(s) you see in the character (or author’s thoughts)
  • decide and present the meaning behind any metaphors, allegories, or allusions you see being made
  • consider what the author(s) may have intended readers to “get” from reading this section
  • identify any large questions or ideas that the text approaches or addresses

You may find it easier to approach this assignment by first listing any themes, motifs, and symbols you find in the pages you selected. From there, work to address that list one by one.

Fully explain your ideas. Your reader is one who has read the work (i.e. do not summarize), but who does not necessarily see what you see… yet. Convince them. Use quotes thoughtfully, not as filler. Essentially, imagine that you are answering a question in class and supporting your ideas with the text.

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