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Critical Essay

Assignment Description:  In this essay, you will select a specific text from our content and argue how the text teaches the reader about the time, place, and culture of its creation. The thesis of your essay, in other words, will argue that one of our specific stories can help modern scholars better understand the time from which it came.

Possible themes to explore include (but are not limited to) the following:

Love and Marriage
War and Responsibilities of a Soldier
Social Views of Death
Conflicting Ideas of Morality
Family Dynamics
Social Punishment
Mental Illness and its Treatment
Racial Tension
Gender Struggle
Fear of/Fascination with the Unfamiliar
Importance of Tradition
Causes/Effects of Violence

Here is an example thesis (Please note: students may not use this thesis for their own essays.):
In the story A Good Man is Hard to Find, the grandmother illustrates moral hypocrisy demonstrated in the 1950s American south.

Advice: Please follow these suggestions as well as those listed in the Advice for Writing about Literature worksheet.

You will need at least two main points to support your stance.  For example, I can support my above thesis in these ways:

-The grandmother secretively manipulates her son Bailey, allowing his authority as Man to overshadow her authority as Mother.  This reinforces the strict gender roles of the 1950s.
-The grandmother sees herself as morally righteous yet still demonstrates racist thought and behavior.  This fits with the apathy of the Christian south when faced with Jim Crow Laws of the 1950s.
-The grandmother wears her Christian beliefs as a costume, able to disrobe them when threatened.  This shows the fallout from World War 2 in which the American South began to question the nature of Good.

You will need textual support from the primary story you select as well as support from secondary sources. The secondary sources should justify that what the primary text suggests about the time/place/culture is valid. Here are some examples of secondary sources I can use for my thesis:

-A newspaper article/editorial from the 1950s criticizing women in the workforce
-Martin Luther Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he criticizes the apathy shown by white church leaders concerning racial struggle
-A biographical excerpt about the formation of the Hells Angels being motivated by disillusioned WW2 veterans

So, your secondary sources set up a specific component of the time/place/culture of the story, while the primary source shows us what the story teaches us about that component.

The essay must be at least four FULL pages long using these formatting guidelines (submissions can be longer than four pages):

Times new roman font
12 point size
1 inch margins
Double spaced lines
No extra space between paragraphs
Include MLA formatted parenthetical citations and a works cited page. https://youtu.be/bjbMfL92b7g

Please choose from the following:
“My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun”
“To His Coy Mistress”
“The Flea”
“My Last Dutchess”
“Charge of the Light Brigade”
“Dulce Et Decorum Est”
“The Things They Carried”
“Godfather Death”
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
“Out, Out”
“The Lamb”
“The Tyger”
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”
“The Black Cat”
“On Her Own Work”
“The Child by Tiger”
“Tale of the Three Brothers”
“A Red, Red Rose”

 

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