A Good Man is Hard to Find

Length: 750-1000 words


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Choose one passage from one of the stories that we have discussed in class, excluding “The Black Cat,” and argue how that passage connects to some of the themes and issues that we have discussed in class. The passage that you choose may be anywhere from a paragraph to a page long. The passage should contain significant links to the story’s major concerns, and you will need to develop an argument that is debatable to form the focus of your essay. A close reading of the passage will form the foundation of your essay, and your thesis statement/argument should deal with the significance of the chosen passage in relation to the story and its themes.

Stories that you may choose to focus on: (Choose or develop only one topic.)

“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor (Topics could include: the nature of the Gothic in this story; the nature of good and evil as developed through the story and its characters; the significance of religion in the story.)

“Friend of my Youth,” Alice Munro (Topics could include: the nature of the Gothic in this story; how the generation gap functions in the story; how gender relations manifest themselves in the story.)

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Topics could include women’s agency in the story; how does the wallpaper function metaphorically in the story; how do we, today, read the treatment of postpartum depression in the story.)

“Happy Endings,” Margaret Atwood. (Topics could include: what does it mean to have a happy ending; how is this story about writing itself; how is this a short story—or not?


Some General Advice on Writing Papers

  • Read the stories and the notes that you took for each story that you might want to write about. Make some additional notes on your reactions and observations as you re-read them.
  • After you choose your passage, write a thesis statement/argument about its significance, and list the links between your passage and the themes/issues of the story or book.
  • Refine your topic/thesis. Decide what you want to say and/or argue about your topic, and limit your scope to this.
  • Outline your main ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you do this formally or informally or in point form, but you will want to plan your paper from its introduction to its conclusion. Think about the ideas and information that you want to present, and how and in what order you want to present them.
  • Revise your first draft as many times as is necessary. Make sure that you have
    • A strong topic that focuses on a single central idea
    • Relevant and focused paragraphs that follow each other logically
    • Solid transitions that connect the paragraphs with each other
    • Quotations that are clearly and properly documented
    • Correct sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • Include a title for your paper. A separate title page, however, is not necessary
  • Use MLA citation style
  • Please make sure that you double-space your paper, and that you use page numbers.

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