Perrine’s Literature textbook

Fiction Essay Instructions

You must complete the required textbook readings in preparation for the Fiction Essay. This will equip you to objectively respond to the readings by compiling information from a variety of sources in order to compose a persuasive analysis of a literary work. You will also learn to follow standard usage in English grammar and sentence structure; identify the theme and structure of each literary selection as well as the significant characteristics or elements of each genre studied; and evaluate the literary merit of a work (Syllabus MLOs: A, B, C, D, F, G and Module/Week 3 LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

In Module/Week 3, you will write a 750-word (approximately 3 pages) essay that compares and contrasts 2 stories from the Fiction Unit. Before you begin writing the essay, carefully read the below guidelines for developing your paper topic and review the Fiction Essay Grading Rubric to see how your submission will be graded. Gather all of your information, plan the direction of your essay, and organize your ideas by developing a 1-page thesis statement and outline for your essay. Format the thesis statement and the outline in a single Microsoft Word document using current MLA, APA, or Turabian style (whichever corresponds to your degree program); check your Perrine’s Literature textbook, the Harbrace Essentials Handbook and/or the link contained in the Assignment Instructions Folder to ensure correct citation format is used.

Your Fiction Essay must include a title page, a thesis/outline page, and the essay itself, followed by a works cited/references/bibliography page listing any primary and/or secondary texts cited in your essay.

You must submit your thesis and outline by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 2 for instructor feedback.

Submit your Fiction Essay by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 3

Guidelines for Developing Your Paper Topic

The “Writing about Literature” section of your Perrine’s Literature textbook (pp. 1–54) and the “Writing” section of Harbrace Essentials (pp. 1–12, 15–16, 18–21, 22–28) provide helpful pointers for writing your literary essay and for academic writing in general. Be sure that you have read these sections before doing any further work for this assignment. Take particular notice of the examples of fiction essays on pp. 38–43 of Perrine’s Literature textbook.

Choose 2 of the following short stories to compare and contrast in your essay:

· “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

· “The Destructors” by Graham Greene

· “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence

· “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

· “The Prodigal Son” by St. Luke


Also, at least 1 of these elements of fiction must be the focus of your essay:

· Conflict/Plot/Structure

· Characterization

· Setting

· Theme/Authors’ Purposes

· Point of View, and/

· Tone/Style/Irony/Symbol/Imagery

If you need help focusing your essay, ask yourself questions that correspond to your chosen element(s).

Conflict/Plot/Structure (This is not a summary of the stories)

· What are the basic conflicts? How do these conflicts build tension and lead to major, complicated incidents and climactic moment(s)?

  • What are the      ways in which each major character experiences conflict (either with self,      with other characters, or with the social and/or physical environment)?

· How are the conflicts resolved? Do the protagonists succeed in achieving their goals?

· Which character receives your deepest sympathy and why?


  • Who are the      main characters in the stories?
  • What are      their outstanding qualities? Does the author give any indication as to how      or why the character developed these qualities?
  • What are the      characters’ emotions, attitudes, and behaviors? What do these indicate to      the reader about the character?
  • Can the characters’      motivations be determined from the text?


  • Where and when      do the stories take place (remember to include such details as geographic      location, time of year, time period, if the setting is rural or urban, etc.)?
  • Do the      settings make the stories believable or credible? How does setting impact      the plot of the story, and how would the plot be affected if the story      took place in another setting?
  • Are the      characters influenced by their setting? How might they behave if they were      in a different setting?
  • What      atmosphere or mood does the setting create (for example, darkness may      create a mood of fear or unhappiness while light or bright colors may      create one of happiness)?
  • Is the      setting or any aspect of it a symbol, or does the setting express      particular ideas?
  • Does setting      create expectations that are the opposite of what occurs?


Theme/Authors’ Purposes

  • What is the      major theme (or themes) of each story?
  • Are the      themes of the stories similar or different?
  • How does the      author convey the theme (or themes) to the reader?
  • How do the      stories’ themes relate to the authors’ purposes (some examples of author      purposes are to entertain, to satirize, to realistically portray life’s      problems, to analyze emotions and responses, and/or to communicate a moral      message)?
  • What unique      style, techniques, or devices do the writers use to communicate their      themes?


  • How would you      describe the tone of the piece?
  • Does the tone      correspond with the action occurring in the plot?
  • What style does      the author use (for example, one way an author might satirize is by      including a lot of irony, hyperbole, and unrealistic scenarios)?
  • How might the      story be different if the tone or style were to be changed?
  • Does the      writer use irony or symbols to communicate the message?

NOTE: These questions are a means of ordering your thoughts while you collect information for your essay. You do not need to include the answers to all of these questions in your essay; only include those answers that directly support your thesis statement need to be included