ESSAY ONE INSTRUCTIONS:
Essay #1: Late-19th-Century American Literature English 224-online–
The following are the stories to choose from (must pick three)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Abraham Cahan, “A Ghetto Wedding”
Dreiser, “Butcher Rogaum And his Theresa”
Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat”
Sue Sin Far, “In The Land Of The Free”
Chesnutt, “The Grandison” (pg. 168 at the link below)
The Wife of His Youth
In the following essay, consider how three of these authors (Gilman, Cahan, Dreiser, Crane, Far, or Chesnutt) covered thus far in class create a narrative and thematic structure that challenges expectations. That is, trace how specifics in each of the given stories lead the reader to think a particular storyline or plot is to be followed, only to be subverted by the actual ending of the story. Trace your own reading experience with the three works, and mention precise moments where the author led you to certain expectations for the subsequent narrative and plot. Remember–the entire point of this essay is to explore twist endings in the story, so your thesis should reflect that.
Talk about and reflect upon your own reading practices and experiences sequentially with the texts, in other words. Have a thesis at the end of your opening paragraph on what these authors may be doing by subverting narrative and thematic expectations. Then spend at least one extended body paragraph on each of the three stories in question, speaking of readerly expectations set up by the author.
Your extended, one-page conclusion paragraph should then attempt some synthesis of the narrative technique and story structure shared by the three authors in their creation of such a story reversal. That is, you would attempt some original comparison of the three stories and their “reversal techniques” in your final paragraph. Try to isolate the techniques in question and name them (literary foreshadowing, symbolism, etc.), in your own words. In each body paragraph, you need to have directly-quoted passages to substantiate your points.
Since you’re speaking of your own reading expectations for this assignment, you’re welcome to use the first person in this essay. For citation, provide an in-text parenthetical citation with the author and the page number; for web sources, do the best you can with page numbers (sometimes they don’t exist). Then, provide an end-of-text full citation of the work in question: where you found it, the name of the source, when accessed, and so forth. Your entire essay should be about 750-1000 words, give or take, excluding the Works Cited page. Use the Purdue Owl as a citation guide:
Include a “Works Cited” page with the three stories used. Do not use any outside sources besides the three stories (e.g., no internet sources on the stories; don’t consult any online summaries, in other words, and trust your own judgment instead). Students are encouraged to use Smarthinking for assistance. I’ll post an evaluation and grade shortly thereafter in the grade book. Good luck and good writing!
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