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August 21, 2019

  1. Analyzing a Shorty Story (no specific length…short stories located at the bottom of the document)
  2. Writing Assignment (750-1000 words MLA Format)
    • Analyzing a Short Story
    This post will be an exercise in finding textual examples and evidence from the text that prove what we are saying about the meaning. For instance, the content discussion about “The Story of an Hour” offered you quotation examples from the text when it was explaining the transformation of Mrs. Mallard. That is what you will be doing in this post.
    Choose one of the short stories that we have read so far:
    • “Story of an Hour”
    • “The Storm”
    • “Powder”
    • “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains”
    Discuss why and how it connects with one or two of the themes discussed in Unit 2:
    • Love (filial, romantic, or platonic)
    • Alienation/Otherness
    • The American Dream/Nightmare
    • The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age
    • Conformity/Rebellion
    Use specific details from the text to support your point, including at least one direct quote.
    Respond to at least 2 other students’ posts. Your initial post and peer responses should be substantive.

Writing Assignment–Topic: Analysis of a Short Story
• Format: You are required to use MLA style for all writing assignments. These assignments include the Summary Writing Assignment, the Focused Annotated Bibliography and the Final Researched Essay. Your instructor may also require MLA style for other essay assignments, including the midterm and final exams, and for discussion posts. Therefore, it is important that you understand how to use MLA style correctly.
Please refer to the Purdue Online Writing Lab for MLA formatting and style guide
• Length Requirement: 750-1000 words
• All sources must be cited
Your Process:
Write an essay that discusses why and how specific symbols are used to depict one or two of the themes from Unit 2 in a particular way. Your essay should incorporate details and quotes from the story (using parenthetical documentation with the author’s name), and you should use your own words to elaborate on the meanings of the details and quotes you use as evidence.
The themes to choose from are:
• Love (Romantic, Platonic, or Filial)
• Alienation/Otherness
• The American Dream/Nightmare
• The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age
• Conformity/Rebellion
Stories To Choose From:
• Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”
• Kate Chopin’s “The Storm”
• Tobias Wolff’s “Powder”
• Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”
When writing your essay, the goal is to demonstrate what spin the story has on a particular theme. Be specific about the ways the theme is used and how the story’s use of symbols develops a deeper meaning to the theme. Provide details, including cited direct quotes from the story, but don’t forget that you must comment on the quotes you use to explain why they are significant.
As an example, one student might focus on how in Chopin’s “The Storm,” the passion between Calixta and Alcee is represented by the symbol of the rain storm and makes a social commentary on the theme of love. Love is a very general term, so this student should note that s/he is focusing on forbidden, or adulterous, romantic love in particular and comment on how that refines the broader theme. One appropriate thesis statement for this particular topic would be something similar to the following:
“Although Calixta loves Bobinot, she willingly has a passionate affair with Alcee in order to demonstrate that passion, represented by the storm, is ultimately a symbol of her own female independence.”
Then, you would contrast Calixta’s relationship with Bobinot with her relationship with Alcee in order to show that Calixta could simultaneously function as an efficient housewife and passionate lover to her husband if society at the time would allow such a woman to exist.
[Note: This thesis is provided as an example. Do not use it verbatim for your own paper; use your own excellent ideas!]


Love has many meanings, but interpersonal affection is at its core. Three categories of love are romantic love, filial love, and platonic love.
Romantic love
Romantic love is concerned with sexual attraction and attachment; romantic love is customarily between two people. Romantic love is a prominent theme in literature as well as in contemporary popular culture, yet oftentimes important literary works, such as The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, deal with conflicts that bar people from expressing their romantic love to one another because of a particular social regulation against the coupling. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an example of such social disapproval. In contemporary time, Taylor Swift has adopted the Romeo and Juliet conflict in her popular song, “Love Story.” For an example, watch her music video.
Filial love
Filial love is the love of a child for one’s parent. The origins of filial love come from filial piety, often found in Eastern cultures and less so in American culture. Of course, filial piety incorporates love of one’s parents but also respect and total obedience, even as an adult. Parental obedience from adult children is an entrenched part of Asian cultures but not found as much in American culture. Taylor Swift’s song “The Best Day” is an example of filial love for her mother. Watch it and note the love and gratitude, but also note that obedience is not expressed.
Platonic love
In our contemporary sense, platonic love is the love of a friend or a non-sexual love. However, its origins from Plato are quite different. Plato wrote of love that was chaste but where a sexual attraction was felt. The attraction, however, was ignored for a higher spiritual enlightenment between the two individuals. The modern use of the term now refers to any love or close emotional affection where the sexual component is not present. Watch Bette Miller singing “Wind Beneath my Wings” for a version of friendship that highlights the elevation of the spirit, and/ or watch Bruno Mars video, singing “Count on Me.”
Alienation/Otherness is a theme in much contemporary literature where feelings of oppression or discrimination arise from a difference in race, gender, class or sexual orientation. Many modern literary works highlight a person’s inner struggles or a group’s social struggles with being categorized as “other” or outcast in society.
Non-heteronormative sexuality often makes individuals feel ostracized or alienated in society, so we frequently see both popular culture and serious literature employ sexuality as a main theme. Watch Macklemore’s video titled “Same Love”.
After the women’s movement in the 1970s highlighted the unequal status of women in American society, much literature focused on the exploration of this theme. However, you will note when you read Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” in Unit 3 that long before the 1970s the theme of women’s social inequality was presented in literature. Watch No Doubt performing “Just a Girl.”
The discrimination against non-white races has been an important theme in literature since before, and especially after, the American Civil War. Holding true to the statement that the pen is mightier than the sword, literature has often highlighted and fought against the plight of racial prejudice and discrimination. Watch Bob Marley sings his song, “War,” from 1976.
The American Dream/Nightmare
The American Dream/Nightmare is a literary theme particular to America. A notion entrenched in Americans is that if one works hard enough one will have economic success. The dream, however, does not take into consideration all the other factors at play in the notion of economic success. Also, as immigrants came to America in the nineteenth century, they came with the idea of America as the land of milk and honey where all people had an equal chance at success. Realistically, this is not a factual dream. Many people can work extremely hard and still not get ahead economically. The working poor, for instance, live on minimum wages and are hard-pressed to get out of the cycle of poverty; whereas those born into economic privilege often work very little and live lavish lives. We also know that equality is indeed an unrealized dream in America; therefore, many literary works discuss the American dream turned into the American nightmare as their theme. Some of the works you will read in the course also focus on the loss of ethnic identity as immigrants assimilate into American culture.
The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age
The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age is a popular theme in both literature and contemporary entertainment. We all question who we are as we search for our own unique identity, yet we still long to be a part of a larger group, a whole. Much teenage entertainment focuses on the Coming of Age theme, but questioning who we are is a pivotal intellectual and emotional pursuit for people of all ages. The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, is a classic example of this theme. Another coming of age novel is To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In a coming of age story, a young and innocent child or teen is faced with the realities of the world and thus comes to experience life outside his or her realm of innocence. For Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, the racism of her community and the realization that her father may not be the completely perfect human being she imagines him to be are the lessons of experience that she learns.
Conformity vs. Rebellion
Conformity vs. Rebellion is another prolific theme in literature and contemporary culture. In fact, many coming of age themes or quest for identity themes challenge ideas of conformity. Themes, as with other ideas, often overlap in literature and do not stand as single straightforward notions on their own. A character may question if he should give in to peer pressure and follow the crowd or stand firm in his own beliefs and rebel against the majority. A poem by Emily Dickinson called “Much Madness is Divinest Sense,” speaks to this issue, suggesting that if you rebel against social rules you are deemed insane, but if you assent to the majority, you are deemed sane.

Short Stories
• “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/
• “The Storm” by Kate Chopin: http://www.lonestar.edu/departments/english/chopin_storm.pdf
• “Powder” by Tobias Wolff: http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/pdf/2014/261077.pdf
Symbolism and Setting
• “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury: https://ia800505.us.archive.org/2/items/RayBradbury-SoftRains/There%20Will%20Come%20Soft%20Rains%20-%20Ray%20Bradbury.pdf

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