Literary Theories – analyzing core stories

For this assignment, you choose one of the two core stories. Choose ONE of the three possible topics on the story you have chosen.

You will write a short assignment about 500-600 words about a subject (1-2 pages with 1.5 line spacing). Please submit your Small Assignment 1 here. Give it a title!

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Whatever your interpretation, be sure you understand the New Critical concepts you choose to employ, compose a clear statement of your thesis, and support your interpretation with adequate textual evidence. You may find this chapter
from Lois Tyson’s book helpful, as the questions are based on it. See also the slides from Anna’s presentation.

References: When referring to a core story, please use the page number in your Study Notes. If you only use the Study Notes, and no other reference, there is no need to establish a “Works Cited” section

Setup: Please don’t let it sound like you’re writing an answer to a question. Just explain what you think. Don’t Google.

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
What is the importance of quilting in the story?

Tips: Does the text indicate that Mama and Maggie’s loyalty to family traditions keeps the two women connected to their family history and contributes to their close emotional bond? The art of quilting. Past family members whom Mama and Maggie remember in association with family traditions.
Write a character analysis of Mrs. Johnson.
Tips: Remember that new criticism is all about tension. Among other things, you could examine the tensions embodied in her relationship with Dee (such as the tensions between tradition and change, self-doubt and self-confidence, rural life and urban, experience and youth, and the like). You could also, if you want to, consider the tensions embodied within Mama’s own character (such as the tensions between her positive and negative self-images, her positive and negative feelings about each of her daughters, and the like).
What is the central tension in “Everyday Use”?
Tips: The opposition between two contrasting attitudes toward family traditions.
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner.
In what ways is Emily cut off (or in what ways does she cut herself off) from other people and, apparently, from the enjoyment of living?
Tips: Find the passages demonstrating that images of death-in the form of isolation, stagnation, decay, and the like are more numerous and vivid than the story’s images of life and youth. Death is the dominant presence in Emily’s life.
Examine “A Rose for Emily” in terms of the topic of love and hate.
Tips: How can we understand Emily’s feelings for her father and for Homer Barron in terms of both love and hate? Might we not also examine the ambivalent feelings of the townsfolk for Emily through this lens? ‘What does “A Rose for Emily”suggest about the conflicted relationship between these two emotions?
Analyze the first-person-plural narrator.
Tips: This is the disembodied voice that tells the story and refers to itself as “‘we.” For the conscientious examination of a narrator can contribute a great deal to our understanding of the text’s meaning as a whole. Among the specific textual evidence required for an analysis of Faulkner’s narrator, who is often thought to embody the town ofJefferson, you would need to examine the tensions evident in the narrator’s ambivalence toward Emily.

The questions and suggestions are based on the book Using Critical Theory by Lois Tyson.


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