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Writing A Literary Analysis Essay. How to Determine a Thesis. The Goal of Analysis. To show some new understanding of the literary work State this new understanding in the form of an assertion, or opinion that can be argued Support your analysis with evidence and commentary.

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Writing A Literary Analysis Essay


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    1. Writing A Literary Analysis Essay How to Determine a Thesis

    2. The Goal of Analysis • To show some new understanding of the literary work • State this new understanding in the form of an assertion, or opinion that can be argued • Support your analysis with evidence and commentary.

    3. What’s an Assertion • An opinion • that you think the author is making through some element of the story • character, theme, symbol etc… • What do you learn about • life • relationships • gender • class

    4. Let’s Try It!

    5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli Susan "Stargirl" Caraway, a new face to Mica Area High School, who is different from everyone else at MAHS. She brings the idea of individuality to MAHS, something that the school has never encountered before, and the student body is not always sure how to grasp it. Leo, a popular kid, falls for her the moment he sees her. She is not accepted for who she is, and so Leo is reluctant to date her. She changes so that she’s like everyone else and while it makes Leo happy, Stargirl doesn’t feel comfortable. She eventually decides to be true to herself.

    6. Think aloud: Finding an assertion • I noticed that in Stargirl the main character, Stargirl, changes • Stargirl changes twice during the novel: • first she is an eccentric, free-spirit, • later she tries to conform to the behaviors of her peers • finally she returns to her true individualistic self

    7. What’s Next? • Now make an assertion based on this analysis of Stargirl: • Ask: What new understanding about life, relationships, gender or class does this present? • Answer: Stargirl doesn’t like this society… she finds it shallow and phony… so she quits trying to conform to society’s norms.

    8. Formula to make an assertion: • FORMULA • In (title), (author’s name) is making a point about (general subject); the specific point s/he is making is that ___________________. • Example: • In Stargirl, author Jerry Spinellimakes a point about the superficial nature of modern society; the specific point he is making is that society is shallow and does not value individuality and therefore you should not compromise yourself trying to fit in to what society says is normal.

    9. From Formula to Thesis • Revise your assertion statement adding that the author is using the character(s) to make that specific point • Example: • Jerry Spinelli, author of Stargirl, uses the protagonist, Stargirl, to argue that modern society is superficial and incapable of valuing individuality and should not compromise yourself trying to fit society’s norms. • This becomes the preliminary thesis.

    10. Let’s try another one: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

    11. Kino, a poor Indian/Mexican pearl diver, enjoys a simple life with his wife Juana and their baby, Coyotito. • The baby is bitten by a scorpion and gets sick but the doctors refuse to treat him. • Kino discovers a huge, beautiful pearl. Suddenly everyone in La Paz is interested in his family and his pearl. • He tries to get 50,000 pesos for a pearl that the dealers only wish to pay one 1,000 for. • The pearl leads Kino to do terrible things, like slitting the throat of a man who attempted to take the pearl from him. • The price of the pearl is higher than they imagined because someone dies because of it • Kino returns to La Paz and throws the pearl back to the ocean.

    12. Let’s try another one: • I noticed that in The Pearl, the main character, Kino, changes. • Kino changes during the course of the novel. • First he is a young father and husband who is poor but content. • However, after he finds a great pearl, he changes into a ruthless murderer.

    13. What’s next? • Now make an assertion based on this analysis of Kino. • What new understanding about life, relationships, gender or class does this present? (In other words, why does he change? – this is your analysis.) • Answer: • Kino changes because of his greed. He finds out that greed is a destructive force that can ruin one’s life.

    14. Formula to make an assertion: • In(title), (author’s name) is making a point about (general subject); the specific point s/he is making is that _____________________. • Example: • In The Pearl, author John Steinbeck makes a point about the destructive nature of greed in man; the specific point he is making is that placing one’s greedy needs over the more important intangible needs of family can destroy a man’s life.

    15. From Formula to Thesis • Revise your assertion statement adding that the author is using the character(s) to make that specific point. • Example: • Through Kino’s struggles with the pearl, Steinbeck demonstrates that placing one’s greedy needs over the more important intangible needs of family can destroy a man’s life.