The Prussian Officer by D.H. Lawrence
The New Dress by Virginia Woolf
The White Circle by John Bell Clayton
The Time, The Place, The Loved One by Susan Welch
Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin
Cathedral by Raymond Carver
In an essay of approximately 4 pages, address one of the following prompts:
1. Pretend you are a psychologist. Your goal is to diagnosis one of the main characters from any of the stories discussed in class, identifying the specific psychological condition(s) from which they suffer, offering examples of this behavior from the pages of the story. Further, explore their history and the events represented in the story, their actions, and contrast what they say with what they do; and attempt to uncover what it is that contributed to (or still contributes to) and/or caused this condition. Further, discuss the effects of this condition on their lives and interpersonal relationships. Finally, if all this is the case, what message or lesson is the reader to take away from the story? What is the theme that underlies this specific behavior? How does this character, this theme, contribute to and support the story’s meaning? What is the story’s meaning?
2. Conduct a comparison and contrast analysis of any two stories discussed in class and in your essay attempt to explore how an understanding of one reveals deeper depths to the second. That is, a comparison and contrast analysis is more than just a listing of similarities and differences—it is an exploration of similarities and differences for a reason. What can be learned from the recognition of these similarities and differences and why is it important to the readers? You goal is to create, in essence, an analysis in which these two stories talk to each other. Perhaps center your discussion around common themes, narrative strategies, messages, and/or writer’s style. How you choose to connect them and what you choose to reveal is up to you. But remember, you are writing an argument. Your goal is to convince me that your position is a strong one and worthy of serious consideration. Be sure to use ample examples pulled from the text to support.
3. Choose the theme of revelation or awareness and explain the role of either theme (or both, if you’re feeling ambitious) in one (or two [ambition!]) of the unit stories. Remember your goal in identifying themes is to determine what function the theme serves in the story, how it supports the story’s meaning or message or effect on readers. Further, be sure to prove the presence of the theme with examples and quotes from the story. Or, if you detect a noteworthy lack of awareness or revelation (growth) in a character or a story, that could prove equally worthy of investigation in support of the story’s meaning. You are free to choose any of the stories and to develop your essay in whatever way you see fit.
Be sure that the vast majority of your paper is interpretive—offering significance to the events of the story in support of your thesis statement regarding what you feel is the story’s message and meaning. This meaning should be stated in your thesis along with the main reasons why you believe so. Body paragraphs should be devoted to the development of a single idea. Be sure to use and explain quotes from the story to illustrate and support your claims. All outside research and/or reference materials must be cited in the body of the essay parenthetically and a Works Cited page must be generated.