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ENGL 1600 - K. Kulzer-Reyes: Analysis paper #2: Themes

A library guide with resources for Critical Thinking, Literature, and Composition

Short Pieces for analysis

Choose at least three short pieces from this list:

  • Charles W. Chesnutt, "The Passing of Grandison"
  • Kate Chopin, "Desiree's Baby"
  • Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour"
  • Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat"
  • Virginia Woolf, "The Death of a Moth"


Step 1:   Explanation of literary critique

Read Literary Criticism before you begin writing your paper

Refer to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition style guide tab for in-text citations and include a Works Cited page

  • Include a heading, page numbers, and a title that hooks your audience

Write 4-6 pages (1000-1500 words)


Identify a theme to explore in the literature you have read.  Write your paper on this theme.  Use three or more other pieces of literature that we have covered in this class.  Candide and "Death of a Moth" will have examples to support your essay.

Example themes:

  • journey
  • community
  • belief
  • kindness
  • contact Prof. Kulzer-Reyes for approval of other possible themes

Step 2:   Write your paper

In this paper you will

  • synthesize secondary sources, literary criticisms or background materials, into discussion of primary literary texts
  • Support interpretations of literary texts with detailed analysis of the text itself
  • Create and defend a thesis
  • Identify themes in literature and explore them in written analysis
  • Use secondary sources to support your ideas
  • Demonstrate understanding of appropriate academic discourse and the conventions of literary analysis

Step 3:  Resources

Use the database, Literature Resource Center (LRC), to locate secondary sources on your theme.  You can search by theme, such as journey, to find literary criticisms about that specific theme; however, your results will include all articles that have the term journey in them.  This will result in many irrelevant articles.  To narrow your search and make it more useful, include the name of the author, e.g. Stephen Crane, or include the title of the story you are analyzing.

You can also use the database JSTOR to locate literary criticism articles.  When using JSTOR, use the same keywords and strategies used with LRC.