ELA 8 Name: ______________________________ Date: _____
ELA 8/Short Stories Unit Period: ___
Short Stories Unit
Authors often rely on various literary elements to bring their writing to life for the readers. Now that you have closely read several short stories, write a well-developed essay that identifies the themes of TWO short stories and analyze how the authors’ use of ONE literary element develops the theme (You do NOT need to use the same element for both texts). Use strong and thorough evidence from the short story to support your analysis. Do NOT simply summarize the text.
Be sure to:
Identify a theme in each the text.
Analyze how the authors’ use of ONE literary element (irony, diction, characterization, conflict, point of view, setting, mood, plot structure, theme, etc.) develops the theme in each text.
Use strong and thorough evidence from the BOTH texts to support your analysis.
Organize your ideas in a cohesive and coherent manner.
Maintain a formal style.
Follow the conventions of standard written English.
Text-Analysis Sample Essay
Authors often rely on various literary elements to bring their writing to life for the readers. Roald Dahl’s, “The Landlady,” and O. Henry’s, “A Retrieved Reformation,” demonstrate that literary elements play an important role in revealing the theme of a work of fiction. Dahl’s use of diction and O. Henry’s use of situational irony reveal the meaning behind the literature.
Through Roald Dahl’s use of diction, the reader understands the theme that evil can sometimes be disguised as something good in his short story, “The Landlady.” From the moment the main character, Billy, arrives in Bath, the reader is concerned for his well-being. The narrator describes the setting as “deadly cold” and explains that the “white facades” of the local homes were “cracked and blotchy from neglect” (9-10). The reader begins to grow suspicious because of the author’s alarming word choice to describe the setting. This diction allows the author to establish that Billy is a naïve character who is blind to the evil that surrounds him in Bath. He doesn’t notice the ominous clues such as the dilapidated homes. Furthermore, despite the fact that the lodging is an excellent price and the accommodations exceed Weaver’s expectations, he does not heed the warning signs that something is awry. When Billy is settling into the boardinghouse, he and the landlady have a conversation about a past boarder. The landlady makes shocking comments such as “There wasn’t a blemish on his body” and “[…] his teeth weren’t quite so white” (21). Through the word choice used in Billy’s conversation with the landlady, the reader understands that she is overly concerned with the physical appearance of past tenants and the reader is alarmed that Billy might be in danger. Yet, Billy doesn’t seem to be aware that the landlady isn’t as wonderful and charming as he believes. When Billy Weaver consumed tea served by the landlady that “tasted faintly of bitter almonds” and is poisoned to death for the landlady to stuff and keep him as a pet, the reader understands that Billy’s naivety prevents him from seeing the warm and inviting façade of the landlady and her boardinghouse as a disguise for a terrible place (22). In conclusion, the diction that Dahl uses in his short story reveals the theme that evil can sometimes be masked as something good.
O. Henry uses irony in his short story, “A Retrieved Reformation,” to illustrate the theme people are capable of change. For example, Jimmy Valentine, the main character and a former safe cracker, has completely changed his life after falling in love with the Elmore Bank owner’s daughter, Annabel Adams. However, after a year in Elmore setting up an honest business and gaining respect, just when Jimmy (a.k.a. Ralph) decides to give away his robbery tools, he is put in a situation where he has to make an important decision. Annabel’s niece gets trapped in her grandpa’s safe and will die because the safe is so new that it hasn’t been set with a combination yet. Mr. Adam’s, Annabel’s father and Jimmy’s future father in law, states, “There isn’t a man nearer than Little Rock who can open that door” (9). Through O. Henry’s use of dramatic irony, the reader knows that Jimmy is capable of saving Agatha but is unsure if he will because it will reveal to Annabel and her family that Jimmy is a fraud. When Jimmy decides to save the girl by cracking the safe, the reader knows that he has truly changed revealing the theme. Ben Price, the detective that has been after Jimmy for his former bank robberies, watches Jimmy crack the safe and save the girl. When Jimmy turns to leave his new life behind because he has revealed he is scammer, Ben Price says, “Guess you’re mistaken Mr. Spencer, […] Don’t believe I recognize you. Your buggy’s waiting for you, ain’t it” (10)? Ben Prices’ reaction to Jimmy’s actions is another example of situational irony. The reader expects the detective to arrest the criminal. However, he sees that Jimmy has truly changed his ways and that he lost a lot by cracking the last safe. Ultimately, it is through irony that O. Henry reveals that people are capable of change. Jimmy changes his ways and is not arrested even though he should be.
All in all, both O. Henry and Roald Dahl utilize literary elements to help convey the themes of their stories. Dahl’s use of diction alerts the reader that something is suspicious with the landlady and causes the reader to be concerned for Billy Weaver’s wellbeing. O. Henry’s use of situational irony helps the reader understand that people are capable of change because Jimmy Valentine, a notorious bank robber, reforms his life and then must use his skills for good even though there is much at stake. Literary elements play a vital role in making reading engaging and enticing.
Planning Page for the Introduction Paragraph
The introduction paragraph of an essay is very important. It has TWO purposes: to inform your reader as to what the rest of the essay will be about and to engage your reader so that he or she will WANT to keep reading. An introduction has THREE parts progressing from very general to very specific! Follow the format below:
Step 1- General Statement:
Begin with a general statement about the topic of the essay. It is often helpful to utilize information taken from the essay prompt. Do not mention specifics such as texts or people’s names. Instead, consider the topic of the essay and formulate a very general, but engaging statement about this. It can be more than one sentence, but really shouldn’t be more than two. * Copy the first line of the essay prompt.
Your General Statement: _______________________________________________________________
Step 2-Title, Author, Genre Sentence (T.A.G.): Your T.A.G. sentence should introduce the titles, authors, and genre of the texts that you are going to write about. It should also mention that authors use specific literary devices to develop their themes.
Your T.A.G. Sentence: _________________________________________________________________
Step 3-Thesis Statement: Your thesis statement is what you are going to PROVE in your essay. You should use specifics such as who and what in your thesis. In other words, mention the specific literary devices utilized by the authors. DO NOT write, “In this essay, I will be writing about…” A thesis statement may be constructed in a single sentence or two sentences.
Your Thesis Statement: ________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________ NEXT PAGE
Parts of an INTRODUCTION (Do’s and Don’ts) –
General Statement –
DO open with a general statement about the topic of the essay.
DO NOT mention specifics such as the title or characters’ names yet.
DO NOT say, “In this essay I will be writing about…”
DO NOT open with a question. It’s juvenile.
TAG Sentence (Title, Author, Genre)
DO establish a connection between the text and what you will be proving.
DO NOT give a detailed summary of the entire text.
DO NOT just state the title, author, genre, and then put a period. This is a fragment!!
DO state what you will be proving in your essay.
DO refer back to the prompt and your planning page for guidance.
DO NOT say, “In this essay I will be proving…” or “This essay will show…”
DO NOT just summarize what the book was about.
Practice with Introductions (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!) –
General Statement – In this essay, I will be writing about how authors use literary devices to develop themes.
Good, Bad, or Ugly? _____________
TAG Sentence – The short story, “A Retrieved Reformation,” O. Henry develops his theme in many ways.
Writing a Conclusion Paragraph The job of a Conclusion Paragraph is to wrap up what has been proven. It should NEVER mention new information that has not already been presented in the body paragraphs. Follow the format below:
Step 1- Restate Your Thesis Statement Go back to your Introduction Paragraph, find the Thesis Statement, and restate it using alternative words. This is the last sentence of your introduction.
Your Restated-Thesis Statement:
Step 2- Sum Up Sentences Sum up what you have already proven in your body paragraphs. You should have TWO sum up sentences – one that sums up body paragraph 1 and one that sums up body paragraph 2. Remember – no new info here!
Your Sum-Up Statement for Body Paragraph #1: __________________________________________