The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West;The assignment is to write a three page reflection paper on your thoughts and perceptions of the novel, The Day of the Locust. You are essentially answering the question; “Did Tod have a moment of enlightenment o

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The Day of the Locust

by

 Nathanael West

 

            The assignment is to write a three page reflection paper on your thoughts and perceptions of the novel, The Day of the Locust. You are essentially answering the question; “Did Tod have a moment of enlightenment or a mental breakdown in the conclusion of the novel”. This is not a book report. You and I will both have read the book so we know the plot. You do not have to recount the plot in full as part of the paper. Use elements of the plot to convey the answer to this question, not as a way of filling out the number of pages.

            Using all the topics we have covered in the class as laid out in the syllabus, you have a general background on life in the United States in the 1930s. Use this as a way to write about aspects of your topic but the paper should not be all about topics pertaining to the 1930s peripheral to the events in the book.

This paper should be about the book, your reaction to the book, and showing your creative and critical thoughts about the whole book. This requires thought and creativity. I want to read your ideas on the things you have expressed curiosity about. You will need to do some research on things we have not covered  during this semester, perhaps more digging on the Hollywood Studio system, symbols in literature, mental illness and trauma, immigration experience, etc.

I suggest you create a paper based on the classic model: a first paragraph with a thesis statement at the end of it which gives you a framework to create support in the rest of the paper for the thesis sentence. The body of the paper should be supporting evidence, and the paper should close with a reiteration of the thesis sentence and a conclusion. Creating a rough outline with a sentence idea to begin each paragraph and then jotting down a few key words or ideas that will be in each of these paragraphs is really helpful. Read the paper out loud slowly to make sure there are no typographical errors or fragmented sentences. Ask a friend or family member to read the paper.

Do not copy whole sentences and paragraph and paste them into place as if they were your own. I would rather have your interpretation of them, in your own words. These passages stick out and take away from the uniqueness of your own voice. You do not have to footnote everything, but I would like a separate page apart from the (at least) three full pages of writing that lists what sources you consulted. I know in the hustle of writing and fitting things in between fitting things in between sleep and eating and other classes you might miss some of these, that’s ok. Do the best you can at this moment. The paper should also have a cover page with the title of your paper, and your name.

I know The Day of the Locust is not a fun read, but as you travel farther down the road into your life, you will find that some of the things you trip over on the road may seem at first like stones or potholes or darn dumpster fires, but they can also be keys to seeing the world in a different way. Small books hold more emotional power than almost any other creative machine invented.