The paper should:
Incorporate (brief) quotes from the text to argue its points
Show a focus as it explores the theme of the reading
Describe the context of the reading in the introduction and throughout without reducing the paper to mere summary
Please read the examples and the standards listed below. Your paper should follow all of the standards listed.
Examples of Introductions:
In James Baldwin’s “The Discovery of What It Means to Be An American,” he focuses on the alienation of the American writer who writes in a climate that is inhospitable to his art. He contrasts American with European (in particular, French) culture, in which the writer, as a representative of the intellect, is esteemed as a culture builder. Such a vocation is respected regardless of whether the work is lucrative, unlike in America where value is determined by financial profit, or is selective according to perspective, privileging characters like Henry James, whom Baldwin ironically quotes in an epigraph. The epigraph is a tacit reference to the snobbery, pride, shame and greed that relegates American culture. Naming these unwritten codes in a shifting nation is the job of the writer. To be an American, according to Baldwin, is to overcome the inherent racism and anti-intellectualism that plagues the homeland. In the end, it’s easiest for Baldwin to be an American writer abroad.
Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Why I Went Into The Woods” describes the self-imposed chastening of the American intellectual—a Transcendentalist—as he immures himself from the distractions of an ever-pervasive common culture. Thoreau goes in the woods to protect himself from the pettiness of life in the city; he wants to focus himself. He wants to figure out who he is as an individual, rather than one among the many, part of a larger culture. Thoreau is a deliberate, philosophical nature-loving navel-gazer who has declared, “New York is a sucked orange.” He means to find what is fruitful in life by virtue of firm isolation. He will cultivate his own garden.
Thoreau’s claim that we as a culture “live meanly, like ants,” define a society of automatons, people who don’t think for themselves, who are not moved by compassion or beauty or pity for others. Humans as insects work hard, produce much, reproduce and shun thought.
First paragraph standards:
Avoid the first and second person (no “I” nor “you”)
Use the present tense to write about fiction and poetry
Author/Title in first sentence
General statement to introduce the focus of the work
Complex iteration of the theme; argument that conveys to reader the writer’s interpretation of the theme
Second and body paragraph standards:
Incorporate quotes to argue theme interpretation
Focus of each paragraph is clear
No secondary sources