Compare a powerful or interesting theme or idea in 2 or 3 stories from The Long Valley (or one story and Cannery Row
). Devise a very specific thesis that asserts your particular interpretation of this common issue. Keep in mind that comparison for its own sake is not very illuminating; instead you what to find and analyze meaningful similarities that lead you to a larger significant conclusion about both works.
Prewriting Advice: To find a common theme, look beyond superficial similarities. Think about the deeper social, psychological, or philosophical ideas conveyed in these works. Consider what kinds of “evidence” you find for the idea you wish to analyze. Pay close attention to the details of the works and thus avoid summarizing and generalizing. Detailed writing is engaging; SHOW what you mean.
To prepare for this essay assignment, freewrite, brainstorm, and discuss your ideas before outlining and drafting. Don't be surprised if you find it necessary to compose numerous drafts.
Composition Strategies: Your essay should show how the writer develops a theme—that is, the literary techniques he uses to convey the idea, such as imagery, dialogue, characterization, metaphor, or narration. Moreover, your essay should offer an interpretation: why do you think the writer shows us this theme? What is his larger point? It falls to you as careful and thoughtful reader to figure this out for yourself; it may not be obvious and other readers may see the work differently. To be successful, your interpretation needs to be argued, explained, and supported. You need no outside sources.
Format: Your essay should be roughly 4 double-spaced, typed pages. It should have a clear thesis that is developed and expanded upon in a series of coherent and related paragraphs with topic and conclusion sentences. Create a strong, well-focused introduction and conclusion, as well as a specific, original title. Use MLA format for in-text citation and work cited.
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Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. New York: Penguin Books. 1986.
The Chrysanthemums." The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Cassill, R.V., ed. New York W.W. Norton and Company. 1981. 1326-35.