An Essay that Provides an Overview of Different Interpretations of a Work of Literature

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From the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin (primary source), research 3 different essays that interpret and discuss the story. Of these 3 articles (secondary sources), argue that one of the critics that analyzes the story presents the strongest argument/s that you agree with (this will be your thesis statement). For this assignment, you must use one of the library databases such as: JSTOR or Academic Search Premier or EBSCO. Do not use Google or any other open search engine.

Remember: This is not necessarily an ARGUMENT paper! This is a paper that provides an overview of how others have interpreted a work of literature.


Overview of the topic

Introduce the critics’ names and titles of their essays (summarize)

Mention critics again and state their main claims: A says x and B argues X and C points out that X.

Thesis: Although all three critics have valid points, C provides the strongest interpretation of the story.

Explain and summarize A’s points.
Compare A to B or simply summarize and quote A’s analysis of the story.

Explain and summarize B’s observations about the story and if you choose to, compare B to C, or simply focus on B

Explain why C provides the strongest interpretation of the story. Now in these two paragraphs, you can bring in your own analysis of the story too. Point out what C may have left out or elaborate on some great observations made by C.

These paragraphs are your own interpretation/analysis of the story you chose. This is where you will provide an in-depth overview of the story. In this paragraph, you may bring in any of the critics from above but you do not have to. This is the strongest part of your essay because you show your insights and creativity about the text you choose to research.

How did researching these critics help you better understand the text? Do you have a deeper understanding of literary analysis?

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