Essay 2: Short Story Analysis w/ limited Sources

The Basics:

LENGTH: Approximately 3 1/2 to 4 pages–900-1000 words.

FORMAT: Use MLA format (see MLA information & samples in the Essay 1 Folder.

TITLE: Come up with an original, relevant, interesting title (not “Essay 2”).

PRIMARY SOURCE: You will be writing about your choice of one of the following short stories:

  • “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver
  • “A & P” by John Updike
  • “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison
  • “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien


  • Select one of the module response prompts for the story you have selected.
  • You may NOT use the same prompt used for your module response. You have to select a different one. (You are not to “reuse” your work from the module response on the essay.)


You must quote (not paraphrase) at least two significant times from the respective secondary sources provided with each story. Those are:

1. “Cathedral”: Two or more quotes from one of the articles posted in Module 4.

2. “A & P”: Two or more quotes (total) from either the Interview at the end of the “A & P” video (use the transcript for easier copying) or from “Initiation Stories” (p. 145). (Yes, you can use both, 1 and 1, or more.)

3. “Recitatif”: Two or more quotes from the articles posted in Module 6.

4. “The Things They Carried”: Two or more quotes from any of the three articles (Kaplan, Smith, Farrell) assigned in Module 8.

WORKS CITED: You need a complete Works Cited listing all secondary sources as well as the primary source (the story). See the Module Notes and the handouts and links in the Essay 2 Folder for Works Cited instructions and samples.

Other Requirements:

POINT OF VIEW: Avoid using first person “I”. And, eliminate any use of second person “you.” 

QUOTES FROM THE STORY: You DO need to use brief, relevant quotes from the story to help make your points clear. 

INTRODUCTION: Should include the authors and titles of the works being discussed.

THESIS: Should be the last sentence(s) of the introduction. This should be the point/argument you are going to prove in the essay. (Note: This is a “regular” essay, so do not put “Thesis: ” at the top like we do for Module Responses.)

TURNITIN.COM: The paper must be submitted directly to Turnitin. 

Grading Overview: 

When I grade this paper, I will look for:

  • An introduction that establishes the central issue(s) of the paper and that includes the authors and titles of the works being discussed (the story or stories).
  • A strong, clear thesis at the end of the introduction.
  • Interesting, original points made about the literature.
  • Logical paragraphing. Each paragraph should present a distinct point that helps prove the thesis.
  • Good use of relevant quotes from the story to help make the points.
  • Good selection and incorporation of the required secondary sources. 
  • A clean, error-free Works Cited. (The Works Cited is worth 10 points of the essay grade.)
  • Proper MLA format throughout.



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