This essay of a minimum of 500 to a maximum of 700 words requires you to choose any one of the seven stories assigned in Modules 1, 2, and 3. You may not, however, choose the same story that you used for your diagnostic assignment. Review the list of stories to identify which one you’d like to write about:

  • “Royal Beatings” by Alice Munro

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  • “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin

  • “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan

  • “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather

  • “Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood

  • “To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing

Assignment 2 contributes 15% toward your final grade for the course. Submit your paper as soon as conveniently possible. Although you’re not required to follow the suggested schedule in the Course Guide, it’s a good idea to complete Assignment 2 by the end of Module 4 or roughly at the end of week 5 of the course.

You aren’t required to do any research for this essay.

Critical Essay Topics

Choose just one of the following topics:

  1. To what extent is the protagonist of the story you’ve chosen responsible for the conflict or predicament he or she faces?

  2. How does the antagonist in the story you’ve chosen contribute to the story’s overall meaning?

  3. To what extent is the protagonist conditioned by his or her physical and social environments?

  4. Which is more important in the story you choose: the physical environment or the social environment?


Your essay should have three parts: an introductory paragraph, a body containing fully developed paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Following is a general guide for what to include in each section of your essay.

In your introductory paragraph:

  • Provide the complete title of the story you’ve chosen and the author’s complete name.

  • Identify clearly your essay topic.

  • Include a strong thesis statement on your topic.

  • Forecast the main stages of your essay.

In your analysis in the body of your essay:

  • Make effective use of topic sentences to identify the main ideas of your analysis.

  • Support your comments with evidence (paraphrase and direct quotations) from your chosen story.

  • Explain the significance of each piece of evidence you present.

  • Contribute to the reader’s understanding of the story as a whole.

In your concluding paragraph:

  • Summarize how your analysis supports your thesis.

  • Restate your thesis in different words.


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