Analyzing character in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Write an analysis of one character, either major or minor, from any of the works we’ve looked at. Your thesis statement should make a central claim about the character, and the body of your paper should introduce and support the points that support that thesis. All claims you make should be supported with evidence pulled from the text.In deciding what your central claim will be, consider one or more apparent personality traits of the character you choose. Try to relate those traits to the behaviors we see in the story (character motivation).Of the character you choose to analyze, ask yourself what kind of person she/he is. Is s/he weak? strong? determined? optimistic? arrogant? afraid? timid? shy? and so forth. You will need to find specific evidence from the story to support your argument, and incorporate that evidence into your paper. Refer to your class notes on techniques for doing so. Also, you’ll want to review the literary terms that specifically refer to character (such things as dynamic, static, protagonist, antagonist, and epiphany).After choosing the character to analyze comes the hard part: explaining why the author developed such a character. Which is to say, you’ll need to move from the “what” to the “why”.For your thesis statement, you should refer to the major characteristics you will discuss and relate them to either the outcome of the story or to one or more of its themes. For example, a student writing about Connie from “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” might have a tentative thesis statement like this:Emphasizing Oates’ belief in the lack of solid values in modern society, Connie’s conceit, secrecy, and rebelliousness contribute to her destruction.The dependent clause of this thesis states the theme (i.e., that modern society lacks solid values), while the main clause focuses on the three character traits that the student will explore in her paper by offering many specific examples from the story and showing how those traits all lead in some way to Connie’s kidnapping (and presumed rape and death) at the end of the story. Notice, too, that there is a mention of the author’s name and purpose.You might also approach this paper in terms of the ways an author reveals a character to us. Remember, we learn about a character through appearance, actions and reactions, speech, gestures, and even name. You could organize your paper according to these items rather than characteristics, if you choose. In any case, each body paragraph needs to begin with a strong, clear topic sentence to guide the reader.General RequirementsAudience: The paper should be written for an academic audience. You may assume that your readers have already read the work you are analyzing, so excessive summary will not be necessary; however, you might include very brief bits of summary, as needed, to help lead into or accentuate the points you are making.Length and format: The paper should be a minimum of 1000 words and should be formatted according to MLA standards. Visit Purdue’s OWL for discussion of MLA formatting. You do not need a title page or an outline for this assignment.Research: You must use at least TWO secondary sources to support (or refute) your claims.A successful paper will do the following:1. Make a central claim that moves beyond the obvious. Try to stretch a little; surprise me—but make sure you can support your claim with evidence from the text.2. In supporting your central claim, discuss the most important elements and why they are important.3. Have a stylistically effective introduction that engages the reader and sets up the topic to be discussed, as well as a stylistically effective conclusion that moves beyond mere summary of what has preceded it.4. Make use of evidence from the work to support your claims.5. Be organized logically so your reader is able to easily follow your argument.6. Cite the text properly according to MLA format. Direct quotations and indirect summary do need to be cited in your paper using MLA-style parenthetical citations. You may use any of the biographical/historical information from our textbook.Use a style appropriate to the given audience.Be free of mechanical errors, such as incorrect grammar,spelling, and punctuation.* A note about sources: Although this paper is a research paper, it is not intended to be a synthesis of other people’s analyses or literary criticism. Nearly all claims and observations made in the paper should be yours (roughly 80% for your voice and primary text, 20% for the critics).

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