Essay 1: Interpretation and Culture Essay

Paper instructions

My Topic is Big Boy Leaves Homes and i already upload that source
Essay 1: Interpretation and Culture Essay

Our role as writers about literature is not to simply give our readers a sense of the story’s overall narrative. Instead, it should:

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“allow you a way to confront the questions in a work that confounds or trouble you and to find a way to make meaning out of those questions. Writing about literature should be about discovering what you think about a piece, and why, before you communicate those insights to others” (Barger).

Therefore, for Essay 1, I want you to select a text in our class that raised a question for you as you read. You can look at a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter—the size doesn’t matter. Focus on the questions the selected text raises. By questions, I mean those that are meaningful, or that relate to larger themes of the text. The color of Jim’s hair in “Big Boy Leaves Home,” for example, is a trivial question that isn’t answered by reading the story. Why he is described as wearing an army officer’s uniform, on the other hand, is a question worth pursuing.

Your choices for text include:

“The Renegade”
“Strange Fruit”
“Big Boy Leaves Home”
“Lynching Uncle Rye”
“Strong Horse Tea”
With that question in mind, you will need to read the work again (or, likely, a few more times) to try to find an answer to your question that you find satisfying. This is the act of interpretation, or analysis, of the text for its larger contexts and themes. Think of your work as solving a mystery: you have a question, and the rest of the story provides clues to help you solve that mystery. Walk your reader through the work that you do to solve that mystery, supporting your interpretation with direct examples from the text, including quotations where appropriate.

Lastly, you’ll need to consider what cultural values, beliefs or forces have influenced your reading of the section and the text as a whole. This can be personal to your own belief systems, or more broadly related to subcultures/cultures of which you belong. This consideration is the part of the essay that will address the why questions that are vital to critical analysis. Consider: Why do you think the author writes it in this way? How might you read this otherwise if you came from a different background, demographic, or time period?

Important Notes:

You can divide your essay into the three sections described above—question, interpretation, cultural analysis—but, you are free to organize the essay as you see fit. The essay must be organized, unified and coherent, but you are encouraged to arrange it in a way that makes sense to your interpretation and thesis.

I do not need or want a plot summary in these essays. We have all read the works in question; do not waste space summarizing the works. I do, however, want you to use specific examples and quotations from the work you choose to support your ideas. Other requirements:

Do not use outside sources in writing this essay. I want to know what you think and why.
Your essay must be at least 1,000 words in length (about 4 pages). Those that do not will be marked down or returned for completion.
Your essay must adhere to standard MLA formatting, including a correct header, original title, 12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing with 1-inch margins, proper in-text citations, and a Works Cited Page (see the formatting example).
You must submit a paper copy of your essay and the rubric at the beginning of class and upload your essay to the D2L dropbox folder by the start of class. Late work will receive a deduction of half a letter grade per day (not per class, per day).

Please come see me or email me at any time if you are running into problems, having questions, or simply want to run your ideas past me. Choose a work you want to write about, to pursue further. Follow your interests and passions and have some fun with your writing.


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