Short Story Essay: Topics and Directions


Type your essay using MLA 8th edition format, and then save it as a PDF or a Word document.
When you are ready to submit the  essay, click the blue “Submit Assignment” tab in the upper right-hand  corner of the page.  Next, click “Choose File” to select the file to  submit, and then, click the blue “Submit Assignment” tab below the  comment section.  Include a comment only if one is needed.  

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An Important Note:
Your essay grade can drop dramatically if you:

Write about topics other than the assigned topic or about the topic of the sample essay.

Do not satisfy the minimum page requirement or exceed the maximum page requirement. 
Have missing MLA in-text citations and/or parenthetical references.
Have missing MLA works cited entries.
Do not use all or some of the required sources.

Getting Started:
Listed alphabetically are some ideas to get started with topic selection and with development of a topic. 

Access credible sources such as the eBook Collection (Gale) database  for information about a particular short story.  Use that information  to guide subsequent research and development of a topic.  
Ask other people for some ideas.
Consult the list of suggested topic on this page.
Read sections about elements of  fiction that appear in the textbook.  For example, if you want to  analyze a short story in relation to setting, read pages 164-171.
Read short stories with the purpose  of analysis.  If an author uses symbolism in the story, consider the  significance of said symbolism.
Review the textbook’s table of  contents for short story titles that grab your attention.  Then, read  those short stories to determine subsequent actions, such as additional  research of a short story.

Assigned Topic:
Select one of these topics:

Select a short story in the textbook,  and analyze it based on one of these elements of fiction:  character,  point of view, setting, symbol, or theme.  
Select a short story in the textbook,  and analyze it based on a combination of these elements of fiction:   character, point of view, setting, symbol, or theme.  If you select this  topic, choose two elements of fiction that complement each other.

Listed are some topics for you to use if you prefer not to choose your own:

For “Hills like White Elephants,” by  Ernest Hemingway, discuss the significance of the setting–only  temporal, only geographical, or both.

For “Hills like White Elephants,”  compare the characters of the man and the woman.  For example, some  readers view the woman as realistic when it comes to the future of her  relationship with the man, whereas others view the man as the exact  opposite.
For “Hills like White Elephants,”  discuss the significance of the number “two” used throughout the story.  For instance, the express train stops at the station for just two  minutes, the man carries two suitcases to the other side of the station,  and the couple considers two options.
For “A & P,” by John Updike, contrast Sammy and his manager, or contrast Sammy and his coworker, Stokesie.
For “A & P,” a literary critic  argues that the three young ladies in bathing suits are sirens who are  responsible for Sammy’s decision to quit his job.   Argue in support of  this argument or in opposition to it.
For “Recitatif,” by Toni Morrison, compare or contrast the characters of Roberta and Twyla.
For “Recitatif,” discuss the significance of selected references to food throughout the story.
For “Recitatif,” discuss the significance of the character Maggie.
For “Recitatif,” discuss Roberta and  Twyla as static and/or dynamic characters.  Is one a static character  and the other dynamic?  Are they both the same character type?
For “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin, discuss the significance of the setting–only temporal, only geographical, or both.
For “The Story of an Hour,” discuss how the saying “a blessing in disguise” relates to selected contents of the story.
For “The Story of an Hour,” compare Mrs. Mallard to another female protagonist in another short story  in the textbook. 


You must write about a short story in the textbook.

Write an essay of at least three pages  but no more than five.  The works cited page counts as the fourth or  fifth page.  The essay must have these sections:

an introduction 
at least 2 developmental (body) paragraphs
a conclusion 
an MLA Works Cited page with an entry  for each source from which information was borrowed and included as  part of the essay  (Since there are three required sources, the works  cited page must have an entry for each one.)

The required sources are:

a primary source, which is a printed or electronic version of the short story
two articles from databases to which  the Valencia College library subscribes (The articles are considered  secondary sources.) You may substitute a database article with a book or  ebook about the short story from the Valencia College library. 

You may use additional sources to supplement the material borrowed from the required sources.


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