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.
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.
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.
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:
at least 2 developmental (body) paragraphs
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.