I don’t know how to handle this English question and need guidance.

Goal: This paper will allow you to analyze a particular topic, issue, or theme found in two of our books, using detailed evidence from the novels to develop your argument.

This is a 4-page paper in which you choose one key topic, issue, or theme found in two of our stories that you find interesting, develop a thesis argument related to it, and support your thesis using evidence drawn from the text.

Step 1: choose your topic

First, choose the topic, issue, or theme that you want to analyze. You must use two stories from the list below.

  • In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
  • American Born Chinese
  • Pinned
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

A good analysis paper starts with a focused idea (no “since the beginning of time”) and/or a question you can answer by examining certain parts of the two stories in greater detail. You may start with a broad theme (like family), but you want to narrow it down to a more specific topic, and then a specific thesis statement. Remember, a thesis statement is a specific claim about the stories that you can explain and defend in your paper.

How do you think of a thesis? If you’re stuck, try this method (but please don’t copy this thesis exactly).

1. Think of a broad theme that interests you in these books. For example: family. Or, you could think of a writing technique that interests you, like the narrative point of view or the way an author used dreams in the story.

2. Think of questions that could help you better understand or explain why that theme or writing technique matters in these particular stories. It is best to brainstorm 3-4 questions at this point, and they should not be easy yes or no questions. What does a specific question look like? Something like this: “how do the mothers of the main characters in each book influence their development?”

3. Look at your list of questions and think of how you would answer them – maybe make a list of examples from the stories that are relevant, or interesting things you could say to explain this answer to someone who didn’t get it. You are not required to use outside research for this paper. Examples and quotes from the book, along with your interpretation of what they mean and why they matter are all you need for this paper.

4. Pick the most interesting answer you came up with, and that will be your thesis statement. Ideally, this is a statement that someone could potentially disagree with, or that requires explanation or elaboration. For example: “It’s easy to point the finger at bad mothers in these two stories, but closer examination shows that these mothers are dealing with their own complex problems that influence their relationships with their children.”

Step 2: Writing your paper

After you have chosen good quotes and examples from the stories, collected your notes and done some prewriting (you can make a list of important ideas, or an outline of your paper), you are ready to write. You can use the first person “I” in your paper, since I’m asking you to share your own opinions and conclusions. Here are the paper requirements:

  • Start with an introductory paragraph that contains your thesis statement and any important context or background information leading up to it.
  • Include 4-6 body paragraphs that support your thesis with details from the stories that you interpret for your reader. Avoid simply summarizing the events of the stories by thinking about how or why things happen and what unexpected or not-obvious thing they tell us about your thesis topic. Explain the clues or nuances that a reader might have missed, or share your interpretation of an image or moment in the stories. Use quotes and paraphrases to make your points, and make sure each one of them is followed by a parenthetical citation in MLA style.
  • Try to make sure each paragraph starts with a strong topic sentence: a sentence that indicates the topic or theme of the paragraph (the point you want to make), not a sentence that says what happens in the story.
  • You are not required to use outside sources for this paper – you can base your paper entirely on your analysis of the text from the two books you choose. However, if you do use any outside sources at all, even for background or fact-checking they must be cited in parentheses in the text and in a works cited list at the end (along with the stories you are writing about).
  • Finish with a conclusion that wraps up any loose threads of your paper, re-states (in different words) your key idea, and reminds your reader why this topic is important or interesting.
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end that lists all sources that you use, including the books you’re discussing, any secondary readings from our Canvas site, and any other source you use to find out information about the topic. Missing citations and sources count as plagiarism and will be reported accordingly. So, make sure that you keep track of your sources of information and use them honestly in your papers.
  • Make sure your final paper is 4 pages long (about 1300 words), double-spaced, in 11 point Calibri or 12 point Times New Roman font

Paper rubric (1)



This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeThesis statement

Excellent: Paper contains a clear thesis statement that makes an innovative, interesting, or unexpected argument.

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeEvidence and argumentation

Excellent: Each paragraph contains detailed evidence. The interpretation of the evidence is sophisticated, and the evidence and author’s ideas are well-integrated.

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization

Excellent: Paper’s organization is characterized by sophisticated transitions and a smooth flow of ideas

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSource use

Excellent: Quotes and paraphrases are skillfully integrated with the author’s own ideas, and include correct citations. Any outside sources used are high quality and relvant to the topic (outside sources not required).

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeWriting style

9.0 pts

Excellent: Paper uses sophisticated language and sentence structure.

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