Past Today: Spring 2020
Assignment 1 Rubric
No thesis in evidence.
Thesis buried in summary or
Weak use of textual evidence.
Weak use of paragraphs,
with few or no clear topic
Little relation between the thesis Relies on over-generalization
or student opinion.
Begins to make valid
connections within texts or
Student has a sense of how to
Thesis emerges by the end of
write a paragraph
Thesis may be vague or general.
Poor reading comprehension
Has a thesis, but not clearly
articulated in the intro.
Effort to close-read is evident, Some coherent relationships
textual evidence is
Transitions and topic
Moments of solid work with
sentences begin to emerge
Connective thinking may be
implicit rather than explicit.
Has some coherence but
lacks consistent structure
found in a B
Independent thesis clearly
articulated in the intro.
Controlled development of
Takes some interpretive risks
Thesis may be somewhat
limited or developed in a
Smoother transitions and
Texts used in service of thesis
topic sentences than C- range
and to provide support for it.
Engages more complex ideas in Student’s ideas in control
throughout the paper.
Text used to both support and
Topic sentences and
complicate the thesis.
transitions effectively used.
Clear, fluid, logical
Complex interpretive thesis is
made clear in the intro and
Thesis cuts across readings in Strong use of topic sentences
developed throughout the essay. unanticipated ways or finds a and other guideposts for
larger context for the
Note: Presentation errors, especially a failure to edit your paper, will lead to a lower grade.
*Adapted from Expository Writing 101 Rubric.
4-5 page paper (20% of the final grade)
The final version of your paper must be submitted through the appropriate assignments
tab on your section’s Sakai site by 11:59 PM on Sunday, March 1st. Please do not send
your paper by e-mail. I urge you to attend the extra-credit paper clinic on Friday,
Choose one of the following questions. Your paper should not merely describe or summarize,
but must instead present an argument with an introduction and a conclusion. Be sure to cite ALL
sources. Failure to do so may give the impression that you have plagiarized. Citations should be
given in MLA format. See the note on the formatting of writing assignments at the bottom of
The novel The Vegetarian is divided into three sections, each of which is narrated differently.
The first section, The Vegetarian, is narrated in the first person by the vegetarian’s husband (with
some italicized passages representing thoughts of the vegetarian herself). The second and third
sections (Mongolian Mark, Flaming Trees) are examples of third person restricted narration,
using free indirect discourse (these terms will be explained in lecture on Friday). Why does Han
Kang choose first-person narration for the first section, but switches to third person restricted
using free indirect discourse in the second and third sections? What does this tell us about how
she wants us to understand the vegetarian’s situation and story? Cite carefully-chosen details
from the novel to support your argument. Do NOT summarize the plot of the novel; analyze it.
The film adaptation of The Vegetarian was directed by Woo-Seong Lim and appeared in 2009 in
Korea. It is readily available for a nominal fee on the Internet (youtube, for example — be sure
to watch the right film). The film director chose to present the events of The Vegetarian in a
different order than they are presented in the novel. Why does the director not follow the
narrative chronology of the novel? How does this new narrative structure change the viewer’s
understanding of The Vegetarian? Indicate the scenes you watch using tracking numbers. For
example, 14:20 would indicate 14 minutes and 20 seconds into the film. Do NOT summarize the
plot of the film; analyze it.
We have read three different poets (Kim Sowǒl, Yi Sang, and Sǒ Chǒngju) who published their
poetry in Korea under Japanese colonial rule. Each of them are considered modern poets, yet
they write in radically different styles. What is modern about “Azaleas,” Crow’s-Eye View and
“Self-Portrait”? What do their attempts to write modern poetry in Korea under Japanese rule tell
us about how Koreans experienced and understood what it meant to be modern? You may refer
to the poets’ biographies, but your focus must be on the poems themselves. Do NOT summarize
the poems, analyze them.
Note on the formatting of papers:
*All papers must be submitted in .doc or .docx format. Do not submit papers
in .pages or .pdf (or any other) format. Papers written using Pages can be saved
as .docx documents.
*Name your paper according to this format:
*4-5 typed pages with one-inch margins, double-spaced, 12-point Times New
*Single-spaced heading including your name, course section, assignment and date
in upper left-hand corner (4 lines).
*Page numbers at top right corner.
*Your original title in regular type and centered.
*Please include a separate “Works Cited” page, if necessary, which does not count toward
the 4-5 pages required.
*Cite in MLA format, available at:
28 February 2020
The Vegetarian Book
At the beginning of the story, Mr. Cheong describes to us how their relationship started
on a good note and explains how he saw her wife be completely unremarkable in every way. His
description of Yeong-hye leads us to conclude she is a conventional person, a character which
would be a source of conflict later in their marriage. Han Kang uses the first-person perspective
to highlight how the husband feels, emotionally and psychologically, when Yeong-hye starts to
defy him and the the reader can get a first-hand experience of the conflict between the couple. In
the second and third sections of the story Han Kang uses the third person to present to the reader
the theme of the breaking convention, which allows us to view situations where the brother-inlaw tries to break the social boundaries.
By using the first-person narrator, readers can be able to understand the emotional
conflict he passes through when her wife starts to break social conventions. One example is how
Mr. Cheong is opposed to Yeong-hye's dislike of wearing a bra. Five years into their marriage,
she decides to take control of her body after a particular nightmare, a situation that puts the
husband at a tight spot. When she finds her staring at the fridge and asks her what she is doing,
she answers, “I had a dream” and walks back to bed. This incident is the start of Yeong-hye's
journey of breaking the social norm. Mr. Cheong, for some reason, finds himself unable to touch
or comfort her. When he wakes up to see the wife throwing away all the meat in the house, he
fails to understand her actions and ends up deeming her as mad. She even asks her if she has lost
her mind. Through her efforts, she sort of takes over the house, a situation which irritates the
husband, and by the author using his perspective, we can understand how the magnitude of
breaking the social norm affects the community (Kang 16).
In the second and third sections of the story, Han uses the third person to present to the
reader the theme of breaking convention. Focusing on the brother-in-law, who is a video artist,
we are immersed in a world where he inherently subverts an everyday life. However, as an artist,
the author shows us how his obsession with art naked human land him deeper into a web that
will make him violate the convention. To see his struggles and conflicting desires, a third-person
perspective is used.
Through the third person, the author reveals to us how the bro-in-law is putting other
people in a situation of conflict, as he attempts to fill his desires. In the story, the author
highlights that the brother-in-law considers Yeong-hye more beautiful, while Mr. Cheong prefers
the conventional lifestyle of In-hye. This situation reveals the emotional distance that exists
between the two couples since they both fail to understand each other. After creating his studio,
he quickly approaches Yeong-hye to ask her if she would participate in his naked art videos,
which puts her in a conflicted situation and fails to say yes or no.
The use of the third person allows us to view situations where the brother-in-law tries or
manages to break the social boundaries. For example, his sexual attraction towards Yeong-hye,
yet he is married to In-hye, is one way of eviscerating all social norms since Yeong-hye is her
sister-in-law. Han can show us how devastating the brother-in-law felt when he woke up to find
the camera gone. At this point, he knew the tape would lead to his being entirely outcasted from
society because of breaking the social norms.
In the last part of the story, the third person is used to highlight Yeong-hye’s obsession
with plants. Her desire to live a life of a plant makes her run away from the psychiatric hospital
only so that she could embody herself as a tree (Kang 71). The idea of her scar is described as a
flower that makes her feel happy, to the extent she agrees to be painted and pose naked for a
video. Through the third person, Han can demonstrate the differences between In-hye and
Yeong-hye, as they represent people with a different personality. In-hye is a convectional woman
that continues to fulfill her obligations to the husband and her parents, while her husband did not
reciprocate the same. On the other hand, Yeong-hye was characterized as a volatile woman, with
little conventional norms holding her back.
Through the third person, Han can reveal that the brother-in-law and Yeong-hye are
similar to one another, mainly because they both broke the social convention. In addition, they
both created their own fantasies to try and escape the conventional society that would judge
them. The brother in law hides in his studio trying to design an image he always wanted, while
Yeong-hye hides in her desire to live like a plant and her strict diet. Through the third person,
Han is able to highlight how In-hye was jealous of how Yeong-hye was able to break social
constraints. However, in the end, she realizes that it is best to live in reality, then living in a
fantasy world like Yeong-hye, which became disastrous to her.
Yeong-hye dream and later actions concerning being a vegetarian serve as a channel
through which she wanted to try to be in control of herself and not be controlled or consumed by
the society or the husband. Through her transition to a vegetarian, Han highlights how a change
in a community can be received in the wrong way, and the inability of the people to try and
understand them creates an environment of misunderstanding and isolation. The inability of Mr.
Cheong to try and connect with Yeong-hye matches the society’s attitude towards change. The
people are adamant in maintaining the status quo and fail to recognize the importance of change
in society. Through the vegetarian ordeal, the author also reveals how the lack of connection
between the two, makes Mr. Cheong view Yeong-hye as a crazy person.
The story also highlights how the society is quick to judge on a person, without even
asking the cause, or understanding the reason behind their actions. Mr. Cheong was quick to
refer to Yeong-hye’s decision as ridiculous. In the same way, relatives to Yeong-hye were also
adamant in believing that it was her that was wrong and not them. In one instance, the relatives
tried to pin her down in an attempt to force her to eat meat. Yeong-hye put up a fight to ensure
she did not consume any meat. This resulted in her father leading to violence by slapping her
twice. Similar situations can be seen for activists and revolutionists that have tried to break the
norm and ended up facing a ruthless response from society (Pearce 19).
The author uses the vegetarian story to help us understand the process of defiance and
breaking off conventional rules. Through her habit of changing her desires and expectations of
other people around her, the author takes us to a close look at how others perceive a nonconventional person, and in contrast, highlights to us how real intention, which other
misconceive. Refusing to continue to live as the society expects her to live, and as a wife, whose
primary purpose of existence is to cook for her husband and fulfill her matrimonial duties, her
behavior raises concern to all her family members. The second and the third part of the story
highlights how the brother-in-law's desires to fulfill his passions are against the cultural norms
and values (Pearce 19). Both Yeong-hye and the brother-in-law are misunderstood by society to
the extent they get admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
You bring up some interesting claims about the connection between the narration in each
part of the novel and the breaking of social conventions. Your paper would be more focused if
you state this at the outset as your thesis. Remember your thesis should in some way answer the
question posed by the essay prompt and right now I’m a little unclear as to how it does.
Consider the following for future writing:
1. Textual support: You need quotes from the text to support your claims and right now
you have very few. Go back to the text to find quotes you can use to make your argument
2. Stay focused on your key terms: Keep coming back to the key terms of your thesis as
you analyze your examples. This helps advance your argument and keep your paper focused.
3. Organization: You can combine some of your paragraphs to make a more focused and
better organized essay.
Pearce, F. "Grisly trend: Green activists are facing deadly dangers." Yale Environment 360
Kang, H. “The Vegeterian.” (2007).
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