Humanities
ENG125 Ashford University Week 5 Interpreter of Maladies Literary Analysis

ENG125

Question Description

In Week Five of this course, you will submit a four- to five-page Literary Analysis in response to one of the topics from the approved List of Writing Prompts. This week, you will choose the topic you would like to explore, offer some information on what interests you about this topic, and supply a working thesis and key ideas you would like to develop. Though it might seem early to choose your topic, with only five weeks in the course, it is important to start early to best set yourself up for success.

After reviewing the list of prompts, choose one that you would like to explore. In addition, you should choose a literary work to discuss that relates to your topic of choice. The suggested literary works for each topic are listed beneath each prompt. Please review the Week 5 model example to understand what you are working toward on this assignment and future assignments.

Once you have decided on a prompt and text, respond to the directives below using the Proposal for Final Paper WorksheetView in a new window. Please make sure your document is double spaced. See the Sample Proposal for guidance.Once you have decided on a prompt and text, respond to the directives below using the Proposal for Final Paper Worksheet. Please make sure your document is double spaced.

In your paper:

  • Articulate what interests you most about this prompt.
  • Identify the specific text(s) you will write about, and explain the connection between the text and the prompt you chose.
  • Develop a working thesis that articulates an argument about the literary text(s). (Keep in mind that "working thesis" means you can slightly modify your thesis for the draft and/or final essay.) For more help on how to write a thesis, please see the Ashford Writing Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
  • Identify three key ideas that you will discuss in support of your thesis. Supporting points should reflect a critical reading of the text.
  • Describe any questions, concerns, and plans you have at this point for your project.

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List of Writing Prompts For students: There are three prompts below each with four texts. For your literary analysis essay, choose ONE prompt and text pairing that interests you. Then, take a look at the guiding questions for the text you choose. You don’t necessarily need to answer all of these questions in your paper. The questions are there to help get you thinking in a direction that will be more likely to lead you to a successful literary analysis. PROMPT 1. Write an analysis of a key character in a literary work. Focus on two or three key actions of that character. Discuss the character’s motivations and decisions in terms you can support with clear evidence from a critical reading of the text. Consider whether this character’s actions fit together or contradict each other. You may also want to consider whether or not any other characters in the story are aware of this conflict, and if so, how they influence the character you are writing about. Literary Works (choose one): “Interpreter of Maladies” (Jhumpa Lahiri, 1999) Guiding Questions: 1. How does a new outsider community member like Mrs. Das influence Mr. Kapasi, who seems to have become bored with his life and his role in the community? 2. How does Mr. Kapasi’s desire for Mrs. Das make him unable to understand Mrs. Das’ desires, leading to his failure to fulfill his role as the Interpreter of Maladies? 3. How do the Das family’s actions surrounding their children show that their desires or interests do not accord with their obligations? “What You Pawn, I Will Redeem” (Sherman Alexie, 2003) Guiding Questions: 1. How does the grandmother’s property at the pawn shop help to define the narrator’s desires and feeling of obligation to recover it? Why is it so important? 2. How does the character accomplish his objective, and how is this surprising considering all of the unfortunate events and bad decisions he makes along the way? 3. How do the other characters--the Aleuts, the pawn shop owner, the waitress, the police officer, the other Indians at the bar--each play an important role in showing how the narrator is committed to an important mission he is worthy of completing? “We Came All the Way from Cuba so You Could Dress Like This?” (Achy Obejas, 1994) Guiding questions: 1. To what conflicts does the title allude (social? Political? Cultural? others?)? 2. The first-person narrator switches tenses (from present to future). How does this create tension in the story? 3. How is the narrator’s internal conflict (“man v. self”) merely an internalization of political, familial, and social conflict? “The Things They Carried” (Tim O’Brien, 1990) - 5.4 in Journey into Literature Guiding Questions: 1. The second paragraph of the story begins, “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity” (O’Brien, 1990). Were the soldiers truly able to carry everything they needed? What needs were left unfulfilled by these items, and what in the story suggests this? 2. The narrator also lists specific items that each man carried. How do these items symbolize the emotions that they carried with them, and how does this understanding enrich our understanding of the characters? 3. Often a comparative analysis can help us to notice elements of a story that we might not otherwise notice. Choose two or three characters and compare the things they carried. How does this comparison help qualities of each come to the surface? PROMPT 2. In some stories, characters come into conflict with the culture in which they live. Often, a character feels alienated in his/her community or society due to race, gender, class or ethnic background. The texts below all contain a character who is ‘outcast’ or otherwise disconnected from society in some way, reflecting important ideas about both the character and the surrounding society’s assumptions, morality, and values. Choose a text and consider the questions below as you critically read the text. Then, craft a working thesis that suggests how this alienation is expressed in the text and why it is significant. Literary Works (choose one): “What You Pawn, I Will Redeem” (Sherman Alexie, 2003) Guiding Questions: 1. What beliefs and values from Native American culture does the narrator consider important, based on ideas and actions in the story? 2. What kinds of experience and values do characters share across cultural differences like Native Americans and whites, or even between different native groups in the story? 3. How do the bisexual character, the narrator, and the homeless characters in the story all demonstrate and resolve different “outsider” identities? “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (Gabriel García Marquez, 1955) Guiding Questions: 1. How is the supernatural made familiar and the familiar defamiliarized in the story? Is the angel made more human? Are humans made supernatural or less humane? 2. How is the tension between supernatural and human resolved (or not) in the story? 3. What doe the community’s treatment of this ‘outsider’ reveal about its culture, values, and beliefs? “A Hunger Artist” (Franz Kafka, 1924) – 7.5 in Journey into Literature Guiding Questions: 1. What is the “hunger artist’s” art, and how does it challenge the understanding of the men who look after the artist as well as the audience that ignores him? 2. Why does the artist have to explain so much about his “art” throughout the story-- is he explaining it for others to understand or as part of his own self-definition? 3. How does the young panther capture the audience’s attention so easily yet they ignore the artist-- what does this say about “appreciating” what others value? “Everyday Use” (Alice Walker, 1973) Guiding Questions: 1. How do we know that the protagonist is impoverished? Is she content with her class? Why or why not? 2. How do we know that she is African-American? How does her alienation due to her race also connect with her education? 3. The protagonist’s daughter, Dee, who has embraced her African roots, accuses her mother of not understanding her heritage. Why? What is the situational irony at the end of the story? PROMPT 3. Consider the role of setting, or context, in one of the works. For example, a story that takes place in a wild and natural setting might include characters struggling against nature to survive. A story set in a city might include themes of alienation and anonymity because of the impersonal crowds and busy city life. Cultural contexts can combine with both urban and rural elements to produce further meaning, as well. Consider the following questions as you critically read one of the texts below: Does the protagonist conflict with the setting or have particular interactions with it? Does the protagonist’s relationship with the setting connect with his/her development as a character? Does the setting reveal other themes and conflicts? Literary Works (choose one from any of the lists below): “The Man of the Crowd” (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845) Guiding Questions: 1. How does the city setting--busy streets, buildings with specific purposes, dark backstreets-- produce a disorienting and confining experience for people in the story? 2. How do all of the different occupations and “types” of workers in the city combine to communicate that no one is an individual person and no one really knows each other? 3. What sorts of problems do the narrator and some of the other characters have as a result of this alienating city life? (Think of the narrator’s obsession with the man.) “The Things They Carried” (O’Brien, 1990) - 5.4 in Journey into Literature Guiding Questions: 1. How does the story communicate the uncertain and frightening setting these soldiercharacters experience? (Consider repeated phrases or other devices.) 2. What sorts of emotions, such as stress or fear, does the Vietnam context cause the characters to experience? Give specific examples from the story, and consider how these emotions might be “told” to us in multiple ways. 3. How do the soldiers in the story cope with their setting/context, whether through imagined escapes or other means, and are they successful? “A Worn Path” (Eudora Welty, 1941) – 5.3 in Journey into Literature Guiding Questions: 1. Clugston suggests that “[t]he setting in this story is in a particular season -- the Christmas season.” Why is this significant considering the plot? 2. Clugston (2011) further writes: “The physical setting changes during Phoenix Jackson's journey. How does each environment she encounters reflect her character?” 3. Phoenix Jackson encounters many obstacles on her journey. To what non-physical challenges do they allude? “Sonny’s Blues” (James Baldwin, 1957) Guiding Questions: 1. How do the characters’ interactions with the multi-faceted “local color” and communities of Harlem articulate the differences between those characters? 2. What does the story suggest about a neighborhood’s cultural identity and the diverse life experiences possible, even when people seem to come from the same place? 3. What aspects of the setting (the neighborhood, the school, etc.) could be characterized as liberating or oppressive, and how is this reflected in the characters? ENG125: Introduction to Literature Proposal for final paper—Week 1 Once you have decided on an approved prompt and approved text(s), respond to the questions below. Please be mindful of the word count and double-space all of your responses. You are to meet the minimum word requirement without going over the maximum number of words requested. 1. What is your chosen prompt for the literary analysis assignment? (Use the space below to complete this section. Include the number and first sentence of the prompt you chose from the list of prompts.) 2. What interests you most about this prompt and why? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 100 to 150 words.) 3. What text(s) will you write about? Why? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 100 to 150 words.) 4. What is your working thesis? Keep in mind that “working thesis” means you can slightly modify your thesis for the draft and/or final essay. (Use the space below to complete this section. Your thesis statement must be ONLY one to two sentences long.) 5. What are three key ideas that you will discuss in support of your thesis? (Write one -- and only one -- sentence for each point. a. b. c. ENG125: Introduction to Literature 6. What questions/concerns do you have at this point about your project? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 75 to 150 words long.) Proposal for final paper—Week 1 Once you have decided on an approved prompt and approved text(s), respond to the questions below. Please be mindful of the word count and double-space all of your responses. You are to meet the minimum word requirement without going over the maximum number of words requested. 1. What is your chosen prompt for the literary analysis assignment? (Use the space below to complete this section. Include the number and first sentence of the prompt you chose from the list of prompts.) I chose to write about prompt #4: “In some stories, characters come into conflict with the culture in which they live.” 2. What interests you most about this prompt and why? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 100 to 150 words.) I think the idea of alienation is common in literature and life, and I think it will be interesting to explore the concept of alienation in literature to see if and how it relates to alienation in the real world. Many of society’s problems come, I think, from people feeling disconnected from their families and their communities. I know I am to focus on analyzing the literary work, however, so I understand that any personal connections I make should not appear in the paper itself. I also feel that the topic gives me good direction but also allows me some freedom to come up with my own ideas. 3. What text(s) will you write about? Why? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 100 to 150 words.) *Note to students: the text used in this sample CANNOT be used for your own papers. It is not on the list of approved texts and is used here for demonstration purposes only. I chose to write about Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis as I think the story lends itself very well to this prompt. Gregor is clearly alienated from his family and from society. He has no friends or activities outside of his work. The fact that he became a bug revealed that his family and job already treated him that way. This story really interests me as I think many in our modern-day society are much the same as Gregor. Gregor’s transformation showed that he was really just viewed as a “thing” by his family. When he was of no use to them anymore, he was thrown away. 4. What is your working thesis? Keep in mind that “working thesis” means you can slightly modify your thesis for the draft and/or final essay. (Use the space below to complete this section. Your thesis statement must be ONLY one to two sentences long.) Gregor Samsa’s physical transformation into a vermin is a physical manifestation of his already alienated state and demonstrates how his family viewed him as a thing instead of a son or brother that they loved. 5. What are three key ideas that you will discuss in support of your thesis? (Write one -and only one -- sentence for each point. a. Gregor’s room reveals that he had no life outside of work. b. Gregor’s family does not treat him as a loved son or brother. c. After realizing he is transformed, Gregor is more worried about his ability to earn money than he is about his own well-being. 6. What questions/concerns do you have at this point about your project? (Use the space below to complete this section. Your response must be 75 to 150 words long.) One of my concerns is the ability to meet the page requirement. I want to make sure that I fully develop my ideas but stay within the page range without being too wordy and going over the page limit. I also want to be sure I say enough about each point. I’m also wondering about what kinds of research I will use for this project. I plan to look at the library tutorial for help with the research, and I will submit a draft to the Ashford Writing Center for some extra feedback. ...
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Final Answer

Attached.

Running head: INTERPRETER OF MALADIES

Analysis of Key characters
Institution:
Date:

1

INTERPRETER OF MALADIES

2

I have chosen to write about prompt #1: “Interpreter of Maladies: in literature,
characters convey different features. The way characters acts may be different from the way one
is expected to act by the society, an aspect that brings confusion on how one is supposed to act
around others and their families. I find it interesting to analyze this prompt as it captures the
aspect of family and how the family is expected to conduct itself. This is interesting as from this
prompt I will be able to learn a lot when it comes to an ideal family and what is expected of a
family to be regarded as a typical family that conforms to the norms of the society as well as
taking into consideration the needs of the family without neglect. The desire to learn all these
aspects makes this prompt an interesting.
I chose to write about Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies because the story
conforms well to the prompt. From the story, the Das family is well captured as well as Mr.
Kapasi. What makes this text appealing to me is how the concept of family is brought out. The
story is an explicit representation of the contemporary society where t...

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