Prompt: Write a two – three page literary analysis of “Fiesta, 1980” by Junot Diaz. In forming your thesis and carrying out your analysis, employ relevant literary devices to analyze how Diaz uses certain devices to achieve a purpose by selecting one of the following options:
Option 1, Style Analysis: Analyze how and why Diaz uses diction and/or syntax to show the protagonist’s attitude (tone).
Option 2, Character Analysis: Analyze Diaz’s use of direct and indirect characterization and/or internal and external conflict to show the development of one character in the story.
Option 3, Theme Analysis: Analyze how Diaz uses one or more literary devices (your choice) to support one of the story’s themes.
Focus your thesis, related claims, and the body of your essay on analyzing the text according to your chosen prompt. Your essay must be organized so that every part contributes something to the reader’s understanding of the central idea.
Include a minimum of six carefully-chosen, properly-cited quotes to support the claim of your thesis statement; use warrants to explain the significance of your evidence.
Follow a basic essay structure (introduction with thesis; body paragraphs with claims related to thesis and supporting evidence, and warrants explaining how evidence relates to claims; conclusion, explaining broader significance of claims).
Use proper conventions (MLA format, spelling, grammar).
Meet the length requirement.
12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, MLA header, numbered pages
Digitally highlight your essay according to the following key:
Due Date: Complete the essay in class using Google Docs. You may use time out of class as needed to finish. Be sure to share with email@example.com when finished. Essay is due by 11:59PM on _____________________________________________________________ English II Essay Challenge Assignment
Consider doing this “Challenge” option if you feel you are a more advanced writer and independent learner, and/or you want to push yourself further: Write a three-four page analysis of BOTH “Fiesta, 1980” and “Aguantando” by Junot Diaz. Your challenge here will be in structuring the paper around two texts, as well as forming a comprehensive thesis statement that contains a deeper insight about both texts. Select one of the given prompts and adapt it to allow for a comparison or contrast of both stories, drawing evidence from each. If you select this option, make sure to include “Challenge” in your essay title. Essays using this prompt will earn 5 extra credit points due to the complex structure of the assignment.
LITERARY DEVICES TO ANALYZE IN THE ESSAY:
Figurative language/Imagery—Metaphor, simile, personification, allusion, etc.—Ask, What is the purpose? What is the effect? How do they work?
Diction—What words does the author choose to use in relation to each character? Is the diction formal or informal? Literal or figurative? Abstract or concrete? Hyperbolic or understated? Denotative or connotative? What tone/purpose is achieved through this diction?
Tone—What tone does the narrator or author use—preaching, sympathetic, humorous, etc.? Why does the character use this tone—what is gained by using this tone? Would the story have the same meaning if another tone was used?
Imagery—What examples of imagery does the author use—is it helpful to the story? If so, why? What does the character or the author make the reader touch, see, hear, feel, smell, taste, etc.?
Symbolism—something said but meant to stand for something else. What does the author’s use of symbolism reveal about the characters? Theme?
Motifs—Repeated words, images, ideas, or symbols in the text that help convey the broader themes of the text.
Theme—Big idea, moral, message, or perspective on life and society. Theme gives readers better understanding of the main character’s conflicts, experiences, discoveries (epiphanies), and emotions. Through theme, a writer tries to give their readers an insight into how the world works or how they view human life.
Point-of-view—Who is telling the story and what do they know or don’t know? Is the tale told by an omniscient (all-knowing) narrator who doesn’t interact in the events, or is it presented by one of the characters within the story from a limited perspective? Can the reader trust that person to give an objective account, or does that narrator color the story with his or her own biases and interests?
Setting—The context in which all of the actions take place. What is the time period, the location, the time of day, the season, the weather, the type of room or building? What is the general mood, and who is present? How does the setting affect the character development, plot, theme?
Character traits/characterization—Refers to the qualities assigned to the individual figures in the plot. Consider why the author assigns certain qualities to a character or characters, how these qualities are show through direct and indirect characterization, and how any such qualities might relate to your topic. Also consider the character types present in the story, such as protagonist or antagonist, foil, static or dynamic, flat or round, and if/how the character develops from beginning to end.
Conflict—Does the author use any internal or external conflicts to make possible the growth and development of the protagonist’s character? Internal: Person vs. Self; External: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Nature, Person vs. Unknown
Syntax/Sentence Structure—The grammatical structure of sentences. Without syntax, there is no clear communication. When we refer to syntax in the context of rhetorical analysis, we are not speaking of grammatical correctness, but rather of the deliberate sentence structure the author chooses to make his or her desired point.
LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY OUTLINE
Hook: The aim of the hook is to try to capture your reader’s interest. To bring immediate focus to your subject, you may want to use a quotation, a provocative question, a brief anecdote, a startling statement, or a combination of these.
Context: You also want to include background information relevant to your thesis and necessary for the reader to understand the position you are taking. In addition, you need to include the title of the work of literature and name of the author. Only include focused plot synopsis as it is necessary to setting up your central claim.
Thesis: The thesis statement tells your reader what to expect: it is a restricted, precisely worded declarative sentence that states the purpose of your essay—the point you are trying to make. It should list or overview the three supporting claims that will be covered in the body paragraphs: Ex.: The protagonist’s conflicted attitude towards his father and the changing hierarchy between them is revealed through Diaz’s indirect characterization of Yunior.
1st body paragraph
Topic Sentence/Supporting Claim: The purpose of the topic sentence is to relate the details of the paragraph to your thesis statement and to tie the details of the paragraph together. Focus on one aspect of the claim made in the thesis, but try to find a new wording so it does not become redundant. Ex.: An examination of Yunior’s actions in response to his father exposes the hierarchical relationship between Yunior and his father.
Evidence #1: Textual evidence consists of summary, paraphrase, specific details, and direct quotations. Use I.C.E. for all textual evidence: introduce with a signal phrase, cite using MLA, and explain below in the warrant. Make sure to include relevant context for the quote as needed (who, what, when, where, etc.) Ex.: For instance, in a scene at home before the family attends a party, Yunior’s actions in response to being confronted by his father expose his father’s dominant role and Yunior’s deep-rooted fear of his father. In his narration, Yunior reveals that when asked why he had eaten before the party, he “didn’t dare glance at him… better to stare at his belly button” (Diaz 26).
Warrant #1: Good literary analysis essays contain an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text that supports those ideas. The warrant should clearly link the claim to the evidence and explain how the claim is supported by this evidence. A possible template is: The fact [restate evidence] shows [restate claim] because [explain why].
Ex. The fact that Yunior explains the importance of facing his father with his full attention but an averted gaze shows the history of the power imbalance between them because Yunior has developed a routine stance in interactions with his father to minimize conflict. It is obvious that this is not the first time Yunior has had to face his father’s temper.
Evidence #2: Evidence #2 should use I.C.E. as well. It should build on the first piece of evidence (maybe it comes later, chronologically; maybe it is more important or significant to drive home the point brought up by E#1, etc.). Use transitional words to show how this piece of evidence relates to the evidence discussed last: next, later on, more significantly, instead.
Ex.:When Papi next pulls him to his “feet by [his] ear,” he describes the tears that result as “more out of reflex than pain” (Diaz 26).
Warrant #2: The 2nd warrant should also clearly link the claim to the evidence and explain how the claim is supported by this evidence, as well as continuing to build on the analysis begun in Warrant #1. The fact that the tears are described as a “reflex” supports the inference that Yunior is often treated roughly by Papi. This scene shows that Yunior is submissive and his father is dominant in their interactions, yet the fact that Yunior did in fact eat when he knew it would displease his father suggests a crack in the foundation of this hierarchy. Yunior actually points out earlier that he “should have reminded [Mami] not to feed [him] but [he] wasn’t that sort of son” (Diaz 25).
Concluding sentence/transition:Use the last sentence to drive home the claim proven by this body paragraph, link the supporting claim to the overall thesis claim, and to set up the claim that will be made in the next paragraph.
Ex. The reader can thus infer from Yunior’s actions in this scene that Papi has more power than Yunior, but his control is not total since even though he can still alpha Yunior face to face, he does not maintain complete authority in his absence.
2nd body paragraph
Topic Sentence/Supporting Claim
3rd body paragraph
Topic Sentence/Supporting Claim
Conclusion: Your literary analysis essay should have a concluding paragraph that gives your essay a sense of completeness and lets your readers know that they have come to the end of your paper. Your concluding paragraph might restate the thesis in different words, summarize the main points you have made, or make a relevant comment about the literary work you are analyzing, but from a different perspective. Do not introduce a new topic or different claims in your conclusion. Use this space to give your final thoughts on the issues raised or to look outward from the narrow topics discussed to explore big-picture ideas (about the story and themes, about society, etc.). Leave your reader with something to think about.