For this paper you will choose a fictional character from our reading and write an analysis of their individual qualities, focusing on at least three traits. (NOTE: Do not write on folk tales, slave narratives, poems, songs, speeches, or sermons, nor on the authors themselves. Focus only on characters that appear in fictional narratives from the list at bottom and use only your textbook as a source.)
The paper should begin with an introductory paragraph that includes the author’s name, character’s name, and story title. Conclude the paragraph with a thesis statement that names the character traits to be discussed. Example: “Jesse B. “Simple” Semple is a self-centered, uneducated man in some ways, but he is also a wise man with a sense of history and racial pride.”
After the introductory paragraph, proceed to discuss each trait separately, as follows: Name the trait, give at least two specific examples that illustrate the trait, and provide at least one direct quote with proper citation. Example:
Jesse can be rather self-centered, seeing everything in terms of how it relates to himself. For example, when he takes his girlfriend Joyce to a club, instead of being pleased that she enjoys the show, he becomes jealous of her interest in the handsome jazz singer. He then goes so far as to play a trick on Joyce to get back at her. He entices her to go to the club again, knowing that instead of jazz, there is a blues singer that night—and of course that Joyce does not like the blues. When she complains, he innocently replies, “I thought you liked this club” (Hughes 1296). As far as Jesse is concerned, the important thing about his nights out with Joyce is not that she enjoys herself but that she realizes that she is his girl and his alone. But sometimes Jesse’s self-centeredness is more innocent and humorous. When he talks about being so angry about the injustice around him that he wants to smash everything that doesn’t belong to him, the narrator asks why he doesn’t smash the glass in his hands. Because, Jesse says, “It’s got my beer in it” (Hughes 1298). Even as a joke, “Simple” lets us know that his top priority is his own pleasure.
In the process of discussing each trait, you may also examine whether the character has undergone any change or has learned anything. Alternatively, you may choose to address the issue of change in a separate paragraph.
After you have finished discussing the traits, conclude your paper by describing the character’s purpose as a fictional character; in other words, discuss what message the author is attempting to convey by emphasizing the traits of character you have described. For example, for the character above, you might say that Langston Hughes is trying to illustrate that even “simple” characters can be complex and have something important to say.
Note that the structure of this paper is not guided by the structure of the story—you are not telling the story. Instead, your paper is structured around the traits you are discussing and the examples you use to illustrate those traits.
The entire paper should be about 1,000 words in length. Use a standard font, like Times or Times New Roman, and margins of no more than 1-1/2 inches. Provide a word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page.
At the end of the paper, provide a Work Cited, in which you list the story analyzed. USE NO OTHER SOURCES FOR THIS PAPER. Example:
Hughes, Langston. “Feet Live Their Own Life.” The Norton Anthology of African
American Literature, 2nd ed. Eds. Henry Louis Gates and Nellie McKay.
New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2002. 1297-1303. Print.*
- This reading and edition are different from ours.
NOTE: By “character trait” we mean an aspect of a character’s personality, not an action or something that happens to the character. For example, Sykes may beat Delia, but that is only one part of his abusive nature, which includes name-calling, public humiliation, and threats. Also, note that some characters undergo change, or they seem to have one trait, but may in reality have another. So, is Grandison, in “The passing of Grandison” truly loyal, or only pretending to be loyal? NOTE: DO NOT say he is both loyal and disloyal to his masters