The Literary Analysis Paper on Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Writing a Literary Analysis Paper
What is a Literary
It’s an analysis
It’s- An Argument!
How is it Literary
a literary analysis involves a
discussion of a piece of writing we use the
term “literary” because it means “having to
do with letters.”
More importantly, a literary analysis
discusses the elements of literature.
Key Elements of
Narration/point of view
What is Analysis?
is a critical thinking skill that
involves breaking something down into its
elements and seeing how they work together.
How does analysis apply to
An analysis of a literary work may discuss
How the elements (plot, theme, characterization) of an
individual work relate to each other
How two separate literary works deal with similar elements,
concepts and forms
How concepts and elements in a literary work relate to
larger aesthetic, political, social, economic, or religious
When you write about literature, you make a claim
about the work. This is called your thesis. And then,
just like a lawyer, you support your claim with
evidence. Your evidence comes from the text. The
purpose of a response to literature is to persuade
your readers that your analysis, your interpretation,
of the work is valid, reasonable, and logical.
Where do you start?
A literary analysis begins with a careful reading of the
1. Consider your thoughts and responses as your read.
Make notes describing how various parts of the work
caused your emotional reactions.
Make notes on how characters are developed and on
images and ideas that interest you.
Try to see patterns developing. What are the conflicts? How
are these developed and resolved? How do you respond to
the winner or loser? Who gets your sympathy?
Mark key passages in the work. Make notes in the margin
explaining what makes a passage important.
Develop your focus
Once you've read the novel closely, look back over
your notes for patterns of questions or ideas that
interest you. Have most of your questions been
about the characters, how they develop or change?
When you have some general points to focus on,
write your possible ideas as questions, then answer
Preparing for the Timed
During Week 12 you will enter the Timed Essay
exam. Once you enter it, you will be asked to write a
four to five paragraph literary analysis essay
responding to a prompt about the theme of the
novel. You will have three hours to compose your
essay, but right now you can get started by just
thinking about it.
Here’s an example of a
How does Fuller’s description of
her parents’ love of Africa conflict with their
actions and way of life in Africa?
Write a thesis
write your thesis statement, all you have
to do is turn the question and answer around.
Put it in a sentence (or a couple of
sentences) so that the thesis of your paper is
In her novel, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness,
Fuller presents the paradoxical relationship between her
parents and their home in Africa. Fuller’s memorable stories
about her parents help illustrate their conservative political
beliefs which eventually left them without their land or power,
but at the same time these stories also demonstrate their
powerful love for the land, animals, and people around them.
Next Step: Find the
Now that you’ve developed a thesis statement, you're
ready to choose the evidence to support your thesis.
Our example thesis focuses on ideas about politics,
land, and nature in Fuller’s novel. To support this
thesis, you would need to find examples of stories
that illustrate these elements within the text.
Make a list of evidence
you can use, then
select the best.
sure your list includes:
Outline and Draft the
Like all essays, a Literary Analysis has an
The purpose of an introduction is to establish a
framework and to orient the reader to the essay.
Offering a preview of what's to follow, the
introduction reveals how the writer intends to treat
the topic. The concluding sentences usually state the
thesis and give the main supporting points.
The body of the essay presents the evidence
promised in the thesis statement. Just as the thesis
statement governs the essay, the topic sentence
governs the paragraph. Each topic sentence should
connect logically to the thesis statement and
announce how the paragraph will prove it. The
information or evidence in each paragraph should
fully develop the idea of the topic sentence.
The thesis is reemphasized here, but now that all the
evidence has been presented it can be tied together
to strengthen the your position. A restatement or
summary of what's been said is not as effective as
illustrating the significance of your claim. Point out
how your essay offers a helpful interpretation, and
how your reader can apply it to their own experience.
As You Write
When citing evidence from the text, try to paraphrase rather
than quote directly. Save only the very strongest lines or
passages for direct quotation.
Make your point clear—don't assume the reader will read your
paraphrase or quote and reach the same conclusion you did.
Explain the significance of the evidence in the citation.
Don't merely re-tell the story. Remember that you are an
interpreter, writing to an intelligent audience, helping the reader
to understand the particular piece of literature.