ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 1
Essay 1: A Response to Literature of the Modernist period.
To Lean to Write a Clear and Cohesive Response to Literature
To Learn Rhetorical Strategies: Analysis, Synthesis, Argument, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast
To Learn Critical Thinking Skills
To Learn MLA Documentation Style: Integrating quotations; Works Cited
In this first half of our quarter, we have read and discussed multiple texts, theories, and opinions on both
literature and literary analysis, and for this reason, I offer you several choices for your first essay. In a
thesis driven essay of 500 to 750 words, respond to one of the following prompts. You need only the
primary text for this essay, but you may incorporate other stories, manifestos, or critical theory as
additional support. Remember, you can also draw on your own experiences and knowledge to discuss,
explain, and analyze your topic.
Topic: Choose One
The Great Gatsby
1. In yet another sentence from her short biographical introduction on F. Scott Fitzgerald
from the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. D, Nina Baym observes that The
Great Gatsby's "images of automobiles, parties, and garbage heaps seem to capture the
contradictions of a consumer society." Discuss some of these contradictions using
examples from the novel.
2. Some of the most poignant moments, for me, in The Great Gatsby, are those in which
overlapping and contradictory power relations of gender and class are foregrounded--in
Gatsby's desire for Daisy, in Daisy's family's control to prevent her from seeing Gatsby
off to the war, in the relationship between Tom and Myrtle and Myrtle and her husband,
between Nick and Jordan, etc. Discuss some of the tensions of class-based and gender-
based power in the novel.
3. What do you make, finally, of Nick's claim that he is one of the few honest people he has
ever know, given his actions in the novel, and considering the comparisons invited
between Nick and the other characters?
4. Prove that Gatsby really is/ is not worth more than “the whole damn bunch put together.”
5. How do literary devices (such as imagery, symbols, foreshadowing, irony, allusion) add
to the dimension of depth or texture to this novel?
6. Write a character sketch of a character in The Great Gatsby.
7. Discuss one character as a symbol of the American Dream.
8. Discuss the American Dream as presented in The Great Gatsby.
9. Find a list of the seven deadly sins and the seven cardinal virtues. Write a paper in which you
analyze one or two characters in regard to these sins and virtues.
10. Do parallel character sketches of Tom Buchanan and George Wilson; compare them to show their
11. Trace the recurring image of eyes, and ascertain the purposes of those images. Consider blindness
on any level as well as sight.
12. Nick speaks of the “corruption” of Gatsby’s guests and Gatsby’s “incorruptible dream.” How do
these phrases begin to pull all the threads of the story together?
13. How does Fitzgerald make statements about pseudo-intellectualism?
14. Fitzgerald demonstrates the power of proper names. Prove this statement.
ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 2
Note: You are free to pursue another writing topic. Please, discuss it with me before you begin so we can
make sure that it is viable.
Submission Requirements: Please submit an electronic copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
Format Requirement: MLA-style formatting and citations
Length: Your finished text should be between 500-750 words, excluding the Works Cited page.
Research Requirements: none
Works Cited Page
A Works Cited page names all of the sources that were used in an essay or research paper; it credits the
source or sources for the information you present, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize to support your
thesis. A Works Cited page also serves as a reference to the sources that were used so that a reader or
writer can quickly refer to the original text. The Works Cited page for this research project will include
The Great Gatsby. If you use other sources, including other primary or secondary sources from class,
please list those too.
Expected Student Learning Outcomes
§ Demonstrate outlining and brainstorming abilities
§ Demonstrate an awareness of the time needed to plan, search, and write an essay
§ Demonstrate increased awareness of strategies for organizing ideas and structuring essays
§ Demonstrate an ability to use complex sentence structures
§ Demonstrate an understanding of multiple rhetorical strategies
§ Demonstrate active reading strategies by finding textual evidence
§ Learn to integrate quotations effectively and correctly
Previously Learned Skills Required to Complete this Assignment
ü The ability to summarize sources
ü The ability to use multiple rhetorical strategies: Narration, Description, Exemplification
ü An awareness of plagiarism issues
ü The ability to write grammatically correct, clear sentences.
ü The ability to write a clear and concise thesis.
ü The ability to brainstorm material for an essay.
ü The ability to organize an essay
Ø As you (re)read The Great Gatsby, keep in mind the prompts and highlight specific passages,
lines, or scenes that may support your argument.
Ø Write a thesis that helps readers understand both your argument and your reasoning.
Ø Include textual examples that illustrate your points.
Ø Avoid telling the reader that something is “interesting,” or “exciting”; instead create images or
use examples that show it.
Ø Come to my office if you are unsure, confused, or behind.
ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 3
Traps to Avoid:
Ø Choosing a topic that you do not understand or one not on the list that you have not discussed
Ø Failing to assert a clear and strong argument.
Ø Seeking to present the subject from memory or hearsay.
Ø Failing to support the argument with evidence from appropriate sources.
Ø Citing Wikipedia (or other non-academic or unreliable sources) as a source for your paper.