Analyze an excerpt from one of the short stories in the course and to develop a close analysis of the passage.


The aim is to analyze an excerpt from one of the short stories in the course and to develop a close analysis of the passage. Your close reading of the excerpt should be grounded in the interpretation of the story as a whole (thus, the whole story provides you with the context for your analysis). An interpretation presupposes developing an idea of your own that connects the work’s artistic features to its meaning. Therefore, avoid evaluating the story by just saying “I liked it” or “it didn’t do much for me.” Your analysis should demonstrate to the reader how your interpretation of the individual elements of the excerpt adds up to an interpretation of the whole story in a specific way.



  1. Select one of the excerpts below.
  2. Write an essay of 300–500 words that develops a close reading of the excerpt.
  3. The close reading is always an attempt to draw out as much as you can from a literary text, but it should not be just a list of separate items. Instead, start by making a list of your observations, and then pick the ones that seem interesting, and in particular, pick the ones that seem to add to our understanding of the story as a whole. Only then should you start writing the close reading piece itself.
  4. Ideally, whether you choose to focus on setting, or narrative technique, or character, or focalization, or language, tone and word choice, or imagery (to suggest a few examples), make sure that your analysis is connected to an interpretation of the whole story.
  5. Focus on a few significant details rather than trying to cover every conceivable aspect. Remember, this is a very short piece of writing, so less will be more.

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