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Prose Analysis

Assignment: In an essay of at least 1000-1200 words, present an original argument about one theme in Ron Rash’s Saints at the River.


1. First, choose the subject that you want to focus on. We have discussed several subjects in class during our reading of this book. You can choose one of those subjects or another subject that you have identified on your own.


  1. After you have chosen your subject, identify and analyze three symbols that relate to that subject. Your symbols might be an aspect of the setting (year, time of day, physical location, climate/weather, social event, etc.), of a character (appearance, clothing, disability, talent, etc.), or of an object. What do those symbols tell us about the subject that you focus on? This should be a step in your brainstorming.


  1. After you have selected and analyzed each symbol, brainstorm on how the symbols work together to create one clear theme in the story. Remember that theme is different than a subject: a theme tells us something about a subject.

Sample subject: War

Sample Theme: Experiencing war in Europe prevents Kreps from having emotional            connections with his family when he returns home to America; this suggests that war     turns human beings into robotic soldiers who only exist in a state of detachment from           those they love.


  1. Develop the rough draft: begin by writing out a 1-2 sentence thesis that identifies the theme. Then write the body paragraphs. I recommend that you organize them by focusing on one symbol per body paragraph.


  1. After writing the body paragraphs, draft the introduction and then the conclusion. Your ideas will develop as you write the body paragraphs, so save your introduction for last and realize that your thesis statement may have changed by the time you finish the body paragraphs!


  1. Attend workshop with the draft, receive feedback from peers and Dr. Neil, and then revise and submit a more polished final version that adds further detail to your analysis of your quotes, uses clear transitions, and eliminates unnecessary words and grammar errors!



**Make sure you review the Guidelines for a Close-Reading Essay posted in Moodle when you begin your draft and again as you revise the draft into the final version. Don’t forget to include a signal phrase before each quote from the story and an in-text citation after it. A Works Cited page is not needed.


Format: Your essay should follow MLA format. Include your name, the instructor’s name, the course #, and the date in the upper left corner of the first page. Also, your essay should be:

  • Titled (centered with no bold or underline)
  • Numbered with page numbers in the upper right corner of each page
  • Double spaced
  • Typed in 12 point Times New Roman font


Specific Criteria for Assessment:

  • A specific introduction that sets up the problem/question in the texts that you are analyzing and a conclusion that provides a lasting, final thought that summarizes how your argument influences readers’ interpretations of the text (5 points)
  • A clear, arguable thesis statement (5 points)
  • A sophisticated, interesting, specific, and original argument throughout (15 points)
  • Clear support for that argument with quotes from the texts (10 points)
  • Effective close reading of those quotes that scrutinizes what is written and how it is written (10 points)
  • Insightful discussion that links the close readings to your overall argument and that answers the “so what?” question (10 points)
  • Effective and clear topic sentences that identify the main interpretative claim of each body paragraph and that use transitions to show how entire paragraphs relate to what came before (5 points)
  • Logical and purposeful organization of the entire paper that reveals how each step in your argument builds on what came before and that avoids repetition (10 points)
  • Grammatically correct sentences (20 points)
  • Succinct, sophisticated, and clear prose (10 points)

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