Write a thesis-driven essay that compares Albert Camus’s The Stranger with another text called “everyday use” by Alice walker
When you write literary analysis paper in which you are comparing texts, you should have a thesis statement at the beginning of the paper that indicates the point you will make that is the result of the comparison you made of the texts. In other words, in the writing process, before you begin to draft the essay, you make the comparisons—for example, you compare characters or settings or styles or any of the elements of fiction (how are they the same or different)—and then stop and say, “Okay, here is the point I want to make.” When you actually start to draft the essay, you then reverse things, so to speak, putting this conclusion—i.e., the thesis statement—first and then explaining to the reader how you arrived at it.
Your essay should always be able to answer the “So what?” question, which is another way of saying, “Why should anyone who reads my paper care that I am making the comparison between these texts?” If you can answer this question, then you have a thesis. If you can’t, then you may just be pointing out obvious things to readers or jumping around from one thing to another with little or unifying the information, and nobody really wants to be told things that are obvious or be confused. So, your aim with the readers is to surprise them as much as possible. Be mindful that you also need to be logical. A crazy thesis statement can surprise people, sure, but, then, it’s a crazy thesis statement. Simply, you have to make sense.
So, in the introduction of your short literary analysis paper, you should bring up the texts you are comparing—the novel and ???—and make the claim that you figured out—this is your thesis statement. Then, you use the body of the essay to draw attention to the exact ways you are comparing the texts that support your claim. Build your essay by going back and forth on how each text reveals what you are focused on with each point you are making. Avoid setting up the paper, in other words, in a format where one half of the paper is about one text and then the other half is about the other text. When this structure is used, the papers are often disjointed (i.e., it’s paper with two separate halves) and you make the reader work too hard to remember what you talked about in one half of the paper when you move onto the next half.
Also, please do not summarize the texts. With literary analysis papers, you can assume your audience is familiar with the texts, and if they are not, it is their responsibility to get up to speed. Instead, you want to use what limited space you have in the essay to get right into the analysis of your comparisons. If anything, use brief summaries of scenes or moments in a text to give context for what you quote from each, and the expectation in literary analysis papers is that you get to this level of detail, giving readers verbatim lines to support and illustrate what you are writing about in a given moment in your essay. For this paper, when you quote from The Stranger, give exact page number references for where the words can be found in parenthetical references at the end of the quotes. While you may focus on a particular scene or character in a text, your paper should always show that you are aware of how what you write about relates to the whole text.
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