ENGL 183:W4+P1

Paper #1

Juxtaposing Short Stories

Length: 4-5 pages

Format: Double-spaced, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, 12-point (Times New Roman)

Texts: Two short stories from the syllabus (see paper topics below).


Topics: Juxtaposition: What do these stories have in common? How are they different? Analyze

these similarities and differences and consider how each author uses/takes advantage of

literary elements to meet their intent and goals. Also, you should consider how the texts

you’ve chosen to work with “speak” to each other in a way that will help you explore and

develop the key concepts in your essay. Be sure to use textual evidence to support your

ideas, and avoid simple summarization of each text. Choose one:

  1. Freeman’s A Mistaken Charity portrays two elderly sisters who are independent,

capable New England women, and above all, nonconformist. Alcott’s Transcendental Wild

Oats also addresses nonconformity, although satirically. Both stories could be said to

typify the well-meaning but misplaced intentions of social do-gooders in New England

communities. These intentions can be seen as either empowering or constraining,

depending upon the situation.


Identify formal literary elements that Alcott and Freeman use; for example, you may want

to consider character as a key concept. How do the authors flesh out and make their

characters real, and how do these characters inform each story? Are these characters

misunderstood, stereotyped, or do they have a larger, perhaps ironic significance?


Each story also identifies the importance of “familiar” environments. Juxtaposing these

two stories, offer an exploration of each story’s setting, then, each writer’s artistic intent.

How do other formal literary elements (narrative technique of dialogue, tone, exposition

and so on) tell the reader about what it means to be part of two different environments.


  1. John Updike’s A & P is a coming of age story, with particular emphasis on choices

and consequences. The importance of self and society is emphasized, and this story relies

not on plot structure, but more on (literary elements of) language, conflict, tone,

symbolism, stereotypes, and particularly, setting. Sammy’s character is revealed by his

actions, and because he is the narrator, we have insight into his thoughts- about himself,

society and everyone around him. Discuss these actions and thoughts, referring to the

literary elements which you think are especially important. THEN- choose another

character in the story, and compare/contrast what that character’s point of view would be;

i.e. his/her thoughts that relate to his/her actions.


  1. Jhumpa Lahiri has stated, “For immigrants, the challenges of exile, the loneliness, the

constant sense of alienation, the knowledge of and longing for a lost world, are more

explicit and distressing than for their children. On the other hand, the problem for the

children of immigrants, those with strong ties to their country of origin, is that they feel

neither one thing nor the other.” We saw this in Lahiri’s “Third and Final Continent” as

well as in Gish Jen’s “Who’s Irish.” Both of these writers focus on the differences, hopes,

and sometimes tensions between the generations; they also use the setting of the “new”

world to highlight the challenges. Discuss how each writer does this- literary elements

such as character, setting, diction, etc.



  1. Take a stand (make an argument)
  2. Focus on a key concept (conceptual thinking is heart of paper)
  3. Explain how you are developing that concept in a rich, multi-layered way


do not use outside sources. Please see attached guidelines. Do not end any paragraph with a quotation. Please use point, evidence, explanation, or elaboration (P.E.E.) format to complete the essay. I have attached a discussion and a paper requirement. Please submit with different attachments separately. The paper should consist of a minimum of 1350 words, and the discussion should be approximately 300 words. Anything the specified W4 belongs to W4 ASM sources, which are only 3 of them. The remaining sources belong to the paper, you can choose selected useful and relevant sources to complete the paper. Please do not use all and no outside sources are allowed.

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