• T. Coraghessan Boyle, “Greasy Lake”
Essay 2 should be an argumentative interpretation of an aspect or aspects of one of the
short stories below. These are to be read and analyzed in addition to your weekly class
assignments. Each story is available as a .pdf file; perform a search for these using
Google, Yahoo, or the like. For best results, enter the story title, the author’s last name,
and the abbreviation pdf.
• T. Coraghessan Boyle, “Greasy Lake”
• Raymond Carver, “Cathedral”
• Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal”
• Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
• Tillie Olsen, “I Stand Here Ironing”
• Daniel Orozco, “Orientation”
• George Saunders, “The 400-Pound CEO”
Limit the scope of your essay to one of these stories; each should provide plenty of
potential approaches. Also read the biographical headnotes preceding the stories,
which provide some insight and background.
Some possible approaches are listed below. Note that these are broad approaches,
only beginning points. It is your job to narrow and limit these in order to properly fit the
scope of your essay. If you have another idea which isn’t listed, please check with me
• One or more of the literary terms we discuss as they apply to short stories
(metaphor, symbol, setting, character, tone, etc.).
• Conflict(s) rooted in gender, race, age, culture, and/or economic class
• Societal “norms”: how do characters function within and/or rebel against their
• Male/female relationships
• Manhood, womanhood: how do characters fit and not fit traditional gender roles?
• Parental roles
• How male and/or female characters deal with trauma or misfortune
• Family relationships
• Coming of age/loss of innocence
• Narration/point of view: how does the telling style govern what story gets told?
• Rituals/ceremonies and their significances: marriages, funerals, parties, etc.
• A character analysis, in which you pick a character (or two) from a story that
interests you and explore his/her motivations, desires, etc.
Discussion threads will also hopefully be a springboard for your writing; take a topic or
angle we’ve broached and explore it further. But please don’t simply repeat things
you’ve read in discussions; put your own stamp on them.
Don’t forget you have additional sources for feedback on your work. GSU’s Learning
and Tutoring Center offers online assistance with your writing at this link:
https://success.students.gsu.edu/learning-tutoring-center/. Alternately, email me or post
your question to the Q & A discussion in Start Here.
• The final draft of your paper should be a well-developed essay. It should have a
recognizable introduction, body, and conclusion and should have a minimum of
five paragraphs, each with a topic sentence and supporting details from the work
you are analyzing. The essay should also contain a thesis statement at the end
of the introduction that sums up the main argument of your paper. I should be
able to detect a flow and “path” to your analysis. Make sure all parts of your
essay are working together.
• Specific details from your chosen story are essential to make your main points
and thesis statement clear. When you write a paper of this kind, you become the
teacher—you are illustrating some facet of a work of literature for an audience
who doesn’t have the same insight you do. Keep your reader in mind.
• No plot summaries. The goal of this essay (as with the others) is
interpretation—advancing a main point which asserts something debatable, and
illustrating that main point with concrete and appropriate evidence. Rehash and
summary is not interpretation. It’s fine to explain the significance of a small
portion of the story to advance the argument you are making, but plot summary
will be penalized if done in excess.
• As before, proper parenthetical documentation and a Works Cited page, both in
MLA format, are required. Five points will be deducted for failure to include both
of these. When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize passages from a piece of
prose, you need to parenthetically cite the page numbers they come from. (And
make sure you place quotation marks around exact quotes.)
• Re-consult the document “Submitting Your Essays and Formatting
Requirements” in the Start Here folder as you move through this process. Also
re-consult the grading policy in the syllabus for details on late submissions.