English: “The Lame Shall Enter First”

 In this essay, you should analyze ONE of the texts we have read recently: any by Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case,” the poems by William Blake.  Again, please plan to submit your best effort even if it is not “perfect.” I expect to see a focused argumentative thesis with supporting points based on textual analysis.  Use the text as support, and do not stop short in your analysis.  A quotation from the text will not illustrate your thesis on its own.  You must tell the reader, through close reading and elaboration upon the quotation, how it illustrates your thesis.  It is also better to elaborate in detail upon one example in a paragraph than to bring in too many undeveloped examples.  Papers must also use MLA in-text citation style.


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  • 2-3 double-spaced pages in 12 pt/Times New Roman font.  (Use standard one inch margins and number your pages)
  • An arguable thesis based on YOUR OWN interpretation of the text. Please use bold face to highlight.
  • Direct engagement with the texts we have read. You must use quotation and analysis to back up your points. Consider using one, if not more quotations per paragraph.  Instead of long quotations, break up and place existing quotations into your own writing.  See the weekly guide for “sample analytical paragraphs.”
  • A final product that is proofread and spellchecked
  • Upload to Blackboard “Assignments” tab

Respond to ONE of the following questions.1.  The principal in Cather’s “Paul’s Case,” declares that “there was something about Paul that none of them understood.” As readers, what do we understand about Paul?  What is his problem and what is he up against? Is there one extended example in the text, one paragraph, for example, that sums this up for you? Try focusing on and elaborating upon this detail.

2. Pick one story and identify the one moment that you believe is most important in the story. Begin your introduction by describing your example.  Your thesis should explain WHAT the moment you have chosen represents or WHY it is so meaningful to the story. This could be, for example, the ending of the story, the moment at which Shephard, the father, neglects his son for the new boy, a particular passage that drew your interest, or anything else.

3. How do you think “The Lame Shall Enter First” complicates our idea of a good parent? Do you ultimately sympathize with the father’s desire to help theRufus Johnson? Or did he fail both him and his son? And in a twist on this topic, how do the fairy tales help us think about these questions.  You do not have to write about ALL of these questions, but rather one or a combination.

4. How do any of the texts we have read explore the idea of what a child is? Consider the ending of “The Snow Queen”: “Unless you can become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven?” and “There they sat, two grown-ups and yet children, children at heart…”

5. What moral categories or lessons do any of the stories examine and how does they comment on them? For example, it seems clear from “The Lame Shall Enter First” that Shephard has a problem with religion, but also very strongly feels the absence of it in his life.  How does he compensate? Other categories you might examine include guilt and innocence, love, or suffering and compassion, or deceitfulness.

6. Pick one minor character from “The Snow Queen” and analyze in detail. What lesson can be derived from the character? How does the meaning of the story itself organize itself around these characters.

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