Fiction Essay

Respond to one of the following prompts in a 3-5 page fiction response essay. Your essay
should be in MLA format, make use of support from the story or stories chosen (using
quotation, summary and/or paraphrase) and should include citations in-text and on a
Works Cited page.
Remember to avoid summarizing a story – instead, focus on answering the question(s) and
explaining why the quotes and passages you’ve chosen are significant. You do not need to
consult research or outside sources for this paper.
1. Consider the stories we have read that feature young narrators or protagonists.
Compare how two young adults respond to the challenges and opportunities
presented to them in the story. In what ways are their lessons intended for the
audience as well?
2. Choose a story with a first person narrator. How does the narrator’s bias, personality,
and reliability affect the story? Are readers given false or biased impressions of other
characters? How does this impact the meaning of the overall story?
3. Compare two stories that focus on the same idea or central topic. How do they use
literary devices to create their themes? In what ways do they differ significantly?
How do they each arrive at the same point in the end?
4. Write an essay examining the variances between two authors who have distinctly
different styles (for instance, Faulkner and Hemingway). How do each use literary
devices? To what effect? How do each craft a clear narrative in such different ways?
What are the primary stylistic differences? How do those differences impact the tone
and theme?
5. Write an essay examining how a story of your choosing makes a statement about a
social issue (class, race, gender, ageism, cultural identity). What claim does the story
seem to be making? How does it use literary devices to illustrate its point? What
characters seem to be speaking on behalf of the theme?
6. Select two stories and show how, although their plots differ, they explore a similar
theme. How do they arrive at the same point? How do they employ literary devices?
Use specific lines and passages from both stories to support your claims.
7. Compare and contrast the themes regarding familial relationships in two stories.
What statement does each story make about family bonds? How does each story use
literary devices to illustrate its theme?
8. Choose a story that makes use of significant symbolism. How do symbols support
and establish the theme in the story? What symbols are significant and how does
each create or reinforce the story’s central theme?
9. Explore the relationships between setting and symbol in a story of your choosing.
How does the author establish a sense of place and why is this setting significant?
Use examples and explain how symbols enhance the setting and relate to the theme.

Choose a short story to re-read:
“Boys and Girls”
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
“Sonny’s Blues”
“I Stand Here Ironing”
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”
“Young Goodman Brown”
“The Storm”
“The Things They Carried”

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