Personal Narrative/Character Analysis

Project Three: Personal Narrative Meets Character Analysis

The Gist: In this paper, you will choose one of three characters to explore in-depth: Mr. Stevens, Francie Brady, or Balram Halwai. But this is not simply a paper about a character; instead, this paper allows you to explore and discuss your interaction with the character of your choosing through incorporating aspects of a personal narrative into the paper. Ultimately, you must have an analytical thesis statement about the character you’ve chosen—whether that thesis is about WHY he acts the way he does, HOW he compels readers or disgusts them, WHO he really is, WHAT he does to propel the story, etc. But in order to convince your reader of your argument, you must incorporate your personal reactions to the story: the thoughts you had while reading about your character, the emotions you developed to that character’s actions/thoughts while reading, how your own background and values influence the way you understand a character, etc.

The Details:

  1. There are many ways to begin thinking about how to write this paper, but perhaps the best way to jump in is to ask yourself, “what do I feel about this character, and why?” This question will propel you to other, more specific questions, which will lead you to a more nuanced understanding of the character you’ve chosen to explore. This is important because you must have a specific, arguable focus for this paper. In other words, you cannot possibly write about every, or even many, aspects of a character in a novel. We will discuss this much more in class.
  1. There are many ways, also, to incorporate personal narrative into this paper. You may want to have an ongoing thread throughout the paper about how you felt while reading the novel; you may want to bookend the paper (intro and conclusion) by telling your story of reading; or, you may want to incorporate the personal into each body paragraph as a way of leading to the analytical. An important point about personal narratives: all the personal information you include MUST be evidence. This means that it should work to engage the reader but also to prove your point. Telling me “When I was reading, I thought Francie Brady was a lunatic” doesn’t do anything; instead, tell me WHY you feel this way.
  1. Just because this is a personal narrative does not mean it cannot be analytical. You must still have an argument (thesis—no “I,” “in my opinion,” etc.), topic sentences, close reading, evidence, and analysis. View the personal narrative, instead, as a way of drawing your reader in and making him or her want to continue reading.
  1. You may argue anything about the character you’ve chosen, but remember that a thesis statement is NOT a fact (“Francis Brady murders Mrs. Nooge”) or an opinion (I think Francis Brady is a lunatic for what he did). The thesis is ALWAYS a provable statement that can be argued against.

Rhetorical Considerations: Your audience for this essay is someone who might potentially be interested in the novel you are writing about, or someone who has read the novel and wants to more fully understand the main character. There are many ways to organize this paper, but the easiest way, always, is to create a thesis statement that incorporates your supporting points into it: “Francie Brady deserves readers’ sympathy because we can more fully understand his antisocial behavior by analyzing his upbringing, his environment, and his influences.” From here, my main points to prove in the paper will be Francie’s upbringing, environment, and influences (THIS EXAMPLE MAY NOT BE USED). Ultimately, it is up to you how to organize the paper, but be sure it is logical and easy to follow.

The Checklist:

  1. Introduction
  2. Analytical thesis statement
  3. Topic sentences
  4. Evidence: quotes, summary, paraphrase; personal experience, personal feelings, sources (optional, but cite them correctly)
  5. Analysis of the evidence (close reading)
  6. Counterargument/concession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works Cited
  9. Minimum of 1,500 words
  10. DUE Tuesday, Nov 18; hard copy in class with rough draft and rubric stapled AND uploaded to turnitin

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