Brookhaven The Swimmer By John Cheever Historical Analysis


Purpose: critical analysis, writing from sources

Length: 4 pages, approx 1200 words

Documentation: Minimum of 4 sources required. Documented in MLA format. (Note: review the material in “finding and evaluating sources” to help you choose relevant and trustworthy sources.)

Essay 2 instructions
Instructions for Essay #2 (English 1302 Online)
Literary Analysis
In this essay you should combine your practice responding and analyzing short stories with support derived
from research. So far, in the discussion boards, we have practiced primarily formal analysis. Now I want you
to practice “joining the conversation.” In this essay you will write a literary analysis that incorporates the
ideas of others. The trick is to accurately present ideas and interpretations gathered from your research
while adding to the conversation by presenting your own ideas and analysis.
You will be evaluated based on how well you use external sources. I want to see that you can quote,
paraphrase and summarize without plagiarizing. Remember, any unique idea must be credited, even if you
put it in your own words.
Choose one of the approaches explained in the “Approaches to Literary Analysis” located at the bottom of this
document. Each approach will require research, and that research should provide the context in which you
present your own ideas and support your thesis. Be sure to properly document your research. Review the
links in the “Writing about Literature” tab as these will help guide you.
While I am asking you to conduct outside research, do not lose sight of the primary text to which you are
responding—the story! Your research should support your interpretations of the story. Be sure that your
thesis is relevant to the story and that you quote generously from the story.
Purpose: critical analysis, writing from sources
Length: 4 pages, approx 1200 words
Documentation: Minimum of 4 sources required. Documented in MLA format. (Note: review the material in
“finding and evaluating sources” to help you choose relevant and trustworthy sources.)
Choose from the following short stories, all located in the folder in part 2.
A Perfect Day for a Bananafish
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
The Wall
The Swimmer
The Lesson
The Guest
At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers
The Bound Man
Below are some examples. I do not require you to choose one of these topics. They are just here to give you
an idea of the type of approaches that will work for this essay.
1. Philosophical analysis: How do the stories by Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus reflect the philosophy
of existentialism?
2. Socio/cultural analysis: What opinion about marriage and gender roles does Hemingway advance in
“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”?
3. Historical analysis:: What social dilemmas faced by African Americans in the 1960s might have
inspired Toni Cade Bambara to write “The Lesson”?
4. Biographical analysis: What events in Salman Rushdie’s life might have influenced the events in “At
the Auction of the Ruby Slippers”?
5. Psychological analysis: How is John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” a metaphor for the psychology of
Approaches to Literary analysis
Formal analysis – This type of analysis focuses on the formal elements of the work (language, symbolism,
plot, character, setting) in an effort to explain how the story functions. It is concerned with the parts of the
text and how those parts fit together to create meaning. Outside information such as the author’s background
and historical events are generally not referenced in formalist criticism. A formal analysis conceives of the
literary work as a self-contained experience.
If you choose this approach you will need to research scholarly interpretations of your selected story and
include those as part of the conversation.
Historical analys is- This type of analysis uses historical context to understand the work. Many 20 th century
stories can be best understood within the framework of major events: Industrialization, The Holocaust, WWII,
The Great Depression, The Civil Rights Movement, feminism, etc. A historical analysis will “base
interpretations on the interplay between the text and historical contexts.”
” a piece of literature is shaped by the time period in which it was written and thus must be examined and
interpreted in the context of that time period. This theory attempts to tie the characters, events and language
in a piece of literature to events from the time period in which it was written. ”
If you choose this approach for your literary analysis, you should be well aware of the major events of the time
Biographical analysis – This type of analysis uses the author’s life as a starting point for interpreting the
story. The belief is that it is necessary to know about the author and the political, economical, and sociological
context of his times in order to truly understand his works. How do the themes present in the story reflect
the concerns and experiences of the author? In this approach there may be considerable overlap with
historical analysis. That’s ok-they are not mutually exclusive.
Sociological analysis (cultural criticism) – This type of analysis interprets the story in term of social
structures: class, race, gender, culture, nationality or economics. Feminist criticism, postcolonial criticism,
Marxist criticism, etc. all fall into this category. It can also overlap with historical analysis. For example, a
Marxist criticism of Catcher in the Ryemight claim that Holden’s depression is derived from material wealth
and social inequality.
Philosophical analysis: This approach uses a philosophical framework from which to approach the
work. The belief is that the larger purpose of literature is to teach morality and to probe philosophical issues.
Existentialism is a common philosophy that find roots in literature, particularly in that of Sartre and
Camus. Here are some questions to ask if you are interested in this approach.
• What religious or ethical beliefs does the text deal with directly? Are any religions or
philosophies mentioned specifically in the text?
• What religious or ethical beliefs or philosophies does the author seem to favor? How can you tell?
• What religious or ethical beliefs or philosophies does the author seem to disfavor?
• What behaviors do the characters display that the author wants us to think are “right”?
Psychological Analysis: This approach uses theories of human behavior as a means of analyzing the story.
Psychological critics view works through the lens of psychology. They look either at the psychological
motivations of the characters or of the authors themselves, although the former is generally considered a
more respectable approach. Most frequently, psychological critics apply Freudian psychology to works, but
other approaches (such as a Jungian approach) also exist.
• Are there any specific psychologists or psychological theories mentioned in the text? In what
• What theories of human behavior does the writer seem to believe? How can you tell?
• What theories of human behavior does the writer seem to reject? How can you tell?
• How do people’> s minds work in the text? How do people think? How are their thoughts shown?
• In what ways do the structure and organization of the text indicate the writer’� s beliefs about
the workings of the mind?

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