We close read literature in order to find some deeper aspect of the story for a greater understanding of what it offers us. When we close read, we analyze the details of a passage in a text, using its words and structures to see something more than we might upon its surface level.

In this five page assignment, your close reading of a text will guide some kind of claim with evidence to support an overall argument. Select a quotation from any story we read between (and including) Anton Chekhov and Dorothy Allison to write about. Select a statement which stands out to you for some compelling, interesting, weird, challenging, substantial reason and use it to discuss something deeper (for instance, one of theme, character development, or authorial choice). Choose a quotation that appears significant and relevant for an overarching, focused topic worth discussing. Then explain its significance to the text.

Consider the following questions to form an essay around a particular quotation:

What did you first notice about the quotation that stood out to you? What makes it stand out? What mood does it create and why? Does it contain any details that express or relate to themes in the entire work? What is its overall significance to the plot, the characters, and/or the main points the author attempts to express?

Are there patterns or repetition of words, themes, ideas, or sentence structure? What is the significance of these patterns or repetitions?

Are there ambiguities that alter interpretations of the story? Are there places where the text remains unclear (words that have more than one definition, symbols with multiple implications, actions that suggest opposing ideas about a character or narrative)? What do these ambiguities say about the story overall? What significance do they contain?

Are there places where the text seems to contradict itself? Do the characters contradict themselves? Why might this occur? What does that say about the story, or writing fiction in general?

Consider alternatives: What could the author have done with a particular word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, description, detail, aspect of character or plot development but did not (such as why the author chose a certain word over other words)? What would you expect the author to talk about that was avoided?

*Do not try to answer all of the above questions in the paper. Your goal is to write a unified, organized argument about something you see happening in the text. Form some kind of main claim (thesis statement) involving a quotation and provide context and evidence from the story itself to say something of substance. Be sure to support your central claim with other quotations and evidence from the story. You may bring in outside sources, but it is not required for assignment #2 (it will be for assignment #3).