Essay 4: Setting Analysis
Focus: Select a short story from our textbook. Again, avoid using a story previously
used for another assignment and the story used for the sample essay. Study the
lectures and models pertaining to Setting Symbols.
Length: About 9-11 pages. Again, this is approximate based on previous student
submissions. (If you explain each symbol appropriately, your essay will naturally reach
the suggested minimum length.)
Description: Write a cohesive, grammatically correct analysis—this means that you
will offer much of your explanation—that analyzes specific setting symbols. The
model analysis is a basic guide—make sure to follow guidelines. Also review
the lectures about symbols. Please keep in mind that you are building upon previous
assignments. Directions for the previous assignments clearly indicate that
explanation/analysis is comprised of more than two or three sentences.
Introduction: More than one paragraph (see model paper)
Note: I’m not looking for a lengthy plot summary this time; you might offer two or three
sentences of summary to avoid an abrupt beginning. Avoid developing half a page or
more of summary as points will be deducted for doing so. Then, you should begin
discussion of the point of view, conflicts, and themes, offering brief explanation for
• Brief summary (mention of author’s name and story title in quotes).
• Identify the point of view, include at least one quoted story example, and offer brief
explanation for it (more than 2 sentences).
• Identify one external and one internal conflict, offering brief explanation for
each (more than 2-3 sentences—a quoted story example is not required).
• Identify the main theme and one sub-theme, offering brief explanation for each.
(more than 2-3 sentences—a quoted example is not required).
Body (several paragraphs)
The bulk of your analysis should identify and interpret setting symbols. I’m looking for at
least 20, no more than 30 specific symbols. It is not difficult to locate this many in a
short story. Seriously. Identify each symbol with an S and number in parenthesis; see
Here is an example of one symbol for Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
The narrator’s notice of “the great immovable bed—it is nailed down” (S1) (224)
symbolizes her inability to break free from her situation. Many beds, especially during
this time period, were big, bulky, and hard to move. Yet, it has still been nailed to the
floor, suggesting it is meant to stay in place. She is placed in a room (with the bed)
because John believes she will feel better there. However, the room actually causes
her more harm. The narrator seems to understand what will make her feel better, but
the fact that she is a woman during a time when men dictated what was best for a
woman, especially medicinally, indicates that she is unable to do as she pleases. Like
the immovable bed, she is nailed to her role in society.
Note: The first sentence is the claim stating what something represents. The next two
sentences explain the content of the claim first (before relating it to the story). The last
four sentences explain the claim in connection to the story. In total, there are six
sentences after the claim statement.
This is the format I ask you to follow for the development of each symbol. Include at
least 1-2 sentences explaining the content of the claim. Include at least 4+ sentences
to explain the claim in connection to the story.
Caution: If you identify 3 or 4 phrases, objects, people, etc. and indicate that they
represent the same thing, they will count as one symbol. Otherwise, what is to prevent
someone from listing 20 objects and stating that they represent the same idea? There
are more than 20 different symbols in your selected story.
You should organize your analysis chronologically. This means you will, of course,
analyze specific symbols as they appear, continuing to analyze setting symbols in the
ensuing scenes. You will probably (naturally) develop new paragraphs when you
begin to discuss a new scene. However, many of you might develop smaller
paragraphs related to one scene. You should not develop one long paragraph
that addresses all symbols; nor should you develop a five-paragraph essay.
Addressing setting symbols chronologically means you will not develop a separate
concluding paragraph. You will finish with the last scene, which will provide a cohesive
end to your paper—it should. Your paper should not end abruptly.
*Remember to write about literature in the present tense.
*Avoid the inclusion of first and second person pronouns, unless in quotes from
*Review the Submission Guidelines and Writing Tips handouts located in the Start
Here area of Blackboard.
*Please avoid including unnecessary phrases such as “in the story,” “at the end of the
story,” “at the end of the story,” (the two previous phrases can be included without
the words “of the story”), “from the story,” etc.
*Be very specific with claims and explanation. Do not, for instance, merely say
that “it’s spring, so it’s rebirth.” Find a specific quote/example from the story and
analyze how the symbol reflects the protagonist’s conflict at that moment or,
perhaps, foreshadows what will happen to the character—these are just
suggestions. Remember that foreshadowing is not symbolism.
* Include an accurately developed Work Cited page as not doing so will result
in up to 10 points deduction from the essay’s final grade.
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