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Critical Analysis of the short story “Pauls Case”


Must be received online at the Blackboard site by.  See Announcements, Module 1, for submission deadline date, and for process of saving first to Word, then copying to our BB site.


Although your D and Q responses and Analysis #2 relate to topical issues of importance to you, Analysis #1 will depart from those issues to examine a famous American short story.  This is to provide variety of experience for you.  Although the topic is literary, all of the principles of writing and argument you have been applying in your D responses apply here as well.  You should read one essay entitled “On Closer Examination:  Entering Conversations about Literature”to prepare for your reading “Paul’s Case”.  This introduction to critically analyzing a literary work will provide the needed background to write an outstanding analysis.  It appears as C-Document #1 in Part 1 of the Course Resources (C) attachment.

You will then analyze a limited aspect of Paul’s behavior in Willa Cather’s short story, “Paul’s Case,”in a 1000-word character analysis.  A copy of “Paul’s Case”appears as C-Document #2 in Part 1 of the Course Resources (C) attachment.




Please study the requirements for your submitted essay, as appearing in your “Essay Self-Evaluation Form,”(see C5-1) and in “Guidelines for Critical Writing”(see C5-4) as final guides to your writing.


Related to C5-1, “Essay Self-Evaluation Form”:  To earn an A grade on your Analysis #1, observe the requirements underlined (and starred before and after the underlined phrases) as related to Thesis, Analysis, Development Support, Structure, and Grammar.


Related to C5-4:   To earn an A grade, avoid the failings underlined (and preceded and followed with an “X”) in the nineteen (19)-item list, “Guidelines for Critical Writing,”that focus on Thesis, Content, Organization, and Style.


Also, see the model papers, “An Addict’s Case,”(C5-2) and “Paul’s Predictable Suicide”(C5-3) as guides to your assignment.


For your analysis of “Paul’s Case”:  You will write a classic, five-paragraph essay (1- paragraph intro, 3-paragraph body, 1-paragraph conclusion).  Models of the 3-part structure, paragraph form, and style appear as C2-1 and C2-2; neither model, however, is a guide to content, since neither is a literary analysis.


The goal of the essay is to help you learn to think critically; develop a thesis; write with coherence and structure; and improve your writing.  The essay is to be 1000 words long, typed and double-spaced, and is worth 68 points.  You must use the “Essay Self-Evaluation Form”and the “Guidelines for Critical Writing”(C5-1 and C5-4, respectively; they are the evaluative criteria you are trying to achieve.


First, write a one-sentence thesis statement that is arguable, limited and perceptive and in which you analyze one aspect of Paul’s behavior.  The thesis, which will become the last sentence in your first paragraph, must contain the three main points you plan to argue in your essay.  See C5-5 as a guide. (13 points)


Develop three (3) proof points (i.e., topic sentences) to defend your thesis.  See C5-3 as a guide. (15 points)


Then add evidence from “Paul’s Case”to defend each topic sentence. (33 points) You must directly quote from “Paul’s Case”a minimum of three (3) times in your analysis.  See C5-2 as a guide.


Finally, add an introduction and conclusion, following the form learned in your earlier writing classes or provided in list form in C30-3 (10 points).


Or see the model paper, “Paul’s Predictable Suicide”(see C5-3) as a guide to introductions and conclusions, as well as exemplifying “A”writing that addresses all standards required in C5-1 and C5-4. (10 points)


Follow the guidelines in C5-1 and C5-4 and in the second model critical analysis of “Paul’s Case,”entitled “An Addict’s Case,”presented as C5-2.  “An Addict’s Case”is of “A”quality, yet it pursues an organizational plan excluding both introduction and conclusion.  C5-3 provides both the intro and conclusion, as required for your analysis.  All are in Part 2 of the Course Resources (C) attachment.  Also, see C2-1 and C2-2 for non-literary essay models, excellent for format and style but not for the substance of your Critical Analysis #1.


Maximum points that can be earned are 68.  Thesis = 13; Three (3) Proof Points = 15 points; Evidence from “Paul’s Case”= 30 points; Introduction and Conclusion = 10 points.



Keys to Writing Excellent Critical Analysis #1


  • Address the many requirements identified in “Essay Self-Evaluation Form”(C5-1), and “Guidelines for Critical Writing”(C5-4).
  • Insure your thesis possesses perceptiveness, with perceptiveness being defined as “departing from the obvious; or approaching the original”. Perceptiveness of thesis can be present only if a critical reading and critical consideration of “Paul’s Case”first occurs, so that the required critical analysis at a level beneath the surface of the plot line can result.  (C5-5 provides 14 model theses but only #2, 4, and 13 are above average in perceptiveness.
  • Insure your thesis contains the “three main points you plan to argue in your essay”. (In C5-5, only #2 and #4 do so.)
  • Begin body paragraphs with “proof points (i.e., topic sentences) to defend your thesis”. Use the model papers, “An Addict’s Case”(C5-2) and “Paul’s Predictable Suicide”(C5-3), both of which provide clear illustrations of appropriate topic sentences, i.e., proof points.
  • Provide evidence from “Paul’s Case”, not unsubstantiated opinion upon unsubstantiated opinion. Three (3) types of textual evidence from “Paul’s Case”are available:  1) direct quotations from “Paul’s Case”; 2) references to “Paul’s Case”in your own words; and 3) most important, inferences, i.e., efforts to read between the lines that try to answer the questions, “Why?”and “What Does This Mean?”, in relation to “Paul’s Case”.  Skillful use of evidence contributes 30 of the 68 points available for the essay.  Unfortunately, a retelling of the story line, not an analysis of “a limited aspect of Paul’s behavior”, often dominates, yielding poor writing.
  • As is specifically required, i.e., “directly quote from Paul’s Case”a minimum of three (3) times.
  • Provide an introduction and a conclusion that follow the required form. (See C5-3 and C30-3.)
  • Use Literary Commentary websites (C1-2) if you wish; but you must formally credit all sources used.


Please follow carefully all Analysis #1 instructions, just above. (A4-5 –A6-2), and in Announcements, Modules 2 and 6.  Since the standards in C5-1 and C5-4 will be the exclusive evaluation criteria, apply them with care.  Be especially attentive to “Keys” in A6-1.

Last Updated on March 14, 2018

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