the virgin blue by tracy chevalier

minimum 1,000 words for the final at-home essay.


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Titles: Titles must contain the title and author of the story, novel, or play you are writing about and should also reflect the topic of your essay.



Introductions must make reference to the author, title, setting (time and place), and subject of the essay.


Intros. must also show a clear link to the thesis. Avoid vague, general, or “random” observations about life in your intros. Tell me what I need to know about the conflict in the story, for example, or whatever is relevant to the story itself and will lead logically to your thesis. Otherwise, your intro. will serve no useful purpose in introducing the thesis.


The thesis must be the last sentence or sentences of the introduction.

The thesis for this essay is: The novel explores Ella’s journey of self-discovery as she overcomes the challenges she faces in an effort to decide the direction her life will take.


The Body of the Essay:

1. Every body paragraph must contain a topic sentence that demonstrates precisely what is being proven or argued in the paragraph, and each topic sentence must show a clear development of and connection to the thesis. The purpose of the paragraph itself is to assisting in “proving” or supporting your topic sentence, whereas the topic sentence sets out, at the very beginning, the main focus of your argument in each paragraph. Think of your topic sentence as a mini thesis for your paragraph.


2. Each body paragraph MUST contain at least three relevant quotations which, A., support claims you make in your essay, and B, are capable of being analyzed—not summarized—by the student. Any essay without quotations will fail. Furthermore, any essay that does not demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze the author’s words will receive a low or failing mark, since the purpose of an analytical essay is to interpret the author’s choice of words and what they suggest or imply.

Feel free to exceed three quotations, if necessary.


3. Each body paragraph must refer to one or more literary devices used in the part of the text being discussed in that particular paragraph. For example, you may wish to point out in one paragraph that a character’s statement is ironic (irony is a literary device), and in addition to saying something is ironic, it is necessary to explain why something is ironic.


4. Literary devices should always be discussed in connection to an idea you are presenting. Never simply observe that a story has “a lot of symbolism.” Be prepared to say that something is symbolic and then analyze and explain the symbolism. Furthermore, avoid saving all your literary devices to “dump” into one paragraph where they will likely appear random and displaced, as if you didn’t know how to demonstrate their relevance within the essay.


5. Don’t be stingy with examples of symbolism or irony or other important literary devices. If a scene you’re analyzing has more than one important symbolic element, for example, do not simply quit after mentioning one, or your argument will, very likely, be incomplete.


6. Conclusions:

A conclusion should begin by rewording your thesis statement. It should never provide a list of all the main points just discussed in your essay, nor should it end with a question (that only worked in high school), or suddenly veer off in a totally different direction, as if the writer is about to start a new essay on a brand new subject. Ideally, you are trying to say something meaningful about the author’s intentions, perhaps, or to add something to your analysis that you haven’t really covered fully in the essay. For instance, if you’re writing about the negative influence of patriarchy on the lives of the female characters in Blood Relations, you might want to conclude your discussion with some reference to the fact that although the author is not condoning murder by any means, she is attempting to show, fairly sympathetically, how an ordinary, middle-class woman may have been driven to it.

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