English 102
Critical Response Paper #1
Due October 7
(500 word minimum; Typed, Double-Spaced, with Outline and Parenthetical Citations)
** Bring Four Copies and Three Peer Editing Sheets  **

Revised Paper Due October 21
(500 word minimum; Typed, Double-Spaced, with Revised Outline)
** In a FOLDER, Bring Final Draft, Instructor-Read Rough Draft, and Peer Editing Sheets! **
** Papers will NOT be accepted without a Folder**

The purpose of this paper is to allow you to discuss one of the works we have read so far this semester from a critical perspective. This means that you will not focus on your personal response to the work:  "I liked this story because I could relate to the main character's situation."  While such a discussion could be a very interesting and important one, it does not fit the scope of this class, which is designed to develop your critical discussion skills.

Some more specific hints:
See page discussing MLA Format (i.e. using proper header, etc. )

First and foremost, remember that this is a Critical response paper, NOT a Personal response paper.
You must maintain an academic perspective throughout your paper. You are presenting an argument and supporting it with evidence from the text or other sources.  Therefore, AVOID the following types of statements: "It seems to me," "I think," "I believe," and "It is obvious that." In fact, try to avoid using the first person altogether.

It must contain a strong thesis statement in a strong introductory paragraph.
Be sure your first paragraph is an overview of the contents of your essay. It's almost like an outline for your reader that is written in complete sentences. Sometimes it's helpful to go back and refocus your first paragraph after you've finished your essay.


The body of the essay should be filled with information related to your thesis.
Each paragraph has a topic sentence and a concluding sentence.  You should use evidence within your paragraphs which further explains what your topic sentence introduced.  Don't forget to clearly express your own opinions. Avoid repeating yourself.

Use past tense to discuss historical or biographical events, but present tense when discussing literature.
Each time your read a text, the events "occur" all over again. Therefore, as you describe these events, always use present verb tense:  "Missie May sleeps with Slemmons in order to make Joe happy."  "Sykes hides a snake in the bedroom to kill Delia."

Evidence is needed in your paper.
Be sure to "back up" all your points with either examples from the text, citations from the text or your outside resources.
Using proper MLA format, include parenthetical citations with proper punctuation and a Works Cited page.

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are critical to your reader.
Good grammar will make your ideas clearer to your reader. Proofread your paper. Check for spelling errors. USE SPELL-CHECK !
Do not use run-on sentences. Again, it's better to make shorter clearer sentences than long confusing ones.
Commas are often needed when you do write a longer sentence (but don't overuse them!).
Try to use smooth transitions between one paragraph and the next.

A strong conclusion leaves your reader fulfilled and your paper complete.
Briefly sum up your thesis. Perhaps your final thesis has a little more content than the thesis in your introductory paragraph
because the reader now knows where you are coming from.
Don't be afraid to make your final paragraph REALLY COUNT in some way. Again, it gives the reader something to remember you by.


Possible Paper Topics (You  may also create your own, as long as you have a clear focus and thesis statement):
  1. In "Sweat," why does Delia Jones stay with her husband Sykes? Which factors influence this decision? Religion, Economics, and Self-esteem are some possible areas to examine.  Your thesis should clearly state the degree to which any and/or all factors are influential.
  2. How do the townspeople function in either "Sweat" or "The Gilded Six-Bits"?  What is their role in relationship to the main characters and the plot?  How much do they influence the events that occur?
  3. Which "Characteristics of Negro Expression," as identified by Hurston in her essay of that name, appear in either "Sweat" or "The Gilded Six-Bits"? Discuss three different characteristics in your discussion.
  4. Discuss the use of symbolism in either "Sweat" or "The Gilded Six-Bits."  Choose at least three passages to discuss in terms of their symbolic importance.
  5. Explain the degree to which justice is served in either "Sweat" or "The Gilded Six-Bits." Do all the characters get what they deserve? Explain.