Second essay: remember

Essay prompts are not short answer questions. Your thesis needs to be more than a restatement of the essay question. You’re not arguing that Douglass wears a variety of masks in his Narrative; I’ve already supplied you with that in the essay question.

With a prompt in mind, locate a few scenes in the book that fit well with that prompt.

Scene = a character’s meditation, dialogue between characters, the unfolding of an event, realistic description, a narrative unit of some sort. Douglass’ apostrophe to the sail counts as a scene. The odd six-page phrenological examination of Ruth Hall also counts.

Unpack the language of these scenes and determine how one is different from the other. (They are written with different words so they ought to be different.) What do the particular arrangements of literary elements in scene x produce? What about scene y? Always focus on form: metaphor, irony, ambiguity, diction, tone, point of view, narrative context.

You did this so well on the quiz. People talked about ominous moods, spectatorship, Rip’s struggle for control, Rip’s exclusion from the group. These are interpretative statements based on close reading. You could say these things only because you could back them up with textual evidence!

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