Symbolism, Allusions, and Irony (Paper #4 assignment): .
Paper 4 analyzes only one story and narrows the focus to symbolism, allusion, and/or irony.
You may want to use sources from research materials that you find online or in one of the
databases the ACC library collects. (Go to the ACC Library homepage to find the databases.)
–Academic Search Complete, JSTOR,
Literary Reference Center, MagillOnLiterature Plus , or Literature Criticism Online or Google
(You may not use wikipedia, smoot, enotes, or any of the other online “chea sheet” web sources
that appear first on the web menu when you key in the author and story title. If you use any of
these sources in the research paper, you must rewrite the paper. If you want to review them for
help understanding the stories, I have no quarrel with that, but they are not scholarly sources
and are not acceptable sources for academic research or papers).
Choose one of these stories: Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You
Been?” or John Cheever’s “The Swimmer.” Both stories are files on the Blackboard site, or you
may write about any story in the book you haven’t previously written about.
The basic outline of Paper 4 is
1. Title, author, plot summary, and thesis (includes both the story’s theme and the language
techniques you write about).
2. Identify your first example of a language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion) and
how the first language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion) contributes to or
illuminates the story’s theme.
3. Identify your second example of a language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion)
and how this second language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion) contributes to or
illuminates the story’s theme.
4. Identify your third example of a language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion)
and how this third language technique (symbolism, irony, imagery, allusion) contributes to or
illuminates the story’s theme.
5. A restate of your thesis and a summary of how you supported it.
6. An M.L.A.-style Works Cited page that gives the publication information for the story in the
form you read it and any other material you’ve used in your paper.
Read the discussion of Symbolism, Imagery, and Irony on the Blackobard page for this
class. Also read the section on Writing a Research Paper on owl.purdue or “Writing the
Research Paper pp. 1282.
As you read the story you’ve chosen, note any obvious uses of irony (whether verbal or
situational), of Symbolism (whether universeal/cultural or contextual), or Allusions made to other
literary works, histories, or myths. Then interpret what the Irony, Symbolism, Allusionss, or
Figurative Imagery are used for in the story, and the ends, meaning, and methods for which the
story uses these to bolster the theme.
Develop your ideas as you perform a close reading of the story. You may, but do not have to,
research literary criticism in the databases collected by the ACC Library’s online. (See ‘A-Z List
of databases link). Your paper needs to be at least 3 pages in length and include a Works Cited
page (so at least 4 pages.). Read research articles from outside sources to help you form your
paper’s main idea The means of finding those sources are listed above. .
The paper itself will examine a story and its use of symbolism, allusions, figurative
imagery and/or irony. You’ll examine these elements to understand how the story uses them to
communicate something about the story’s themes or meaning. So your paper’s thesis will
include a combination of the story’s theme and the language techniques you write about.
An example would be: “A&P” uses symbols related to the Cold War and the 1950s to show that
teenaers often make impulsive decisions they later regret but usually learn from.
Or “The Lottery” uses names as symbols to show that groups often continue follow outworn
traditions because of group-think or peer pressure.
Your interpretation of the story should be from inside the story–a close reading–that primarily
relies on the text of the story. So you’ll use quotations from the story itself as usual to support
your ideas. For quotations, whether from the story itself or from scholarly criticsm, you must use
in-text parenthetical citations for the quotations.
Best resources–ACC Library online databases Academic Search Complete, JSTOR or Gale
Literary Databases, from library’s webpage for Articles and Research: A-Z list of resources:
Multi-subject (from menu). Keywords–short story’s title and author.
Avoid plagiarism–intellectual property theft– by using M.L.A.-style documentation–in-text
parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page– when you paraphrase or quote from the
articles. Keep notes from your reading so that you don’t use the language of the original texts of
the article “by accident.” The articles you use should come from the library’s sources so that I
can easily find them. You must use (and introduce) at least one quotation from an outside
Begin Paper 4 in the manner you have already perfected with Paper 3: in the first paragraph,
use the title of the story, the author, a hook sentence, a brief plot summary, and the storys
central idea. The central idea is your interpretation of what the story is essentially about, in
general, what the story communicates about people, kinds of people, how people act or think, or
react to situations. Include as part of your thesis the language techniques you examine in the
paper. You may use one technqiues–say, symbolsim, and write about only examples of
symbolism in the paper, or you may write about 2 or 3 kinds of language technqiues.
Another example, your thesis could read John Cheever uses the symbolism of water too show
the unobserved life of a man’s fall from grade through overprivelege and alcolism. So the body
of your paper would analyze three symbols of water, say the River Lucinda, the rain Neddy is
caught in as he crosses the highway, and the diminishing quality of each pool as Neddy travels
the River Lucinda.
Or Cheever uses allusions, symbolism, and irony to show the unobserved aging and alcoolism
of a priveleged middle aged man’s fall from grace. So the body of your paper would analyze the
allusions to youth in the first part of the story (aphrodite, Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to
a summer’s day”), the symbolism of the River Lucinda and its swimming pools, and the irony of
the intrepid explorer ending up not finding the fountain of youth but a deserted and falling home.
Or Joyce Carol Oates uses allusions to fairy tales to show how young women, lured by the
bright, shiny aspects of popular culture, waits too long before she sees a dn is consumed their
Or Joyce Carol Oates examines the symbols of popular culture–the music, the drive ins–to
show that when young people cannot rely of society’s values, their belief in the superficiality of
popular culture can lead to their downfall.
The body of your paper, then, should e composed of three paragraphs that support your thesis.
Each paragraph analyzes a different aspect of the langauge lechniques you mention in your
thesis. As always, support what you say by using two quotations per paragraph and in-text
parentetical citations (the page number and author of whatever version of the story you use)
and a final page for the works Cited.
Remember, you may also support your interpretation in the rest of the paper with quotations
from research or source material. You must support your analysis with quotations from the
story. The paper is at least 3 pages in length, plus a separate Works Cited page.