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The first page of the essay is to introduce a one page, single-spaced sentence outline. Follow this with 5 pages of analytical text. You may use outside resources, and be sure to add a works cited page if you quote from other sources. Follow the MLA format when you set up the Works Cited.
To begin with, decide on a theme—a central point. Yes, you can set it up as your title; as a question in the title, but DO introduce, in an explicit way in the introduction, the theme. AVOID: “This paper will discuss,” or “I am going to talk about.” Also avoid first person as much as possible, but not exclusively, if you cannot help it. Bold type the theme of your essay in the first paragraph.
Analyze, analyze, analyze.
Only give summary in small doses.
The Essay: It must be double-spaced and must follow the MLA format.
Background: The reason for setting up tests is to encourage students to complete the reading. Some students challenged specific answers. When I returned to the readings, I noticed that incorrect answers students gave were often at the beginning of the novel. Naturally, I am suspicious that these students “scanned” the readings for answers, and maybe, just maybe did not read the entire book. The readings were varied and I hope you found them interesting. The intention was to give you some “meat” to chew on for analysis, insights, and innovative interpretation about the essay.
The 5-page essay. Throughout the many years I have been teaching, I still see that students fail to think and write critically. Each individual has his/her strengths, i.e., ability to write—grammar, mechanics, organization; ability to analyze—to read between the lines—to understand subtext. How to explain subtext? The words on the page are the text; the subtext is what we sometimes refer to as “reading between the lines.” When you read, your mind will react to the reading; listen to those ideas. Hopefully, you are thinking between the lines and beyond the letters/words on the page (that is about the content and not personal distractions). What I am suggesting is that you interpret the text, the message, or the intention of the writer, article or literature. There are different ways to approach the writing.
“LA GUERA” : READ this essay TWICE in order to follow the details below.
You are not to write an essay about “La Guera,” but you are to read it. The purpose is for you to then understand my analysis below. I wrote the analysis to give you an example of how you read and then write critically—or how you read between the lines.
An example of analysis:
Let us examine the following: Cherrie Moraga passed as white for many years–
The fact that Moraga was light-skinned appears in the early part of the essay, and yes, Moraga is light-skinned. This is on the page in black and white. However, Moraga passed as white because white, historically, equaled privilege. White is privilege. The essay does not say this specifically in black and white, yet it is within the subtext, and throughout the essay. “White is right,” historically provided opportunities in education, employment, housing, politics and even culturally, for white people–white was/is better. White is right means much more than the color of her skin. She was privileged, and had more opportunities because she “passed” for white. When she embraced her lesbian sexuality she began to feel different because she was treated as different. She was no longer a white girl; she was a lesbian “white” girl. It was during this phase of her life she began to explore her Mexican-American “half”—her mother’s culture. Moraga came into her own at this time because as a lesbian she faced discrimination; and then she understood her mother’s struggle and the discrimination her mother experienced as a Mexican woman living in the United States. Moraga was no longer simply a white girl; she was a lesbian, Mexican-American woman who turned angry because of the prejudice against her lesbianism and her non-white heritage. Quickly, this radicalized Moraga and she turned to feminism to express her right to be who she wanted to be—a radical, feminist, Chicana lesbian with a political consciousness about all four categories; and from this point on she chose to live her life differently—at this time in her personal history she changed her persona, and developed a “voice” for women who are the same; and then she could no longer face the “world” as a white girl with privilege. Since Moraga first wrote this essay, she has lived her life speaking out for women who fall within all, or any one of these identities. This is analysis.
(I brought Cherrie Moraga to campus several years ago.)
Another way to approach analysis would be to consider three steps:
1. What does it say? This retells the detail of the story (Use this minimally.)
2. What does it mean? That race and class discrimination exists.
3. Why does it matter? Class and racial discrimination is wrong (yet common). In the case of racial discrimination it is so wrong and
it is against the law.
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