Honors American Literature Summer Assignment
You will write three analytical paragraphs using the structure on the reverse side of this
paper. It is the format used when an analytical paragraph STANDS ALONE (as opposed
to when it is a body paragraph in an essay). Below you will find three pieces of literature
and the prompts for the three analytical paragraphs.
1. Read “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe
Prompt: Consider the mood of this short story. Choose one literary device Poe
uses to establish the mood. How does Poe use this device to establish the mood?
Hints: The key to your interpretation is the word HOW. In your interpretation, you must explain HOW the
device helps to create whatever you choose to be the mood. Do not simply identify the device. Identify the
device and then explain HOW! (samples of devices include, but are not limited to: repetition, sensory
imagery, metaphor, exclamation, symbolism, typography)
2. Read “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln
Prompt: Explain how Lincoln uses the stylistic technique of parallel structure to
support the theme of this speech.
Hint: Remember, theme is not just an idea, but a MESSAGE that he is trying to get across. Lincoln gave
this speech shortly after the battle of Gettysburg, at which time both the Union and Confederate sides had
lost over 20,000 men. Many of his listeners had lost loved ones, and some were questioning whether the
war should continue.
3. Read “Why Soldiers Won’t Talk” by John Steinbeck
Prompt: In this essay, Steinbeck uses intense sensory imagery to convey soldiers’
physical reactions to battle. Explain how Steinbeck connects the physical with the mental,
paying particular attention to theme.
Hint: Once again, theme is not just an idea, but a MESSAGE that he is trying to get across. The key to
Steinbeck’s thesis/message is in the title. Notice the word choice.
Topic sentence (thesis) = 1 sentence
Analysis = 1 sentence
Context = 1 sentences or clause
Evidence = quotation (may be 1-3 sentences)
Interpretation = 3-4 sentences
Anchor = 1 sentence (or include key words in final sentence of interpretation)
Total = 7 to 11+ sentences
1. If you have fewer than 7 sentences, your paragraph is not acceptable.
2. Thesis should include key words in prompt. Don’t make your thesis complicated; make it clear and
3. Don’t use more than one quotation. Don’t let your quotation be too long. Include only the quotation, or
part of quotation, that proves your thesis (and make sure it does). Use MLA format.
4. Interpretation is the key to a strong paragraph. The first sentence of your interpretation should directly
address actual words used inside the quotation that lead to the proving of your thesis.
Analytical Paragraph Structure
In an essay, the analytical paragraph is a body paragraph. It presents evidence in order to
prove the thesis. When an analytical paragraph stands alone (is not in an essay), the topic
sentence is the thesis.
When an analytical paragraph stands alone:
TOPIC SENTENCE (thesis, when not a body paragraph in an essay)
• is a direct response to the prompt
• makes an arguable claim
• develops the idea expressed in the topic sentence before evidence is introduced
• answers questions(s) raised by the topic sentence
(generally “How?” or “Why?” or “So what?”)
• defines terms of/adds depth to topic sentence
CONTEXT / EVIDENCE / INTERPRETATION
Context: (of the evidence, which is usually a quotation)
• Gives brief background of who is speaking, what is going on in a piece
(John Smith writes of his encounter with the Indians, “they all
laid down their bows and arrows.” -or- Steinbeck endorses the
potential of the American dream: “The fact that we have this dream at
all is perhaps an indication of its possibility.” Context is in bold here.)
• is linked to context
• supports the claim (i.e. proves the thesis)
• is usually a quotation
Interpretation: (immediately follows evidence)
• links the evidence to the thesis
• explains HOW this evidence proves thesis (Interpret all evidence
immediately after introducing it, even if the interpretation seems
obvious to you!)
• anchors evidence to thesis
• summarizes argument of paragraph using terminology of thesis
SUMMER MEETINGS: (optional)
Tuesday, July 31 and/or Tuesday, August 14 – Gelato Vera Café (3753 India Street, San
Diego, CA 92103). Take interstate 5 to the Washington Street exit (by airport and
skate spot) 9:15-12:00 – Open house: I will be upstairs at Gelato Vera during this
time. Stop by any time before 11:30 to get help with your paragraphs. First come
first serve. Do not show up empty handed if you want help. Bring draft(s) for me
to look over/edit.
Paragraphs will be collected the first week of school. Late work will receive less credit.