Thursday, April 3, 2008

Structure of your Motif Paper


1) Introduction should build to your assertion. Think about describing the function of your object or image, and then build to what you will attempt to prove.
2) For your assertion, make sure it is pointing to a larger idea and not just a fact. It must be something that can be debated.
3) Outline your paper with a series of questions. For now, keep the questions in the body of the essay; we can get rid of them later if needed.
4) Within each answer, keep focus. You need not summarize. I know the book. Just give me context. The necessary facts.
5) Hopefully, your analysis ties all of your answers together and reinforces your initial assertion. You may find you need to go back and revise your initial assertion/claim. That is okay.

Here is what I did:

1) I created my assertion: In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses the red hunting hat as a motif, a recurring image/object to suggest Holden’s struggle to cover up his past and his search for the future.

2) I knew I would have to focus on the function of the object. So I listed questions.
What does it cover?
What does it protect?
What is he hunting/searching for?
What is he hunting or shooting?
Does the hunt end? If so, what is important about it?

3) I proceeded to answer each question and focus my writing to lead to the next question. They typically did.

4) In answering each question, I analyzed the evidence as I went. I knew I had to keep going back to my assertion. If I was going to say that the hat protected Holden from the weather, I better be sure to say that the weather had something to do with his search for the future. Always go back to your assertion.

5) I made sure to only give the necessary details. For example, instead of describing the whole scene with Holden and Ackley and how Holden judges Ackley, I chose to simply say that Holden called him a "goddam moron", that was enough.

6) My conclusion was brief, because I felt I said most of strong points in the proceeding paragraph.

WHERE TO BEGIN? Use the questions. Use your paper proposal. I will work with you on organization. The key to this assignment is constantly go back to your assertion. What is the big idea/message that the motif is pointing towards? This is not just what it symbolizes, but rather what it means.

Good luck.

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