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Analyze a Short Story

Paper Masters has analyzed countless short stories throughout our 18 year history. It is our goal as professional academic writers to teach our clients the best way to write by providing as close to perfect custom written research papers. On this page, we attempt to show you the skills our writers use to analyze a short story by using Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

Analyzing a Short Story
Here is an example, using Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find, on how to go about analyzing a short story. Paper Masters also provides guidelines to other short stories such as:

Shiloh by Bobbi Ann Mason

Blue Hotel by Stephan Crane

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

Editha by William Dean Howells

A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

The Rockpile by James Baldwin

Soy La Avon Lady by Lorraine Lopez

Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

A Problem by Anton Chekhov

How to Analyze a Short Story

Begin by analyzing the meaning (theme) of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O'Connor.

Goals of Analyzing a Short Story:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the form of literary criticism you have chosen.
  • Write a unified essay with an assertive thesis in one sentence
  • Use relevant quotes from the story (at least two) to support your interpretation
  • If you consulted literary criticism (optional) to develop your interpretation, credit the source by According to…

Outline That Illustrates How to Analyze a Short Story

Paper Masters recommends the following outline structure for Analyzing a Short Story:

    1. Introduction
      1. Hook- Grab reader’s attention
      2. Name your chosen story
      3. Briefly describe the setting
      4. Use two good transition sentences to move smoothly into your thesis statement
      5. State thesis fully in one assertive sentence that forecasts the plan of your essay
    2. Body Paragraph #1-2
      1. BRIEF plot summary (assume your reader has not read the story)
      2. BREIF Character description
      3. Introduce the first assertion of your thesis (provide evidence to support your point)
    3. Body Paragraph #3-4
      1. Describe the major conflicts in the story (use quotes)
      2. Introduce the second assertion of your thesis (provide evidence to support your point)
    4. Body Paragraphs #5-6
      1. Discuss how the above elements of fiction work together to allow the reader to experience the theme emotionally (and intellectually if relevant). Be sure to label the theme as explicitly as possible. Use quotes from the story as needed to support your view of theme.
      2. Introduce the final assertion of your thesis (provide evidence to support your point)
    5. Conclusion
      1. Re-state your thesis
      2. Conclude with a personal appeal of the story (consider reconnecting with the hook)

About Analysis and Research Papers

About Your Thesis

You must begin setting up your research paper with a good thesis. Here is an example of good thesis:
The Story of an Hour” uses a middle-class setting, static and dynamic characters, an ironic plot and typical conflicts to demonstrate that some marital relationships may not be what they seem. Please be sure that your thesis is a declarative statement, not a question, and discover more precisely what main point you want to make about the story.

A Note on Content

In writing an essay that analyzes how elements of fiction convey theme in a short story, use at least these essential elements of fiction: setting, characters, plot (including conflict and resolution), theme and personal appeal. Other elements that may be useful but may be difficult to handle in a short essay are narration/point of view tone, imagery, symbolism, motifs, form or storytelling technique. If you choose to include the more difficult elements, be sure to define the elements for your readers.

Remember that academic writing is typically done in the third person (he, she, it, they). Please avoid addressing the reader directly (using “you”) and the use of first person (I, my) in your essay. Be sure that your thesis is underlined and at the end of your introductory paragraph.

Format Guidelines for Analyzing a Short Story

  • Your analysis research paper should follow the general five-paragraph format.
  • It should also have a discernible beginning, middle and end.
  • Documentation of quotes is always necessary; use quotation marks and make sure the reference is clear to the reader by identifying who does or says whatever.
  • If literary criticism is used, introduce the quote by saying “ According to…(name of critic and title of article)”