This portfolio assignment will consist of two separate assignments, the instructions for which are found on the following pages. You will assemble these two separate assignments into a portfolio and upload the single resulting file to the Fiction Portfolio Dropbox. Ensure that it’s easy for your reader to distinguish one assignment from another. I recommend beginning a new assignment on a new page.
Save your portfolio with the following name:
as a .rtf or .doc document and submit it to the Unit 2 Portfolio: Fiction Dropbox by the due date listed in the course Schedule.
Each assignment should be a minimum of three (3) double-spaced pages for a total of six (6) pages for this portfolio.
The discussions for this unit are tied to the assignments in this portfolio. Be sure to visit the discussion forums and read the instructions before beginning work on your portfolio assignments.
Assignment 1: Best Short Story (discussion piece below)
In order to fuel our discussions of what elements of fiction go into making a great short-short story, our first portfolio piece will nominate as “best” one short-short story from the list below. This assignment should be a minimum of three double-spaced pages.
Short-Short Story Choices to Nominate:
“Mericans” by Sandra Cisneros (88)
“Neighbors” by Raymond Carver (137)
“What I Have Been Doing Lately” by Jamaica Kincaid (146)
(All of the above are found in our text. Be sure to include the short-short story title and author’s name in your nomination essay and the related discussion post).
You will need to use at least two to three elements of fiction in your reasoning to justify why this short-short story is the best. For example, do you encounter a character that you cheer on even though you may also scream in your head, “Don’t do that! It’s the wrong choice!”? Do you find a setting that feels like the place you should have been born? Does the dialog sound like a conversation you wished you had with another? Does the plot compel you to “not be able to put the text down” – you HAD to read every page in just one sitting? (And so forth).
To decide which short-short story is the “best” you will need to first skim all the stories provided and make some notes on your impressions. Decide in which order to read the stories.Then read each story.
Once you have read the stories and decided which one is “best,” re-read the “best” and make some notes about its plot, setting, characters, point of view, and style (sentence structure, diction, and tone). Return to the Unit 2 lecture and use the guiding questions to help you. What is the theme of this story?
Once you’ve made your notes, you will be ready to draft and perfect your first essay for your Fiction Portfolio. Provide a thesis statement which incorporates at least three elements of fiction. A simple version of this would be: “Story A by Author B is the best short-short story because its setting, characters, and diction all show an easy-going, relaxed attitude that works perfectly to support its theme concerning the madness of modern life.” Note that this is just an example.
There is no right answer. Any one of the stories on this list is arguably the “best.” Your nomination will be accepted as long as you provide justification for your choice by referencing at least three elements of fiction (plot, setting, characters, etc).
Please draw from your existing knowledge of writing to put forth your best work on this essay. Note that while quotes and excerpts from the short-short story in question will help provide evidence for your reasons, the idea of this portfolio piece is NOT to summarize the plot (simply tell what happened in the story). Rather, talk about how the elements of fiction work together to create a memorable piece that you consider the “best” out of the choices given. Remember to put all borrowed phrases from the story in quotation marks.
Discussion piece – The short story “Neighbors” by Raymond Carver is the best on the list because it highlights the reality that some adults live . The story is set in an apartment and a contemporary world, where material things define success. This kind of living mirrors the lives of many people. The author associates jobs that most people consider boring with Bill and Arlene Miller. On the other hand, he associates a sales job, which comes out as being fun and interesting with Jim Stone. As expected, Bill and Arlene consider their neighbors, Jim, and Harriet Stone successful as evidenced by their frequent expeditions, parties, and the many hours spent with family. The plot of the story follows adventures of Bill and his wife Arlene as they salvage the opportunity to live a “fuller” life. It kicks off with the departure of their “successful” neighbor; their secret missions in their neighbor’s house and ends in suspense when they lock themselves outside the neighbor’s apartment. As much as most people would love to refute this fact, Raymond makes it known to us that we are happy until we realize we are not.
Just like Bill, some people are not happy with their jobs. A majority of these people got their current jobs for the money, to survive the difficult and trying times of economic depression. The author plays mind games on us and uses irony to describe Bill and Arlene’s life. He starts by telling us how happy the couple was, or so they thought. However, their actions contradict this revelation. The narrator highlights how they sometimes felt backward. They occasionally felt that all their peers had surpassed them in the journey of success. The couple’s dejection is evident when they see Jim and Harriet off. When Jim and Harriet Stone wave goodbye, Bill says that he wished it were they driving off presumably to have fun, instead of the Stone’s. His wishes highlight the level of discomfort in their life. This principle of wishful thinking applies to a majority of people who are not content with their situations and continually admire the lives of others.
Portfolio Piece #1 Writing and Rhetorical Expectations
1. Purpose/Audience: Convince your audience (your instructor and your peers) that the short-short story you are choosing to nominate is the “best” short-short story listed.
2. Focus/Organization: Include a clear and identifiable thesis statement, which will establish the focus of your essay, namely what short-short story you are nominating and why. The overall essay should be well organized, including an introduction, body, and conclusion addressing clearly the reasons for choosing the essay and giving evidence.
3. Evidence: Support your reasons for nominating the short-short story with quotes from the text. Be sure to include a page number with each quotation. (Note: remember this portfolio piece is NOT simply a summary of what the short-short story was about).
4. Style: Feel free to exercise your “voice” in this essay, providing it serves the purpose of convincing (not alienating or offending) your audience.
5. Mechanics: Be sure to proofread your essay for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Word-process using a 12-point font and use MLA formatting guidelines for margins, citations, etc. You do not need to include a works cited page for this essay as you will NOT be using outside resources. This portfolio essay is coming from your own enlightened opinions about what makes a good short story.
For this assignment you will choose one short story from the list below to analyze.
This assignment should be a minimum of three double-spaced pages.
“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien (97)
“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez (406)
After reading and commenting in the discussion forums for this unit, please write an essay in which you reflect upon the elements of fiction in your choice of short story. Feel free to reference the thoughts, ideas, and research of your classmates as you craft this second essay for your Fiction Portfolio. In addition, be sure to look at the many great ideas for writing about fiction interspersed throughout the fiction chapters in our textbook.
It can help to begin analyzing a work of fiction by considering an engaging question. Pick from among the many guiding questions in your textbook, or ask your teacher for help. Your answer to a guiding question will give direction to your paper, and help you identify how the elements of fiction work together to create an overall theme and a compelling reading experience.
In your essay, be sure to discuss at least three elements of fiction. Create an original title for your short story analysis that describes the uniqueness of your particular piece.
The Things They Carried
The setting of the story dates back to the 1970s and early 1980s during O’Brien’s reign as a literary scholar. The story’s seating takes place during the Vietnamese War that took place in a remote area where many of the occupants in today’s era and the audience of the story could not relate to their parents and adults in the given period of the story’s setting. The story’s theme and setting have a close relationship with its plot since O’Brien’s detailed emphasis on characters could appear to be significantly real as perceived by the audience or readers (O’Brien 23).
The author of the article outs the theme of Fear of Shame as Motivation as the most significant in terms of introducing the issue of the author’s personal experience as being ashamed before peers with authority in a war zone. The story explains the author’s war motivation where it becomes apparent that audience and readers that he does not want to fight since a warring situation could be unjust. Despite the ‘unjust’ thought, the author also has the perception and the belief that the idea of not fighting could mean cowardice (Wiener 61). Throughout the play, the author clear that the fear of shame as a motivation factor is an exceptional doctor that all humans have to encounter. In the story, the fear of shame, as the theme, brings the required motivation that is reluctant among men going to Vietnam and the eventual effects that could encounter during the war. In this case, the war setting and the plot of the story determines the significance of war in terms of creating social acceptance. A good example in the story is that involving a character having a ‘good’ tooth pulled to ease the shame encountered.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Bridgewater, NJ: distributed by Paw
Prints/Baker & Taylor, 2012. Print.
Wiener, Gary. War in Tim O’brien’s the Things They Carried. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011.
Short Story Analysis
Three important aspects in Tim O’Brien story are interrelated. When Tim is a soldier, he is quite in a mess and never expects to go into the war. Tim the writer, on the other hand, provides an account of what was happening to him while he was a foot soldier in Vietnam. Finally, Timmy the kid is nine years old when the prospective girl known as Linda dies of cancer. Tim O’Brien is the main character and thus serves as the foundation to the story. The main character experiences aspects of betrayal and uses his intelligence to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers. The supportive characters play a critical role in shaping the narrative. They reinforce the life and experiences of the main character since they have a direct interaction either positively or negatively.
The point of view of the story is narrating the crazy amounts of baggage after the experiences of the post-traumatic events. The perspective brought about in the book is that one cannot generalize war since people have different experiences. Using this perspective, the author continues to reinforce the idea by arguing out that the things happening in the war harbor huge amounts of literal truth that cannot be captured. The experience of the war applies differently to each individuals making them unique and shaping the character out of these experiences. The point of view reinforces the theme of the story by providing a differentiated analysis of personal woes conflicting the characters. The tone is a narrative and serves a huge role in reinforcing the theme by providing the past account of the events and merging them synthetically to attain the desired outcome. The lot, characters, point of view, and setting play an important role in cementing them. Indeed, nothing can work in isolation since they provide the continuity of events taking place. The story affirms the common observation that life is full of challenges and the author tells us that each individual has the will power of changing the course of life.
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