Posted: March 24th, 2022
Winesburg, Ohio essay exam question
Remember that this essay exam is partly preparation for the English Department Final Exam. Review the grading rubric for that exam, so as to see in detail how the exam will be graded. Most important: Your essay needs to have a clear, specific, and interesting thesis. It also needs evidence supporting and explaining that thesis in the form of examples and passages from the story. It should be between 500 and 700 words in length with a clear beginning, middle, and end. For this exam, write ONE essay about just ONE of the stories, so as to be able to focus on ideas in your essay.
In many stories in Winesburg, Ohio we see a snapshot of a character’s frame of mind at one moment or a few moments in time. Can we draw from the stories larger conclusions as to lifelong desires, hopes, and fears of characters? Or, do the stories reflect characters’ momentary states of minds, perhaps on impulse, in the life events that are the focus of the story? For example, would you say, based on details in the story, that Alice, in “Adventure,” always wants to marry Ned, or that she always hangs on to the idea of marrying Ned, or, perhaps, might it give her something romantic to think about at times? Has Seth, in “The Thinker,” always deep down wanted to date Helen, or has George Willard’s interest in Helen led Seth suddenly in one moment to feel interest in Helen also? Does Ray, in “The Untold Lie,” truly wish he were not married with children, or is his craving for freedom a temporary feeling brought on by fall weather, memories of boyhood, and Hal’s situation with Nell?
Choose ONE of the stories, and write a full essay with examples from the story you have chosen among our readings from Winesburg, Ohio. Explain to readers of your essay how details from the story support your reading of the character’s frame of mind in the moment versus over time.
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