First (and Last ) Impressions

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” This quote — the first sentence of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude — is one of the great openings in literary history. It’s hard to disagree: The sentence plunges us immediately into a drama, acquaints us with a character on the brink of death, and yet intrigues us with the reference to his long-forgotten memory. That sentence makes us want to keep reading.

Hence this assignment: choose a short-story (from the ones listed under this Unit*) whose opening words, sentences, and/or paragraphs grab and hold your attention. Then explain how this prepares you for what follows. Identify at least two elements of fiction (setting, point of view, diction, etc.) and discuss how they function in the passage.

*Please note that the following short-story has just been added to the syllabus; you may consider it for both the Discuss and Complete assignments under this Unit:

Guy de Maupassant, “The Necklace” (1884), available here

Alternatively, explicate the final paragraph of a story. What does the ending imply about the fates of the story’s characters, and about the story’s take on its central theme?

Brass Tacks

  • Compose a minimum of one substantive, well-written literary analysis. Your paragraph must be 200+ in length and incorporate textual evidence (words, phrases, etc.) that are properly cited (page numbers in parentheses at end of sentence, before the period).
  • Compose a minimum of two (2) collaborative posts in response to other students’ observations and analyses throughout the week at different times. Good responses are 100-200 words and incorporate some form of textual evidence (either from other students’ posts or from the course texts). To keep the conversation fluid and clear, be sure to state the name of the person whose post you’re responding to: “John, I really liked how you ….”
  • Review the DISCUSS grading rubric posted in the syllabus for guidance.
  • Remember to use present tense when discussing literary texts or arguments.

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