UMGC The Fall of the House of

analyze a short story through the lens of a secondary source.  

Write a literary analysis paper that states a clear, arguable thesis supported with evidence from the story and article. 

  • Integrate textual evidence from the story and article using the techniques of paraphrasing, quoting, and/or summarizing. 
  • The article “Does Reading Fiction Make Us Better People?” examines the idea that reading fiction enhances our compassion and empathy—that is, our ability to identify with other people’s experiences and relate to what they feel and think in their “interior lives” (Hammond). A story may introduce us to human concerns and emotions by painting a picture of characters’ lives. 
  • The article’s studies present a few events that have been used to gauge people’s empathy. For instance, how does reading a novel about a man suddenly going blind help us empathize with people who are visually impaired? 

Remember in “Week 1:  What Are the Benefits of Literature,” you were introduced to some of the scientifically proven benefits of reading literature. From Week 1 Insights: 

No matter the reader, no matter the writer, no matter the genre, literature is a cultural artifact—a manifestation of the human experience. Thus, it can teach us about our society and about ourselves. It enables us to experience alternate lives from the safety of our armchairs, to project ourselves onto characters and environments, to explore worlds we would otherwise never experience. 

Studies show that reading literature benefits us in profound ways.  

It promotes empathy and social skills (Castano and Kidd). 

It alleviates symptoms of depression (Billington et al.). 

It helps business leaders succeed (Coleman). 

It prevents dementia by stimulating the mind (Thorpe). 

For this paper, choose another story and consider the following question: What does this story have to teach us about empathy for others? In responding to this question, your focus will be on the themes that arise from your close readings of the story. You will develop an argument on what the story teaches us about empathy and how it is conveyed.

Alternatively, you may choose to argue that the story does not teach us about empathy. In either case, you will use elements from the story to support your argument. 

In addition, you will use evidence from at least one of the following articles to support your argument: 

Schmidt, Megan. “How Reading Fiction Increases Empathy and Encourages Understanding.”  Discover Magazine. 28 Aug. 2020.   

Castano, Emanuele and David Kidd. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” Science. 18 Oct. 2013; 342 (6156): 377-80. 

Coleman, John. “The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals.” Harvard Business Review, 2012. 

Thorpe, J.R. “Why Reading Poetry Is Good For Your Brain.” Bustle, 20 Apr. 2017. 

Most of the articles in this list were referenced in the Week 1 Insights (see above). You should also refer to “Week 6 Insights:  Integrating Sources Using Your Own Voice” for guidance on working with your chosen article. 


As you used three discrete literary elements in Paper 1 to support your thesis, you have learned that literary elements such as plot, characterization, setting, and theme are not always separate and distinct. Rather, these elements tend to inform each other, making the story a cohesive narrative.   

For Paper 2, you will focus on one significant theme from the story. Your reading of that theme in the story will have affected or even changed how you think about that theme and the dimensions of it in real life.

Some themes to consider (or you may identify another one by consulting your professor):? 

Gender roles (“Jury of Her Peers,” “Bloodchild,” “Miss Brill”) 

Sexuality (“Giovanni’s Room,” “Bloodchild”) 

Relationships (“Bloodchild,” “Giovanni’s Room”) 

Marriage (“Jury of Her Peers”) 

Race (“Giovanni’s Room,” “Recitatif,” “Bloodchild”) 

Parenting (“Recitatif,” “Bloodchild”) 

Class (“Recitatif,” “Giovanni’s Room”) 

Themes can be initially identified as one- or two-word subjects, such as those in the list above.  Yet, you will want to take your investigation of the theme further to ask what it is about that subject that you want to explore and convey in your paper. You will need to determine first that the theme you choose does in fact elicit empathy in you as a reader.  Then, you will need to do the work of organizing your warrants—main points—that explain what it is that the story teaches us about empathy. And, you will need to gather supporting evidence—examples from the text—that support the warrants.

For example, if you focused on the theme of sexuality in “Giovanni’s Room,” you could say that the story helped you to understand and empathize with the main character’s struggles with his sexuality. So, you could argue that the story helps readers to empathize with the internal struggles that a homosexual person must face in a society that privileges heteronormativity.

In other words, your paper’s argument will prove that reading and analyzing the story has shown you different viewpoints and thus can increase empathy in readers. 

Remember that your Writing Process is recursive and iterative. You should refer to your earlier writing work in this class as well as the learning resources. The Thesis Statements handout and Learning Resources from Week 3 will be helpful. Your thesis for this paper may vary from the boilerplate, but it must still include a claim and three warrants.  

Sample thesis structure:  

[Story X] helps us to understand [theme/issue Y] by promoting empathy through [warrant 1], [warrant 2], and [warrant 3] 

Sample thesis statement: 

The conflicts between male and female characters in Susan Glaspell’s story “A Jury of Her Peers” helps readers have more empathy for the oppression of women through its depiction of Mrs. Wright’s marriage, the women’s roles, and the inequality between men and women in the story. 


Refer to the work you did and feedback you received from Paper 1. The outline is a straightforward way of listing and organizing the ideas connected to your claim and three warrants for your five-paragraph essay.? Your task in drafting this paper is to expand the levels of your outline in more detail.?Next, you will convert the bulleted items from your outline into well-crafted sentences, and then combine those sentences into well-organized, logical paragraphs.? 

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