Literate Analysis

Smoke SignalsChoose one idea from the list below, or come up with an idea on your own, and write a three page literary analysis on it.  Be specific within your analysis.  Make it clear that you have seen the movie and can choose appropriate details from the movie to support your claims.There is a lot of talk about fire in this movie; even the title relates to fire.  The opening scene is fire.  Arnold’s trailer is burned.  Thomas mentions that some children are born of fire and ash.  What does all this mean?This is a journey story, both externally and internally.  Summarize briefly (no more than one paragraph) the external journey and then focus on the internal journey.  What kind of journey/changes take place in Victor and/or Thomas.Victor is ready to leave Suzy Song’s the minute he gets his dad’s ashes and the truck, but Thomas finagles it so they stay a while.  Why does Thomas do this and what takes place.  Don’t simply summarize what literally happens.  Why is this important?The backwards driving car takes Thomas and Victor to the border of the reservation where they catch a bus.  Thomas tells a story in trade for the ride.  What is the significance of this, of the story he tells, of the car driving backwards?At one point Arlene says, “you know how Indians feel about signing papers.”  What does that mean?  What is she alluding to?  While she is making fry bread, Victor tells her she makes the best fry bread around and she acknowledges that people do say that, but she says she has help from a lot of people and she lists them.  What is the point of that story.  Later, Thomas tells Suzy Song a story about how Arlene made fry bread for a Thanksgiving dinner but didn’t have enough to go around but she figured it out and fed everyone.  What is that story all about and what biblical story does it allude to.There is a lot to be said about identity in this movie, and stereotypes of identity.  At one point Victor tells Thomas that Thomas needs to look more like an Indian, but Victor’s ideas of what an Indian looks like seem to come from old Westerns on tv.  Explain.Thomas is always telling stories, stories about Arnold protesting war, stories about Arlene’s frybread, Bible stories, some of which are true and some of which seem more fiction, but they seem to have a point.  Thomas also is always talkingabout Victor’s dad.  What is Thomas’s role on the reservation and what is he trying to do?On the way home from Suzy Song’s the guys get into a car accident and later end up at the hospital and then the Sheriff’s.  What is the point of this section of the movie?For your final paper in this class, you will do a literary analysis, analyzing something out of Smoke Signals.Analysis is “the examination of a piece of literature as a means of understanding its subject or structure.  An effective analysis often clarifies a work by focusing on a single element such as tone, irony, symbolism, imagery, or rhythm in a way that enhances the reader’s understanding of the whole.  Analysis comes from the Greek word meaning to ‘undo,’ to ‘loosen'” (Kennedy and Gioia  1463).  You might also analyze a character, a setting, a theme or any number of aspects in a story. However, for this paper I want you to choose only one aspect, for example, one character, or a setting, or symbolism, etc.  Refer to the chapter in your book on literary analysis, and the examples in that chapter, for further guidance. Your introduction should let the reader know the title and author of the piece you are working with.  Your thesis statement should also appear in your introduction and I would like you to underline it.  Your thesis statement will be the claim you make for what you are going to analyze in this paper.  Thesis statements always serve as a kind of map for the paper; they give the reader the direction the paper is going to go in.Example thesis (from the play A Doll’s House):  Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen gives the appearance of being a weak, dependent, and superficial woman when in all actuality there is more to Mrs. Helmer than meets the eye, and she is much stronger and more capable than some would believe.Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is an extremely manipulative woman who is prone to lie to and deceive her husband, but for Mrs. Helmer there is no other way to survive, and have any sense of self, in the world she lives in.Each body paragraph after this should serve to support the thesis claim using the student’s own critical thinking and writing skills (80%-90%), supported by quotes and paraphrases (10%-20%) correctly cited.  Do not use any outside sources other than the piece of literature you are analyzing.  Stay focused.  Make sure that every idea in the paper in clearly supported, explained, and linked back to the thesis.  Be sure to wrap up your ideas neatly in a conclusion and number your pages.  Do attach a works cited page correctly done.  Proofread carefully.Do not summarize.  Note that the definition for summary is different that of analysis.  “A summary is a restatement — in your own words — of an author’s main ideas.  When you summarize, you record an author’s major points and major supporting details using your own wording and style” (Fine Clouse  468).

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