Sample Paper on Trauma and Treatment in ‘The Return of the Soldier’

General Instructions:  For this paper you’ll compose an analytical, argumentative paper on Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Spark:  1.  Issues pertaining to/representations of religion

Note that rather than giving you specific questions or positions to argue, I’ve instead provided general topic areas.  All of these topics are of a fairly broad nature; each should provide multiple possibilities for sound, text-based argumentation and analysis.  Your task starts with the following, before you sit down to actually write the paper:

  1. Determine which topic you’ll choose, and how you plan on narrowing that topic to a more specific argument. You don’t have a lot of writing space to work with here—so talking about every reference to memory in West’s novel, for example, means you’ll end up saying nothing of real value at all.  As you choose your specific concentration within your topic area, think about what elements of the text will lend you support.  Remember—this is an “argumentative” paper, so you’re not looking to state the obvious.
  2. Devise a paper strategy that does not simply summarize the plot. Similarly, avoid any project that could be described as “character analysis.”  These papers have their value, but all too often seem to produce plot summary-ish results.  Finally, determine how you’re going to move your own discussion beyond class conversation.  I’m looking to see how you analyze and argue about a literary text; part of this involves thinking about how you’re making your position “your own.”
  3. Construct a thesis that not only indicates the final position you’ll take in your argument, but the major points you’ll be raising along the way. This kind of “mapping” helps the reader understand what you’re trying to do, and helps to clarify the overall project—immensely helpful for both the reader and, in this case, the student.  Plus, such “mapping” only helps to persuade.