Text Titles and Authors: Erving Goffman’s “Character Contest” handout; James Baldwin’s story “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon.”
Length: 1200 words.
Due Date: December 5. NOTE: I cannot accept any late submissions. Please be sure you’ve
submitted this assignment by the due date.
Summary of Assignment: Write an essay in which you explore the character of the unnamed narrator of Baldwin’s story. Note that the narrator has several character contests in the story. In a minor way, he is having a conflict with Harriot, his wife, in the moment when he realizes that he loves her and is free to love her. He has a conflict with the film director Vidal, who criticises the narrator’s performance in a film they’re shooting. And he has a conflict with Boona, the North African prize-fighter who is accused of stealing from some American students while out for a night on the town.
For the essay, look carefully at the narrator’s way of responding to these people while he is having a “character contest” with them. What part of the narrator’s identity is engaged in the conflict? What does the narrator learn about himself, about the other person, and about the nature of place? (By “place,” I’m referring to the way people’s identities change depending on where they are. You might think about the way the narrator is able to talk and behave in France is very different from the way he will be able to talk and behave in America.)
Audience: You should write the essay as though your reader is academic and educated but may not be as familiar as you are with either the lens or the artifact. This means that you may, for instance, need to briefly explain scenes or introduce characters.
Organization of Assignment: The paper should be organized into three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Introduction: The introduction should include the names of both Erving Goffman and James Baldwin and should end with a clear thesis statement that indicates what you will assert/prove about how the lens plays out in the artifact. Your thesis should make a broad, abstract statement about the nature of the narrator’s character in the story — the way it shifts and changes depending on the situation and the person with whom he is engaged.
Body of the essay: Early in your essay, you will need to summarize the lens — that is, the “character contest” model that Goffman uses. Do not provide a summary of the entire text of the handout, but instead focus on the text’s key points that will be analyzed in body paragraphs. While you may use direct quotes in the summary, use them sparingly: this is your chance to show your reader how well you understand the lens.
In the body of the paper, each supporting paragraph should cover one of the main conflicts that the narrator has — with Harriot, with Vidal, and with Boona. Summarize the artifact only to the extent needed to provide context for analysis within the body paragraph. Transitions should be used as a way to bridge one paragraph point to the next.
Conclusion: The final paragraph should wrap up your essay and make some final statement about the paper’s topic.DO NOT RESTATE YOUR THESIS OR MAIN POINTS. Rather, consider offering a final evaluation of the story and the character of the narrator. Judge the story as a useful (or not) example of character conflicts.
Use of Evidence in the Essay: Each body paragraph should use appropriate amounts of properly formatted and cited quotations or paraphrases. Overall, the paper should use at least several properly formatted and cited quotations and paraphrases. Direct quotes should be carefully selected, properly contextualized and introduced beforehand, and commented upon afterwards.
Use of MLA in the Essay: Essays should be formatted according to MLA style rules. In addition, all quotations and paraphrases should be properly cited according to MLA rules, and all texts should be cited on a Works Cited page, properly formatted in MLA style. Please see the English 101 MLA Checklist for specific suggestions.
Grammar / Correctness: Your writing should be formal and clear and your essay should contain few errors. You should strive for fewer than one error per page.Avoid using terms like “I,” “you,” and “the reader.” Avoid contractions. Meanwhile, realize that this is your essay, that it expresses your unique interpretation, and that you therefore can write what you think of both the story and how Goffman’s ideas apply to it.
Plagiarism: Avoid using outside sources — stick with the story and with the materials provided about Goffman..
Evaluation of Essay: Competent essays will do the following:
1.Present information and ideas from texts with accurate quotation, paraphrase, and summary and, when appropriate, enough explication/interpretation/evaluation to develop a coherent analysis or synthesis. This includes:
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