Instructions – Paper 1 – French 325 – Fall 2014
, you will write a short paper, approximately 3 to 4 pages in length (= 900 to 1200 words, where 1 page = 300 words). Your paper will be typed, double-spaced, and will have its pages numbered and stapled. Please do not play games with fonts and margins. That never works.
The paper will consist of a close reading (inspired by the exercise of explication de texte), as explained in class, of a passage chosen from the following possibilities:
1. The whites’ behavior at Mass – p. 33-35 (“Other cars arrived”… “a sermon full of obscenities”)
2. Toundi witnesses a flogging – p. 75-77 (“My master is off”… “Yes, Sir, yes, Sir”3
3. The Commandant confronts Madame – p. 97-99 (“The commandant tried to stand”… “wished them good night”
4. Toundi’s deathbed – p. 3-5 (“I had never seen a man die”… “He was already rotten before he died”)
In all cases, your argument should be based on carefully selected quotations which you analyze closely. The goal of this exercise is to practice staying close to the text. Everything you say about the text should be justified in the text itself.
Please make sure that you check your own spelling, grammar, and punctuation carefully. Please see the Writing Center’s services if you need help with this in English.
How to perform a close reading
Step 1: Do your analysis
1. Pick a passage that is 1-3 pages in length. Try to find one that is particularly interesting or meaningful to you. It should be short enough that you can cover it adequately, but long enough so that you have enough to say.
2. Divide your passage into sections. What movements do you see happening in it?
3. Identify all the themes you see happening in your passage and connect quotations from the text with each one.
Step 2: Write your paper
1. Include an introduction where you identify the passage by writing a brief summary of it, and by situating it in the novel. What part of the story does this passage appear in? Don’t spend too much time on summary however. You are writing an analysis, not a summary.
2. Organize your body paragraphs by theme, NOT by chronological order of your passage. Everything you identified as important in your passage will show up in your paper, but it will be reorganized by topic, not in the order it appears in the text.
A PARAGRAPH TO AVOID: “In the first sentence, Toundi thinks about Madame. In the second sentence, Madame makes eye contact with Toundi. In the third sentence, Madame blushes. Then, what happens is…” This paragraph will have too much summary and very little analysis.
A BETTER PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE:
Paragraph 1: “One recurring theme in this passage is that of eye contact. Rather than submitting to the gaze of the Europeans, Toundi shows a certain daringness by constantly looking at them in the eyes at embarrassing moments, which seems to endanger their feeling of superiority. This can be seen as a symbolic, however limited, reversal of the power structure of colonialism. We see this in this passage when… The use of the word ____ is particularly interesting because it suggests …. This reveals something about Toundi’s attitude because…”
Paragraph 2: “Another important theme of this passage is…”
These paragraphs are focused on your idea and use the text as justification. They are analytical instead of summarizing.
3. In the body of your paper, please address all of the subdivisions of the passage you identified in step 1.
4. You should ideally end your paper with a conclusion that makes a general statement about your passage. For example:
“The examples of Toundi’s audacity which I have discussed here never add up to a full-on rebellion against the colonial system. Rather, they seem like the beginning of a process of…” (You can finish the idea!)