eng124 the catcher in the rye essay select one central theme and examine how three characters setting symbols or imagery showcase the theme 1

Essay Prompt: For this writing assignment, please select the most prominent central theme of the story (only one theme) and examine how three significant characters, setting, symbols, or imagery from the story help showcase that theme.


—the purpose of this assignment is to give students additional practice with literary analysis by examining the significant literary devices within a novel

—strengthen writing and analytical skills by doing the following:

  • carefully dissecting a story’s theme and characters
  • using the argumentation rhetorical method of organizing essay
  • formulating a strong thesis argument with a plan of development
  • selecting and integrating relevant evidence from the story in order to substantiate argument
  • researching secondary sources from Literature Resource Center
  • integrating evidence from secondary sources into introductory paragraph and at least one body paragraph
  • using MLA format to cite sources both parenthetically (in text) and on a Work(s) Cited page.

    Now that you have fully read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, have a deeper understanding of Catcher’s cultural context, have examined some of the novel’s more prominent literary devices (i.e. characters, theme, setting, symbolism, point-of-view…etc.),have used our online library’s Literature Resource Center to find secondary sources, and have examined secondary sources—it’s time to write an essay about this controversial novel.

    Essay Guidelines:

    ➢Your essay must be between 1000-1500 words in length. Keep focused, control your writing, and do not open any doors that you are not willing to shut with an explanation.

    ➢One primary source and two secondary sources must be used. One of the secondary sources must be included in either the introductory paragraph or concluding paragraph. The other secondary source must be used in any one or more of the body paragraphs.

    ➢Introductory Paragraph

  • Open with a hook that draws in your readers. This could possibly be a relevant quote from a secondary source that helps establish the theoretical framework of your argument. It could be a definition of a term that explains a recurring concept in your essay. It could be a question that requires analysis. It could just be a relevant idea to expand upon.
  • Properly introduce the author, the title of the story and when it was published
  • Provide brief yet relevant background information regarding the author, the era in which the text was written, or some cultural element that ties to your topic. This background insight may highlight your own assertion in the form of possibly a secondary source, such as a literary criticism an overview, an abstract, a foreword of a book, a biography, an encyclopedic source (no Wikis). Make sure that it segues to your thesis.
  • Include an explicitly stated thesis (central theme of the story) and plan of development (three literary devices that highlight theme) at the end of your introductory paragraph to serve as a gateway to the body of your essay.
  • ➢Body Paragraphs

  • Support your assertions in each body paragraph with directly quoted, paraphrased, and/or briefly summarized passages from the story (your primary source). All supports must be properly cited according to the correct MLA standards. To specify, you must use between two to four relevant quotes or paraphrased passages from the novel for each literary device that advances the theme of this story (i.e. three characters equals to 6-12 borrowed passages from the novel).
  • Bolster argument with secondary source. Your assertion in at least one of your body paragraphs must either be supported by, expanded upon, or countered by a secondary source (literary criticism, overview, biography…etc.). This secondary source may be directly quoted, paraphrased, or briefly summarized and must be properly cited according to the correct MLA standards.
  • ➢Concluding Paragraph Requirements

  • Reinforce the thesis and plan of development to properly frame your argument
  • End with an insightful closing thought, a question for further inquiry, or a powerful relevant quote from either the primary source (novel) or a secondary source (i.e. literary criticism, an overview, an abstract, a foreword of a book, or a biography).
  • ➢Include a Works Cited at the end with all of your sources

    NOTE: Chapters 8-11 and 13 (Sample Essays: Essay on a Novel) from your WEAL textbook will help prepare you for this assignment. Also, refer to the “Essay Components” document (Quick Links), the MLA links (Quick Links), and the series of checklists included on 3-5 of this instructional guide.

    The following revising and editing checklist (pp.3-5) is my grading criteria.

    _____Developed introductory paragraph that captures the readers’ attention, introduces the author, title of novel, novel’s publication year, relevant cultural or biographical information, and thesis with plan of development

    _____ A clearly stated thesis with a logical plan of development that properly introduces the focus of your essay. Place thesis and plan of development at end of intro paragraph as the last sentence.

    _____Strong topic sentences at the start of supporting paragraphs that begin with appropriate transitional phrases, include the plan of development point being discussed in that paragraph and reinforce the thesis in some way.

    _____Effective transitions throughout essay: use transitional/signal phrases at the start of each supporting paragraph and when launching supporting examples (First,Secondly, One way X is so, Additionally, Next, Conversely, for example, for instance…etc.)

    _____Convincing summarized, paraphrased, and/or directly quoted evidence that support your main point (thesis). Quotes or paraphrased passages (contextual support) must be directly relevant and should sufficiently illustrate your claim

    _____Use of 2-4 relevant quotes and/or paraphrased passages from novel for each literary device that advances the theme of the story (i.e. three characters equals to 6-12 borrowed passages from the novel)

    _____Use of at least two secondary sources (literary criticism, overview, abstract, bio…etc.): one of which in either the introductory or concluding paragraph, and the other in one or more of body paragraphs

    _____Do not place quotes back-to-back.

    _____Correct integration (Triple-E Formula) and citation (MLA) of quoted, summed up, and/or paraphrased material: establish context of quote before inserting quote, discuss the significance of the borrowed passage to your main argument afterquoting, and use the MLA format to cite your sources both in-text and on your Work(s) Cited page

    _____Triple E: Present the example, include the contextual evidence to support the example, and provide an explanation of how the contextual evidence supports the example and the thesis in order to make sure that your readers understand why you have used that source in your essay.

    _____Avoid beginning and ending your paragraphs with quotes; instead, begin your paragraphs with strong topic sentences and end them with muscular concluding remarks.

    _____Closing sentences at the end of supporting paragraphs that bring topic of paragraph to a close

    _____Concluding paragraph must include the following: reiteration of the thesis and plan of development to properly bring the argument to a close and to frame the essay; followed by a closing thought, resolution, or brief and relevant quote that ends the entire discussion on a thoughtful note

    ____Use the present tense.

    _____Careful use of diction (detailed descriptions, concise language, avoid slang, avoid fallacies or biased language…etc.

    _____Proper use of mechanics (good grammar, appropriate punctuation marks, strong sentence structure…etc.)

    Eliminate the following:

    _____ Spelling errors



    _____Slang and clichés


    _____Personal pronouns, such as you, your(s), yourself, me, I, mine, myself, we, us, our(), and ourselves

    _____Repetition, especially at the beginning of nearby sentences

    _____Vague words, such as good, interesting, nice, hate, neat…etc.

    _____Pronoun Agreement errors

    _____Subject-Verb Agreement errors

    _____Punctuation errors, such as comma, semi-colon, quotation marks, apostrophes…etc.

    Finally, be sure you have included the following:

    _____Correct use of commas, semi-colons, apostrophes, and quotation marks

    _____A combination of sentence forms (simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex)

    _____Parallel structure with parallel elements in a series (commas must separate three

    or more elements in a series)