RWA.Hurston.Close.Reading

RWA7: Close Reading of Hurston’s “Sweat”

Professor Rodgers

Intro to Fiction

DUE: Wednesday, Oct. 10

Please read Zora Neale Hurston’s story “Sweat,” which is in the Charters anthology and the handout on close reading that I handed out in class today. Please then write a letter to a friend in which you do the following:

1/ Explain what Hurston’s story is about, what happens in the story, and why you would or would not recommend reading it

2/ Choose a passage that interests you, that you think is important  to the story as a whole, or that you have questions about.  Following the guidelines for doing a “close reading” that were handed out in class, do a “close reading” of the passage to help explain its relevance to your friend   

3/  Explain one or more intertextual references to the Bible in the story and how they extend the meaning of the passage in which they occur and/or the meaning of the story as a whole


RWA5 (Informal Writing): Reading Hurston's "Sweat"
DUE: Monday, March 4

Please read Zora Neale Hurston’s story “Sweat.” Then, please respond to the following questions:

1/ Please discuss Hurston’s story in relation to the following formal elements of fiction :
- explain what happens in the story by giving a brief plot synopsis
- describe the characters in the story
- describe the setting of the story
- describe the narrative perspective used and the narrator's style of writing
(one to four paragraphs)

2/  Explain one or more intertextual references to the Bible in the story and how they extend the meaning of the passage in which they occur and/or the meaning of the story as a whole. (one paragraph)

3/ Choose a passage that interests you, that you think is important  to the story as a whole, or that you have questions about.  Explain your interest in/questions about this passage.  What do you notice about the language of this passage?  Why/how might some of the language be significant to interpreting the story as a whole?  How does this passage function in relation to the story as a whole? (one to three paragraphs)

4/ Would you recommend this story to a friend to read?  Why or why not? (one to two paragraphs)

5/ Please consider the roles and functions of of dialect in the story.  What do you think about Hurston's use of dialect to tell this story?  How would the story change if it were not told using dialect? (one to two paragraphs)

This is informal writing, meaning that I expect you to edit and proofread your work at least once before handing it in to make sure that there are no typos and that your points are being clearly communicated to your readers.  Please follow MLA formatting guidelines for this assignment and, if possible, hand in a printed copy.  If you will not have access to a printer before the assignment is due, you can instead post it to your Learning Journal on Bb.


 Lyman A. Baker "Sweat" Essay Topics

Write an essay on one of the following topics:

Topic A.  In how many respects are the protagonist and antagonist of this story foils to each other?  (Be as comprehensive as you can.)  How does this systematic contrast affect our evaluation of the protagonist's action (or inaction) at the end?  How does the song Delia sings on the way home from the "love feast" at church ironically connect with the final sentence of the story?

Topic B.  For Alice Walker, a tragic fact of Zora Neale Hurston's later life lies in the psychological consequences of her not having been able to achieve financial independence through her writing, and the effect of these in turn on the quality of her later fiction.  Summarize briefly what Walker is getting at.  Then show how "Sweat" (published in Hurston's first collection of short fiction) shows Hurston's appreciation of the need to achieve personal independence.  What circumstantial facts and traits of character enable Delia to achieve this, in the end?

Topic C.  Explore the range of significance of the snakes and snake-like things in "Sweat."


  Consult the Study Guide to this story before attempting this writing assignment.

  You may also wish to review the general instructions on writing assignments.



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