How To Analyze


20-01-2007 14:16:26

I'm going to use the week 1 story, "The Lottery" for this example.

One of the first things you have to realize for an analysis to work is that they must be focused. If it's too broad, you ramble on. It has to be narrow, it has to be focused and it has to go in deep.

One of the first things you have to do is annotate. I cannot stress this enough. Print out the short stories to paper. Write on them. Circle words, phrases, sentences that stand out. Put question marks next to stuff you don't know or think that don't make sense. Write little comments and questions to yourself and to the story. Yes, write questions to the story. When you read, if you're passive and just read, you'll never get to the meat of the story. The most your analysis will come up with is "That was good" or "That was bad." Start digging in. Ask yourself why the author would do something like that, the character, the scene. Especially in a short story, no detail is superfluous. Everything is there for a reason.

Like I said before, don't go too broad in your analysis. Find something that stuck out for you in the short story and attack it. Just blitz it with your ideas and hypothesis. If you want to do the leg work on it, find a bit about the author and see if you can see why they did that or even read some of the author's works.

So, here's my sample analysis/comment on "The Lottery."

For the town in "The Lottery," killing a member of their community isn't a rush. It just is. There isn't any malice inherent in their murder, but there is a fanatical zeal. The town's ritual, of which "so much…had been forgotten or discarded" (964), sets the backdrop for the townsfolk to give themselves over to a darker side. The town no longer remembers what the lottery is for, but they carry on with it every year. Mention of other towns that have "already quit lotteries" (967) is seen as foolish, and a sure sigh of trouble or bad things to come. At the end, when the Hutchinson family is the one who must draw lots, there is apprehension from some in the crowd. Nancy's, Bill Hutchinson's daughter, friends "breathed heavily as she went forward" (968) and when little Davey's slip of paper is opened "there was a general sigh through the crowd" (968). The crowd doesn't want to stone the little boy, and Nancy's friends don't want her stoned. And when it comes time for Tess to stand in the center and be stoned, she says, "It isn't fair. It isn't right" (969). After this, the crowd is "upon her" (969).

The numbers in parenthesis are page numbers that I've cited for the book I have which is a collection of short stories and other literature. As you can see, I focused on the act of killing. All in all, that's how you want your analysis to work. Include quotes to support your statements. Don't make anything broad or general.

Extra credit points if someone can see where this might have come from?


20-01-2007 15:03:07

Where what might have come from? The story or the tradition or the book you're reading from or what?


20-01-2007 16:20:41

My analysis.


21-01-2007 12:05:37

I'm willing to guess you got that analysis from the Associated Content site, I tried to look up your analysis and I see there are similar ones on the following links:

Like I said, similar not exact. You did say where your analysis MIGHT have come from :P