Ms. Gokturk

Advanced Composition

Multi-Genre Essay Assignment:

For Camus’ The Stranger and The Misunderstanding, Israel Horovitz’ Line, and The Matrix


YOUR TASK: Compare three of the four works we discussed in class in an articulate and interesting essay. Use evidence from the works to develop your controlling idea, and show how the author used specific literary elements or techniques to convey ideas.



·        Your paper must analyze three works we read/watched. Use ideas from all works to establish a controlling idea that enables you to analyze the works in an interesting manner.

·        Use specific and relevant evidence from all three works to develop your controlling idea

·        Show how each author uses specific literary elements (for example: theme, characterization, structure, point of view) or techniques (for example: symbolism, irony, figurative language) to develop theme.

·        Be sure to have at least three categories that are developed to support the thesis.

·        Use PRESENT tense when writing about literature.

·        Use a variety of evidence from the works (direct quotes and paraphrase).

·        Use proper MLA parenthetical citing: Meursault says, “I could feel my fate sealed” (61). See below for more details.

·        Organize your ideas in a logical and coherent manner. Be sure that each section is developed equally. Use language that communicates ideas effectively. Follow the conventions of standard written English.


Suggested Topics:

  • How do the texts reveal that the human condition is absurd? THE ABSURD: term to literature portraying the sense that the human condition is without purpose, meaning, or value.

·        Do the characters find meaning in their lives? What does waiting signify?

·        Explore how indifferent or hostile settings impact characters’ lives.

·        Why use criminal or rebellious or odd characters?

·        Explore how routines define purpose.

·        Examine free will.

·        Analyze how personal philosophy dictates action/purpose/meaning.

·        Examine how the theme of isolation.

  • Using the definitions of existentialism or absurd, prove how each text fits each segment of the definition:
    • EXISTENTIALISM: emphasizes human freedom and the individual’s responsibility to accept consequences of choices. To the existentialist, reality and life are absurd; there is no general pattern of meaning, no harmony. People need to create meaning in the face of chaos.

·        How perspective works in both works to demonstrate the emphasis on the individual freedom of choice; show how choice, not fate or God, shapes characters’ lives.

·        Use Stephen Crane’s short poem as a critical lens. Analyze each part and apply to the works.

·        How do you define the characters’ choices?

·        Do the characters find happiness?

·        Examine how blindness and/or not knowing plays a role.

·        Choose a minor character from each work and analyze his/her role in illustrating the work’s message.

·        Why is judgment important in the societies of these works?

·        What do the characters do to create meaning in their lives?

·        What does each work reveal about human nature?

·        Contrast the concrete with the abstract in the works and how this reveals meaning/theme.

·        How does the lack of meaningful relationships/connections serve to illustrate the human condition?

·        Critical Lens: “Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.” – Eugene O’Neill

o       In this way, you can use a lens as the basis for your critical essay in which you discuss all the works from the particular perspective of the statement that is provided for you. In your essay, provide a valid interpretation of the statement, which implicitly agrees or disagrees with the statement as you have interpreted it and how it applies to the works. Support your opinion using specific references to appropriate literary elements from the works.

·        Find your own lens.

·        Other ideas? Be fresh, be creative. As long as you can support your thesis with specific evidence from the texts, everybody will be happy!


How do I incorporate literary elements into my essay? Glad you asked!!! It’s easy!

·        Meursault is characterized as indifferent and self-centered.

·        Camus’ characters are isolated, symbolically situated in settings that keep them apart from others.

·        Choice is a reoccurring motif in Camus’ works.


VOILA! Simple!


Quoting and Citing



The novel illustrates one man’s honesty towards himself. Lenny says, “I have to live with myself, and so I want to be fit for myself to know. I want to be able, as days go by, always to look myself straight in the eye” (17-18).


Notice that the quote ends, but that the sentence doesn’t. The page numbers are still part of the sentence. Keep them cozy! Also note that there is no p. or pg. or page or Page… just the number!


Within a sentence:

Holden Caulfield admits that he is a “terrific liar” (11). He fails at being honest not only with others, but with himself.


If the quote is more that five lines, then indent and use NO QUOTATIONS MARKS unless they appear in the text; in other words, copy the text exactly. The text is double spaced and the quote is single spaced….


The novel illustrates one man’s dedication to his loves, his art and his wife. The two are intertwined as he ponders his existence while painting the portrait of his wife.

The yellows glimmered in the painting, catching Beatrice’s blond highlights. It reminded him of her childhood, of their childhood, when they laughed in the sun. Now he thought of how sad she looked all the time and had to wonder how much of it was his fault. He sighed and reached for the paints, deliberately choosing blues and browns to capture the tired expression weighing down the carefree yellows. (28)


The paragraph continues to explain. Notice there’s no indent here. Guest illustrates how experience inevitably steals youth and joy.


Note that that page number is not before the period. This is because the indentations and single space create the break.




Follow the same format as above for short lines; or, preserve longer dialogue in the single spaced, indented style:


Camus contrast mother and daughter criminals when their crime is revealed. Mother is horrified by her crime, while Martha still maintains a cold, indifferent state. The only thing that matters to her is her mother’s love:


MOTHER: Oh my goodness, I have killed my son!

MARTHA: But you still have your daughter, don’t leave me, mother. (45)


Because Mother recognizes the truth, she cannot bear to continue living. Martha, however, gives no value to her brother’s life. Etc.




When making an argument, the structure is

  1. Assertion (your observation, your point)
  2. Evidence (prove it!)
  3. Analysis (explain how the evidence proves your point) [many students omit this and their essays suffer – this is, after all, the most interesting part where you analyze and/or explain!]


When making an argument, three is the magic number. See the outline.