Ms. Gokturk

Advanced Composition

Multi-Genre Essay Assignment:

For Camus’ The Stranger and The Misunderstanding, Israel Horovitz’ Line, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and/or Arsenic and Old Lace


YOUR TASK: Compare Albert Camus’ The Stranger to two other works we covered this unit: Camus’ The Misunderstanding, Israel Horovitz’ Line, I Heart Huckabees, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, or Arsenic and Old Lace. Write a comparative essay in which you include information from the three works and accurately analyze a theme. 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 The Stranger + two other 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

·        Develop your essay in approximately 1000 words

·        Use PRESENT tense when writing about literature

·        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

·        Use language that communicates ideas effectively

·        Follow the conventions of standard written English


Inspiration Bank:

Read through the following to help you formulate your own thesis and criteria for analysis; remember, you will need to support your thesis with at least THREE general points that will be developed with text-based evidence from the works.


·        How the use of criminal characters helps develop philosophy of existentialism

·        How the theme of isolation emphasizes theme

      • 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.
    • Dissect the definition of existentialism and illustrate how each work is existential
      • THE ABSURD: term to literature portraying the sense that the human condition is without purpose, meaning, or value.
    • Dissect the definition of absurd and illustrate how each work is absurd.

·        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

·        How characters live in a hostile and/or indifferent universe.

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

·        How the only meaning that can be found in life is the consequence of choice.

·        How using “outsider” characters helps to build the theme

·        How is the theme of waiting developed?

·        How is life a search for happiness?

·        How is the motif of blindness developed?

·        How is the theme of judgment developed?

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

·        What does each work reveal about human nature?

·        Read Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus” essay and explain how the characters find meaning like Sisyphus

·        Critical Lens: “Life is for each man a solitary call whose walls are mirrors.” – Eugene O’Neill -- (You may choose to find another lens).

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.


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. 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 uses the criminal to illustrate the extreme choices one makes create extreme consequences. 


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

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



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.


Here is what this might look like:


TOPIC SENTENCE: William Golding’s novel shows how superstition drives the boys to make irrational choices that lead to the downfall of their society. ASSERTION 1: This begins when the superstition of a beastie is planted in the boys’ minds early in the novel. When they first hear of the beastie, fear quickly spreads among all the characters; beastie becomes omnipresent in their minds and the littluns become so obsessed with the idea of a beastie that they come up with a myriad of myths and beliefs that fuels the degradation of their civilization to a more primal state.  EVIDENCE 1: Phil is a littlun who believes that he has seen the beastie and tells the others, "I was asleep when the twisty things were fighting and when they went away, I was awake, and I saw something big and horrid moving in the trees” (84).  EXPLANATION 1: He claims to have seen a leviathan of a monster or a "beastie from water" and it has a tremendous impact on the others. Despite the fact that these are educated boys from England, his nightmare plants the fear among the others and keeps the boys alert about the dangers of the beastie.  ASSERTION 2: This constant fear drives the boys to lose their focus on the priorities in society such as building shelters, keeping rules, and keeping the fire going; rather, they become frenzied savages who only think about hunting and killing.  EVIDENCE 2: Jack, the chorus leader and leader of the hunters, is most responsible for using fear for his own desires, the hunt. When he hears of the beastie he shouts, "This will be a real hunt! Who'll come?” (100).  He becomes more animal-like, dog-like” and “ape-like” and his primal instincts become stronger; his presence has a bad influence on the others.  EXPLANATION 2: Instead of discussing whether the beastie really exists or not and what they should do in an orderly way, the only thing on his mind is killing. He is in the beginning stages of devolving into an blood-thirsty animal.  ASSERTION 3: Sam and Eric also claim to have seen a beastie and proclaim, EVIDENCE 3: They say, "We've seen the beastie with our own eyes.  No-we weren't asleep.  It was furry.  There was something moving behind its head-wings.  The beast moved, too” (100).  EXPLANATION 3: They claim to see the "beastie from air" which is actually a dead soldier falling from a parachute.  Although they haven't seen the beastie up close, they are avid to tell the others about it because they are caught up in the moment of the adrenaline rush.  There is much tumult and Jack tries to rally his hunters to follow him to go kill the beast.  OPTIONAL: CONCLUSION OF IDEAS IN PARAGRAPH: Violence and fear are two major characteristics of their society and often these two things are the causes of destruction in society.  The superstition leads the characters to make unreasonable decisions, (OPTIONAL ALSO: TRANSITION TO NEXT PARAGRPAH) which eventually causes their civilization to devolve.