A Fish Story

A Fish Story

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We’re going to spend some time thinking about what it means to craft a literary argument and evaluate fiction (otherwise called ‘literary analysis), which will help you practice the skills you’ll make use of in this week’s essay assignment. Let’s turn our attention a lovely little story by writer Rick Bass called “Fish Story.”

Here’s the link to the story:


First, read Bass’s story. Then, read it again. Then, read it again. Why? Because when it comes to making a strong literary argument or writing literary criticism you have to be familiar with your subject first before you can write about it. If you haven’t done so already, read through pages 13 – 17 of your textbook to remind you of ‘active’ reading strategies.

Next, I want you to write 1-2 paragraphs, approximately 300 words about ONE fiction element in Bass’s story. In order to understand what I mean by ‘fiction element’, you’ll want to review the following pages in your textbook (much of this should be familiar to you after last week):

PLOT, CHARACTER, SETTING, POV, STYLE & TONE, SYMBOL and THEME (*theme is particularly important because all the elements of fiction in a story work together to deduce what the ‘theme(s)’ of a story is/are).

So, choose one of the elements above and in 1-2 paragraphs discuss why you think it’s a particularly effective aspect of the story. Begin your paragraph with a thesis. For example, “The narrator’s retrospective perspective in Bass’s story is really compelling because X, Y, Z.” Or, “I think the setting in Bass’s story is critical to the story’s development and plot.”

You can take WHATEVER position you want and discuss WHATEVER (fiction element) you want, but you MUST support your ideas by including no fewer than 2-3 details/passages/quotes from the story. This is VERY important. When you support your ideas be sure to put the page number in parenthesis.

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