Overview of Assignment: Students are required to write an MLA-style research paper on assigned
readings, which are considered the primary sources for this paper. A minimum of three secondary
sources (academic works written about the primary sources) in addition to the primary
source(s) are also required. Keep in mind that this assignment is very similar to all other analytical
essays written for this class; it is just longer. Therefore, the same writing strategies (such as those
described in the Writing about Text handout and writing videos) should be used for this assignment.
Primary Sources: Students must select from any of the following primary sources, either individually
or combined, for the research paper:
Flannery O’Connor: “Good Country People” p.188; “A Good Man is Hard to Find” p.202’
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” p. 237
Alice Walker: “Everyday Use” p. 743
Raymond Carver: “Cathedral” p. 455
The list above includes four stories assigned for class reading and one additional story by O’Connor.
These are considered primary sources, and students may write about any of these stories for this
assignment. Only one primary source from the list above is required, but students may use a
combination from this list. This means students may just use one story, or they have the option to use
two, three, four, or even five stories as long as they are from the list above. However, by using
additional primary sources, this does not replace the requirement of using three secondary sources
as described below.
Secondary Sources: A minimum of three pre-approved secondary sources are required for this
research paper, one of which must be from either the JStor or Gale database. This means in addition
to the primary sources (one or more of the stories from the list above), student must also include
three academic sources that discuss the primary source(s). One of the three secondary sources
must be from the JStor or Gale database. See the list below for additionally approved secondary
sources. It is a good idea for students to review secondary sources before they decide on a specific
topic so that they are sure they have appropriate sources available to support their ideas. No matter
how great your ideas may be, if you don’t have secondary sources to support them, you cannot write
a strong research paper. Strong research papers should include numerous in-text citations from the
Students must select at least one secondary source from either the JStor or Gale databases
available through the IRSC library’s web site:
http://www.irsc.edu/libraries/findarticles/findarticles.aspx Students can find information on how to
access these databases at this URL: http://irsc.libguides.com/enc1102VC
Additional assistance can be obtained from an IRSC reference librarian.
The following are additional approved secondary sources that may be used along with the
database source (see paragraph above):
o Essays from O’Connor in the Literature text on pages 232 – 234
o “On ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’” by Frederick Asals in the Literature text on page 235
o “On ‘Good Country People’” by Kathleen Feeley in the Literature text on page 236
o “On ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’” by Dorothy Tuck McFarland in the Literature text
on page 237
o “Flannery O’Connor in Context” by Robert DiYanni in the Literature text on pages 184 – 187.
o The following essays and videos are located on the Ariel CD: “Conflict in Flannery O’Connor’s
“Everything that Rises Must Converge:” “Convergence in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Everything That Rises
Must Converge’” by Patricia Dinneen Maida; Video discussion with Thomas M. Kitts, Robert DiYanni,
and Judith Stanford. (If you do not have this CD packaged with your text, it is available at any IRSC
library. If you go to the library, the CD is located inside of the book.)
o “The Prodigal Daughter in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’” by Patricia Kane in the Literature text
on page 2137-2138
o Alice Walker: Stitches in Time DVD interview with Alice Walker available through the college
catalog (PS3563.O8749 B94) or on-line at http://digital.films.com/play/4XCAGC .
Raymond Carver: An Interview with Tess Gallagher. DVD interview with Tess Gallagher
available through the college catalog (PN3373 .H45).
No sources from the Internet will be accepted. Non-academic and Internet sources will not be
accepted and students who insist on using these sources, whether they document them or not, will
receive a failing grade for this assignment. Examples of unacceptable sources include but are not
limited to Cliff Notes; Wikipedia; Bookrags; Barron’s notes; any “notes” related sources; book reviews;
and student papers. To be safe, stay off the Internet. Seek help from the school’s reference
librarians if you need research assistance.
Topic Selection: As long as pre-approved primary and secondary sources are used for this
assignment (per the instructions provided above), students may develop their own topic for this
research writing assignment, keeping in mind that they should continue to use a formalist critical
perspective as explained in assigned readings from Module 1. At the end of these instructions, there
are also pre-approved thesis sentences students may use as well.
Final: The body of final paper (not including the Works Cited) will be 1,000 to 1,200 words in length.
More is not better. A longer paper can often lead to problems with grammar and topic development. A
shorter paper, however, means that the topic has not been appropriately covered. The paper must be
formatted per MLA (see Writing Matters), adhere to the filename formatting per the syllabus, have intext citations (from both the primary and secondary sources) to support your ideas, and include a
complete Works Cited page. Simply listing sources on the Works Cited page and not referencing
them in the body of the paper does not fulfill the minimum requirements of this assignment. Students
who do not use the pre-approved primary and secondary sources as described in these instructions
will receive a failing grade for this assignment.
Important Note Concerning Plagiarizing: It is important for all students to have a clear
understanding of the college’s policy on plagiarizing. If you are not sure, check the college catalog. In
addition, see the policy about plagiarism explained in the class syllabus. The primary sources are
provided in your textbook, and secondary sources are provided in the textbook, in IRSC databases,
and on the Ariel CD (available in the college library if not packaged with the textbook). The school
reference librarians are here to help students navigate the library’s databases as well provide MLA
information, so they can be very helpful if contacted well before the assignment is due. Therefore,
there is absolutely no reason for any student to find a need to “surf the net for inspiration” when it
comes to this paper. The time would be much better spent honestly working on the paper than
working on a way to steal the efforts of others.
Student Questions: Students who do not understand the requirements described in these
instructions should contact the instructor with specific questions before this assignment is due.
Contact the instructor via Blackboard email, phone, or during face-to-face or virtual office hours for
Tips for Starting the Research Paper: To help form a thesis, consider starting with a question (such
as those provided in the Literature text after the readings), and then answer the question in the form
of a statement. See the Writing about Text handout (located in Module 1) as well as the assigned
writing videos. Here is an example:
In “Good Country People,” what does Hulga learn about herself and others through her encounter
with the Bible salesman?
Thesis: In “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor, Hulga’s encounter with the Bible salesman
teaches her that her education, intellect, and social class are not enough to protect her from being
physically and emotionally vulnerable.
Below are some additional thesis sentences. Feel free to use any of these thesis sentences for your
Joy-Hulga from “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor and Dee-Wangero from “Everyday
Use” by Alice Walker are strong protagonists who share similar motives and characteristics.
In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor, redemption is
achieved though The Misfit and Manley Pointer, two characters who are ironically anything but “good”
In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, the characterization of the family affects the
characterization of the grandmother as they provide a backdrop to view her development throughout
In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” as the narrator, Mrs. Johnson’s perspective changes from the
beginning of the story to the end, at first favoring Dee and eventually favoring Maggie instead.
The house fire in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a crucial event that affects the character
development of Maggie and Dee.
In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the two sisters, Dee and Maggie, approach connections
to their family traditions in separate ways.
The name change from Joy to Hulga reflects how Mrs. Hopewell’s daughter views herself.
Hulga’s inexperience and self-righteous nature allows Manley Pointer to take advantage of her.
Hulga’s encounter with the Bible salesman teaches her about herself and others.
In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, Dee, the main character, suppresses the value of her
In the story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, Robert’s actions are responsible for Bub’s moment of
In “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, and “Good Country People” by
Flannery O’Connor, the protagonists share similar motives and characteristics.