Your interpretation essay should contain at least two full pages. Post it as a MS Word document in the Discussion Board thread for that purpose.

An interpretation is more than a summary. While a summary merely includes the most salient points of the original source, an interpretation argues for what those points mean, or signify. For that reason, most everyone will agree with any close reader’s summary, but students may diverge sharply from each other’s interpretations.

Make sure you minimize paraphrase and synopsis. A summary shows only that you’ve read the text; an argument shows that you’ve thought about the text.

I am asking you to formulate an argument about a particular passage of your choice from what you read of Jackson’s book this week. Take an analytical position toward the text. You will support your position by quoting and analyzing the passage. Whereas summary merely informs the reader of your observations of the text, interpretation tells the reader what your observations mean to you.

You might think about whether the townspeople are fair to the Merricat and Constance, or whether the sisters are in fact fair to the villagers. You might think about the social effects of isolating oneself. You might think about the relationship between the sisters themselves, analyzing the dynamic between them. Who’s in charge? Is everything what it seems in their sisterhood?

• Audience: The audience for this paper is presumed to be an academic professional, very familiar with the text. Your tone is to be professional and your sentences are to be grammatically and mechanically correct.

• Citation guidelines: You must adhere to MLA citation standards (

You must adhere to MLA citation standards. Each and every quotation and paraphrase must be properly cited using standard MLA parenthetical citation format. Please go to or for more information on MLA style.

You may find it helpful to outline your paper. The following template may help you structure your argument. Feel free to submit your outline for my review.

I. Introduction

A. Your introductory statement sets up your thesis. DO NOT write the cliche five-paragraph essay thesis with three main sections. You’re thesis statement should specifically state the one claim your essay will prove. Do not waste your time attempting to segue from your lived reality to the world of your text. Engage the text immediately.

B. Your thesis is the cornerstone of your paper. Without it, your paper falls apart. Your thesis is what your paper is about. It is what the rest of your paper will prove. Your thesis should be clear, concrete, concise, and arguable within the confines of the text. For your first formal writing assignment, a close reading, you are to analyze ONE passage from the text. Your thesis, then, will make an arguable claim about that particular passage. Please avoid the five-paragraph essay formula taught in elementary school. Your thesis should state one claim, not three.

II. Body

A. The body of your paper will be made up of multiple paragraphs each of which relate directly back to the thesis. Each body paragraph should fit neatly, seamlessly, into the next.

B. Each paragraph will contain its own topic sentence. The topic sentence will serve as a sort of mini-thesis for that particular paragraph. The paragraph will prove its topic sentence and each topic sentence will work toward proving the thesis.

C. Each body paragraph should end with a transition statement that leads your reader into the next paragraph.

III. Conclusion

Your conclusion should integrate and synthesize your ideas without sounding repetitive or tacked on.

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