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Reflection of Literary Analysis

December 16, 2010

TO: Ms. Kamara, English 111
FROM: Latrese A. Davis
DATE: December 16, 2010
SUBJECT: Reflection of Literary Analysis

Reflections on “Wearing the Mask”

In reading the selected works to write my literary analysis, the common themes were not difficult to discern. Each story told of a struggle for personal identity and hope. Each author wrote very differently but similar in that, as a reader, I took away from the works an appreciation for different styles of writing and the effectiveness of word choice. During the process of this analysis, I discovered the importance of reading everything, word for word, and weighing, meticulously, their meanings. I found, when analyzing the works, that the most important things for me to focus on were: associating the themes, drafting my concept map, understanding the author’s meanings and having the ability to summarize it all.
To associate the themes, I first had to grasp the meaning of the text, or at least what my interpretation of the text was. In “The Story of an Hour,” “I, too sing America,” and “We Wear the Mask,” I found that the common themes ranged from hopelessness, hope, optimism, individualism, inequality, oppression, dehumanization, intrigue and conformity. There were many themes that I could associate with these works, however, I chose the strongest to explore. Dehumanization, hope and oppression rang strong throughout each literary work.
Mrs. Mallard from “The Story of an Hour” had her share of unspoken oppressions that, more than likely, stemmed from her role as a wife of a well-to-do gentleman in that day and age. She was dehumanized in that she was reduced to being called, simply, Mrs. Mallard, because, at that time, that was the extent of the importance of her identity. The news of the death of her husband, was the silver lining in her cloud. The “darker brother” in “I, too, sing America” shared the same as he had been reduced to a description and oppressed by the inequalities of the time, yet he remained hopeful. The unnamed slave of “We Wear the Mask” also shared the pain of the characters in the other works as he or she knew that someday there would be equality, however, that day was unknown and hard to see though the complexities of the mask. It was worn to moreso to hide the true feelings of the slaves as there would be no use in stirring trouble. They wore the masks to show false contentedness as they, with hope, bide their time in the dark.
In drafting my concept map, I first used the words that described the themes that associated the works read in this project. I placed those into the middle of a piece of paper and branched off of each, an idea or associating word. This concept helped me find hidden themes and parallel ideas. It also helped me to understand the characters a bit more and flesh out their individual issues. Specific terms and ideas revealed in the map, also assisted in my own writing when analyzing the works.
In order to understand the author’s meaning, I first had to read and reread each literary work to familiarize myself with the author’s style and to interpret the meaning of their words. Even before that, it helped to find out the dates that each work was written. The dates told me what was going on in the world at that time. This helped me note and understand the difference between reading about a slave or an oppressed housewife when the author’s words weren’t revealing.
Prior to writing this comparative analysis, I had no concept of how to do so or why. Truthfully, the project was fun and allowed me to, for a time, ignore my own criticisms for my own writing, and to get comfortable and closely analyze someone else’s writing. The three works that I analyzed were both, stimulating and thought provoking. Each told a story of an individual, seemingly trapped, in their separate nightmares, yet they each held an optimism that someday they would overcome and persevere. From that I take to always remember those who struggled before me so that I may live and continue to fight for hope, equality and individualism.

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