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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Literary Analyses

Nice job completing the first draft of your analysis! Take a short break before you begin revising. The time off will give you a fresh perspective on your first draft. Afterward, you can use the lessons that follow to turn a good analysis into a great one.

Revising for Thematic Details

You can deepen your analysis by adding thematic details. Theme is often the most challenging element to analyze in literature. That's because the big life lessons or morals of a story are not always stated outright. Instead, you as reader must infer those lessons by drawing conclusions from clues in the text.

Most stories include multiple themes, and different readers focus on different ones based on their own life experiences. You can discover themes by using any of the following strategies:

Consider clues in the title.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian shows how being torn between two worlds creates problems but also possibilities.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry depicts how one young girl finds her own voice in speaking out against injustice and prejudice.

Follow the main character's words and actions.

In Roll of Thunder, Cassie learns how and when to fight injustice. At first she lets her emotions get the better of her and suffers the consequences. Later, she learns how to pick her battles and respond with a clear mind and purpose.

Focus on a symbol, a metaphor, or another figure of speech.

In Roll of Thunder, the Logans' land symbolizes freedom, family, heritage, and opportunity.

Note when the narrator or a character offers a statement about life.

“There are things you can’t back down on, things you gotta take a stand on. But it’s up to you to decide what them things are. You have to demand respect in this world, ain’t nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for—that’s how you gain respect.” —David Logan, in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Focus on a key character trait, or show what a character learns.

Cassie learns that persistence and courage will earn the respect of those around her.

Revise for thematic details.

Use the five strategies above to discover thematic details from your story. Decide which of these to add to your first draft, perhaps in the final paragraph.

Revising to Improve Organization

Your literary analysis should have a three-part structure: a beginning that gets the reader's attention and provides the thesis, a middle that explores the thesis with main points and supporting evidence from the text, and an ending that effectively wraps up the analysis.

In addition, the details in your middle paragraphs should follow a consistent order. If you use chronological order, you report details in the same time sequence used in the story. If you use order of importance, you arrange details from the most important to the least—or the other way around. The following graphics provide a visual representation of the patterns.

Patterns of Organization

Transition words and phrases can help you connect ideas using one of these patterns of organization.

Chronological Transitions

about

after

as soon as

at

before

during

finally

first

in the end

later

meanwhile

next

second

soon

then

to begin

today

tomorrow

until

yesterday

Transitions for Order of Importance

additionally

again

all in all

along with

also

and

another

as well

besides

crucially

especially

finally

for example

for instance

for one thing

for that matter

importantly

in addition

indeed

in fact

moreover

most importantly

most important of all

next

obviously

significantly

to emphasize

truly

without question

undoubtedly

Revise for organization.

Use the following questions to check the organization of your literary analysis. Add, cut, rearrange, or rewrite parts as needed to improve organization. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  • Does the analysis form a meaningful whole, with beginning, middle, and ending parts?
  • Do the middle paragraphs follow a logical pattern (chronological order or order of importance)?
  • Do the details within paragraphs support the idea in the topic sentence?

  • Do transition words or phrases connect ideas?

Revising with a Peer Response

Share your writing.

Have a classmate read your review and complete the form. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

Peer Response

Revising in Action

When you revise, you add, delete, rewrite, and rearrange your writing to make it clearer. Here are some revisions to the literary analysis of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

  • Paragraph Before Revisions

    Revising
  • Thematic details are added and paragraphs are reordered.

    Revising
  • Paragraph After Revisions

    Revising

Revise with a checklist.

Read each line. When you can answer each question with yes, check it off. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

Developing Your Ideas

  • Does your analysis have a strong lead that will catch your reader's interest?
  • Does your thesis statement clearly focus on one or more major elements of the literature?
  • Does your analysis include thematic details?
  • Does the topic sentence of each body paragraph name a specific main point that supports the thesis?
  • Does evidence from the literature provide solid support for your analysis?
  • Do transition words and phrases connect ideas and create a smooth flow of thought?
  • Does your writing voice sound knowledgeable and interested?
  • Do your sentences read smoothly?

This lesson is a part of the Writing Literary Analyses unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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