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Analyze a Short Story by Tim O'Brien

This analysis will cover how to analyze a short story by Tim O'Brien. The story is from his collection The Things They Carried and the story is called On the Rainy River. The example will show you how to take a story apart in a step by step process. The process is one that works well for most undergraduate courses in English literature. The emphasis will be placed on an examination of theme through imagery.

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It is nearly impossible to be successful in an English literature course without learning approaches that will teach you how to analyze a story. The process of analysis is what leads the student to critical thinking, reading, and writing. Most colleges and universities use these criteria for their learning outcomes. I will lead you through a step by step process I hope will provide you with a strategy for analysis.

Step One: Read the story the first time for entertainment. Just enjoy the story.
Step Two: Read the story again, but this time write in the margins of the story or book. This is called ANNOTATION. Make question marks or write key words you find relevant to a question you have or an idea you have noticed. You may underline, bracket, circle, or highlight significant moments in the story. WARNING: Avoid underlining and/or highlighting everything. This is generally a waste of time.
Step Three: When you have thoroughly covered the material (It won't hurt to read it a 3rd time), and once you have made notes in the margin of the story, you will begin to see patterns emerge. Look for a dominant pattern or thread ...

Solution Summary

This solution instructs on how to write a literary analysis on the theme through imagery seen in 'On the Rainy River' from a collection of short stories called 'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien. It provides eight clear steps to analyzing a story in English Literature.