“Any Minute Mom…” and “The Story of An Hour”

Prior to reading chapters 6-10 of Blau’s The Literature Workshop I was contemplating what short story or poem I would use for my literary analysis and reflection essay due after spring break. After reading the syllabus I felt a bit dismayed by the open option to use any piece of literature for the assignment, and the ‘literary analysis’ also lacked detailed direction and expectations. Putting these concerns aside until class I moved on to the reading and discovered that chapter 6 addresses some of my concerns and specifically  mentions “that learning to write has to include learning how to find and choose a topic for oneself” (123). This line made me consider the literary analysis assignment in a brighter light, that the assignment was an opportunity to read and explore something of greater personal interest.
As the chapter continues it mentions the necessity of choosing a text which enables the possibility for “different avenues” of literary interpretation (125). Finding a short story which is contentious enough to inspire debate on interpretation, young enough to not have been exposed to numerous prior analysis, and of a topic which interests me personally makes for a difficult find. Fortunately, Blau shares his sample short story, “Any Minute Mom…,” which reminded me of a few stories I reserve for my own students who may have finished their assigned work ahead of schedule, particularly “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin. This story may be my choice for the literary analysis essay, even though I expect there may be considerable prior scholarly analysis.
Blau’s activities: Jump-in reading, Pointing, Writing about a line, and Reporting Out and Publishing, present a perfect starting point to develop a literary analysis. I found the ‘Sharing in Writing Groups’ activity to be an impossibility for my upcoming task, but one which I could easily use in my own classroom. The first three activities work simply enough on ones own, with pointing as an individual listing of favorite/outstanding lines. The reporting Out activity would work perfectly with a bit of research. In place of a classroom of peers I will have to search the databases for existing analysis and compare the findings of others to my own. I also realize that following this order is especially important, as reading any scholarly analysis prior to writing my own could have an influence (adverse or not) on my own interpretation. Following this method I expect I can produce a paper which demonstrates a construction of my knowledge and not, as Blou puts it, ‘a paper made of prefabricated parts” (153).