English 1102                Spring 2011

Out-of-Class Essay #3

General Guidelines

Your goal on this essay is to write a well-developed, unified, analytical response in support of a clearly stated argumentative thesis. Your paper should meet a minimal length requirement of 750 words. Support all your claims with specific evidence from Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Cite all quotations correctly according to MLA guidelines. Your paper should also include a Works Cited page. Click here for Assessment of Out of Class Writing. 

Choose one question below as the basis of your essay:

1. In an essay, explore the internalized psychological and sociological effects of negative ascribed statuses—those statuses we inherited simply by virtue of (for example) race, gender, socio-economic circumstances of our parents, etc.

2. Why do some individuals in the novel assent to negative ascribed statuses while others push to achieve a more positive and socially productive identity-status?

3. Why are some characters’ efforts to achieve a more positive, socially-productive status (Junior’s grandmother or Mary-Runs-Away, for example) ineffective to some degree?

4. Can certain statuses—the ones that seem positive and productive on the surface—become a burden or hindrance to the individual? How so, and why? Develop your logic by looking at one specific character or more in True Diary. (Penelope, for instance, is ascribed a socially-desirable status by her peers simply by virtue of her beauty. But how and to what extent does this socially-endowed status (“pretty popular white girl”) become a terrible burden to her?

5. When are achieved statuses not productive and, in fact, hinder the individual’s development and growth? (Rowdy, for example, achieves a certain kind of status on the reservation as “Alpha male,” an aggressive, dominant bully. But this identity that he has cultivated in many respects hinders his psychological and emotional growth.)

6. What “tools” do young male adolescents utilize, according to the novel, to establish a socially-desirable identity/status amongst their peers?

7. Status is important sociologically because it comes with a set of rights, obligations, behaviors, and duties that people occupying a certain position are expected or encouraged to perform. These expectations are referred to as roles. For instance, the role of a “professor” entails various obligations and rights whereas the role of “student” would include a vastly different set of rights and responsibilities. In an essay, consider one or two characters and compare/contrast the following: What kind of statuses do they have?  What set of rights, obligations, behaviors, and duties are they expected or encouraged to perform, and why?


#1: Remember to draw on the power of the M.E.A.L. plan for building strong analytical paragraphs. Each paragraph should 1) identify a topic sentence that assigns a mini-argument (rather than an observation of plot or statement of fact); 2) illustrate examples and details from the text to support the topic sentence; and 3) analyze the general significance of examples to flesh out connections to the thesis.

#2: Before submitting the essay, proofread your work carefully!!