This semester we have been discussing social norms, in the sense of how people are expected to behave and how the concept of normalcy is defined. We have attempted to understand this theme holistically through the lenses of differing texts by looking in particular at the trials people experience when life circumstances are not ideal. The human spirit is a resilient force and it can be enlightening to witness how people deal with their challenges.

Essay Question
In light of our readings this semester AND of your experiences of how you have had to deal with COVID-19, write an essay that attempts to answer the question:
“What is a normal life?”

You may want to consider:
– the importance of physical, mental, and emotional health
– the effects/ side effects of quarantining or isolation
– the lessons we learn from those who sacrifice
– what may constitute the joy of life
– how to help others

Whatever approach you take in writing this essay, be sure to reference information from at least 3 of the 5 textual sources we’ve read below. As this is an English 24, you must provide specific quotations, citations, and references to enhance your argument. Use MLA methods for creating a logically developed essay that includes a title, intro with a thesis, a logical structuring of body paragraphs with quotations and citations, and a conclusion.

o Sacks’s “The Last Hippie”
o Sacks’s “A Surgeon’s Life”
o Plato’s The Allegory of The Cave
o Davidson & Lytle’s “From Rosie to Lucy”
o Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

Read below for helpful information on how to properly quote, cite, and structure your work!

MLA Basics for In-Text Citations, Author-Page Style

MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author’s name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence.

There are 3 general ways to cite:

1. When you use the author’s name in your writing, and then insert part of a quote, you just have to add the page number in the parenthesis.

For example:
Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).

2. When you do not mention the author’s name in your writing, and then insert part of a quote, you have to add both the author’s name and the page number in the parenthesis.

For example:
Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).

3. When you do not use the exact quotation, but you put the ideas from it into your own words, it is called paraphrase or reference.

For example:
Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).

In the first two examples, citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:

Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. Oxford UP, 1967.

Basics of Essay Structure

The introduction must be an engaging opening for your audience. Here, discuss the idea in general. You begin with a hook to catch the reader’s attention. A hook can be a question, a definition, a personal anecdote… a hook is about 4 sentences long. You then introduce the texts and authors being used in your essay. And then you must then lead into your thesis statement—which will be the last line of your first paragraph. The thesis is your main point of the essay. It is what you are going to argue or prove thereafter. You NEVER write in this way: “In this essay I will be discussing…” You do not need to tell me; I will be able to decipher a good thesis. Just state your point! You should write academically, in a way similar to “Dehumanization can shatter the human spirit, yet through resilience people can cope with such adversity.” In this example, a clear point is stated and the reader knows the essay will be about how people who suffer could push through their challenges.

Body Paragraphs
This is the heart of the essay.
Each paragraph much be dedicated to ONE CLEAR IDEA. A good technique is to begin by dedicating one paragraph to one author. You must use at least one direct quote PER PARAGRAPH that will APPROPRIATELY enhance or back up your point. You must always reference the page number like so: (Kafka 7). You NEVER refer to an author by a first name; the author is not your friend. Throughout your writing use only last names, to remain scholarly. Always quote to ground your argument.

Conclusion: The conclusion is where you will return to your thesis for the purpose of persuasion. You will rephrase your thesis, and restate the main connections you have previously proved. You will pose some lofty ideas, leaving the reader with some meaningful concepts. You NEVER want to end on an abrupt note; always leave the reader wanting more! This is a good place to insert some hypothetical questions and to hint towards the future, as it stands, regarding your chosen topic.


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