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Writing Response to Literature Essays

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1 Writing Response to Literature Essays

2 What is a RTL essay? Response to literature essays inform your reader about something unique, interesting, or insightful about a work of literature. For example, sample response to literature topics focus on the theme of a story, or the characters.


4 Introductory Paragraphs
-This is the most important paragraph of your essay! The first sentence or two of your introduction is called the HOOK and is meant to grab your reader’s attention! After you have your reader hooked, provide them with a few sentences of background information about the short story or novel you are analyzing including the name of the selection and the author. Then state your thesis. Your thesis statement is your focusing sentence that tells your reader what your purpose is and the points you will be covering in your essay!

5 Strategies for Writing Opening Hooks
A startling fact or bit of information Universal idea/global statement A meaningful quotation from the work A rich vivid description of the setting An analogy, metaphor or simile

6 Startling Fact or Bit of Information
Before 1850, if a fugitive slave were caught, they were usually killed and sometimes tortured in public as a way to scare and intimidate other slaves. In many cases, those who were caught helping free slaves were also subjected to a similar consequence. The more knowledgeable society becomes, the quicker it succumbs to its end. The evolution of our society does not always create a better world. It can bring death and destruction or save lives , but with humanities natural inclination to destroy, it usually brings the former.

7 A Description of the Setting
A crackling fire burned in the fireplace and a curled up dachshund slept soundly near the hearth. Warmth filled the room as a small woman daintily carried a tea tray to a table near a cozy little couch in the living area.

8 A Metaphor, Analogy, or Simile
Harriett Tubman was iron withstanding insurmountable pressure never bending or faltering. At age 37, Charlie Gordon was as likely to become a fully functioning adult as was the experiment artificially increasing his intelligence to last. Technology is like a best friend – always around to help and support you.

9 A Global Statement/Universal Truth
Technology is a powerful force in society. It has the ability to transform the way we communicate and conduct business. Intelligence is a quality that many people in society value and possess. Important life lessons will often come from people who had otherwise not played a part in our lives.

10 A Meaningful Quotation from the Work
“Alfonso sat on the porch trying to push his crooked teeth to where he thought they belonged.” (p. 7) “I felt sick inside as I looked at his dull, vacuous smile, the wide, bright eyes of a child, uncertain but eager to please. They were laughing at him because he was mentally retarded. And I had been laughing at him too.” (p. 44) “Excuse my asking, but haven’t there been any other guest here except them in the last two or three years? Holding her teacup high in one hand, inclining her head slightly to the left, she looked up at him out of the corners of her eyes and gave him another gentle little smile. ‘No, my dear,’ she said. ‘Only you.’” (p. 69) “The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of religion continued senselessly, uselessly.” (p. 170) “Yet the sound increased – and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound-much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.” (p.538) “Greg pushed the bell over the button marked ‘Ridley’ thought of the lecture he knew his father would give him, and smiled.” (p.498)

11 Sample Introduction . Intelligence is an individuals ability to learn new facts and skills. People are born with this ability, but it can be achieved in artificial ways. Charlie Gordon, the protagonist in the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to finally become smart. Although his intelligence proves to only be temporary, Charlie realizes what it is like to be smart. This transformation also enables Charlie to realize that it is personality that defines a person not your IQ. Throughout the story, Charlie is constantly changing both physically and emotionally and these changes make him a dynamic character.

12 Thesis Statements This is your statement of purpose. It tells your reader what they can expect to read about. A sample thesis for “The Tell-Tale Heart”:Several forms of irony are used in the story to illustrate the narrators madness, and to spotlight the insane nature of his actions. A sample thesis for “from Harriett Tubman Conductor on the Underground Railroad” and “Too Soon a Woman”:Based on these short stories, the theme of heroism is displayed by the actions of Harriett Tubman and Mary. A sample thesis for “There Will Come Soft Rains”: Ray Bradbury delves into the theme of technologies negative side through exploring how technology is empty without humans, how technology comes at a greater cost than it can give, and by stating that giving control to technology forfeits our control of our own destiny.

13 Body Paragraph Format Topic Sentence
Concrete Detail (quote from the story) Two sentences of commentary(your unique insights and interpretations about the quote and how it relates to the topic sentence and thesis statement as a whole.) Two sentences of commentary (your unique insights and interpretations about the quote and how it relates to the topic sentence and thesis statement as a whole.) Concluding sentence relating back to your topic sentence.

14 Body Paragraphs I-II Topic Sentences
Each of your body paragraphs must begin with a: topic sentence. Your topic sentence for body paragraph I relates to the first point in your thesis statement. Based on the sample introduction, the topic sentence for body paragraph I will relate to the idea that: Charlie is a dynamic character because he changes physically in the story. The topic sentence for body paragraph II will relate to the idea that: Charlie is a dynamic character because he changes emotionally in the story.

15 Body Paragraphs I – II Concrete Detail
Response to literature is similar to persuasive writing in that you are always striving to prove your point, in this case, your thesis statement. With that in mind, you want to choose your quotes thoughtfully and wisely with your thesis statement in mind. Your quotes do not need to be long. Copy your quote exactly how it appears in the story. Do not refer to it as a quote. Introduce it into the paragraph with a transition word or one of the commentary starters in your packet. Put the page number like this after each quote (p. 22) If you were to compare multiple works of literature you would need a bibliography and would need to put the authors last name and page number. For example, (Pantoja, p. 22) Do not stack quotes. You MUST have supporting commentary between your quotes.

16 Body Paragraphs I – II Commentary
Commentary describes your unique and insightful thoughts about your selected quote as it relates to your thesis statement. Commentary does not summarize the story. Sample commentary: Charlie has become such an intellectual that he is becoming ignorant of the world outside of his lab and bordering on being arrogant. He has forgotten that he wasn’t always so gifted and he has found that he is again no longer able to relate to people but this time it is because he is too intelligent and opposed to being not smart enough. After seeing the boy in the restaurant break the dishes and watching people laugh at him, Charlie’s response to this situation shows that he has grown as a person and as an intelligent man has gained back compassion for others. Additionally, even after Charlie figured out his co-workers had been laughing at him, and voted him out of his job, Charlie was brave enough to come back seeking his job again.

17 Body Paragraphs I-II Concluding Sentence
It is important to end each of your body paragraphs with a statement summarizing the main focus of the paragraph and what you hope you proved to your reader. Your concluding sentence is very similar to your topic sentence except that it is not stated in exactly the same way.

18 Your LAST Paragraph! The Conclusion
Your conclusion begins by creatively restating your thesis. Leave your reader with a two final sentences describing the overall importance of what you have said and creatively connect one of these statements back to the hook in your introduction.

19 Now it is your turn… Your Prompts
(see the RTL packet I gave you for all the different prompts you have to choose from)

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