Bartleby The Scrivener Book Essay

This is a very straightforward essay assignment. In this essay, please close read 3-4 passages in one of the short stories listed below. Through your intensive close reading, make a thesis-driven argument about ONE of the following topics. With each topic, I have included some questions to help you formulate your ideas. But before we even get to the topics…one exercise that works particularly well when you are drafting your essay is to do the following: 1. Take some time to write a lot of notes about your story, looking at symbols, themes, and figurative language that you find intriguing or fascinating or seem the most relevant to your selected topic. Look up any obscure references and feel free to Google around, looking for more information (from reliable sources, of course) about your story. In the case of Topic #1 below, for example, you might look at all the references to letters, writing, death, communicating, errant messages, objects that never arrive at their intended destination and so on. 2. Once you have decided on an organizing theme, reread the story and keep track of every time your chosen theme (or setting or narrative voice, etc., depending on which topic you choose) occurs and, perhaps, every time you run across its opposite. 3. List all these occurrences and then look for what unites them: search for patterns, trends, similarities, or typical characteristics. Also, think about the weirdness of your list: are certain instances weirder than others? Why or why not? If one instance is weird, what defines the normal? Inconsistencies and general weirdness may be the beginning of a great thesis. 4. By looking at your list and generalizing about the role or the character or the pattern of the image or theme or concern you’ve chosen, you should be able to move towards an argument, a thesis, about that image or theme or concern. And please review the Norton, pp. 1255-1278 for more on how to formulate a thesis. 5. To help you write your thesis, free write in response to any of the following phrases (X being shorthand for your theme or image or concern in this essay) to get started: a. In this short story, X usually means… b. X is important in this short story because c. X is surprising/unexpected/confusing in this short story because d. Thus, given that X means Y, the story seems to argue that… ***Finally, be sure to watch ALL of the “Writing about Literature Videos” in the Writer’s Corner folder in Blackboard. 2 And now, the topics…. TOPIC #1, THEME: What is the predominant theme of the short story “Bartleby, The Scrivener”? There are many ways to think about this story—there is the literal story itself, in which Bartleby constantly says the exact same thing to every request put to him by his boss. But there is a more interesting thematic drama being staged by Melville. Note how, at the beginning of the story, the narrator alludes to “one vague report which will appear in the sequel.” Towards the end of this same paragraph the narrator reveals that a “clue” will reveal the mystery behind the mysterious Bartleby. And yet, this “vague report” seems to concern the fact that Bartleby formerly worked in the Dead Letter Office. What is thematically important about this revelation? In other words, does this “vague clue” explain what is so thematically rich and interesting about the lead character? What does it mean to suggest that Bartleby himself is a kind of “dead letter”?

In the final chapters of her book, Anne Fadiman presents different ways that U.S. medical staff could communicate more effectively with patients from different culture. Although Fadiman’s concern is specifically with doctor-patient communication, some of the ideas from her book might be applied to various situation in which people are coming from different paradigms. Think about when in a situation in which you need to negotiate with someone who has a very different viewpoint from your own. Answer the following question for the essay: What insights from Fadiman’s book can help you communicate effectively with others and different cultures and reach some common understanding about a situation? Support your essay by incorporating examples, paraphrases and quotations from the book -Fadiman, A. (1998). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures (1st Ed.). New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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Here is a example from another paper on how this should kinda sound/be written but obviously can’t be the exact same and there does need to be some examples from book.

Effective Communication
Fadiman’s book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997) provides readers
with insight to effective communication with individuals or cultures that may have different
viewpoints than that of your own self. These insights can be successful in allowing both parties
to reach some common understanding about the situation or issue presented. Referenced in the
book is the work and model of Arthur Kleinman, MD, who is a psychiatrist and medical
anthropology professor at Harvard University. Although medically focused, Kleinman developed
eight questions to ask patients and family members to help better understand their culture and
beliefs as it pertains to their disease process. Some of those questions can be reworded to better
understand another individual’s perspective on an everyday situation that may have been
disagreed upon. Exploring each individual beliefs of the cause of the problem and why the
problem may have occurred is important. Also, examining the best resolution to the problem or
outcomes from the problem is a strategy involved in effective communication.
Other means to effective communication involves the skills of active listening, openmindedness,
and understanding and accepting that not all individuals have the same perspectives
and beliefs as one’s self. Active listening involves maintaining direct eye contact with the
speaker and engaging in their explanation with gestures. It shows the speaker that you are
attentive and understanding of what they are explaining. Avoidance of interrupting and cutting
the individual off is suggested. One should let the individual finish explaining their perspective
before rebutting. Speaking with a moderate tone of voice, not loudly or yelling, should be
considered. Keeping an open-mind and avoiding stereotyping or judging is important when
communicating. Respect of others’ opinions, beliefs and perspectives is pertinent to maintain a
trusting relationship and also makes the other individual feel heard. Through negotiation, both
parties can come to a common understanding on the issue at hand as discussed within the book.
Negotiation allows both individuals to collaboratively come to an agreement about the best
outcomes or resolution to the issue. Each will have a better understanding of one another’s

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