Character Analysis and Epiphanies Please see attachment. This will be based on the story “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver . Link to the story is attached. http

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Please see attachment. This will be based on the story  “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver . Link to the story is attached.

ENG 1B | WIN 22 | Dr. Tammy Kearn 1

Essay #2: Character Analysis and Epiphanies

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them

pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.
~ Winston Churchill

This essay assignment addresses and assesses the following Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

1. Analyze diverse literary texts through various social, historical, cultural, psychological, or aesthetic contexts.

2. Develop written arguments in response to diverse literary texts.

It also addresses the following course objectives:

• Gain practice identifying logical fallacies in language and thought

• Use common literary terms for analysis of literature

• Compose thesis-driven arguments about literature to suit different rhetorical purposes, including interpretation, evaluation, and
analysis and Gain experience at proofreading and editing for presentation of writings

Directions: Read ALL of the stories below; then select one story on which to write your essay

• “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver (77-90)

• “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” Sherman Alexie (272-283)

• “Brownies,” Z. Z. Packer (177-193)

• “Cell One,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


After reading the stories above, select one and write a clear, coherent, well-supported 4-5 page (1400-1500

word) argument essay that answers the question,

Did the central character experience an epiphany within this story?
(And if so, what did the character learn, or how did the character change?)

Remember that an epiphany is a sudden and profound insight that changes the way a character perceives

him or herself and the world around them. Epiphanies are often accompanied by physical sensations like a

punch in the gut or a sensation of being jolted or dumbstruck, but the physical sensation isn’t mandatory.

Because the epiphany is sudden, you can point directly to a sentence or two where it occurs in the story.

• In order to answer that question, you will have to do a careful character analysis of the central
character, as well as consider the following questions:

• How do we know for certain that the central character has experienced an epiphany? If the character
did not experience an epiphany, at which point might he or she have experienced one? In other

words, where might the character have missed an opportunity for an epiphany?

• How does the author prepare us for this possible moment of enlightenment?
i.e., There must be a noticeable difference in the character’s attitudes, perceptions of the world, or

perceptions of self before and after this moment of enlightenment.

• What is the nature of the epiphany? i.e., When and how does it occur? How does the epiphany affect
the central character?

• If the character does not experience an epiphany, what significant insight did he or she “stumble
over” it and then “walk away as if nothing had happened”?

• Which errors of reasoning are committed by this character, if any? (Refer to Chapters 8-12 in
Beyond Feelings for examples of errors of reasoning (fallacies of logic). How does identifying these

erroneous ways of thinking help us to understand the character’s change or inability to change?

You’ll need to identify at least 1-2 errors of reasoning committed by theis character, and then

determine whether the character corrects these errors of reasoning by the end of the story 9perhaps as

a result of an epiphany).

• What is the theme of this story? How does the theme of the story relate to the insight gained from the
epiphany? Or, how does it relate to the character’s inability to experience an epiphany?

• You MUST consider alternative perspectives and alternative readings of the story within your
essay, and counter those perspectives with your well-reasoned analysis of the textual details.

ENG 1B | WIN 22 | Dr. Tammy Kearn 2


Refrain from writing the essay as a list of answers to these questions. The questions are meant to be evocative,

not prescriptive. In other words, the questions aren’t a template for the essay; rather, they’re designed to evoke

thoughtful, focused analysis of the central character and are therefore questions you should consider while

analyzing the character.


By answering these questions, you’ll likely end up writing an essay that has a “before/after” design–that is, in

order to answer the question, you’ll have to explain (and support) your claims about how/who the character is

prior to the possible epiphany; then you’ll have to argue whether or not an epiphany–a significant change (or

“revelation”)– has occurred within the character; and then you will support that claim by explaining how the

character has grown and changed (or has not), as evidenced through the character’s thoughts, words, attitudes,

actions after the epiphany. Marshall all the evidence you possibly can from your careful, close, perceptive

reading of the story and particularly of this character.


This essay is designed to give you practice analyzing character and applying concepts and terms from Beyond

Feelings to characters in short stories. These terms and concepts have to do with fallacious (or erroneous) ways

of thinking, especially “mine is better” thinking (Chapter 8), errors of perspective (Chapter 9) and errors of

procedure (Chapter 10), but you may also find examples of fallacies from Chapters 11 and 12 in Beyond

Feelings. If so, be sure to identify and explain those in your essay.

General questions to be explored:

• What different types of fallacious thinking (i.e. error prone thinking) does the character exhibit? Look to
Ruggiero’s Beyond Feelings for more information on errors in reasoning, especially fallacies of logic.

• What implicit or explicit lessons (or “universal truths”) do we learn from reading these stories?

• What themes might these writers be striving to convey to us through the allowing us to witness—if not
empathize with—the fallacious thinking of their characters?

• Finally, and perhaps the most important question: What are the consequences of each of these patterns of
erroneous thinking?

• DO NOT CONSULT OUTSIDE SOURCES. I have read the criticism, analysis, student essays, and

“study guides” on the cheat sites, so I know what’s out there You can do this on your own; just trust in

the insightful interpretative and astute reasoning skills you’ve been developing in this class. Except for

citations from Beyond Feelings to explain fallacies and citations of textual evidence (quotes) from the

story and, be sure that what you submit to me are solely your OWN words and your OWN ideas.

• However, you may—and should–look up any allusions or unfamiliar words, but must cite these on
your Works Cited page. Any source you use in your essay must be cited clearly and correctly following

MLA format. You needn’t look up biographical information on the author—this isn’t biographical

criticism but rather a character analysis, so the author’s biography is beside the point for this essay.

• Feel free to use your required WRC instructor or tutor consultation to review MLA format with an
instructor in the WRC to ensure that everything in the essay is correctly formatted.

• Length: 1400-1500 words; type word count at the end of the essay

• Works Cited page required; follow MLA format.

• Instructor/tutor consultation REQUIRED. Submit form to the WRC assignment link on Canvas.

For tips on writing strong, well-focused, well-supported analytical essays, refer to the handout I gave you

(and is linked on Canvas) titled “How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay.” It also includes a helpful

checklist (at the end of the handout). Be sure also to review the 2016 changes to MLA Works Cited entries

in the handbooks available in the WRC or at

ENG 1B | WIN 22 | Dr. Tammy Kearn 3

Final Tips on Analyzing Characters in Fiction
In order to write an effective character analysis, you must understand and be able to analyze the

central character’s behavior, choices, and motivation for those choices, even when the central

character doesn’t seem to understand the motivation him or her self. In other words, you must

know the character intimately. In order to gain this level of insight into the character, you must

focus on pertinent details in the text that offer clues about the character (or “evidence” about the

character, for purposes of this assignment).

There are four major areas within the story where you will find clues (or “evidence”) about the



The narrator’s descriptions of the character’s thoughts and actions. (If the central

character is the narrator, you must determine whether or not he or she is reliable.)

2. The character’s words about him or her self.

3. The character’s actions.

4. Other characters’ perceptions, comments, or thoughts about the character as shown through

narration or dialogue.

Each of these areas will provide evidence for your claims about and evaluation of the

character. Pay particular attention to the character’s motivations for acting and reacting the

way he or she does, especially if these actions and reactions appear contrary to what you

know about the character and the character’s typical pattern of behavior.

ENG 1B | WIN 22 | Dr. Tammy Kearn 4

Writing and Reading Center Instructor/Tutor Consultation

(also available in our Lesson as a WRC assignment)

Directions: The Writing and Reading Center is staffed with 2 – 3 instructors (no appointment necessary)

and 2-4 peer writing tutors (by appointment only) who are eager to assist you with specific,
well-focused questions on your writing. Instructor conferences usually last 5-10 minutes,
depending on the student’s question and the number of students waiting for assistance.
Peer tutor conferences require an appointment but last from 20-30 minutes. You may
complete this consultation at Cranium Café.

To prepare for your consultation, be sure to bring:
the assignment
any notes, ideas, or drafts you’ve written
copies of your sources (e.g., essays or articles) you’re writing about
and MOST IMPORTANTLY, a specific question about the essay. (WRITE IT BELOW.)
Your question should focus on ONE aspect of the writing process or on ONE aspect of the essay






Below, check the area of the writing process and/or essay construction you asked a question about.

Writing Process: Composition and mechanics

___ Prewriting (generating ideas)

___ Organizing ideas (outlining)

___ Drafting

___ Revision

___ Other:

___ Introduction

___ Thesis Statement

___ Topic Sentences

___ Transitions

___ Conclusion (So What?)

___ Other:

___ Integration of textual

evidence (sources)

___ MLA format:

___ Works Cited page

___ Document

___ In-text citations

Write your specific question here:

Write the instructor’s response here:

__________________ minutes
Instructor’s printed name Date Length

You may also include a screenshot of your session.

This form MUST be filled out completely and signed in order for you to receive credit for this portion of the

assignment. Submit the completed, signed form to the WRC assignment link on Canvas.

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