Literature Essays on Critical Strategy for Reading

The analysis of a literature material entails the use of approaches that allow a reader to learn about the theme and analyze the individual concepts of the literature. An analysis of the paper is then developed using the defined concepts; it becomes easier to determine the individual elements of literature, determine the connection, and distinguish them in structure and design. One critical reading strategy is the use of the SQ3R method; Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review (Meyer 689). This process offers a reader the ability to evaluate the different concepts related to a literature material from a holistic approach to ensure that the outcome of the analysis takes into consideration the important aspects of the literature being analyzed and the elements that define the story and the concepts of the literature. This paper considers three different stories each with a different setting in terms of the themes, plot, and even genre. However, using the SQ3R method, this paper will point out some of the essential elements in the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by Eliot, Barn Burning by Faulkner, and A Doll’s House by Ibsen.

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

The poem of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock presents an interesting aspect of the representation of the main character. The poem offers different perspectives that fascinate the reader. The first perspective of the main character, Prufrock, is a trickster who gives the reader a feeling of getting to know a romantic side of him despite being unable to give a more interactive experience that would represent romance. In stanza one and two Prufrock says, ‘Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky’ (Eliot 2). The setting used at the beginning of the poem presents an aspect of a romantic escapade that Prufrock is inviting an unknown character. However, throughout the poem, he does not fulfill this intention.  The representation of Prufrock in various aspects helps in the development of his character. Despite the promises that he is making even from the first three stanzas, he fails to uphold the same throughout the poem. To the reader, Eliot uses these different aspects and perspectives of Prufrock to help define more the characters of indecisiveness. Prufrock has wild ambitions, which from the beginning of the poem the reader is eager to learn and know more about these escapades that Prufrock want to achieve. However, as the poem is developed, the reader comes to notice that Prufrock is trying to describe more about his lifestyle that has become miserable with the war and the even the streets that are constantly not being developed. Throughout the poem, he strives to avoid the main subject, which he mentioned to be the overwhelming question. The elusiveness in giving the readers an experience that was supposed to represent his adventurous lifestyle portrays Prufrock to be a person of hidden agendas.

The other side of Prufrock portrays a sad and honest man who comes to realize that he is aging and will not be able to live long. From stanzas 37 to 48 he describes his adventures to allow the readers to see how adventurous he is and the things he has done for himself over the years. In stanza 49, he says, ‘For I have known them all already, known them all.’ He then asserts to his aging and frail body in stanza 120 where he says, ‘I grow old…..I grow old’ (Eliot 9). He considers the different things he is going to do in his age such as rolling the bottoms of his trousers and starts to contemplate on whether he will have to put his hair back or eat a peach. The other side of Prufrock as an old man is a portrayal of the change in lifestyle that Prufrock comes to accept as he sees a change in his life and the people around him. Prufrock is concerned about maintaining the balance within the society as a way of enabling him relate to others and even connect at various stages with people that matter to him at the time. In lines 118 to 119, we see a man who is suspicious of himself and even considers himself ridiculous and a fool. The ‘Love Song of Prufrock’ shows a double-sided man, who even at his old age still has not got to define himself well and fully to either be the humble man or a romantic. In everything he chooses to do, he fails to complete as he is afraid that no matter what he tries to achieve, he still will not make people welcome him into their circle. As such, he tries to weight the different sides of his life and try to determine, which side suits him better.

The SQ3R method provides an evaluative approach in the selection of the main points in the poem, the themes, and the development content within the poem. Using the method, development of content was easily done using the already developed outline that also specified the supporting content to be included in the paper. After the development of the rough draft using the first two steps of survey and questioning, the developed content was then reread to identify areas that needed additional content. These areas were then restructured and then a review was done to ensure that the content in the final draft was reflective of the literature material.

 “Barn Burning”

The theme of courage is twisted in this short story of Barn Burning. At the beginning of the story, the reader is introduced to the main character, Sarty, who is to testify against his father who has been charged with burning a barn. Sarty is ten years old, but he is forced to work and given little food, which makes him hungry all the time and even with his contribution to work, he is not paid enough to get something to eat. As he is called forward to testify, he starts contemplating on the way he will lie to save his father. However, Mr. Harris and the Justice realize the burden on the kid and decide against him testifying. The sentencing is that Mr. Snopes has to move out of the country with his whole family. At the time they are leaving, Sarty is called a ‘Barn Burner’ and is knocked down twice by another child (Faulkner 16). Abner is feared with the people of the town due to his lack of depiction of any form of fear and willingness to go to any lengths to do the things he wants as long as he gets to make the decisions. Faulkner says, ‘There was nothing about his wolf-like independence and even courage, when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers’ (26). As they move, Sarty is punished by his father in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep, his father saying that Sarty was going to testify against him.

Throughout the story, Sarty strives to identify and even reconcile with the bravery of his father or its absence and the impact of the actions his father is considering as a form of justice. In the new cottage that they settle after being exiled from their previous home, Abner goes to introduce himself to the new employer Mr. de Spain where he initiates a deliberate provocation by entering the house with muddy shoes and walking across the carpet. When de Spain brings the carpet to be cleaned, Abner is furious and again says that he will burn the barn of Mr. de Spain. Sarty courageously opposes this act and even says that it was not a good decision. At the end of the story, Sarty maintains his stand that what his father was doing was no right. After warning Mr. de Spain he flees and in the process he hears a gunshot.  In his mind, he is at conflict thinking of what his actions might have led to the death of his father and brother.  He also is worried of whether his warning to Mr. de Spain helped him save part of his products and property from the barn.

The SQ3R method is used in the determination of the development of the story and the role that the characters play in the development of the plot of the story. The survey component is used in the determination of the different components of the story, determining the characters, and the themes that develop from the roles the characters play in the story. The questioning aspect was used in getting to identify the different themes and character assignments that made it easier to understand the literary elements identified in the story. For instance, the actions of Sarty from the beginning of the story provide an evaluative context that is used in determining the way the story is developed and the ability of the Sarty to fit into the main theme in the story. At the same time, the questioning aspect of the SQ3R method was used in establishing the connection between Sarty and his father Abner and the way his father is treating him.

After the determination of the literature content and theme to be integrated into the draft, the reading aspect was applied in going through the story to identify the major questions being asked about the story and the themes that were to be developed in the analysis part. The additional content attained from a second reading were then combined with the already identified content in the first reading and other elements included as a form of recall before a review was done. During the review stage, the focus was on combining the content attained from the different stages of the literary process. Efficiency of the process was enhanced through rereading the draft to ascertain the integration of the correct information in the draft and the right format followed in the analysis and review of the story.

“A Doll’s House”

The title of the story, ‘A Doll’s House’ is a symbolic representation of the life that Nora comes to consider her marriage to Torvald has been. Earlier, Nora had taken a loan from Krogstad to help treat her husband with a trip that lasted for a year in Paris. Since she was not sure of the reaction of Torvald upon knowing the source of the money for the trip, she kept the details of the loan secret and never told him. Nora upon contemplating the issue says, ‘How painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald to know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations altogether (Ibsen 90). In the second scene, Krogstad is fired for being corrupt and not having ethical values that might be of benefit for the bank under the management of Torvald. Krogstad, instead, considers that he would rather blackmail Nora to convince his husband to maintain him in his work position or even advance his work position.

Throughout the play, Nora tried to hide the facts of the issue and even when Torvald was nearly opening the letter sent by Krogstad, she lured him into dancing in preparation for a dance they were to attend. When Torvald learns about the issue, he laments the actions of Nora and even tells her to stay away from their children. A little while later, Krogstad sends another letter letting him know that he will no longer blackmail him and has forgiven the debt. Despite the elation of Torvald that he will get to maintain his new bank manager job, Nora is angered by the reaction of Torvald towards her and the way he considered her corrupt even when her actions were towards his treatment. She leaves him saying that she now sees that she was a doll in his eyes.

In the ‘Doll’s House,’ the attention is focused on the life of Nora. The SQ3R method is applicable in evaluating the connection between the different sides of the play and ways they also relate to one another. In the first part of the play, the focus is on the new changes that Torvald is getting at his job place. Nora is ecstatic about this new position, but through reading through the whole play, the secret of Nora and Krogstad becomes evident. This part is attained through surveying the whole document and questioning the different concepts developed at individual stages of the play. At the same time, additional content such as the introduction of the new characters such as Christine and Krogstad is attained through questioning the life of Nora, having curiosity about the secret Nora is having, and the possible issue that might make Torvald angry at Nora if he knew the secret.

A further reading of the play helps identify the connections between the different sides of the play and even identify the role of the characters in the development of the plot of the story. While reading, a draft was developed where all the important content was noted and links between the different aspects of the play also determined. Before a review of the play was developed, the information was compared to the original script of the play to identify the elements that helped identify the roles of individual characters and their connection to the main theme of the story.

Each of these works of literature is designed and developed differently, but all allow for the development of a setting that can be easily followed through and understood. The application of the SQ3R method offers a holistic approach to analysis and determination of major themes, content, and character development necessary of the analysis of these three works. The adoption of a holistic approach in the analysis of the literature offers an interactive style of learning about the development of content and the arrangement of the same to offer understanding and development of the plot to attain the themes of the story, play, or poem.



Works Cited

Eliot, Stearns T. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart, 206. 1-11. Retrieved from:

Faulkner, William. Barn Burning. Ontario, Canada: HarperCollins Canada, 203. 16, 26.  Retrieved from:

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York: The Wilder Family LLC., 2016. 1-96. Retrieved from:

Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, and Writing. Ontario, Canada: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. 689. Retrieved from:





The SQ3R Method