Lit2000 summary-response essay: assignment submission

Category: Literature

Before submitting your Summary-Response Essay below, please be sure to review the following items within Module 5:

  1. Lecture Presentation: Summary-Response Essay
  2. Presentation: How to Summarize a Short Story
  3. Summary-Response Essay: Topic Choices
  4. Summary-Response Essay: Template
  5. Summary-Response Essay: Student Sample

Length Requirement: 800 words 


Essay 1: Summary-Response Topic Choices


Barn Burning 

One of the central conflicts in this story revolves around the relationship between Sarty and his father. Sarty’s father has a habit of burning down barns belonging to his landlords. He wants Sarty to lie for him in court. Sarty knows that what his father is asking him to do is wrong, but he feels he must be loyal to his family even though this goes against his own values.

Have you ever been in a situation like this where you had to choose between betraying someone you cared about and being true to yourself? What did you choose? Why?

For this essay, you will begin by summarizing the story making sure you discuss the choice that Sarty made and why he made this choice.

In the second part of the essay, you will discuss the time when you had to make such a choice drawing parallels between your conflict and Sarty’s conflict.

Sonny’s Blues 

“Sonny’s Blues” is a story that focuses on human suffering, something we can all relate to in some way. Sonny turns to drugs in high school because he feels trapped in Harlem, in school, and by what he is expected to do and what he wants to do. He is like many high school students who are trying to find their way in the world. They are not quite an adult, but they are no longer a kid.

Sonny, in many ways, is like a teenager today. He has to listen to his teachers and his parents but he also has his own ideas, view of the world, and passions that the adults don’t understand. He wants to express himself but feels that nobody is taking him seriously. His brother doesn’t relate to his desire to play music or join the military. Sonny feels that he is trapped and makes some really bad decisions in trying to deal with his own suffering. On one level, the story is about being young and misunderstood. On another level, it is about the decisions that we make and how these decisions can affect us for a long time.

If you choose this prompt, the first part of your essay will summarize the story and will focus on Sonny and his relationship with his brother and his family. You will summarize the events that led up to Sonny’s arrest and what happened after Sonny got out of jail. Talk about the narrator’s revelation at the end of the story after he goes to the bar and listens to Sonny play the piano.

In the second part of this essay, you will respond to the themes of growing up and the importance of the decisions that we make. Discuss a time in your life when you were “young and misunderstood” and made a decision (good or bad) that had an impact on your future.


In “Puppy” George Sanders alternates between the perceptions of two women, Marie and Callie. Although these two women may appear to be opposites, they do have some similarities. In the first part of this essay, you will be writing a comparison/contrast essay on these two characters. You can set this up using block by block style or point by point (see explanation in Canvas).

Good People

“Good People” presents the reader with two characters who are facing a major decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Have you ever been in such a situation?

For this topic, you will be discussing the decision that Lane and Sherry must make. Summarize the story and explain the internal conflict that each of these characters is struggling with. 

In the response portion of the essay, you will discuss a time in your life when you were faced with a difficult decision. Draw parallels between the story and the conflict you faced? How did you resolve the conflict? What was the result of your decision? Based on the story, what decision do you think these characters made?

These next two topics do not strictly follow the summary response format. 

Micro Fiction

You read two stories that fall under the definition of micro or flash fiction. For this assignment, you will write a researched essay on this genre of fiction. Define the term (terms), discuss how this genre began, and give characteristics of the genre. Then select three to five micro-fiction stories (you may use the two stories assigned in this unit) and summarize them according to the format presented in this module. In the second part of the essay, summarize your opinion of this genre. Do you like it? Why or why not? Support your opinions. 


In “Puppy” George Sanders alternates between the perceptions of two women, Marie and Callie. Although these two women may appear to be opposites, they do have some similarities. In this essay you will be writing a character analysis of each of these characters. You will then discuss the similarities and differences between the two women.

Template for the Summary-Response EssayIntroduction: Introduce the short story by providing the title of the fiction and the author’s name—with perhaps a small amount of information about the author.State the thesis of the essay, including the summary and response:  For example, you might state the following thesis:  Sarty in “Barn Burning” displays the typical qualities of a young man growing up in the post-Civil War South, which are similar to some of the aspects of my own upbringing.Write the Summary point by point.Write the Response point by point.Conclusion: End the essay by making a final statement about the author and your response to his/her short fiction.I. IntroductionII. Summary2 or 3 paragraphs. Remember you are only summarizing the main points in the story that will connect with your response.A. Main Point 1B. Main Point 2C. Main Point 3III. Response2 or 3 paragraphs.A. Respond to the main points by agreeing or disagreeing in connection to your own life.  For example, if you summarized two main points about Sarty’s young life, you would then connect to similar events in your own life and how both the character and you experienced similar events.IV. ConclusionDon’t forget to include the following essay elements:   Include ample evidence (explanation based on your reading and experience) to support your response.   Provide appropriate transitions from one point to the next.   Include adequate explanation to distinguish the author’s points from yours.   Include an adequate summary by including the most important point the author makes.   Provide a correct MLA citation for any author quotations from the short story.


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