Students will analyze the development of a central theme in the Love and Rockets collection. You will explore a theme by analyzing the significance of one specific character.
What interesting and significant ideas and themes are represented in your character?
This essay covers the three stories: “The Return of Ray D,” “The Death of Speedy Ortiz,” and “In the Valley of the Polar Bears.” Your work should be focused in these stories.
The main characters that Hernandez develops are Maggie and Hopey, but I also suggest considering the importance, in terms of themes, of Ray D and Speedy Ortiz. In addition, secondary characters offer rich stories for Doyle and Izzy Ortiz (Speedy’s sister).
You will, of course, touch upon the influence of other characters. To understand any one character you must address their social relations: beliefs and values; perspectives on friends and community; and sub-cultures that shape identities.
That is to say, part of your paper will describe the social milieu, what it means to live in the world of Huerta Hernandez creates.
Also, given the breadth of Hernandez’s writing and art, students should consider the richness of drawings, offering close readings of how form contributes to meaning.
Analysis focused on character and theme; development of claims and evidence
Analysis of form and content
Rubric for Evaluation
I will evaluate essays based on the following criteria.
Does the essay offer an engaging introduction, attentive to reader needs, to the major idea explored in the essay?
Do paragraphs demonstrate specific and precise development of a central idea or claim (topic sentences) supported by evidence from the text?
Is evidence analyzed with close attention to language and ideas?
How effective is the analysis? Does the writer interpret the meaning and significance of the evidence?
How effective is the analysis of literary devices, such as artwork, symbolization, language, and other elements of the text?
Is the essay free of grammatical and usage errors?
Meets MLA format requirements.
1. “Locas vs. Locas” (40 – 43)
2. “The Return of Ray D” (74 – 104)
3. “The Death of Speedy Ortiz” (105 – 132)
4. “In the Valley of Polar Bears” (165 – 194)
5. “Spring 1982” (215 – 226)
6. “Flies in the Ceiling” (268 – 281)
The Girl from Hoppers: Writing a Character Study
Characters in a work of fiction are created to explore aspects of human (social, cultural, ethnic/racial, etc.) experience. We will use the term Characterization to highlight an author’s exploration of a character’s personality, perceptions, and self-reflections in support of an idea or theme.
As you analyze storyline, distinguish between an author’s character and characterization, the former may be an author’s protagonist, the latter the idea underlying the protagonist. Put another way, understanding the difference between plot and the ideas underlying plot.
In your essay, you will analyze selected passages in the comics that are revealing about your character. As you read, analyze, and write keep in mind the following:
What is the general context of the scene/s?
What revealing thoughts, words, and/or actions are depicted in this passage?
As you study the text, distinguish between when a character speaks and unspoken inner thoughts. Do the two align or conflict? What might this relationship suggest?
If the scene is framed by a narrator, what is the narrator’s perspective?
What personality traits are revealed in the character?
How does the character perceive her- or himself?
What personality traits are revealed in the surrounding characters?
How do literary devices (graphic weight, panels, text and image, coloring, etc.) contribute to an emerging idea?
Writing a Character Study
As you analyze a series of important panels in the story, a second passage may illuminate a pattern of ideas. That is to say, look for patterns over the course multiple scenes.
Analyze passages where Hernandez makes a character’s actions especially striking, puzzling, revealing, or meaningful.
Drawing on your skills of close reading, analyze the scene’s details—composition of characters, graphic weight (visual perspective), language, juxtaposition of panels, as appropriate—for evidence of significant implications of the character’s behavior. Look for patterns.
Explain how this first passage (which may be a series of panels) suggests a point of view about your chosen character.
Select a second passage: this second passage should provide a new dimension to the idea you are exploring, suggestive of interesting questions and ways of seeing the symbolic meaning of your chosen character.
Consider the relationship among the key words/images/actions. In other words, put the words/images/actions into a dialectical relationship. What do you find about these tensions or alignments?
Begin to speculate about the meaning of these relationships.
As you draft, first write about the “moment of discovery” when you “see” the emerging relationships.
(If appropriate) You can also analyze tone. Is the narrator being straightforward, factual, open? Or is he taking a less direct route toward his meaning? Does the voice carry emotion? Or is it detached from its subject? Do you hear irony? If so, what do you make of it?
Look for problems or complications in your reading of the passages, to move beyond description to interpretation.
Write a rough draft in which you investigate these elements of the passage in detail, quoting from the text, reflecting upon composition, and developing your point fully. Give yourself room to explore the different possibilities for interpretation, entertain problems in and even contradictions to your initial assumptions. These will prove useful in the end.
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