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Book analysis

Deadline: Monday 29 February

Do not start writing your analysis right away, but make notes. Your analysis must be typed on a computer, not hand-written. Other technical details:

  • Normal margins
  • 11 or 12 point letter size
  • Line division 1,5
  • Between 500-800 words (ca. 1-2 pages). Do a computer word count at the end

What you have to include in your analysis is:

  • A summary of the plot. What happens?
  • Setting (time and place, but also social environment/cultural context)
  • An entry about the main character(s)
  • The novel’s point of view. Who tells the story?
  • A description of the theme(s). (Perhaps a discussion of what the title signifies?)

A word of advice: be careful about using the Internet to find information! Very often, that makes it difficult to compress the content of your essay, and it will make little sense to me.

Use what you remember from the novel, and if there are details you have forgotten about, check the book itself. I will STRONGLY SUGGEST to you that you only use the Internet to check up facts or details in the plot. Your blog posts will be of use to you.

If you do use the Internet, you need to state your SOURCES in your essay. “Direct quotes must be marked with quotation marks”. If you rewrite the content of another text in your own words, you must also state your sources! This is called paraphrasing.

Long quotes or paraphrasing will be subtracted from the length of your book analysis.

The book analysis will be graded on a scale from 1 to 6.

A good grade on your book analysis requires the following:

  • You cover all the important points listed above.
  • You manage to keep your essay to the required length.
  • Your presentation is tidy and you have checked your language carefully.
  • You manage to present your opinions and impressions of the novel.
  • Your written English is mature and you show that you are able to vary your language.

Poor grades will be the result of the following:

  • You are too dependent of material you have found elsewhere.
  • You are unable to express your own view.
  • You fail to include all the relevant points listed above.
  • You are unable to express yourself in full sentences, and do not express yourself clearly.
  • Your book analysis is too short. Overly long essays will also be penalized.

Example of a book analysis (ca. 600 words):

BOOK ANALYSIS EXAMPLE

Title: Vernon God Little

Author: DBC Pierre

First published: 2003

Plot

When the action in the novel begins, Vernon has just been arrested for his assumed role in the school tragedy, but the reader is not told about the details of the tragedy. It happened only a few days before the novel begins. Through flashbacks and little pieces of information here and there, we get the full picture of what happened that day, and that keeps the suspense in the book. Vernon is, as we learn, innocent of the crime he is accused of, but because he is a suspect he escapes to Mexico. Towards the end he is captured by the police, and the book finishes with his trial where he is sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Setting

The novel is set in the present, in a small town called Martirio in Texas, USA. Martirio is a small community where it is difficult to keep secrets from other people. The people portrayed in the book are mostly working class and do not have much money. Martirio is a small town, but consumer culture, television and national popular culture makes it natural to see Martirio as a miniature of the USA. The action of the story takes place within about a year.

Main character

The main character in this novel is a 17-year-old white boy by the name of Vernon Gregory Little. He lives only with his mother, because his father died when he was young. He struggles with his feelings after a shooting tragedy at his school, in which his best friend Jesus was involved. In the course of the novel, Vernon learns something about becoming an adult, expressing his emotion and taking control of his own life. Vernon is not a popular boy, and has been friends with a bullying victim. He doesn’t have any real friends, and must tackle everything by himself. His enemy in the story is a phoney reporter by the name of Eulalio Ledesma, who seduces his mother and the whole town, and begins a witch-hunt to bring Vernon to trial for murder. Vernon comes across as a closed-up child who has difficulties articulating his feelings, and his inability to speak about how he feels plays a big part in what happens to him.

Point of view

Throughout the novel, the perspective is that of Vernon. He tells his own story, using the language of a maladjusted adolescent. For instance, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word “paradigm”, which becomes “powerdime”. Likewise, “Adolf Hitler” becomes “Adult Hitler”. Because Vernon is the one telling the story, one can understand why he does not talk about the details of the tragedy until near the end of the novel. To him, it is obviously too traumatic, and he struggles with analysing his own feelings. As readers, we have to interpret his actions and his own descriptions of his physical condition to understand how he feels inside.

Theme

This novel is a “coming-of-age”-story, where we follow the journey of Vernon from adolescence to adulthood. He learns how to take control of his own life and take responsibility for his own actions. Throughout the novel, we hear different versions of “G”, his middle name: Vernon Gonad Little, Vernon Genius Little, Vernon Godzilla Little etc. The title, Vernon God Little, suggests that at the end of the novel, Vernon is finally able to take control of his own life. He is no longer a product of his environment or a victim of fate.

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