Novel Essay Assignment



As you read your novel, you may be noticing how elements of the story may reflect realistic ideas or themes about life. Many fictional characters undergo a significant change or life-altering experience as part of their growth process.  Other novels raise broader questions about our existence and our role in society.


Using one of the attached topics as a guide, write a 2- to 3-page essay that explores your chosen novel and directly quotes from the novel to back up your main points.


You probably want to follow a form something like this:

Intro: State the thrust of your argument here: one you will later support with numerous examples, quotes.

Body: Three body paragraphs where your incorporate two quotes from the novel.

Conclusion: A restatement of your main idea.


Your essay should have the following things:

ü      A thesis statement as part of a larger introduction.

ü      At least two quotes from the novel properly incorporated into the body of your essay.

ü      A strong, logical argument based on the novel.

ü      No gross grammatical errors.


Thesis due_________ Rough draft due __________ Final essay due __________


English 10 Assessment Rubric for Novel Essay:


                                                                                    Gradations of Quality








(i.e. I use a strong one-sentence thesis in my introduction to focus my ideas.)

My introduction contains a focused, concise statement that clearly states my main idea and provides backbone for rest of essay


A statement in my introduction covers the thrust of my argument in essay, but may be a bit fuzzy or unconnected

An unfocused or unclear statement provides some ideas for my essay; or I omit major points covered in rest of my essay

No clear statement of ideas to sum up essay’s main points; or vague statement with little link to essay’s arguments



(i.e. I use the text of my novel to back up my argument.)

I fluently blend in two quotes from my novel to clearly enhance my ideas, examples, and I cite page numbers


I use a quote from my novel relating to argument, but problems blending, citing page numbers

I may use a quote and/or quotes are unrelated to the argument; clear link undeveloped; no pages cited

I either neglect to use quotes in my essay or I may make no attempt to use the text in my argument


(i.e. I follow a logical, five-paragraph format in my paper.)

My essay is true to 5-paragraph format: each paragraph supports my main idea and leads to a strong, thoughtful conclusion that ties into the introduction


My essay is in 5-paragraph format with some problems supporting major points, developing ideas; a plain conclusion evident

My essay misses some or all elements of 5-paragraph format and/or problems supporting ideas or reaching logical conclusion

My essay is not in 5-paragraph format and several errors in organization inhibit the understanding and logic of essay’s main point


(i.e. I make sense and use fully-developed ideas from the novel to bolster the essay’s points.)

I use plenty of specific, relevant details from my novel to answer topic in thorough, clear, thoughtful essay that analyzes major themes, ideas


My essay includes examples from the novel, but I may leave out details, clearly explained relevance to chosen topic, some areas underdeveloped


My essay contains few significant details from my novel to touch on my topic’s main points, novels themes and/or I leave major pieces undeveloped


My essay does little more than skim surface of topic, ignore major points from novel; may be large factual errors and/or some ideas may contradict thesis



(i.e. I proofread and revise for success.)

I use few to no fragments, run-on sentences; rare errors or mechanical mistakes; writing is fluent


I use some frag-ments, run-ons or other errors; occ-asional mechanical mistakes; writing generally clear


I commit several sentence errors, mechanical mistakes that may interfere with ideas, clarity of ideas in writing


My writing is marred by numerous errors, mechanical mistakes




Independent reading essay topics





Directions: Choose one of the following topics on which to base your essay. If you want to choose your own topic, you must present it to me ahead of time for my approval.


1.     Compare and contrast your novel any other work of literature we’ve covered in class this year. Find several significant similarities and/or differences between the two and evaluate them. You can focus on a single character that undergoes a life-changing experience or cover larger thematic issues and topics. Use specifics and quotes from the novel to back up your claim.



2.     Write a letter to the publisher in which you provide your opinion on whether the novel you read should have been published. Decide what purpose the author was trying to achieve and determine how successful he/she was. Thoroughly explain your choice using quotes from the novel to back up your ideas.



3.     What is the main idea or single most important theme of your novel? Explain why you believe the author wrote the novel. How does she or he get these ideas across? Develop a thesis and make an intelligent, reasoned argument to support your claims. Use specifics and quotes from the novel to back up your ideas.



4.     Write a character analysis in which you discuss a main character’s motivations, the pressures he/she feels, and the way he/she grows or changes in the course of the novel. Consider what the main character learns through the course of the novel. Develop a thesis and make an intelligent, reasoned argument to support your claims. Use specifics and quotes from the novel to back up your ideas.



5.     Write an essay that analyzes what statement the author is attempting to make about today’s society. Consider the characters, conflicts and events in the novel and how they reveal the author’s broader opinions. What does the novel attempt to show the reader? Develop a thesis and make an intelligent, reasoned argument to support it. Use specifics and quotes from the novel to back up your ideas.