Mrs. Sen’s from Interpreter of Maladies.

Essay 1: Very Close Reading
This assignment asks you to use a small detail in the text as the basis for a clear, persuasive argument about
some aspect of a short story
Lahiri, any single story from Interpreter of Maladies
All good arguments about a literary text start with a “kernel,” a single detail that becomes more and more
significant and begins to connect with more and more of the text. Any detail might tell you something about a
particular moment in a text, but a really good detail will begin to illuminate the entire story. This assignment
asks you to start with a detail—whether it is a single word, a line of dialogue, an image, a symbol—and work
from there to advance a larger argument about a short story.
Your detail might be a strange word that stands out or it might be a seemingly ordinary image that takes on
new significance in the context of the story. How does this one detail add to your understanding of something
larger in the story? Does it reappear at various points in the story? If so, how does the detail link those
separate passages? Does the meaning change at different points in the story? Ultimately, this essay is an act
of very close reading. As much as I want you to come to some larger conclusions about a short story, it’s
crucial that those conclusions be rooted in the details of the text.
Writing Task
Choose a single detail from your chosen short story. Then, answer the following question:
How does your chosen detail add to our understanding of the short story?

Sample Solution