Writing with a Fable
Dr. Tina L.
Main page for English 101
Read at least half a dozen fables. A good source for fables online is Aesop's Fables: Online Collection by John R. Long.
Rules for Writers by Hacker, or any other basic composition handbook provides guidelines for writing this kind of thesis-and-support paper.
Assignment for Monday, Sept. 10:
Handbook: sections 1-2, especially 1c on thesis.
Read and/or listen to the following fables, which are online at the web site mentioned above. (If you have trouble, read these famous Aesop's fables in any other book or web site.)
"The Ant and the Chrysalis" "The Bear and the Two Travelers"
"The Crow and the Pitcher" "Hercules and the Waggoner"
"The Lion and the Mouse" "Mercury and the Woodman"
"The Milkmaid and her Pail" "The Wind and the Sun"
"The Hart and the Hunter"
Guidelines for Students (over several class periods):
• After reading Aesop’s fables, write an essay with a thesis based on the main idea of one of the fables. You will be writing a basic thesis-and-support paper, with a thesis in the introduction, followed by examples and details in the body that support the thesis, then a conclusion that ties together the details from the body and the thesis. (This is the most common structure used in academic and professional writing. (Your handbook, sections 1-4, gives lots of advice and strategies for planning and writing this type of essay.)
• You will
be using one or more fables as a springboard for ideas in your essay. You may
refer directly to the fable(s) in your paper if you choose, but this is not required.
• Your thesis should put in your own words the main idea of your paper. If you use a quotation from the fables, put it in quotation marks, but be sure your thesis is more than a restatement of a moral from a fable. It should show how the general idea from the fable relates to the example(s) discussed in the body of the paper.
Examples of Thesis Statements:
(This thesis uses the moral from “The Ant and the Chrysalis” but it connects the generalization about appearances with the examples from personal experience that will be developed in the essay. I made up the term “baby blob.” I could avoid quoting the fable by changing the end like this: . . .has taught me that we should never judge children by their appearance as babies. )
(This idea is from "The Wind and the Sun." To write about a more public topic like this, I would have to be very careful that I selected convincing details without using information from sources that would need to be documented. I could use examples in my experience of people who have been persuaded by debates or political speeches to change their views and vote a certain way, to illustrate my idea about the irony of a democratic nation invading another country to force them to be more democratic.)
• The body of your paper will
contain specific examples that support or illustrate the thesis. A fable
contains a narrative (story) that illustrates the moral (or generalization or
main idea). Classical fables usually contain fewer specific details than
nonfiction essays or other kinds of literature. The body of your paper may
contain one or more narratives—anecdotes or personal experiences that prove the
validity of your thesis or main idea. For example, I would
narrate several encounters with my nephews and their parents
during vacations and describe the babies and toddlers as they
grew. If I wrote a paper about a friend deserting me in times of misfortune (as
in "The Bear and the Two Travelers"), I would compare examples to show that we
had a good friendship earlier and examples showing what I missed after the
friend deserted me. Or you could uses examples of different friends to show how
one stuck by you in a time of misfortune and another did not.
• Sample student essays are available on the handbook web site. Check here later for more specific recommendations.
• Bring thesis statement to class one week before paper is due.
• Use Guidelines for Proofreading as a checklist for avoiding some common editing and proofreading problems after you have written a draft of your essay.
This Page Created Sept. 2001. Last Update: September 5, 2012
copyright 2001-2012 Tina L. Hanlon