English 101: Essay #1 Assignment

Writing with a Fable

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Ferrum College

Main page for English 101


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:

  1. Watching two of my nephews grow from tubby, hideous “baby blobs” into trim, extremely cute toddlers has taught me that, especially in babies, “appearances are deceptive.”

(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. )

  1. I wish our country would not invade other countries with military force because, as our own political conventions and elections showed in 2008, persuasion is more effective than force.

    (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