How does Sandra Cisneros Rumpelstiltskin analogy in "Straw Into Gold" compare to Toni Morrison's step-sister analogy in "Cinderella's Stepsisters"?

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Let’s take a close look at your task. You need to compare and contrast Cisneros and Morrison usage of similar analogies. In other words, your instructor wants you to think about both of the texts and determine how each writer included an analogy to a fairy tale. (Using the analogy is a technique: a special method that the writer uses to create an interesting piece of writing.)

As your instructor might tell you, these two writers compared real life to a fairy tale; however, the way they engaged these tales isn’t exactly the same. They are two different women, writing about two different topics, presumably for two different audiences, referring to two different fairy tales, for two different reasons. Even still, their shared analogic structure may lead to similar points or intentions.

Explore all of this as you reread the texts, taking notes as you go. As you read, ask yourself questions like these:

  • “Are the titles of these pieces similar or different somehow?”
  • Where does the analogy appear in each piece: at the start, or the middle, or the end?”
  • “After the writer mentions the fairy tale, then moves on to other topics, does she return to the fairy tale later in the piece? Why or why not?”
  • “Does the writer seem to praise or criticize the characters in the fairy tale?”
  • What human behavior in the fairy tale is similar to human behavior in real life, according to each writer?”
  • What does the writer expect the reader to learn or take away from the fairy tale?”
  • How does the fairy tale connect to real life?”
  • “Does the part about the fairy tale make me want to laugh, cry, or both?”

Don't worry about answering absolutely all of those questions; the list above is only intended to help you begin to build a comparative framework between the two works.

After you’ve taken notes, you should have a list of observations about how the two authors used their analogies in similar and different ways. Pick just a few similarities and just a few differences that seem especially important or interesting to you.

Your assignment is only 150 words, which is quite short. I recommend you start your piece with a topic sentence that quickly lists the similarities and differences you’ll discuss, something like “When Cisneros and Morrison each drew an analogy to a fairy tale, they both did X and Y, but Cisneros did A while Morrison did B.” Or, “Although both authors did X and Y as they drew analogies to fairy tales, Cisneros did A while Morrison did B.” Fill in your own observations for X, Y, A, and B. Of course, you can talk about more than four qualities in your piece if you wish, but you might not have the time or space.

Once you’ve written your topic sentence, flesh out the paragraph with a handful of sentences—perhaps five or six—however many it takes to explain your ideas in detail.

When you’re done, count how many words you have written. Then you’ll know whether you need to trim down your paragraph or add more detail. If you have room left over, you can end the paragraph with a wrap-up sentence. I suggest that you use this final sentence to make an overarching claim about the two pieces and their use of fairy tales, for example, “Taken together, these two pieces help readers understand that…”

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