George Washington Cable

Start Free Trial

I need help with the following. The following two paragraphs are part of a rough draft I need to develop. 1) a) I think Grace King's "The Little Convent Girl" was an excellent example of a post-Civil War story with a trick ending. I think the ending of this story is achieved through basic elements like de-emphasizing the importance of the main character or having a false climax. Ms. King downplays the importance the little convent girl by not giving her a name; even the steamboat captain and crew members refer to her as "The Little Convent Girl." The readers will actually believe that the story is not really about the girl, but the girl is used as an instrument chosen by the author, and the reader will experience a steamboat adventure. In George Washington Cable's "Tite Poulette," I felt there was more than one aspect of identity discussed, like gender, race, class, labor, language, culture, religion, age and much more. This story involves a relation between races. Kristian Koppig faced violence while saving "Tite Poulette" and fought against racial discrimination... For the first part, develop the explanation of the differences in Cable's representation of the tragic quadroon. What does "more than one identity" mean? Does it mean more than one issue? Refine the analysis, keeping in mind that the perspective of Koppig, who is an outsider, is important. From his point of view we are learning about the plight of the quadroon in Creole culture during the period. Identify this period and discuss what he is learning about this culture, since he is approaching it without any preconceived notions. b) What do the two stories both show? Explain the conclusion of both these stories and what they teach us.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several things you will need to do the develop these draft paragraphs into an essay. First, you need a clear thesis statement. If you want to focus on the lack of name for the Little Convent Girl, you should make that a thesis, and then devote the rest of the essay to that issue. Otherwise, you need to start your introduction with a clear sense of your main points and how they are tied together. 

You might argue that the center of the story "The Little Convent Girl" is really the discovery we make at the end that her mother is black, an important point you make in the first paragraph. You could then use as supporting evidence for the notion that what matters is the issue of identity in the way the girl is discussed.

Her lack of a name, as you say, paradoxically emphasizes the issue of her identity. It makes the issue of her identity one that is foregrounded. The problem of identity is universalized by her lack of name. The word "girl" references the ways that black people were addressed in the period as "boy" or "girl." "Convent" is interesting because it signifies a religious complicity in cultural oppression and the role of Catholicism in imposing a certain type of European culture on African Americans. The girl's obsessive straightening of her hair shows how she has internalized and become complicit with that culture.

You need a transition to your discussion of Tite Poulette. Are you arguing that Tite is a more fully realized and individuated character than the little convent girl? 

Next, after comparing the heroines in your first body paragraph, you might compare and contrast the men in the stories in your second paragraph, thinking about the steamboat crew and Koppig both as "outsiders" more sympathetic to the young women than members of their own society. For a third paragraph, you might discuss the girls' mothers.

You main task in revising this will be creating some form of coherence. Right now, there is no clear relationship among the various notes you have assembled. You will want to think about how to make a clear introductory argument and then support it in an organized fashion with each paragraph having a single theme. Writing an outline would be a good way to do this.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team