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Student Question

Choose a quote from a story and analyze its significance.

Expert Answers

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Your instructor is assessing both your ability to blend a quote into a paragraph and your ability to cite information properly using MLA format. For this exercise, we will be using the short story The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton.

You'll first need to decide what your paragraph will be about. Working with characterization or theme will allow you to include a quote fairly easily. In the short story I have chosen, I might write a paragraph that examines the mental anguish of the princess in the story. The central conflict is hers: she has knowledge that could send her lover to his death or straight into the arms of another woman. Those are her only two choices, and readers are not sure in the end which of the two options she has selected for her (former) lover. A paragraph which blends in a meaningful quote to explain her dilemma might look like the following:

As the princess watches her lover enter the arena, she is filled with memories that stir up ravenous jealousy. Although she loves this man in a way that reflects both strength and warmth, she also recalls the way another maiden has flirted with him. The princess grows furious as she considers that her lover may have enjoyed the maiden's provocative glances. This anger grows from deep within her, and, "with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door" (Stockton). The magnitude of the princess's fury indicates that she would do anything to prevent her lover from forming a new relationship with this maiden whom she despises.

There are a few key points to note as you construct your paragraph:

  • Be sure to introduce your quote. What is going on at the point where this quote is located? Who is involved and what is the conflict at this point?
  • MLA citation: After inserting the quote, be sure to include the author's last name in parentheses and then place the period after that citation. If you are using a print source, you'll also need to include a page number. It would look something like this: (Stockton 49).
  • Be sure to explain the quote after you insert it. Why is it important? What does it mean? How does it demonstrate the main idea of your paragraph?

Your Works Cited page will differ depending on whether you are using an online source or a book source. An online source (in this case an e-book) would look like the following:

Stockton, Frank R. "The Lady, or the Tiger?" Project Gutenberg. E-book, updated 28 Dec. 2008.

Note: If you are using an electronic source, some instructors prefer to see the website in MLA format and others do not. You should check with your own instructor before submitting.

If you are citing a short story or essay within an anthology, you will use a format that likely resembles the following:

Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.

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