George Washington Cable

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I need help refining my analysis of Grace King's "The Little Convent Girl" and George Washington Cable's "Tite Poulette."

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...

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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.

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