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Literary Analysis Reading Brief Instructions

Reading briefs are intended to show your working knowledge of the thematic messages, theoretical underpinnings, text-to-text connections, and overall understanding of course readings. While you are not required to mention every title discussed for the week, you should at least make reference to two texts (at least one must be a short story or poem).


Your brief should meet the following format criteria:

at least two pagestyped in 12 point, Times New Roman fontdouble-spacedproper MLA headings (see example on next page).Standard essay format:Introduction paragraphBody paragraphs (at least 3)Conclusion paragraph

Content criteria:

You should strive to:

summarizeone or more stories/texts of the weekmake connections betweenone or more stories and one or more of the Hip Hop songs as listed on the syllabus andconnect both text to the literary theory discussed for the weekoutline how the fiction element of the week is evident in each text.You may also outline your own feelings about the stories and its message. What did you like/dislike? What characters can you identify with? Have you experienced something that happens in the story?Also, feel free to make additional connections to songs of your choice.(optional)

Literary Analysis Reading Brief Outline

I. Introduction paragraph

Hook sentence, or interesting opening sentence. You may useone of 5 hooks (tell short story that relates to the topic of your paper; use a relevant quote; present a fact; ask a thought-provoking question; or cause a commotion, or surprise.)

Background information, or summary of the story. Be sure to keep your summary brief.Thesis statement that presents claims of paper, or makes it clear what your three body paragraphs will focus on.

II. Body paragraphs (3 or more)

Topic Sentence that presents topic of the paragraphSupporting evidence, or textual evidence/ quote from textExplanation(Consider repeating B & C)Conclusion sentence

III. Conclusion paragraph

Restate thesis statementSummary of body paragraphsSinker, or interesting closing sentence

(See example reading brief below)

Cameron Lawrence

Dr. Parks


21 June 2020

Reading Brief 1:The Glass Menagerie

In her 2018 single “Be Careful,” rapper Cardi B. warns her significant other about damaging her heart, suggesting that it is fragile and must be handled with care. In Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, he portrays one of his main characters, Laura, as being a delicate, young woman who is having trouble finding a male suitor, even though her mother is adamant on finding her a suitable “gentleman caller.” Through both women’s characters, Williams shows how women often work to alter themselves to seem more worthy of marriage; he, also, uses a glass unicorn to show the fragile state of insecure women. In contrast, rappers, such as J. Cole, have promoted messages of women being confident in their flaws.

First, Williams shows the importance that many women put on impressing men. In scenes five and six of Act two, there is a conversation between Tom, Laura’s brother, and her mother, Amanda, about the gentleman caller that will be coming over to see Laura. Upon hearing that Tom will be visiting her, Laura gets very weak and nervous. She says, “Mother, you’ve made me nervous!” (52). This is because most of the scenes consist of Amanda, Laura’s mother, talking and worrying nonstop about everything being perfect so that it will increase the chance of Laura finding a man that will take care of her. Amanda presses so much that Laura says, “You make it seem like we were setting a trap” (53). While her mother thinks she is naïve, she is not as gullible as her family thinks. Her mother is, in fact, hoping to set a trap and distract the gentleman caller from seeing just how socially awkward and insecure Laura truly is. Therefore, this shows that women are often encouraged to change themselves in hopes of enticing male suitors.

Furthermore, Williams continues to portray Laura as being fragile and delicate, especially in comparison to her mother. For example, in scene four, the stage directions refer to the glass unicorn sitting on the coffee table as “translucent” (52), which means that it is see-through or transparent. There is a stark parallel to Laura’s character who is easily seen through and wears her heart on her sleeves. When the gentleman caller visits, Laura attempts to be the ‘perfect’ flower that her mother wants her to be; yet, her true self seeks out, and she shows the caller that she is both sweet and fragile, which he seems to find refreshing. Additionally, the glass unicorn is often referred to as “beautiful, reflecting beautiful streams of light” (52). The beauty of the unicorn is indicative of Laura’s inward beauty. While many may not see her as being physically beautiful, her words and mannerisms clearly show that her beauty is skin deep. Laura is everything that the glass unicorn is: beautiful, reflective, and transparent, which is her being true to herself.

The idea of women being true to themselves and disregarding the male perspective is not a new concept; however, it has not been reverberated in Hip Hop the way that it should. Oftentimes, rappers turn women into body parts or objects to be used to fulfill their own pleasures, but seldomly do listeners hear positive messages about women just being who they really are, their flaws and all. However, one artist who has sent a message of female positivity is J. Cole. In his song “Crooked Smile”, he raps, “To all the women with flaws, know it’s hard, my darling. You wonder why you’re lonely and your man’s not calling” (1). This relates to the play because Laura has a physical disability that makes her self-conscious, and like Laura, many women’s flaws have been magnified; as a result, they blame themselves for not getting male attention, which can be difficult.  Yet, Cole encourages women to be themselves saying, “Baby girl you’re a star. Don’t let them tell you you’re not” (1). This is a necessary message that should be continuously communicated to all women, especially Black women.

In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, he outlines the great lengths that women go to in order to impress men and the delicate nature of some women; however, rapper J. Cole argues that women should embrace their flaws regardless of how men respond. While I am not a woman, I love women, and to read about this girl and her mom going through so much to find her a male suitor, it made me realize how much stake some women put in finding the perfect man. The messaging is unfair because as a man, I have never been pressured to be perfect for a woman. However, I have heard my mother attempt to prep my sisters for their dates. This play made me pay very close attention to how my mother interacts with all of her children, and her dating advice for me is far different from her advice to my sisters. I do not aspire to marry a perfect woman, just one who is perfect for me, flaws and all.