Writing a Response to Literature

Supporting an Opinion

Essential Question: How can I write an essay supporting my opinions about a story with textual evidence?

Parts of Response to Literature Essay


  • Introductory Paragraph: Quick Summary & Thesis
  • Body Paragraph(s)
  • Conclusion- Restated Thesis & Reflection

The Introduction

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Sample Introduction

In the short story “The Monkey’s Paw,” which took place in the English countryside in the 1800’s, the author, W.W. Jacobs, wrote about a superstitious family who wishes upon an object with terrible consequences. The most important plot event in the story was when Sergeant Major Morris gives the monkey’s paw to the family along with a serious warning about its dangers.

The Body

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Sample One-Paragraph Body

The sergeant’s serious warning is important, because the family doesn’t end up listening to him. This opinion is supported by the following evidence, found on pages 142 and 143 of the story: ‘Mr. White shook his head. “How do you make the wishes?” he asked. “Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,” said the sergeant-major, “but I warn you of the consequences.”’ While the White family seems to think this is all a joke, Sergeant Major Morris’s reactions show that he is serious and concerned. The fact that the sergeant directly warns them about using the paw to make wishes is a major clue to the reader that something bad will happen. The White family thinks he is just being silly, and for some reason, they don’t take his warning seriously. As readers, we know that Sergeant major Morris’s fearful reactions infer that something terrible happened to him and the other people who have used the paw. While it may seem silly that the White family doesn’t take the sergeant’s warning seriously, this is something that we see in real life every day. People often make decisions without listening to the advice of others. For the White family, their mistake results in a very great loss.

The Conclusion

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Sample Conclusion

This clearly demonstrates that the most important event in the plot is when the sergeant gives the White family the paw along with a dire warning because it reveals to the reader that something terrible is going to happen. Once I finished the story, I reflected on the saying that “pride goes before a fall.” The White family clearly believes that they are only superstitions, and do not heed the warnings of their friend. Because of their carelessness, their story ends tragically.

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