Purpose: This page is designed to help you with the Critical Lens responses to the short stories.

Guidelines for Writing the Critical Lens Essay: Follow the "HIDDEN" Writing Strategy

-Hook your audience!
-Incorporate the quote and explain (give your interpretation).
-Name the author of the quote (if there is one).
-Identify the title/author of the short story.
-Make an original claim connecting the quote to the story.

-Show how the quote relates to the story. Get specific about your point by discussing it in terms of the parts of the story: (setting, plot, characterization…)
-Use specific details from the story that show its relationship to the quote.
-Use at least two direct quotes from the story as evidence/support. Be sure to provide citations for each quote!
-Explain/Elaborate on your examples/details.

-Wrap-up your point. Put the final "nail in your argument.
-Say something new – what new understanding have you come to as a result of considering this story through the lens of the quote you chose? What will you leave your reader thinking about?

-USE THEM! Paragraphs need topic sentences and transitional, concluding sentences.

Directions for Writing Critical Lens Responses for Short Stories:

Choose one of the given quotes to consider in light of the short story. Follow the guidelines to compose a Critical Lens response using the quote of your choice as a lens for analyzing the story. Be sure to provide a valid interpretation (What is the quote saying?), and explain how it relates to the short story.

Critical Lens Quotations for English 8 Short Stories:

"Strangers in the Fog":

1. "A mistake in judgment isn't fatal, but too much anxiety about judgment is." ~ Pauline Kael
2. "Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends." ~ Shirley MacLaine
3. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. "Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man's life." ~ Daniel Webster

"The Sniper":

1. "Civil War? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?" ~ Victor Hugo
2. "Why do men fight who were born to be brothers?" ~ James Longstreet
3. "Mostly I am sorry for the way I thought of other people. Like a good general, I had treated everyone who wasn't with me as against me." ~ Lee Atwater

"The Necklace":

1. "Ladies of Fashion starve their happiness to feed their vanity, and their love to feed their pride." ~ Charles Caleb Colton
2. "Greed, like love of comfort, is a kind of fear." ~ Cyril Connolly
3. "He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." ~ Socrates
4. "We create our fate every day ... most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our own behavior." ~ Henry Miller

"The Lottery":

1. "It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power." ~ Allan Cohen
2. "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~ Clarence Darrow
3. "What history can do is to show that people have to take responsibility for what they activate out of their tradition. It's not just a given thing one slavishly follows. You have to be accountable." ~ Karen L. King
4. "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." ~ Albert Einstein

"The Landlady":

1. "All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." ~ Henry Ellis
2. "The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you're in control of your life. If you don't, life controls you." ~ Tony Robbins
3. "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." ~ Chuck Palahniuk

"The Last Leaf":

1. "You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." ~ Marcus Aurelius
2. "A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief: it is superstition." ~ Jose Bergamin
3. "You become what you think about all day long." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Man in Hiding":

1. "To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions." ~ Benjamin Franklin
2. "Man is too quick at forming conclusions." ~ Edward E. Barnard
3. "A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

"The Tell-Tale Heart":

1. "Every guilty person is his own hangman." ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
2. "One person's craziness is another person's reality." ~ Tim Burton
3. "It costs a lot more than your life. To murder innocent people? It costs everything you are." ~ Suzanne Collins

Critical Lens Quotations for English 9SP Short Stories:

The Most Dangerous Game”:

“To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” ~ Anonymous

Witness for the Prosecution”:

“It is well for the heart to be naïve and for the mind not to be.” ~ Anatole France

The Adventure of the Dancing Men”:

“Moral codes adjust themselves to environmental conditions.” ~ Will Durant

Harrison Bergeron”:

“Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity.” ~ Irving Kristol

“The Birds”:

“What is most important is the knowledge of how to apply knowledge.” ~ Unknown

“Without Words”:

  1. “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed…” ~ Charles Dickens
  2. “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.” ~ Rollo May

“Raymond’s Run”:

“Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure.” ~ Gary Ryan Blair

“The Yellow Wallpaper”:

  1. “He who allows oppression shares the crime.” ~ Desiderius Erasmus
  2. “If you suffer from depression, anything that makes you feel has to be the most important thing in your life, because it’s the only thing that can save you.” ~ Siobhan Fahey

“The Scarlet Ibis”:

  1. “There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth.” ~ Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
  2. “In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” ~ John Ruskin

Rubric for Critical Lens Responses:

Interpretation of the Quote
Quote is rewritten and fully explained in your own words. The author of the quote is named.
Quote is rewritten and adequately explained
Quote may or may not be in your writing and quote interpretation is not specific
Quote is not in the writing and you merely restate instead of explaining
You have an effective introduction which introduces the quote and the story’s title/author. The body of your response includes specific details that successfully relate the quote to the story. Your conclusion wraps up your point and reveals a new understanding. Transitions were used effectively.
Your introduction is mostly successful. You mention the quote and its author. The story’s title/author is named. The body of your response includes details from the story, but they are not as effective as a level 4. You have attempted to use a direct quote. You conclusion exists, but does not fully reach a new understanding. Transitions were attempted.
It’s clear that you are trying to create an appropriate introduction and conclusion. The body of the paper tries to explain the connection but is still a bit vague. You do include ideas from the story and try to use a quote. You need to learn how to fit the quote into the text of your discussion more effectively.
This introduction is not complete. You either wrote only one sentence, or you did not include an introduction at all.
The body is very vague and lacks specifics, There is no conclusion that makes sense or it just repeats what you attempted to say in the intro.
Evidence from the Story
Evidence is concrete and supports your argument completely. You have used specific details from the story.

Direct quotes from the story are used effectively to strengthen your argument.
Evidence is concrete and supports your argument satisfactorily. You have used some specific details from the story and attempted to use direct quotes to strengthen your argument.
Evidence is here but not as specific; you tend to generalize the story. There is no direct quote used as support.
You seem to have some evidence but it does not necessarily support your argument.
Grammar and Spelling
There are no grammatical or spelling errors. You have correctly punctuated your direct quotes.
There are 2-3 grammar and/or spelling errors. You have attempted to correctly punctuate your direct quotes, and you were almost successful.
Frequent mistakes are made in the writing (4 – 5 errors). Errors slow the reader down. You may or may not have used direct quotes, but if you did they have not been punctuated correctly.
Numerous errors have been made in the writing (6 – 7 mistakes). Errors confuse the reader. You have not included any direct quotes, or if you did there was no attempt to punctuate them correctly.

Video Clip Explaining Critical Lens Essay: