how to write a literary response paper

English III
Literary Response Assignment Guide
Sample Response
Each student in English III will be required to complete literary responses for designated
selections read in class or on their own as part of the semester curriculum. Choices may
be found in the Elements of Literature textbooks fifth and or sixth editions. Each
assignment will be worth 300 points. Once stories are read, students are to follow the
instructions for writing a “Literary Response” essay. Response essays must be
accurately completed in order to receive credit.
The Response Paper must be:
At least three paragraphs in length.
Written with careful attention to grammar and spelling.
Your OWN, ORIGINAL work.
Written in the format that follows. Papers formatted in any other manner will not
be accepted.
Paragraph 1 – INTRODUCTION
A. Include the author and title of the work.
B. Discuss one or two of the elements of short stories that were used by the author in
this story. “Discuss” the elements by clearly identifying the elements, giving
examples from the story, and talking about how and why the author may have
chosen to use these particular elements.
Paragraph 2 – BODY
A. Begin by stating your general response to the piece of literature. Then explain
why you felt as you did.
B. Quote or summarize specific details and passages that back up your response.
You could also include personal experiences that affected your reading.
Paragraph 3 – CONCLUSION choose from one or a combination of the following:
summarize your overall response, draw a conclusion about the work’s significance
to you, or if your feelings about the story changed after contemplating it, explain
how and why your response has changed.
John Smith
Mrs. Smith
14 August 2009
Literary Response
“The Sniper”
“The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty is a short story that recounts one imaginary
incident from the Irish Civil War of the 1920’s. This story is set in June, on a rooftop in
Dublin, Ireland. The setting is significant because it isolates the protagonist and places
him in a lonely situation in which he is forced to rely solely on his own abilities as a
soldier. Most likely, O’Flaherty wrote this fictional story in response to his feelings
toward the civil war that he felt was tearing his country apart. His unusual placement of
the climax in this story aids O’Flaherty in making his anti-war statement as he obviously
uses the story to make a symbolic political statement about the tragic aspects of the war.
My initial response to “The Sniper” was shock. The situational irony Mr.
O’Flaherty used in his story was very effective for me. I had no idea initially that the tow
snipers were related and was very surprised to learn the identity of the sniper who was
killed. By never giving names to any of the characters, never using flashback and writing
a “false action” or resolution of either the character or the readers.
I believe “The Sniper” to be a very effectively written story because Mr.
O’Flaherty achieves his purpose of making an anti-war statement. He does this by
manipulating the climax of the story and forcing the readers of his story to experience the
trauma, suspense, and shock the sniper experiences. “The Sniper” does demonstrate how
tragic it was that “brothers” or fellow countrymen were destroying each other.