Literary Analysis Exemplar - The Syracuse City School District

Literary Analysis Exemplar
Depending on how you look at it, growing older can be a great time in life to look
forward to, a chance to reflect on the past, or a challenging experience to dread. The short
story, “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros, is about a girl named Rachel who learns a lot about
herself on her eleventh birthday. The poem, “On Turning Ten,” by Billy Collins, share some of
these views of the struggles and changes that he is going through. Some people may think
these stories are just about a couple of kids getting ready to celebrate their birthdays. But I
think there is much more to it. I think the stories support a theme about how our experiences
as we grow older help to shape the person that we will be as an adult.
Early in the story, “Eleven,” Rachel said that when she woke up on her birthday, she
expected to feel like she was eleven, but she felt like all of the years before that put together
“like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk,” so all of the layers of herself have helped to
shape the person that she is today. So she means that growing older adds another
experience, or attitude, or style to oneself. At school however, she wishes for the courage
and experience of someone was one hundred and two when Mrs. Price makes her put on
an ugly red sweater wasn’t hers. Instead, she feels sick inside because the “part of me that’s
three wants to come out of my eyes,” and she begins to cry. If she were older and more
mature, Rachel might have had the courage to stand up to Sylvia Saldivar when she says
that it belongs to her, but nothing came out of her mouth. At the end, “dumb” Phyllis Lopez
remembers that it is her sweater. Unfortunately, it’s too late to be a “happy” birthday for
Rachel. Maybe in the future she will have the years inside of her to have the courage to
speak up for herself.
The poem, “On Turning Ten,” also shares some thoughts on the person we may be as
we grow older. In the beginning of the poem, the author lets us know that he is not looking
forward to getting older when he said, “The whole idea of it makes me feel like I’m coming
down with something… like measles or chicken pox.” So he means that he enjoyed being a
kid and now he is not looking forward to growing older. He likes pretending he is an Arabian
wizard, or a soldier, or a prince. But now he has to say goodbye to his imaginary friends,
leave his childhood behind him, and start to mature. He starts to realize that we all grow up,
even though that may cause some sadness.
The lessons from these stories teach us about growing up. After reading, “Eleven,” by
Sandra Cisneros and “On Turning Ten,” by Billy Collins, I realize there is a lot more to growing
older than just celebrating birthdays. “Eleven” makes us realize that we are an
accumulation of all of our years and experiences. “On Turning Ten” makes us sometimes
wish for our younger years, even though we can not stop time. Both characters show us that
our experiences, both ambitious and frustrating, help to shape us into our future selves.
Comment [mc1]: A one sentence summary of
each text is included in the introduction.
Comment [mc2]: The thesis statement is the
last sentence of the introduction.
Comment [mc3]: The topic sentence of the first
body paragraph relates back to the thesis
Comment [mc4]: The topic sentence of the
second body paragraph relates back to the thesis
Comment [mc5]: The conclusion offers a lesson
related to the thesis statement.