The aim of this paper is to interpret a specific text in terms of general concepts about detective fiction.
In this case, you will be reading Christie’s THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD in light of Auden’s “The Guilty Vicarage.”
The question you will answer is fairly straightforward: what would Auden make of Christie’s novel? To what extent does his account of the detective novel explain the structure and the effect of THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD?
Auden says that the plot of the detective novel takes us from a false state of innocence and returns us to a real one. The detective novel is about the relation between the law and guilt. It relieves us of our sense of guilt.
How does it do this and is this description true of Christie’s great whodunit?
In order to write this paper, you will have to take a close look at Auden’s essay. Ask yourself the following questions:
o What does he say about the plot of detective novels?
o What does he say about the effect of detective novels?
o What does he say about the murderer?
o What does he say about the detective?
Do these claims fit THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD?
To do well, you will have to make sure that what you say is accurate.
o You will have to quote Auden’s essay and make sure that Auden says what you think he says.
o You will have to quote the novel and make sure that your quotes fit the point you are trying to make.
o Always explain your quotes. NEVER assume that a quotation is self-explanatory or that your reader can guess what you are thinking.
You will also have to make sure that your paper is organized.
o Your paper needs an overall thesis and you need to state this thesis in your introduction.
o Each paragraph needs a thesis. You need to make this thesis clear in the first sentences of the paragraph.
o You need to back your thesis up with evidence. Your best evidence comes from the text itself. Try to quote the text whenever you can and try to avoid paraphrase. Your paraphrase is your interpretation of what is going on. If your interpretation is wrong, then your evidence isn’t evidence.
You will have to make sure that your writing is grammatical and that your word-choice is appropriate.
o When in doubt, keep your sentences simple. No one ever complained that a paper was too clear.
o All the regular rules of grammar and usage apply.
If you have any doubts, go to the Writing Center for help. Make your appointment early. This is a busy time of year.
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