Option #1: The War Between the Ego and Empathy in Where I’m Calling From
In page one, profile someone who suffers “the type of swollen ego that results in solipsism and isolation from sanity, maturity, and the human race.” Then in your second page, profile someone who embodies the “sweet grace of empathy” and show how this person’s empathy connects him or her to others.
Then using an appropriate paragraph transition such as "Similarly" or "Likewise," you might start your thesis paragraph this way:
The above characters are antithetical to each other. Similarly, the stories pit characters at war between their egos and the liberation of empathy. Egotism in the stories (choose no fewer than 3) of Raymond Carver has grave consequences, which include _______________________, _________________________, ________________________, and ____________________________. In contrast, empathy has a healing effect on the downtrodden evidenced by _________________________, _______________________, __________________________, and ______________________________.
Your body paragraphs will correspond to the components you use to fill in the above blanks. Your conclusion will be one sentence, a brief, dramatic restatement of your thesis. Your final page, your Works Cited page, will show the sources you used from Where I’m Calling From, from my blog, from interviews, or from other helpful sources you find. Your Works Cited page and manuscript must conform to MLA format. Be sure to make your own catchy, creative title.
Option #2: Redemptive and Misguided Love
In a 5-page essay, contrast misguided love (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” “Feathers,” “Elephant”) and redemptive love (“A Small, Good Thing” and “Cathedral”) in the aforementioned stories.
Option #3: Symbiosis
In a 5-page essay explain the meaning of symbiosis or unhealthy mutual dependence in “Feathers” and “Elephant.” Before your comparison of the two stories, write a one-page introduction about an unhealthy symbiotic you’ve observed from your personal experience.
Option #4: The Chimera
Compare Mel McGuiness’ chimera from “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” with the chimera that afflicts the couple in “Feathers.” Before you compare the chimeras from the two stories, begin with a one-page introduction in which you describe a chimera that once afflicted you or someone else you know.
Option #5: Solipsism
In 1 or 2 pages, profile someone you know who descended into the private hell of solipsism. Then compare in 3 or 4 pages the solipsism evident in Mel from "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and the narrator (before his transformation) in "Cathedral."
Option #6: The Disaffected
In a page, profile someone you know who is disaffected. Then analyze the causes and effects of the disaffected characters in "Cathedral" and "Feathers."
Some Research Links