English 120: Essay 1 (written in class on Tuesday 9/24)

Write a well organized and clearly written essay that




short story

“Looking for Work” by Gary Soto and how

the essay

“When Should a

Child Be Taken from His Parents?” by Larissa MacFarquhar respond to the dominant

myth of “

the model

family” in our culture. Use class notes, homework, group

discussions and both readings to write your essay.


This essay is written entirely in class, no exceptions.

3 pages (double space, leave 1 inch margins all around)

Use at least 3 quotes. There are two reasons to use a quote: 1) to illustrate or

support a point


are making, or 2) to address a point of view you wish to rebut.

Your 3 quotes must come from both readings.

Cite each quote. To cite, put the author’s last name and the page number for the

quote inside parentheses at the end of the sentence, like this: (Sargent 1).

Here are some questions to help you while planning what to write:

What is/are the dominant myth(s) about family in our culture? How do these

readings connect with myth(s) about the “model” or “ideal” family?

How do various

people in these stories define the myth?

Where does this myth about family come from? Where does it come from in these

two readings?

How does myth about an “ideal” or “model” family control or

complicate people’s lives in these stories?

Does this myth about the “model” or “ideal” family have value? Is it problematic?

When is it of value and when is it a problem?

How does the myth influence

people’s point of view in these stories?

How is this myth a cultural force that shapes lives? In other words, what are the

effects of this myth on the people in these stories?

Why does a myth about the

“ideal” or “model” family have so much power?

How do your personal knowledge and your own assumptions about “family”

influence the way you interpret both “Looking for Work” and “When Should a Child

Be Taken From His Parents?” In other words, how has the dominant culture shaped

your ideas, values, and beliefs about “family”?

How have these readings affected

the way you interpret cultural influences about the “model” or “ideal” family?


This is NOT an argument essay.

It’s NOT about whether you think the myth of the “ideal

family” is a good thing or a bad thing

It’s NOT about whether you think child protective

services is doing a good job or a bad job with potentially

abused or neglected children.

It IS about your take on how these authors are

treating the myth of a “model” family. (this is the

POV that requires support and discussion; the

support comes from details in the text; the

discussion is how you connect all the details to

points you are making)


What is their main point about this myth?


How do they connect the myth to characters in

their stories?


Why or how does the myth affect characters?


What is the message these authors are giving us

about this myth?


How do they convey this message?

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