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'Eleven' - A personal response essay about a short story

nbc4911 3 / 1  
Jan 25, 2007   #1
For my composition 2 class we have to write a personal response essay about a short story. I was wondering if somebody could take a look at this and correct my grammar. Also I had my professor review my opening paragraph and he said the thesis was a bit off, so if anybody has suggestions on how I could make that any better I would appreciate that also, thanks for your time..



For me, the story Eleven definitely brought back the fears that I too experienced as a child. Sandra Cisneros does a fantastic job of portraying the unfairness and injustice we all had to experience throughout our childhood. It is certainly not Rachel's sweater but nobody, not ever her own teacher will believe her. Her image is in jeopardy here, I mean she's eleven years old and image is everything to an eleven year old girl. Every paragraph in the story illustrates exactly how a young adolescent girl like Rachel views the unfairness of life at her age.

I think one of things that made this story so great was the way she establish certain parts of the story. For instance, she first introduces the main event in the story in the end of the fifth paragraph by saying, "Today I wish I was one hundred and two...because if I was one hundred and two I'd have known what to say when Mrs. Price put the red sweater on my desk." From here you know what this story is basically going to be about but the way she presents this really draws the reader in and makes them want to read forward and see what this is all about.

The next thing that Cisneros did that I found interesting was her brilliant portrayal of exactly how a real eleven year old would have handled the situation in the given circumstances. As I read that part of the story I could not help but notice similarities between how Rachel handled the situation, and how I would have handled embarrassing situations when I was her age. In the part about her squeezing her eyes closed and putting her head down, Rachel thinks about how everything will be alright when she gets home because it's her birthday and there's a cake waiting for her back home. Who didn't do that when they were upset as a kid? Cisneros finds something that just about everybody did while they were a kid, and incorporates it into her story. This made her writing style very effective since I was able to relate to and even remember some of the times I had to experience situations similar to these.

The climax of the story is when Rachel finally breaks down completely and starts to cry. When Mrs. Price asks Rachel to put the smelly sweater on, she just can not deal with the humiliation of wearing that ugly thing and begins to cry. This shows us again how important our image was to us when we were eleven. She knows she will be ridiculed the rest of the week for wearing that ugly thing and it is just so unfair to her that she will have to put up with this. When we were her age in elementary school, this was one of the worst things that could happen, being embarrassed in front of your classmates. There isn't one person out there who didn't fear being made fun of in elementary school, so pretty much everybody reading this story has a way to share these feelings with the main character which, in essence, made the story that much more appealing when I could find a way to relate with my own personal experiences.

Essentially, the story Eleven is an account of something that we can all relate to. Of course it wasn't us not wanting to wear Phyllis Lopez's ugly red sweater, but I think all of us experienced something similar to this when we were younger that made us view our lives as being utterly unfair. When a reader is able to relate with the main character how most readers can with Rachel, it makes the story a lot more appealing. In the end, Eleven was an excellent story about a childhood event that just about everybody has experienced and I think the way the story was presented, made it much more interesting.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Jan 25, 2007   #2

I'd be happy to give you some feedback! I think I see what your professor is saying about the opening paragraph. It lacks cohesion and is a bit confusing. I think you could leave off the first sentence entirely; the second sentence sounds like a good way to start. The following two sentences are where I lost you a bit (particularly not having read the story). If you were to describe a bit more clearly what happened with the sweater, it might flow better. "The story aptly illustrates the importance of image to a young girl and the frustration and humiliation she faces in the light of unfair accusations" or something like that.

Here are a few grammatical hints, with corrections in bold:

the way she establishes certain parts of the story

at the end of the fifth paragraph

This makes her writing style very effective

relate with the main character the way most readers can with Rachel

I hope this is helpful to you!


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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