Lesson 3: Literary Response

Getting Started

For this two-day lesson, you will write a short comparison/contrast, literary response paper about the two stories you just read — "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Necklace." Typically, in a comparison/contrast paper, you focus on the ways two things are similar (comparison) or the ways they are different (contrast). If the two things obviously have a lot in common, your paper would focus more on exploring their differences. For example, you might examine the differences between two mountain bikes or smartphones to help you decide which one to buy. If the two things don't seem to have a lot in common, you'd try to find ways they are similar. For instance, if you like rap music and your father likes jazz, you could examine features they have in common to help you both appreciate each other's music.

You can probably easily come up with ways in which "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Necklace" differ — their setting, the likability of the main character, the effect of the ending, etc. — so for the paper you write for this lesson, you will compare elements of the two stories to show how you think they are similar. You'll back up your observations with examples and quotations from the stories.

Stuff You Need


Ideas to Think About

  • How do authors use similar techniques to tell stories?
  • Why is textual evidence important when analyzing literature?

Things to Know

  • Comparison/contrast papers usually focus more on ways that two things are similar (comparison) or more on ways they are different (contrast).
  • When you include a direct quotation from a story in a paper, place a quotation mark at the end of the quotation (with no period), then include the author's last name in parentheses, and finally insert a period. (If the source contains page or line numbers, you would include that information as well.) Your citation should look like this: "Quote" (Author's last name).
  • Transitional words and phrases help you move smoothly from one idea to another in a paper.


  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. (LA)
  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counter claims. (LA)
  • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. (LA)
  • Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. (LA)
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (LA)
  • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (LA)
  • Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

In this two-day lesson, students will write a short comparison/contrast literary response paper comparing "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Necklace."