October 25, 2020

How to Get Relevant Points for A Literature Essay

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It shouldn’t be too difficult finding the right points for a Literature essay.


For every learner or teacher of Literature, there is an important aspect of the play or novel, or even long narrative poetry, which must never be taken lightly.

I am referring to the incidents or episodes which constitute the action of the play, for example.

Incidents are so important in any serious study of a literary text that successful learners or teachers of Literature know their ultimate value and treat them accordingly.

Are you a Literature tutor?

Then allow me to tell you why your knowledge or your students’ knowledge of the details of a couple of incidents in the novel, play or narrative poetry you are dealing with is extremely important.

Are you a student of Literature?

I am going to show you right away the reasons every student of Literature ought to have a good knowledge of one or two major events in a play, novel or narrative poetry.

Did you know that you will be able to produce more compelling answers to Literature essay questions than you can do without that knowledge?

It is for the same reasons that we can have a very effective Literature teacher and the not-so-successful one.

The successful teacher of Literature is the one who has a proper grasp of key episodes in the literary text.

By passing on this knowledge to his students, he or she is able to make the students do very well in their final examination.

So why are incidents or episodes in the prescribed texts for the WASSCE Literature-in-English paper so important?

FYI (for your information):

You can obtain the complete list of prescribed texts for the 2016 – 2020 WASSCE Literature-in-English here.

As a learner or teacher of Literature as an academic subject, you need to know the essential details of some major episodes in the play or novel you are studying or teaching now.

Here are the reasons why it is crucial for you to focus much attention on at least some incidents in your prescribe Literature text.

The same applies to my collection of likely examination questions on Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption.

In the near future, I will come up with a master list of most likely questions on both African and Non-African Poetry in your WASSCE, JAMB, GCE or other examination.

My point here is simple. If you focus on two or more incidents in that novel or drama you are currently studying or teaching, you will find that a long list of probable examination questions can be derived from them.

Let me give you an example from Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s play, Harvest of Corruption.

INCIDENT: The encounter between ACP Yakubu and the Commissioner of Police

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS:

I can go on and on.

You too can discover more questions if you have a full grasp of this very short incident. I mean, the encounter between ACP Yakubu and the Commissioner of Police.

Now let’s take just a single episode from Faceless by Amma Darko.

INCIDENT: Fofo and Odarley Pay a Visit to Maa Tsuru

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS

And again, I can go on and on.

I can assure you that you will get a lot of ideas from just one or two incidents to write a complete, acceptable essay on many questions based on a particular play or novel.

It is motifs  in the various Literature texts that help me, for example, to identify the themes I effortlessly dish out to you on this blog.

The author or playwright helps you, the Literature student or teacher, to identify his or her themes just by giving you bits of pointers in the various incidents.

Let’s have an example here.

INCIDENT IN FACELESS: Fofo and Odarley’s visit to the rubbish dump.

In this brief but interesting episode, the novelist points to the theme of streetism.

By describing this incident with so much compassion, the novelist succeeds in bringing to our attention, the following issues about the street child phenomenon.

In fact, she does this with great effectiveness without directly saying so.

And so on and so forth.

4. Authors use incidents to paint or create the setting of their novels or plays.

This is quite obvious in drama. Each scene in Harvest of Corruption begins with a description of the place, time and, in some cases, atmosphere of that particular episode.

I am going to give you a good example of how an incident can give you enough points to write a complete Literature essay on a character,

You see, when I decided to tackle the character and role of Naa Yomo, I chose to focus much (not all) of my attention on the visit Kabria and Vickie pay to Maa Tsuru’s family house.

FYI. This is in Chapter 10 of the novel Faceless.

It becomes quite easy to learn a great deal about a character as they engage in a conversation with other characters. And this is what Naa Yomo does.

So, just by paying attention to Naa Yomo in this incident, you can collect a substantial volume of material to write a good essay on the character and role of Naa Yomo in the novel, Faceless.

The same happens in many other instances in any play or novel.

So now you know.

Are you a teacher of Literature?

Do you have some ideas to share? Please do so in a comment below.

Maybe you need more assistance to help your Literature students perform to your satisfaction. You can contact me for free coaching any time.

Are you a student of WASSCE Literature or any other? Did you find this post useful? Please leave a comment below.

And, finally, do not forget to share this post.

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

2 thoughts on “How to Get Relevant Points for A Literature Essay

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. I’ll soon start publishing comprehensive notes and tutorials on all the 2021 to 2025 Literature texts so keep coming back to check. However, you can let me know if you need it urgently. Use the contact form, please.

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