How to Write a Literature Essay on “The Red and the White”

Writing guide
Posted on April 13, 2016

A literature essay is used to closely examine a piece of prose, poetry, or a treatise. If you have to write one on, let’s say “The Red and the White: A Family Saga of the American West”, you need to know how to draft one for your instructor to give you a good grade. After all, you need to thoroughly analyze the written masterpiece you read. So, here are the steps your instructor will expect you to follow to write your first ever literature essay.

Reading and Research Phase

Analyzing a book becomes a lot easier if you have read the text thoroughly. Ideally, critical analysis requires deeply reading the text. If you do not have time for this, try to read the book at least once. After reading the primary text, you need to research secondary sources. Look up relevant facts on “The Red and the White” for a literature essay and carry out some additional reading on the major themes presented in the book. However, remember that these secondary sources are just an aid for your work. The ideas you present must be your own.

At this stage choose the topic you wish to write about. You probably have already discovered some interesting aspects you can write on. For instance, you can focus on characters, themes, and historical events which motivated the author. For more topics on a literature essay about “The Red and the White: A Family Saga of the American West”, refer to 20 topics on “The Red and the White” for a literature essay.


This is the first and most important part of the literature essay. It contains three basic components: a hook, a transition, and your thesis. The hook is a sentence that is used to grab your reader’s attention. You should broadly state the topic you are writing about. Try to make the introduction as interesting as possible.

The second component, the transition, connects the broad idea of the hook to the specific work of literature you will be writing about. Include the title of the work; the name of the author in the introductory part of your essay. Also mention any special awards/accolades the book has received.

The last part of the introduction is the thesis. A thesis is the central idea the entire essay. It should be a strongly worded statement that is equally clear and succinct. You can also provide a preview of your essay; simply list the major ideas your paper discusses.

Body of the Essay

The body of the essay is composed of three to five paragraphs. Each paragraph presents one idea which ties back into your original thesis. These paragraphs should be structured as follows:

  1. Topic sentence
  2. Explanation of the idea
  3. Supportive evidence from the text
  4. Connecting the idea to your main thesis

The paragraphs should be structured in a way that allows the essay to flow smoothly from one topic to another. Keep your focus on proving the central idea you stated in the introduction.


Reiterate your central idea. Try to describe the broader significance of your topic. Finally, state why the literary aspect under discussion was used and how it illustrates your idea.

This template is an ideal format to follow when writing a literature essay. Although it focuses on a specific book, you can easily generalize these guidelines and use them for any literature essay you need to work on in the future.

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