what does this story have to teach us about empathy for others?

The article Does Reading Fiction Make Us Better People?(https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190523-does-reading-fiction-make-us-better-people ) examines the idea that reading fiction enhances our compassion and empathythat is, our ability to identify with other peoples experiences and relate to what they feel and think in their interior lives (Hammond). A story may introduce us to human concerns and emotions by painting a picture of characters lives.

The articles studies present a few events that have been used to gauge peoples empathy. For instance, how does reading a novel about a man suddenly going blind help us empathize with people who are visually impaired?

Remember in “Week 1:  What Are the Benefits of Literature,” you were introduced to some of the scientifically proven benefits of reading literature. From Week 1 Insights:

No matter the reader, no matter the writer, no matter the genre, literature is a cultural artifacta manifestation of the human experience. Thus, it can teach us about our society and about ourselves. It enables us to experience alternate lives from the safety of our armchairs, to project ourselves onto characters and environments, to explore worlds we would otherwise never experience.

Studies show that reading literature benefits us in profound ways. 

It promotes empathy and social skills (Castano and Kidd).

It alleviates symptoms of depression (Billington et al.).

It helps business leaders succeed (Coleman).

It prevents dementia by stimulating the mind (Thorpe).

This paper assignment will circle back to those benefits as you see them at work in the literature we have read and analyzed for this class.

Works Cited

Hammond, Claudia. “Does Reading Fiction Make Us Better People?” BBC Future. 2 June 2009. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190523-does-reading-fiction-make-us-better-people


For this paper, choose another story and consider the following question: What does this story have to teach us about empathy for others? In responding to this question, your focus will be on the themes that arise from your close readings of the story. You will develop an argument on what the story teaches us about empathy and how it is conveyed.

Alternatively, you may choose to argue that the story does not teach us about empathy. In either case, you will use elements from the story to support your argument.

In addition, you will use evidence from at least one of the following articles to support your argument:

Schmidt, Megan. “How Reading Fiction Increases Empathy and Encourages Understanding.”  Discover Magazine. discovermagazine.com. 28 Aug. 2020. 

Castano, Emanuele and David Kidd. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” Science. www.sciencemag.org. 18 Oct. 2013; 342 (6156): 377-80.

Coleman, John. “The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals.” Harvard Business Review, 2012. https://hbr.org/2012/11/the-benefits-of-poetry-for-pro

Thorpe, J.R. “Why Reading Poetry Is Good For Your Brain.” Bustle, 20 Apr. 2017. https://www.bustle.com/p/why-reading-poetry-is-good-for-your-brain-51884

Most of the articles in this list were referenced in the Week 1 Insights (see above). You should also refer to “Week 6 Insights:  Integrating Sources Using Your Own Voice” for guidance on working with your chosen article.


As you used three discrete literary elements in Paper 1 to support your thesis, you have learned that literary elements such as plot, characterization, setting, and theme are not always separate and distinct. Rather, these elements tend to inform each other, making the story a cohesive narrative. 

For Paper 2, you will focus on a significant theme from the story that can be extended to a real-life issue or concern. Your analysis of the storys theme, and the dimensions of that theme, will have affected or even changed how you think about a real-life issue. In other words, your argument will prove that reading and analyzing the story has shown you different viewpoints and thus can increase empathy in readers. 

Some issues or concerns to consider:

Gender roles (“Jury of Her Peers,” “Bloodchild,” “Miss Brill”)
Sexuality (“Giovannis Room,” “Bloodchild”)
Relationships (“Bloodchild,” “Giovannis Room”)
Marriage (“Jury of Her Peers”)
Race (“Giovannis Room,” “Recitatif,” “Bloodchild”)
Parenting (“Recitatif,” “Bloodchild”)
Class (“Recitatif,” “Giovannis Room”)
Remember that your Writing Process is recursive and iterative. You should refer to your earlier writing work in this class as well as the learning resources. The Thesis Statements handout and Learning Resources from Week 3 will be helpful. Your thesis for this paper may vary from the boilerplate, but it must still include a claim and three warrants. 

Sample thesis structure: 

[Story X] helps us to understand [theme/issue Y] by promoting empathy through [warrant 1], [warrant 2], and [warrant 3]

Sample thesis statement:

The conflicts between male and female characters in Susan Glaspells story “A Jury of Her Peers” helps readers have more empathy for the oppression of women through its depiction of Mrs. Wrights marriage, the womens roles, and the inequality between men and women in the story.


Refer to the work you did and feedback you received from Paper 1. The outline is a straightforward way of listing and organizing the ideas connected to your claim and three warrants for your five-paragraph essay. Your task in drafting this paper is to expand the levels of your outline in more detail.Next, you will convert the bulleted items from your outline into well-crafted sentences, and then combine those sentences into well-organized, logical paragraphs.

The paper will have three body paragraphs, each one led by a topic sentence that includes the explicit warrant. The rest of the paragraph will contain statements with the supporting evidence from both the story and the article. 

The essay will be structured as follows:

Create a context for the thesis by explaining the BBC article (two to three sentences). (Cite in the text.)
Provide a brief overview of the story (2 to 3 sentences)
State the thesis: [Story X] helps us to understand [theme/issue Y] by promoting empathy through [warrant 1], [warrant 2], and [warrant 3]
Body paragraph #1: Warrant 1
Supporting evidence from story
Analysis: How does the story help us understand the concern?
Body paragraph #2: Warrant 2
Supporting evidence from story
Analysis: How does the story help us understand the issue?
Body paragraph #3: Warrant 3
Supporting evidence from story
Analysis: How does the story help us understand the issue?
Return to the thesis 
Reflect on the connection between the article and the story. What have we learned from your analysis? Does fiction really promote empathy? 
Hints:Remember that your reader has read the story and is familiar with it; extensive summary is not useful. Rather, explain and analyze how “meaning” is derived from the story by the author’s implementation of literary elements. Note that the focus should be on the story, not the author, so repeated references to the author are unnecessary.


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