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Skill Check: For Eleanor Boylan Talking With God (Essay Sample)



WHAT IT IS: This is kind of a combination of homework assignment/journal entry/take-home quiz/ticket to get in the classroom.  For at least 10 works of assigned literature this semester, you need to turn in an “skill check,” which means you need to answer the following questions and post them in the appropriate D2L Drop Box.

WORD COUNT:  Approximately 250-300 words seems to be what it takes to answer these questions well for some people, but if you’re not good at being concise and specific at the same time, it might take you more words.

NOTE: in order to qualify for a snapshot, the piece needs to be poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, or a screenplay.  It should NOT be a chapter or part of a chapter from the how-to parts of our textbooks. Ask me if you have any questions.

If you’re writing about poetry & it’s a short poem, you may need to write about 2-3 poems to get up to the word count.

FORMAT: Please number them.  Make them look like the numbered list below. You don’t have to copy the question, but it’s fine if you do—if you do, though, keep in mind your word count will need to be a little higher.

  1. Author?  Title of piece?
  2. One-to-two sentence summary (What happens?  What’s it about?)
  3. One-to-two sentence analysis of FORM (Diction? Sentence length? Literary devices? Imagery? Voice? Other sub-categories from the rubric? Be sure to say in a plain way what the author is doing, and use vocabulary from the class.)
  4. IMITATION:  Write a piece in which you try to imitate something from the piece.  This could be anything you’ve mentioned in #3 or #4.  Also explain, at the end, what it was you were imitating.
  5. DEADLINES:  These are posted in the schedule.  You can’t save them up and turn them in at the end.  I might be able to grade some earlier than the deadlines—talk to me.  You also need to do the readings as we’re doing them—you can’t do Ellen Gilchrist’s “Revenge” at the end of the semester, for example.


  • An “skill check” is a way for me to make sure you’re keeping up with the reading.  I don’t like having quizzes in creative writing classes, but reading compliance is low overall in undergraduate education if there isn’t some kind of reading check. This seems to be a relatively painless way to accomplish better reading compliance.
  • This allows you to be prepared to contribute in class.  If you’ve done the analysis, you should be prepared to share with the class what you wrote.

Skill Check




Skill Check

Question one

For Eleanor Boylan Talking with God By Anne Sexton

Question 2

The persona in the poem is talking about Eleanor who he was very close to. Eleanor has died and the persona is expressing his pain of losing her. She imagines seeing her seated next to God and talking to God. Apparently, Eleanor was a God fearing person more than the persona who only knew much about God when he was only six and half years old. To Eleanor, God is as close as the ceiling whereas the personal is deep into smoking cigarettes. He remembers Eleanor and illustrates her beauty and how much he misses her.

Question 3

The author has used imagery

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