Literary Analysis Assignment:
Write a literary analysis response to the short story below based on your personal perspective, interpretation, judgement, or critical evaluation of the work.
Things to keep in mind:
1. Think about character development and the author's writing technique. What is interesting or unusual?
2. Analyze the setting, plot, theme, tone, imagery, point of view, figures of speech, and dialogue.
3. What is the author trying to say? (Purpose)
4. Write a working thesis. This should state your opinion but allow readers to come to their own conclusions. Make sure your thesis also has evidence to support it.
5. Be careful that your literary analysis is NOT a summary.
The Light Bulb Man by William Golding
In faraway town on a little-known street a man walked into a store, looking for a job. He was hired right away, as it was a fairly simple job, and set right to work after receiving a rudimentary explanation of how to put together light bulbs.
Eager as he was, he decided that he would make ten a day—a fairly difficult goal. He would make a name for himself, he would stand out among the small crowd at the shop; the job seemed easy, after all. All he had to do was assemble the parts, screw it in and let it shine. I'll have to be quick, he thought to himself, to make ten a day.
After his first day on the job, however, he hadn't gotten even one to light up. Then the second day came and passed, again not so bright. He lowered his goal to five a day thereafter; as simple as it had seemed, the task of light bulb assembly was quickly proving itself to be too much for him.
Day after day he continued to work, yet every day came and went without success. The pieces were coming together, the few screws driven in at the right place every time. Yet always the lightning surged through and could never be seen. Over the weeks he slowly lowered his goal, down from ten a day to now only just one.
He was persistent, however, and his focus became great. All his time now was devoted to making just one, so that the light would finally shine all around. His goal of one lay high above, though, perhaps at the very end of his reach, and would take all that he had. One hundred hours a week I'll work, he said, and maybe still more. I'll go without pay, I'll go without rest, I'll do whatever it takes.
After one long year, not one light bulb had lit. His hope had diminished, his dream had been forgotten, yet his determination was as great as ever. Now he worked not to light up the shop, but to light up his face. His sights had been set far, indeed far out of reach, and now he saw only himself and his dim shadow. But he continued to work, not for the money or prestige, but simply for his own sake.
One day a young man named Lloyd walked into the shop. He was looking for a job, he said, because he could do with some pay. Lloyd got a job next to the persevering man, to become the only other light bulb worker in the place. On the first day Lloyd failed to create light, and was disappointed and angry with himself. The man sitting next to him said, Maybe one day you'll realize this stuff it isn’t as easy as it looks.
The next day came and Lloyd lit up the room with a very bright bulb. Lloyd stood up shook hands with the man sitting down next to him, who had a wide open mouth. Lloyd promptly turned and walked out of the room, now, supposed the man, setting his sights on a more well-paying job.
Left behind so abruptly, the man simply sat there, stunned by this young man's accomplishment. What to him now seemed the goal of a lifetime Lloyd had achieved in a mere day and a half. But soon he was over it, and settled back in to himself and his own work. Lloyd was not him, and he did not matter. I have my own goals, he said, and it’s my own goals that matter.
So the man went back to work, endlessly assembling the slippery components of light. He kept plugging away, every finished bulb a failure. Perhaps he was making progress, perhaps drawing closer to his goal. But then perhaps he was simply wasting his time, and not really going anywhere. How was he to know? But somewhere inside him, he already knew the answer, because day after day, he kept coming back.