"Parrot in the Oven" by Victor Martinez revolves around Manny Hernandez, a 14 year old boy living in Fresno, California. Find tips on how to write essays with themes about Manny's dysfunctional family and his coming of age.
Choosing a Topic
Brainstorm ideas from Victor Martinez's novel, "Parrot in the Oven" and think about the type of topic that you would like to write. The most common essay topics usually are cause and effect essays, a persuasive essays or interpretive essays. Be specific when choosing the topic for analysis and decide the purpose of the essay.
For instance, a topic entitled About Manny in "Parrot in the Oven" is too general. Narrow the topic down to Manny’s Search for Identity in "Parrot in the Oven".
Create an Outline
The outline is for organizing the main ideas about the topic and making sure the essay flows in a logical manner. Divide the outline into groups or categories that define your arguments and the main points of the essay. The outline creates the structure for writing the complete essay.
If you are writing about Manny's coming of age, the outline categories would include the problems Manny faces in his life. Divide the categories into Manny's issues with race, violence, love, the influence of gangs, the problems he has with his brother and the importance of family.
Develop a Thesis Statement
The outline helps organize all the elements of the essay and makes it easier to prepare the thesis statement. The thesis statement explains to the reader the point of the essay. Develop the thesis statement by stating the topic and the main ideas of the essay.
The thesis statement for "Parrot in the Oven" with regard to Manny's coming of age would state why you think Manny grows as a young man in the novel and the road he must travel to find himself. The thesis should describe how Manny resists the temptations of gang membership and what he considers important in his life.
Form an Introduction
The introduction grabs the reader’s attention. Write a short summary of the essay or provide a small bit of information that piques the reader’s interest. Use a quote from "Parrot in the Oven" that gets the reader's attention, for example when Manny says, "I saw the reflection of a ridiculous boy, a clumsy boy.
It was me, looking at myself, except that it wasn't me, but someone ghostly and strange". The reader will want to continue the essay to find out why Manny didn't recognize himself. Include the thesis statement at the end of the introduction paragraph.
Write the Body of the Essay
The body of the essay explains the chosen topic. Use the information in your outline to flesh out the essay, explaining or arguing your main ideas. Divide the essay into paragraphs using the main ideas in the outline and elaborate on them. Include supporting facts and references from the novel to prove your points. An example of a supporting fact is in the final paragraph of the novel when Manny realizes who he is and what is important. He talks about his home, " And it was wondrous, like a place I was meant to be. A place, I felt, that I had come back to after a long journey of being away. My home."
The conclusion should be three or four sentences reviewing your main ideas and giving your final viewpoint about the topic. When discussing the coming of age theme in "Parrot in the Oven", give your final views on how Manny searched to find how he fit in with his family and his neighborhood.
Talk about his revelations about the world outside his own family, the violence and wildness of gang life and his resistance to it. Summarize what Manny discovers about himself.
Martinez, Victor: Parrot in the Oven
Empire State College: Essay Writing Workshop