Reflective Essay On Novels Set

Once the Interactive Oral has been completed, all students must answer the question above, as prescribed by the syllabus. Before writing the RS, however, it is important to discuss with students the kind of things that might be written for it because the 3 marks awarded are easily compromised if students (or teachers!) think about the statement in the wrong way.

Essentially, the RS should present a record of the student's response to the cultural and contextual elements raised during the Interactive Oral. It is, in part, an account of factual information that was either new to the student or developed by the discussion; it is also, ideally, a chance to present a more personal view of the relationship between these contextual elements and the work itself. As mentioned elsewhere, there will (hopefully!) be too much information in the discussion for the student to recall it all; there task is therefore, at least in part, one of selection - of aspects in which they found themselves most interested.

Simply put, therefore, the RS is:

  • an account of contextual elements mentioned and/or discussed in the Interactive Oral that struck the student as being most interesting or most important
  • an indication of the way their understanding both of the contextual elements, as well as their relationship with the work being studied, were developed during the discussion

To these ends, the register of the RS should be personal - using 'I' is perfectly acceptable

Try to make sure that students are clear about what the RS is not:

  • it is not only a list or simple description of contextual features that were discussed in the oral
  • it is not meant to focus on literary features
  • it is not an attempt to identify the topic on which the student wants to end up writing in their assignment
  • it is not a mini essay

Below is an example of a Reflective Statement that succeeds in fulfilling the main objectives outlined above. An obvious thing to say, perhaps, but the more students are shown examples of good practice, as well as encouraged to identify what makes a reflective statement successful or not, then the more they will be able to apply appropriate skills in the one they write themselves:

Reflective Statement on Broken April, by Ismail Kadare

Prior to the interactive oral on 'Broken April' I was intrigued by various questions which arose during my reading of the novel. I was particularly interested in the traditions of the Kanun, which were a central aspect of Albanian lives in the novel. Our discussion focused on the 'blood feud' and I was surprised to learn that this barbaric practice is still carried out on modern Albania. However, I discovered that many of its original terms, such as its aim of reconciliation, are forgotten in modern times and it is now sometimes used as a simple justification for murder. Although the novel is set in an earlier era, the theme of the blood feud's disintegration and corruption is present throughout. The theme is particularly emphasised through the 'blood steward', Mark Ukacierra, who blames it on the increasing influence of modern cities. By learning about the corruption of the modern blood feud, and comparing it with its original traditions, I gained a deeper insight into the significance of the conflict between traditional and modern societies in the novel.

During my reading of the novel, I was fascinated by the characters of Bessian and Gjorg and their contrasting perspectives of the Kanun, which further highlight the tension between traditional and modern. Through our discussions I learnt that the status of a guest is highly ordered according to the Kanun. This led me to think that Bessian was taking advantage of the Kanun. On discovering the significance of mythology as a feature of Albanian heritage, we discussed to what extent the Kanun appeared more of a figment of mythology than a reality. Our discussion made me realise that the contrast of Bessian's mythological perspective of the Kanun, exploiting it for his own benefit, with the reality of the Kanun from Gjorg's perspective, once again characterises the clash between tradition and modernity.

The oral also covered ways in which Kadare had been involved in national politics, which were under communist control for most of his life. Upon discovering that Kadare had often opposed the communist regime, we discussed whether Kadare's personal experience was reflected in the novel. I learned that Kadare had been temporarily banned from writing, shortly before publishing 'Broken April' due to his criticism of the regime. I recognised that his own views towards Albanian politics were reflected in Gjorg's subtle resentment of the Kanun.

(393 words)

In comparison, the following Reflective Statement is less successful and only scores a mark of '1'. It is fairly obvious as to why: the student makes little reference to the discussion that took place, and sees the task less as one of engagement with cultural and contextual considerations as an opportunity to make some points about its literary qualities only, or to speculate about possible readings with little or no analytical depth.

Reflective Statement on Chekhov Short Stories

Through the Interactive Oral, I came to understand that Chekhov uses characters throughout his stories to emphasise culture and society of Russian life in the late 1800's. Our class discussion focused on culture and society.

Chekov has been criticised as a writer of very depressing social scenes. I believe he uses characters to play out roles where society contradicts itself. Throughout 'The Chorus Girl' he describes the pity of a girl named Pasha; he uses contrasts between characters to emphasise the different status of each character. Kolpakov addresses Pasha has if it were her fault and that she should feel guilty; Kolpakov says to Pasha, "you low creature." This is ironic because he is the one being unfaithful to his wife and he should be the one society frowns upon, rather than Pasha. We discussed the role of women and how Chekhov thought about them in society.

The last paragraph of 'The Chorus Girl' effectively shows the faults in society and the fact that the abuse of the chorus girl is not a one-time occurrence. The use of this reverse-epilogue shows that society has done nothing but damaging things to the chorus girls and no one can help them from being abused; the disloyalty of the husband should have been the highlighted fault but instead society seems to blame the wrong person.

In another of Chekov's stories, 'The Darling', he describes a protagonist named Olenka Plemyannikov who is the embodiment of female disempowerment. She cannot seem to make up her mind on her own beliefs and she only adapts to what her partner believes. She has had several husbands: the theatre owners Kukin and the timber merchant Pustovalov. She is nicknamed 'the darling' which lowers her status in society as she is compared to a favourite pet. We talked about disillusionment and how Chekov shows that society is a depressing place through Olenka always being rejected.

Chekov manages to make readers change their views on social attitudes. To conclude, I believe that he wants to show the bleak view for women in Russian society at the time.

(350 words)

Click here to download these two Reflective Statements ​

In the download below you will find a range of additional Reflective Statements, which you can download as a teaching resource.  A few brief notes, and the marks for each, are provided in the drop down underneath.  

 Additional Reflective Statements  

1.  Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia MarquezThis Reflective Statement presents itself on more or less the right lines, but it is rather superficial. The candidate records some elements of the Interactive Oral that were evidently to do with matters of culture and context, however they do not amount to much more than a few vague (and very generalised) things about attitudes towards women in Columbia and India.  There is only brief reference to the novella itself. Some of the paragraphs in effect 'say' very little.  For these reasons, the RS is awarded a mark of 1 out of a possible 3 marks.
2.  Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann

This is an example of a very good Reflective Statement.  The student makes a range of references to issues of cultural context - picking out three in particular that were obviously to him or her the most significant elements of the Interactive Oral.  There is a range of more or less 'factual' reference, as well as examination of the way particular details have affected his or her understanding of the novel.   Enough, in other words, to justify a mark of 3:   

Reflection on the interactive oral shows development of the student’s understanding of cultural and contextual elements.

3.  Three Sisters, Anton ChekhovThis RS is an example of what not to do.  Although the student says some relatively interesting things about the play, there is almost no reference at all to elements of cultural context.  The student seems to have seen the Interactive Oral and the RS as asn opportunity to talk about the interior world of the play rather than the cultural/contextual elements that surround it.  It serves therefore, as an important reminder of the purpose of the IO and RS.  Explicit focus on the content and stylistic properties of the text should come later.  Because the student has failed fundamentally to get to grips with the task, sadly the statement cannot be awarded any marks at all.
4.  Antigone, SophoclesThis is a very good Reflective Statement.  The candidate makes interesting comment on the role of the chorus in Greek theatre, characteristics of the archetypal tragic hero, and the way Antigone and Creon are depicted in relation to this contextual backdrop.  There is sufficient material here to award a mark of 3.  
5.  Kokoro, Natsume SosekiThis RS makes some reference to matters of context, although only in passing.  S/he says some interesting things about the east/west, old/new Japan tension in the novel is presented but doesn't really provide account for the social, literary or cultural circumstances that might explain it. The focus of the RS tends to be the work itself rather and contextual elements.  It is not without merit, however;  there is certainly a sense of 'some' development in the student's understanding of cultural/contextual elements - and for this it is awarded a mark of 2.

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book

Knowing how to write a reflection paper on a book is very important because your teacher or professor might ask you to write one as part of your coursework. A reflection paper refers to an essay that is two or three pages long and it allows you to share thoughts on your experience after reading a book or watching a movie and applying what you have learned from the experience to your education and life- follow this link for more information.

A reflection paper on a book is mostly academic in nature but it is less formal. It should be based on your experience and it allows you to react to personal feeling after reading a book. While writing a reflection paper on a book, you are expected to provide personal feelings and support them with examples while citing the knowledge of an expert if possible.

Why you should know how to write a reflection paper on a book

Writing reflection papers on books is important because it enables students to evaluate their experiences after reading books. When you know how to write a reflection paper, you can easily compose one analytically when required to do so. Remember that a reflection paper is not just a summary of opinions and experiences. Writing a reflection paper entails deconstruction and analysis. Your teacher or professor wants you to not just recap the events or story line of the book but to dig deeper while discussing specific aspects. The reflections, analysis and discussion should be based on personal opinion.

Reflective writing allows you a chance to connect to and engage with a reading critically. You can opt to focus on a section or passage or respond to the major theme or premise of a book. Although a reflection paper should be subjective or personal, it should have an academic tone- follow the link here for more information.Writing a reflective paper entails maintaining an informal approach while maintaining an organized or coherent structure. To do this effectively, you need knowledge because a reflection paper on a book should be a dialogue between the reader and you regarding a particular book.

A five steps guide on how to write a reflection paper on a book

  1. Prepare to write the paper

The process of writing a reflection paper should start with proper preparation. If for instance the professor or teacher gave you a writing prompt, consider it thoroughly. Have the prompt in mind as you read the book that you are required to write your reflection paper on. This will enable you to come up with a reflection paper that meets all the specified requirements. After analyzing the prompt thoroughly, organize ideas to form an outline and take notes of the major points that you will cover in your paper. Arrange the points logically in the outline. This will keep you focused while writing the paper.

Although a reflection paper has a personal nature, you should not simply put your thoughts on a paper. Since it is an academic assignment, your introduction should be clear with a thesis statement. A good way of writing the introduction of a reflection paper is describing your initial expectations and attitude towards the book that you read. Let readers know what your first impression towards the book was and what your experience was after reading it.

  • Include a thesis statement

Just like with most writing assignments, your reflection paper should have a central, unifying idea in the introduction. Therefore, come up with a thesis statement for your reflection paper that reflects your experience while indicating the specific knowledge that you acquired after reading the book. Your thesis statement should be the theme on which your reflection paper is based.

In the body, elaborate the thesis statement that you stated in the introduction. Do not express your experience in generalities in the body. Instead, demonstrate how you reached the conclusions after reading the book citing specific examples from it. For instance, you can quote excerpts from the book directly to support your observations. Such citations will enable you to illustrate the topic in a clearer manner and enable readers to see the importance of the experience as well as the knowledge that you acquired after reading the book.

After supporting your thesis statement in the body using examples from the book that you are reflecting on, come up with a conclusion that ties the major points together. The conclusion should have a brief summary of the concluding feelings on the basis of the provided evidence and points. It should discuss the major points’ implication. Thus, after reading the conclusion of your reflection paper, readers should have a concise idea of the summary of the paper- follow the link  for more information.

Generally, when you grasp how to write a reflection paper on a book, you can easily organize your thoughts and opinions methodically in the paper. You also acquire more writing skills by practicing writing reflection papers. This way, you will eventually know how to describe your analysis, opinion and reactions after reading books.

Characteristics of a good reflection paper on a book

Regardless of the setting or purpose of a reflective paper, there are characteristics that can be used to identify it. Once you grasp these characteristics and how to ensure that your paper has them, count yourself among those who know how to write a reflection paper on a book.

They are as follows:

Your reflection paper should not be simple thoughts put down on a paper as they emerge from your head. It should not be like a personal diary. Instead, it should indicate a reflective form of writing that serves an academic purpose. It should be written with a goal which could be to accomplish something, learn, demonstrate, understand better or improve.

A good reflection paper on a book should explore or demonstrate your personal experiences or feelings towards a book that you have read. It should demonstrate your position regarding the book.

A reflective paper on a book should not simply tell or describe a story. It should indicate a higher order or critical thinking. Readers should see that you are analyzing the book, synthesizing its content and evaluating it to determine your attitude or perception towards it. It should meet the main goal of reflective writing which is to express your thoughts and reasons for thinking about the book in a particular way-follow the link  for more information.

A good reflection paper should meet quality standards of clarity, precision, correctness and conciseness. Therefore, revise your paper and edit it thoroughly to ensure that it meets these quality standards.

Bonus hints and reminders on how to write a reflection paper on a book

  • Although you are allowed to include your reactions and thoughts towards the book that you read or simply your experience, do not rely on them alone.
  • Your reflection paper focuses on personal reactions, analysis and feelings towards a book than it would be the case for an analytical essay or formal research but you should ask your teacher or lecturer if you can use first person in writing the paper.
  • Do more than simply summarize your reading because a reflection paper on a book is not a mere free-flow of thoughts or ideas-See more at
  • Keep your reflective paper short by ensuring that it includes ideas that you can support with evidence from the book that you read only.
  • Before revealing what you learnt from the book, ask yourself if it is necessary. This is important because of the subjective opinions and feelings that are usually expressed in reflective papers.
  • Ensure that the main theme of the book that you are reflecting on comes out clearly in your paper. You can know the main theme of a book by reading the notes that you take while reading the book and in the preparation stage before you start writing the paper.
  • Use sample reflection paper as a guide for writing because a good sample will enable you to know how to structure your reflection paper on a book properly. Here is a link to an example of a reflection paper on the book, African Fractals by Rogan Eglash that you can use as your practical guide for writing a reflection paper on a book;

Get help with a reflection paper on a book

If you encounter difficulties while writing a reflection paper on a book, talk to us for immediate assistance. You can also visit the homepage of our website for more information regarding our writing services. Alternatively, keep reading for additional guidelines on how to write a reflection paper on a book and sample papers on our blog.


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