Memory/Character Essay: Thirteen Examples


A memory is not necessarily something that happened a long time ago. Rather, a memory is something that is past, something that is reflected upon. It can be something that happened last week or a moment from your childhood, but for our purposes, it is something that has happened before this assignment was given.

For this assignment, choose a memory that has multiple levels of meaning for you. It is important not just to create a narrative about one particular thing but to think about the complexities of the memory and why you find it worthy of exploring in an essay. Subtext and intention are crucial.

You should re-create details as accurately as possible, even talking to friends or family members who might help you remember aspects of a memory. All good writers of memoir research their own histories. This is because memory is fallible and other people might be able to shed important light on our experiences.

Focus especially on re-creating characters, yourself included, who were involved in the memory. Use dialogue to let these characters speak, and choose details to convey the nature of relationships.


Student Samples

These essays went through two drafts. This means that students revised these pieces with peer and instructor feedback.

Or examines an interaction with a man in a bar who claimed to be his future self.

Mike examines his experience of his mother’s death.

Joomi examines her feelings about moving from Georgia to New York City.

Will examines visiting his father in a rehabilitation center.

Magdalene examines the experience of growing up female.

Hannah examines her wardrobe and its relationship to important moments in her life.

Jillian examines her relationship with her legs and her mother.

Emma examines her struggles with depression.

Neziah examines her relationship to her religion and to men.

Chadbourne examines his relationship with his sister.

Katie examines her relationship with her mother.

Jeffrey examines his relationship with his father and his profession.

Danny examines his struggles with drugs and relationships.


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