The Reading Process
1 Becoming a Critical Reader
Stage 1: Get an Overview of the Selection
Stage 2: Deepen Your Sense of the Selection
Stage 3: Evaluate the Selection
Assessing Visuals in a Reading
Assessing an Image: An Example
Assessing a Graph: An Example
A Model Annotated Reading
Ellen Goodman, “Family Counterculture”
The Writing Process
2 Getting Started Through Prewriting
Use Prewriting to Get Started
Keep a Journal
The Pre-Reading Journal Entry
Understand the Boundaries of the Assignment
Determine Your Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Point of View
Discover Your Essay’s Limited Subject
Generate Raw Material About Your Limited Subject
Organize the Raw Material
Activities: Getting Started Through Prewriting
3 Identifying a Thesis
What Is a Thesis?
Finding a Thesis
Writing an Effective Thesis
Tone and Point of View
Implied Pattern of Development
Including a Plan of Development
1. Don’t Write a Highly Opinionated Statement
2. Don’t Make an Announcement
3. Don’t Make a Factual Statement
4. Don’t Make a Broad Statement
Arriving at an Effective Thesis
Placing the Thesis in an Essay
Activities: Identifying a Thesis
4 Supporting the Thesis with Evidence
What Is Evidence?
How Do You Find Evidence?
How the Patterns of Development Help Generate Evidence
Characteristics of Evidence
The Evidence Is Relevant and Unified
The Evidence Is Specific
The Evidence Is Adequate
The Evidence Is Dramatic
The Evidence Is Accurate
The Evidence Is Representative
Borrowed Evidence Is Documented
Activities: Supporting the Thesis with Evidence
5 Organizing the Evidence
Use the Patterns of Development
Select an Organizational Approach
Prepare an Outline
Activities: Organizing the Evidence
6 Writing the Paragraphs in the First Draft
How to Move from Outline to First Draft
General Suggestions on How to Proceed
If You Get Bogged Down
A Suggested Sequence for Writing the First Draft
1. Write the Supporting Paragraphs
2. Write Other Paragraphs in the Essay’s Body
3. Write the Introduction
4. Write the Conclusion
5. Write the Title
Pulling It All Together
Sample First Draft
Harriet Davids, “Challenges for Today’s Parents”
Activities: Writing the Paragraphs in the First Draft
7 R evising Overall Meaning, Structure, and Paragraph Development
Five Strategies to Make Revision Easier
Set Your First Draft Aside for a While
Work from Printed Text
Read the Draft Aloud
View Revision as a Series of Steps
Evaluate and Respond to Instructor Feedback
Peer Review: An Additional Revision Strategy
Evaluate and Respond to Peer Review
Revising Overall Meaning and Structure
Revising Paragraph Development
Sample Student Revision of Overall Meaning, Structure, and Paragraph Development
Activities: Revising Overall Meaning, Structure, and Paragraph Development
8 Revising Sentences and Words
Make Sentences Consistent with Your Tone
Make Sentences Economical
Vary Sentence Type
Vary Sentence Length
Make Sentences Emphatic
Revising Words 1
Make Words Consistent with Your Tone
Use an Appropriate Level of Diction
Avoid Words That Overstate or Understate
Select Words with Appropriate Connotations
Use Specific Rather Than General Words
Use Strong Verbs
Delete Unnecessary Adverbs
Use Original Figures of Speech
Avoid Sexist Language
Sample Student Revision of Sentences and Words
Activities: Revising Sentences and Words
9 Editing and Proofreading
Use the Appropriate Manuscript Format
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Proofreading
Harriet Davids, “Challenges for Today’s Parents”
Activities: Editing and Proofreading
The Patterns of Development
What Is Description?
How Description Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Description in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Marie Martinez, “Salt Marsh”
Professional Selections: Description
Mario Suárez, “El Hoyo”
Cherokee Paul McDonald, “A View from the Bridge”
Gordon Parks, “Flavio’s Home”
Additional Writing Topics: Description
What Is Narration?
How Narration Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Narration in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Paul Monahan, “If Only”
Professional Selections: Narration
Audre Lorde, “The Fourth of July”
Lynda Barry, “The Sanctuary of School”
Joan Murray, “Someone’s Mother”
Additional Writing Topics: Narration
What Is Illustration?
How Illustration Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Illustration in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Michael Pagano, “Pursuit of Possessions”
Professional Selections: Illustration
Kay S. Hymowitz, “Tweens: Ten Going On Sixteen”
Beth Johnson, “Bombs Bursting in Air”
France Borel, “The Decorated Body”
Additional Writing Topics: Illustration
What Is Division-Classification?
How Division-Classification Fits Your Purpose and Audience Prewriting Strategies
Strategies for Using Division-Classification in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Gail Oremland, “The Truth About College Teachers”
Professional Selections: Division-Classification
Ann McClintock, “Propaganda Techniques in Today’s Advertising”
Scott Russell Sanders, “The Men We Carry in Our Minds”
Bianca Bosker, “How Teens Are Really Using Facebook: It’s a ‘Social Burden,’ Pew Study Finds”
Additional Writing Topics: Division-Classification
14 Process Analysis
What Is Process Analysis?
How Process Analysis Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Process Analysis in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Robert Barry, “Becoming a Recordoholic”
Activities: Process Analysis
Professional Selections: Process Analysis
Amy Sutherland, “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”
David Shipley, “Talk About Editing”
Alex Horton, “On Getting By”
Additional Writing Topics: Process Analysis
What Is Comparison-Contrast?
How Comparison-Contrast Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Comparison-Contrast in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Carol Siskin, “The Virtues of Growing Older”
Professional Selections: Comparison-Contrast
Eric Weiner, “Euromail and Amerimail”
Patricia Cohen, “Reality TV: Surprising Throwback to the Past?”
Alex Wright, “Friending, Ancient or Otherwise”
Additional Writing Topics: Comparison-Contrast
What Is Cause-Effect?
How Cause-Effect Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Cause-Effect in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Carl Novack, “Americans and Food”
Professional Selections: Cause-Effect
Stephen King, “Why We Crave Horror Movies”
Belinda Luscombe, “The Science of Romance: Why We Flirt”
Josie Appleton, “The Body Piercing Project”
Additional Writing Topics: Cause-Effect
What Is Definition?
How Definition Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Definition in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Laura Chen, “Physics in Everyday Life”
Professional Selections: Definition
Ann Hulbert, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”
Laura Fraser, “The Inner Corset”
Keith Johnson, “Who’s a Pirate? In Court, a Duel over Definitions”
Additional Writing Topics: Definition
What Is Argumentation-Persuasion?
How Argumentation-Persuasion Fits Your Purpose and Audience
Strategies for Using Argumentation-Persuasion in an Essay
Student Essay: From Prewriting Through Revision
Mark Simmons, “Compulsory National Service”
Professional Selections: Argumentation-Persuasion
Anna Quindlen, “Driving to the Funeral”
Mary Sherry, “In Praise of the “F” Word”
Debating the Issues: Gender-Based Education
Gerry Garibaldi, “How the Schools Shortchange Boys”
Michael Kimmel, “A War Against Boys?”
Debating the Issues: Government Regulation to Help Control Obesity and Related Diseases
Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis, “The Toxic Truth About Sugar”
Michael Marlow and Sherzod Abdukadirov, “Government Intervention Will Not Solve Our Obesity Problem”
Additional Writing Topics: Argumentation-Persuasion
The Research Essay
19 Locating, Evaluating, Analyzing, and Synthesizing Research Sources
Plan the Research
Understand the Essay’s Boundaries
Choose a General Subject
Prewrite to Limit the General Subject
Understand Primary versus Secondary Research
Conduct Preliminary Research
Identify a Tentative (Working) Thesis
Make a Schedule
Conduct Primary Research
Carry Out Surveys
Conduct Secondary Research
Find Books on Your Subject
Find Periodicals on Your Subject
Find Sources on the Internet
Know the Advantages and Limitations of the Library and the Web
Prepare a Working Bibliography and Take Notes
Record Information About the Source
Take Notes on the Source
Evaluate Sources and Analyze Information
Use Quotation, Summary, and Paraphrase to Synthesize Research While Avoiding Plagiarism
Activities: Locating, Evaluating, and Integrating Research Sources
20 Writing the Research Essay
Refine Your Working Thesis
Sort Your Research Results
Organize the Evidence by Outlining
Write the First Draft
Integrate Sources into Your Writing
Using Sources Effectively
Awkward Use of a Quotation
Effective Use of a Source
Introducing a Source
Using Variety in Attributions
Shortening or Clarifying Quotations
Capitalizing and Punctuating Short Quotations
Document Sources to Avoid Plagiarism
What Needs to Be Documented?
What Does Not Need to Be Documented?
Creating In-Text References: MLA Format
Revise, Edit, and Proofread the First Draft
Prepare the Works Cited List: MLA Format
General Instructions for the MLA Works Cited
Citing Print Sources–Periodicals
Citing Print Sources–Books
Citing Sources Found on a Website
Citing Sources Found Through an Online Database or Scholarly Project
Citing Other Common Sources
Prepare the References List: APA Format
Parenthetic Citations in the Text
General Instructions for the APA References List
Citing Print Sources–Periodicals
Citing Print Sources–Books
Citing Sources Found on a Website
Citing Sources Found Through an Online Database or Scholarly Project
Citing Other Common Sources
Student Research Paper: MLA-Style Documentation
Student Research Paper: APA-Style Documentation
Activities: Writing the Research Essay
The Literary Essay and Exam Essay
21 Writing About Literature
Elements of Literary Works
How to Read a Literary Work
Read to Form a General Impression
Ask Questions About the Work
Reread and Annotate
Modify Your Annotations
Write the Literary Analysis
Identify Your Thesis
Support the Thesis with Evidence
Organize the Evidence
Write the First Draft
Revise Overall Meaning, Structure, and Paragraph Development
Edit and Proofread
Pulling It All Together
Read to Form a General Impression
Langston Hughes, “Early Autumn”
Karen Vais, “Stopping to Talk”
Additional Selections and Writing Assignments
Robert Frost, “Out, Out–”
Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
22 Writing Exam Essays
Three Forms of Written Answers
How to Prepare for Exam Essays
At the Examination
Survey the Entire Test
Understand the Essay Question
Write the Essay
Identify Your Thesis
Support the Thesis with Evidence
Organize the Evidence
Write the Draft
Revise, Edit, and Proofread
Sample Essay Answer
Activity: Writing Exam Essays
Instructor's Manual for. THE. LONGMAN. READER. SIXTH EDITION. Judith Nadell. John Langan. Atlantic Community College. Eliza A. Comodromos. Rutgers ...
Instructor’s Manual for
THE LONGMAN READER SIXTH EDITION
Judith Nadell John Langan Atlantic Community College
Eliza A. Comodromos Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Longman New York San Francisco Boston London Toronto Sydney Singapore Madrid Mexico City Munich Paris Cape Town Hong Kong Montreal
TEACHING COMPOSITION WITH THE LONGMAN READER 1 A SUGGESTED SYLLABUS
ANSWERS FOR “THE WRITING PROCESS” CHAPTER 14 DESCRIPTION
Opening Comments 18 Answers for Prewriting Activities 19 Answers for Revising Activities 19 Gordon Parks, Flavio’s Home 20 Russell Baker, In My Day 22 Maya Angelou, Sister Flowers 24 E. B. White, Once More to the Lake 28 Judith Ortiz Cofer, A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood 30
Opening Comments 35 Answers for Prewriting Activities 36 Answers for Revising Activities 37 Audre Lorde, The Fourth of July 38 George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant Annie Dillard, The Chase 43 Langston Hughes, Salvation 47 Sophronia Liu, So Tsi-Fai 48 iii
Opening Comments 52 Answers for Prewriting Activities 52 Answers for Revising Activities 53 Charles Sykes, The “Values” Wasteland 54 Alleen Pace Nilsen, Sexism and Language 57 James Thurber, University Days 59 Beth Johnson, Bombs Bursting in Air 61 Barbara Ehrenreich, What I’ve Learned From Men 64
Opening Comments 68 Answers for Prewriting Activities 69 Answers for Revising Activities 71 Judith Viorst, Friends, Good Friends—and Such Good Friends 72 William Zinsser, College Pressures 74 William Lutz, Doublespeak 76 Ann McClintock, Propaganda Techniques in Today’s Advertising 79 Deborah Tannen, But What do You Mean? 81
Opening Comments 85 Answers for Prewriting Activities 85 Answers for Revising Activities 86 Bill Bryson, Your New Computer 87 Nikki Giovanni, Campus Racism 101 90 Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death Paul Roberts, How to Say Nothing in 500 Words 95 Caroline Rego, The Fine Art of Complaining
Opening Comments 100 Answers for Prewriting Activities 100 Answers for Revising Activities 101 Rachel Carson, A Fable for Tomorrow 102 iv
Suzanne Britt, That Lean and Hungry Look 103 Richard Rodriguez, Workers 104 Dave Barry, The Ugly Truth About Beauty 106 Stephen Chapman, The Prisoner’s Dilemma 111
Opening Comments 115 Answers for Prewriting Activities 116 Answers for Revising Activities 117 Stephen King, Why We Crave Horror Movies 118 Jacques D’Amboise, Showing What Is Possible 123 Alice Walker, Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self 125 Lewis Thomas, The Lie Detector 126 Jonathan Coleman, Is Technology Making Us Intimate Strangers? 127
Opening Comments 131 Answers for Prewriting Activities 131 Answers for Revising Activities 132 K. C. Cole, Entropy 133 James Gleick, Life As Type A 135 Gloria Naylor, “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?” 137 Marie Winn, TV Addiction 141 William Raspberry, The Handicap of Definition 142
Opening Comments 146 Answers for Prewriting Activities 148 Answers for Revising Activities 149 Mary Sherry, In Praise of The “F” Word 151 Yuh Ji-Yeon, Let’s Tell the Story of All America’s Cultures 154 Mark Twain, The Damned Human Race 157 Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal 159 Nat Hentoff, Free Speech on Campus 160
Camille Paglia, Rape: A Bigger Danger Than Feminists Know 164 Susan Jacoby, Common Decency 167 Daniel Kevles, Study Cloning, Don’t Ban It 170 Charles Krauthammer, Of Headless Mice . . . and Men 173 Roger Wilkins, Racism Has Its Privileges 175 Shelby Steele, Affirmative Action: The Price of Preference 179
COMBINING THE PATTERNS
Virginia Woolf, Professions for Women 182 Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos? 183 The World House 184 Joan Didion, On Going Home 184 The Santa Ana 185
TEACHING COMPOSITION WITH THE LONGMAN READER
Teaching offers many pleasures. Among the foremost, for us, is the chance to get together with colleagues for some shoptalk. Trading ideas, airing problems, sharing light moments, speculating about why some assignments set off fireworks and some fizzle—all this helps us in our day-to-day teaching. In this Instructor’s Manual, we would like to share with you some thoughts about teaching freshman composition and about using THE LONGMAN READER. We’ll explain our approach for introducing each pattern of development and indicate what we emphasize when discussing the professional essays in each section. Also, we’ll offer possible answers to the “Questions for Close Reading” and “Questions About the Writer’s Craft” that follow each professional essay. These responses aren’t meant to be definitive. Although we purposely avoided open-ended, anything-goes questions, we understand that the responses represent our view only. You may not agree with all our interpretations. That’s fine. If nothing else, our answers may suggest another way of viewing an essay.
AT THE START OF THE COURSE Frankly, many students dread freshman composition—a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who have made the teaching of writing our life’s work. But it’s important to understand that many students’ past experiences with writing have not been positive. Rather than trying to pretend that all our students are pleased about being in a writing class, we work to get out in the open any unhappiness they may have about writing and writing teachers. Here’s how we go about airing any negative feelings that may exist. On the first day of class, we acknowledge students’ feelings by saying something like this: “I guess some of you wish you didn’t have to take this course. In fact, you may feel that the only thing worse would be having to take a course in public speaking.” Our remark elicits smiles of self-recognition from many students, and the whole class seems to relax a bit. Then we ask students to explain why they approach the writing course with such uneasy feelings. Many have sad tales to tell about writing courses and writing teachers. Here are summaries of some of the comments we’ve heard over the years: • In the past, my papers were returned so covered with red ink that I could barely make out my own writing. I felt discouraged to see how much I had done wrong and angry to see my work covered over with comments. 1
I could never figure out what my teachers wanted. Different teachers seemed to look for different things. Since there were no clear standards, I’ve never understood the qualities that make up good writing. Writing papers always took me too much time and felt like an endless chore. Getting the first draft done was hard enough, but revising was even worse. And the payoff for writing several drafts didn’t seem worth the effort. I knew in my head what I wanted to say but didn’t know how to get my thoughts down on paper. My ideas never came out quite right. I had writer’s block whenever I sat down to put pen to paper. I stared at the desk, daydreamed, fidgeted, and had real trouble getting started. Finally, just before an assignment was due, I dashed off something to hand in, just to get it over with.
As such sentiments are aired, students discover that their experience has not been unique; they learn that others in class have had similarly frustrating experiences. We also confirm students’ impressions by telling them that each semester many students recount comparable sagas of woe. We reassure the class that we understand the obstacles, both inner and outer, they have to face when writing. And we tell them that we will work to make the freshman writing course as positive an experience as possible. But we also say that we’d be dishonest if we led them to believe that writing is easy. It isn’t. We have no magic formula for turning them into A-plus writers. On the other hand, because we are writers and because we work with writers, we know that the composing process can be satisfying and rewarding. We tell the class that we hope they’ll come to share our feelings as the semester progresses. From here, we move to an activity that continues to break the ice while familiarizing the class with the workshop format we use at various points in the semester. Students form groups of two and then four, chatting with each other for about five minutes each time. To get them moving, we put some questions on the board: what are their names, where are they from, where are they living while attending college, what other courses are they taking, what is their intended major, and so on. After a few seconds of nervous silence, the class begins to buzz with friendly energy. When ten minutes or so have passed, we stop the activity and explain why we “wasted” precious class time just socializing. During the semester, we explain, they will learn a good deal about writing from other classmates as they meet in small groups and respond to each other’s work. So it makes sense for them to get to know each other a bit right at the outset. Also, we tell the class that we hope they will find sharing their writing as interesting and fun as chatting together. As a final step in building a spirit of community, we circulate a piece of paper on which each student writes his or her name and phone number. Before the next class, we have the sheet typed and reproduced so that everyone can have a copy of the class directory.
ASSIGNING THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS IN THE BOOK During the first or second class, we emphasize to students that the course should help them become sharper readers as well as stronger writers. With that in mind, we assign the chapter on “The Reading Process” as well as the chapter on “The Writing Process,” up to the section titled “Organize the Evidence” (page 46). While the writing chapter may be assigned all at once, we’ve found that it works more effectively when broken into two assignments. Since the writing process is at the heart of the course, we want to make sure students read the chapter carefully enough to understand the process fully. When students return to class having read the reading chapter and the first part of the writing chapter, we answer any questions they may have and go over the answers for the activities in the writing chapter (see page 14 of this manual). Then we move into a discussion of prewriting. We tell the class that prewriting loosens a writer up. Exploratory and tentative, prewriting helps reduce the anxiety many people feel when facing the blank page. With prewriting, a writer doesn’t have to worry, “This better be good.” After all, no one except the writer is going to read the prewritten material. The best way for students to discover what prewriting is like is for them to try it for themselves. So, we say, “Let’s suppose you had to write an essay on why students dislike English classes or what teachers could do to make English courses more interesting.” Then we ask them to select one prewriting technique discussed in the book (questioning the subject, brainstorming, freewriting, or mapping) to generate the raw material for such an essay. Often, we distribute scrap paper or yellow lined paper for them to use, reinforcing the message that prewriting is tentative and vastly different from finished work. At the end of the class, we ask students to use the prewriting just prepared in class as the basis for the first draft of an essay. And we assign the rest of the writing chapter, telling students to pay special attention to the guidelines in the chapter, especially those in the sections “Organize the Evidence” and “Writing the First Draft.” At the start of the next class, we review the rest of the writing chapter and discuss the answers to the chapter’s activities. We’ve found that many students do not understand that writing is a process. Having them go through the sequence described in the chapter introduces them to the concept of a writing process and shows them what one such process might be like. Now that they have had a taste of the writing process, it is time to explain (as the book does on pages 14, 22, 34–35, 43–44, and 54–56) that each writer customizes the steps in the sequence to suit his or her needs and style. Not everyone writes the same way, we emphasize, and we urge students to choose the approach that works best for them. Students then take out the first draft of their papers. But we do not have them hand in the essays. Instead, we have them get back into the same groups of two they were in the previous class and spend about ten minutes giving each other feedback on the effectiveness of the drafts. To focus their observations, they are asked to use the checklist on pages 73–75. After hearing their partner’s 3
response to their work, students get busy revising their essay right there in class. We then collect the papers, promising only to read—not grade—them. Reviewing the papers, we explain, will give us a good sense of what each writer does well and what needs to be worked on. Finally, we end the class by telling students that we don’t expect them to have mastered all the material in the book’s first two chapters. But now that they have read the chapters carefully and have worked through the reading and writing processes, they should have a clear sense of how to proceed during the rest of the semester. We assure them that throughout the course we will refer to the opening two chapters as need arises.
WAYS TO USE THE BOOK THE LONGMAN READER is arranged according to nine patterns of development: description, narration, exemplification, division-classification, process analysis, comparison-contrast, cause-effect, definition, and argumentation-persuasion. Introductions to the patterns are designed to help students understand the distinctive features of specific rhetorical strategies. The more accessible experiential patterns are presented first, before moving on to the more demanding analytic patterns. If you adopt a rhetorical approach in the course, you need not feel confined by the order of patterns in the book; each chapter is self-contained, making it possible for you to sequence the modes however you wish. And, of course, there’s no need to cover all the essays in a chapter or even all the rhetorical patterns. It is more realistic to assign two or three selections per pattern, perhaps concentrating on one of the selections for class discussion. A word of warning: If you tell a class which of several assigned selections will be discussed, some students will skip the other selections. You’ll probably want to explain to students that there are many ways to use a rhetorical pattern and that reading all the assigned essays will give them an understanding of the options available. For rhetorically organized courses, we suggest that you emphasize early in the semester that professional writers don’t set out to write an essay in a particular mode. The patterns emerge as the writers prewrite and organize their ideas; they come to see that their points can best be made through a particular rhetorical strategy or combination of strategies. It’s helpful, we’ve learned, to assign selections before and after students write an essay. For example, if students are going to write a causal analysis, you might have them read “Is Technology Making Us Intimate Strangers?” Then, after reviewing their drafts and seeing the problems they have had with, let’s say, causal chains, you might have them examine the way Thomas traces complex causal relationships in “The Lie Detector.” Some instructors using a rhetorical approach in their courses place a special emphasis on exposition. If this is your orientation, you might want to begin with the exemplification chapter. That section stresses the importance of establishing a clear thesis and providing solid support for the essay’s central point. Then you might move to the description and narration chapters; these
underscore the importance of, respectively, a dominant impression and a narrative point, both developed through specific supporting details. If you prefer to design the course around themes rather than rhetorical patterns, the thematic table of contents (at the front of the textbook) and the sets of thematically related essays (at the front of this manual) will help you select essays on timely issues. For such a course, we recommend that you have students read a number of essays on a given theme. The fact that several essays on the same theme use different rhetorical strategies helps students see that the patterns are not ends in themselves, but techniques that writers use to make their points.
CREATING A PROCESS-ORIENTED CLASS ENVIRONMENT We’ve found that creating a workshop atmosphere in the classroom helps students view writing as a process. When a new paper is assigned, we try to give students several minutes to start their prewriting in class. In other classes, time may be set aside for students to rework parts of their first draft. We may, for instance, ask them to sharpen their introductions, conclusions, sentence structure, or transitions. In our experience, it’s been especially productive to use class time for peer evaluations of first drafts. For these feedback sessions, students may be paired with one other classmate or they may meet with three or four other classmates. (We’ve found groups of more than five unwieldy.) Feedback from someone other than the course instructor motivates students to put in more time on a draft. Otherwise, some of them will skip the revision stage altogether; as soon as they’ve got a draft down on paper, they’ll want to hand it in. Hearing from other classmates that a point is not clear or that a paragraph is weakly developed encourages students to see that revision involves more than mechanical tinkering. They start to understand that revision often requires wholesale rethinking and reworking of parts of the essay. And, after a few feedback sessions, students begin to identify for themselves the problem areas in their writing. You’ll find that many students squirm at the thought of reacting to their classmates’ work. So it’s not surprising that they tend to respond to each other’s papers with either indiscriminate praise or unhelpful neutrality. To guide students, we prepare a brief checklist of points to consider when responding to each other’s work. (You might, for example, adapt the checklist on pages 73–75 to fit a particular assignment.) With such a checklist in front of them, students are able to focus their impressions and provide constructive feedback. There are a number of ways to set up peer feedback sessions. Here are a few possibilities: •
After pairing students or placing them in small groups, have each essay read aloud by someone other than the author. Students tell us that hearing another person read what they’ve written is invaluable.
Awkward or unclear passages in a paper become more obvious when someone who has never before seen the essay reads it aloud. Place students in small groups and ask them to circulate their papers so that everyone has a chance to read all the essays. Then have each group select one especially effective paper to read aloud to the rest of the class. Alternately, you may ask each group to select a strong essay that needs work in a few spots. These essays are then read aloud to the rest of the class. Everyone discusses each paper’s strengths and what might be done to sharpen the sections that miss the mark. Ask one or two students to photocopy their drafts of an assignment, making copies so that everyone can look at the papers. In class, the other students—either as a whole or in groups—react to the papers up for scrutiny that day.
A quick aside: At the start of the course, students are reluctant to “offer their papers up for sacrifice”—as one student put it. But once they’re accustomed to the process, they are not at all skittish and even volunteer to be “put on the chopping block”—another student’s words. They know that the feedback received will be invaluable when the time comes to revise. As you no doubt can tell, we have a special liking for group work. Since it gives students the chance to see how others approach the same assignment, they come to appreciate the personal dimension of writing and develop an awareness of rhetorical options. The group process also multiplies the feedback students get for their work, letting them see that their instructor is just one among many readers. Group activities thus help students gain a clearer sense of purpose and audience. Finally, we have found that peer review encourages students to be more active in the classroom. When students assume some of the tasks traditionally associated with the instructor, the whole class becomes more animated.
SOME CAUTIONS ABOUT GROUP WORK If you are new to group work, you may have the uneasy feeling that the group process can deteriorate into enjoyable but unproductive rap sessions. That can happen if the instructor does not guide the process carefully. Here are several suggestions to steer you clear of some traps that can ensnare group activities. First, we recommend you give very clear instructions about how students are to proceed. Providing a checklist, for example, directs students to specific issues you want them to address. Second, we believe in establishing a clear time schedule for each group activity. We might say, “Take five minutes to read to yourself the paper written by the person on your left,” or “Now that all the papers in your group have been read, you should vote to determine which is the strongest paper. Then take five minutes to identify one section of the essay that needs additional attention.” Third, although we try to be as inconspicuous as possible during group work, we let students know that we are available for help when needed. Sometimes we circulate among the groups, listening to comments, asking a question or two. But more often we stay at the 6
desk and encourage students to consult with us when they think our reaction would be helpful.
RESPONDING TO STUDENT WORK Beyond the informal, in-class consultations just described, we also meet during the course with each student for several one-on-one conferences of about fifteen to thirty minutes. Depending on our purpose, student needs, class size, and availability of time, a number of things may occur during the individual conferences. We may review a paper that has already been graded and commented on, highlighting the paper’s strengths and underscoring what needs to be done to sharpen the essay. Or we may use the conference to return and discuss a recent essay that has or has not been graded. In the last few years, we have tended not to grade or write comments on papers we’re going to review in conference. Instead, we take informal notes about the papers and refer to them when meeting with students. We’ve found that this approach encourages students to interact with us more freely since their attention isn’t riveted to the comments and grade already recorded on the paper. Finally, we end each conference by jotting down a brief list of what the student needs to concentrate on when revising or writing the next assignment. Students tell us this individualized checklist lets them know exactly what they should pay attention to in their work. When students hand in the final draft of a paper, we ask them to include their individualized checklist. Having a checklist for each student enables us to focus on the elements that typically give the student trouble. And, candidly, having the checklist in front of us tames our not-so-noble impulse to pounce on every problem in an essay. In our oral and written comments, we try to emphasize what’s strong in the essay and limit discussion of problems to the most critical points. Like everyone else, students are apt to overlook what they’ve done well and latch on to things that haven’t been so successful. If every error a student makes is singled out for criticism, the student—again, like everyone else—often feels overwhelmed and defeated. So unless a student is obviously lackadaisical and would profit from some hard-hitting, teacherly rebukes, we try to make our comments as positive and encouraging as possible. And rather than filling the paper with reworked versions of, let’s say, specific sentences and paragraphs, we make liberal use of such remarks as these: “Read these last three sentences aloud. Do you hear the awkwardness? How could you streamline these sentences?” Or “Doesn’t this paragraph contradict what you say at the beginning of the preceding paragraph? What could you do to eliminate the confusion?” When responding to a paper, we often suggest that the student review or reread a professional essay, the introduction to a rhetorical pattern, or sections of the writing chapter. And we always end our comments with a brief list of points to be added to the student’s personalized checklist.
USING PORTFOLIOS TO ASSESS STUDENT PROGRESS You may wish to have your students present a portfolio of their work for grading at the conclusion of the course, instead of giving grades for each paper in succession. Using such a portfolio system alters somewhat the way you respond to individual student papers as they are submitted, because you assign no grades to them. The written and oral feedback on a paper is geared solely to making the essay a more effective piece of communication rather than to justifying a particular low or high grade. This forces all concerned—instructors and students—to stay focused on how to improve writing rather than on what might pull a paper down or on what score a paper should get. If students balk at “floating free” of grades for the whole course, you might occasionally supply a tentative grade or give students grades on one or two essays so they get a feel for the standards. As the course progresses, however, the issue of what a strong paper is like should be resolved. The students will be reading the successful papers in the text, examining and commenting on the essays of other students, and hearing a plenitude of helpful comments about writing. You should indicate clearly at the start of the course that students must complete each essay as well as all other practices, journal entries, and so forth that you assign, but that the writing component of their final grade will be based upon a portfolio of polished work. Clearly establish the minimum number of essays to be included in a completed portfolio. Typically, a course might be represented by four final-draft essays, plus some late-in-the-term in-class writing. In addition, you may wish to examine the successive drafts for one of the revised papers. In order to receive a grade, each student meets with the instructor for a conference about the writing progress demonstrated in the portfolio. After discussing the writing’s strengths and areas needing improvement, the instructor and student agree on a grade. Such a portfolio system has several advantages. It stresses to students that writing well is an on-going process and encourages them to make subsequent revisions of their essays as they acquire new insights into writing. It forces them to take responsibility for their progress beyond the achievement they reach in the first submitted version of an essay. It instills the notion of a writing community, for, once they have gotten beyond the initial series of structured feedback sessions which you have built into the course, students must initiate feedback from their peers and from the instructor on any revisions they do. Finally, such a system dramatizes the reality that writers write for other people, and that reaching the audience, not jumping hurdles to get a grade, is the goal of writing.
AT THE END OF THE COURSE Even if you don’t use formal portfolios for grading, we suggest you ask students to present their best revised work to you at the end of the semester. Our students keep all their papers in a folder, and so have no trouble retrieving essays 8
written weeks or months earlier. Near the end of the course, we ask students to select—for one more round of revision—three or four essays, with each paper illustrating a different rhetorical pattern. We use these reworked versions of the essays to assign a final grade to each student. If you structure your course around themes and issues, you’ll probably want to require that each paper deal with a different theme. As the semester draws to a close, we also ask students to complete the questionnaire at the back of the book. Their responses let us know which selections worked well and which did not, helping us make adjustments in future semesters. So that you too can find out how the class reacted to the assigned selections, you might ask students to give the completed forms to you rather than having students mail their questionnaires to the publisher. If you do collect the forms, we hope that you’ll forward them to us at Longman after you’ve had a chance to look them over. This kind of student feedback will be crucial when we revise the book. An especially rewarding way to end the semester is to have the class publish a booklet of student writing. Students revise and then submit two of their strongest papers to a class-elected editorial board. This board selects one essay from each student in the class, making an effort to choose essays that represent a mix of styles and rhetorical approaches. After a table of contents and a cover have been prepared, the essays are retyped, duplicated, and stapled into booklet form. Depending on the equipment and funds available, the booklet may be photocopied or designed on a computer. Students respond enthusiastically to this project. After all, who can resist the prospect of being published? And knowing that their writing is going public encourages students to revise in earnest. The booklets yield significant benefits for us, too. They help build a bank of student writing to draw on in subsequent semesters. As a bonus, the booklets allow us to reconnect with the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the students passing through our classes year after year. Such booklets have been an ongoing source of pleasure.
A SUGGESTED SYLLABUS On the following pages we present a syllabus that will give you some further ideas on how to use THE LONGMAN READER (MR). Note that the syllabus assumes the course meets once a week, for three hours, over a fifteen-week period. The syllabus can, of course, be easily adjusted to fit a variety of course formats.
Class 1 • Provide an introduction to the course and handle necessary business matters. • Direct a “getting to know each other” activity (see page 2 of this manual). • Have students prepare an in-class writing sample to get an initial sense of their writing needs. 9
• Assignments—ask students to: a. Read “The Reading Process” in the MR. b.Read “The Writing Process” in the MR through page 46.
Class 2 • • • •
Discuss assignments, including the writing process activities. Return the in-class papers. Review common sentence skills problems. Read and work through the rest of the writing process chapter. Introduce students to “Description,” covering selected material on pages 83–97. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Description” in the MR (pages 83–97). b.Read two (teacher-designated) description selections. (We suggest that the first selection be “Flavio’s Home.”) c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions.
Class 3 • Answer questions about the description chapter and discuss the two assigned description selections. • Have students do prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, group work, etc.) for one of the writing assignments at the end of the assigned description selections. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Complete the description essay. b.Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 4 • Initiate group feedback on students’ description essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Narration,” covering selected material on pages 145–59 of the MR. • Read and discuss in class a narrative selection: “The Fourth of July” or “Salvation.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Narration” (page 145–59) in the MR. b.Read two more (teacher-designated) narrative selections. c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions.
Class 5 • Pass back and discuss students’ description essays. • Answer questions about the narration chapter and discuss the two assigned narrative selections. • Have students do prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, group work, etc.) for one of the writing assignments at the end of the two assigned narrative selections. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Complete the narrative essay. b.Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 6 • Initiate group feedback on students’ narrative essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Exemplification,” covering selected material on pages 197–213 of the MR. • Read and discuss in class the exemplification selection “The ‘Values’ Wasteland “ or “Sexism in Language.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Exemplification” (pages 197–213) in the MR. b.Read two more (teacher-designated) exemplification selections. c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions.
Class 7 • Pass back and discuss students’ narrative essays. Answer questions about the exemplification chapter and discuss the two assigned exemplification essays. • Have students do prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, group work, etc.) for one of the writing assignments at the end of the two assigned exemplification selections. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Complete the exemplification essay. b.Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 8 • Initiate group feedback on students’ exemplification essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Division-Classification” or “Process Analysis,” covering selected material on pages 259–77 or 325–42 of the MR. 11
• Read and discuss in class the division-classification selection “Friends, Good Friends—and Such Good Friends” or the process selection “Your New Computer.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Division-Classification (pages 259–77) or “Process Analysis” (pages 325–42) in the MR. b.Read two more (teacher-designated) division-classification or process analysis selections. c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions.
Class 9 • Pass back students’ exemplification essays. Answer questions about division-classification or process analysis chapters and discuss the two assigned selections. • Provide prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, group work, etc.) for one of the writing assignments at the end of the two assigned selections. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Complete the division-classification or process analysis essay. b.Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 10 • Initiate group feedback on students’ division-classification or process analysis essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Comparison-Contrast,” covering selected material on pages 389–404. • Read and discuss in class two comparison-contrast selections: “A Fable for Tomorrow” and “That Lean and Hungry Look.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Comparison-Contrast” (pages 389–404) in the MR. b.Read two more (teacher-designated) comparison-contrast selections. c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions. d. Write a comparison-contrast essay. e. Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 11 • Pass back and discuss students’ division-classification or process analysis essays. 12
• Answer questions about the comparison-contrast chapter and discuss the two assigned selections. • Initiate group feedback on students’ comparison-contrast essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Cause-Effect” or “Definition,” covering selected material on pages 437–54 or 489–502. If appropriate, introduce cause-effect activity described on page 115 of this manual. • Read and discuss in class a cause-effect or definition selection: “Why We Crave Horror Movies” or “Entropy.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Cause-Effect” (pages 437–54) or “Definition” (pages 489–502) in the MR. b.Read two more (teacher-designated) cause-effect or definition selections. c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions. d. Write a cause-effect or definition essay. e. Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 12 • Pass back and discuss students’ comparison-contrast essays. • Answer questions on the cause-effect or definition chapter and discuss the two assigned selections. • Initiate group feedback on students’ cause-effect or definition essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Introduce students to “Argumentation-Persuasion,” covering selected material on pages 537–575 of the MR. • Read and discuss in class one pro-con set of essays: “Study Cloning, Don’t Ban It” and “Of Headless Mice . . . and Men.” • Assignments—ask students to: a. Read the introduction to “Argumentation-Persuasion” (pages 537–75) in the MR. b.Read three more (teacher-designated) argumentation-persuasion selections. [At least one of these selections should focus on a controversial social issue (see pages 117–18 of this manual).] c. Answer the close reading and craft questions that follow the selections and prepare to discuss the “For Further Thought” questions.
Class 13 • Pass back and discuss students’ cause-effect or definition essays. • Answer questions about the argumentation-persuasion chapter and discuss the three assigned argumentation-persuasion selections. • Discuss the three argumentation-persuasion essays. 13
• Initiate prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, group work, etc.; see pages 3–4 of this manual) for one of the writing assignments at the end of the three assigned argumentation-persuasion selections. The writing assignment should require the student to focus on a controversial social issue. • Assignments—ask students to: a. Complete the argumentation-persuasion essay. b.Review grammar, punctuation, and usage as needed.
Class 14 • Answer questions about the argumentation-persuasion chapter and discuss the three assigned argumentation-persuasion selections. • Provide group feedback on students’ argumentation-persuasion essays (see pages 5–6 of this manual). Give students the option of handing in their papers in present form or revising them by the next class. • Ask students to revise several essays written earlier in the course. These essays should be submitted in the final class (see page 8 of this manual). • If appropriate, have students organize a forum on controversial issues. (See pages 146–47 of this manual for our comments on the activity.) • Assignment—ask students to prepare their oral presentations for delivery during the in-class forum on controversial social issues.
Class 15 • • • •
Have students submit their folder of revised work. Have students deliver their oral presentations on controversial social issues. Provide group feedback on the forum. Conclude the course.
ANSWERS FOR “THE WRITING PROCESS” CHAPTER Activities: Prewrite (pages 30–31) 1. Set A 3 Abortion 2 Controversial social issues 5 Cutting off state abortion funds 4 Federal funding for abortions 1 Social issues Set B 4 Business majors 3 Students divided by major 1 College students 2 Kinds of students on campus 5 Why many students major in business 14
2. “Day-care,” “male and female relationships,” and “international terrorism” are clearly too broad to be used as topics for a 2- to 5-page essay. Activities: Identify the Thesis (pages 35–36) 1. Limited Subject: The ethics of treating severely handicapped infants F S Some babies born with severe handicaps have been allowed to die. TB There are many serious issues involved in the treatment of handicapped newborns. OK The government should pass legislation requiring medical treatment for handicapped newborns. A This essay will analyze the controversy surrounding the treatment of severely handicapped babies who would die without medical care. Limited Subject: Privacy and computerized records TB Computers raise some significant and crucial questions for all of us. F S Computerized records keep track of consumer spending habits, credit records, travel patterns, and other personal information. OK Computerized records have turned our private lives into public property. A In this paper, the relationship between computerized records and the right to privacy will be discussed. 2. Below are possible thesis statements for each set of points. Set A Possible Thesis: Students in college today are showing signs of increasing conservatism. Set B Possible Thesis: If not closely monitored, experiments in genetic engineering could yield disastrous results. 3. Below are possible thesis statements for each set of general and limited subjects. General Subject
The power struggles in a classroom
The classroom is often a battlefield, with struggles for power going on among students and between students and teacher.
Doctors’ attitudes toward patients
In hospitals, doctors often treat patients like robots rather than human beings.
Television’s coverage of presidential campaigns
Television coverage political campaigns emphasizes the visual at the expense of issues.
Minimum-wage jobs for young people
The minimum wage is too low to inspire young people to work hard and advance themselves.
Activities: Support the Thesis with Evidence (pages 44–46) 1. In each set below, the irrelevant point is preceded by an “X.” Set A Thesis: Colleges should put less emphasis on sports. Encourages grade fixing X Creates a strong following among former graduates Distracts from real goals of education Causes extensive and expensive injuries Set B Thesis: America is becoming a homogenized country. Regional accents vanishing Chain stores blanket country X Americans proud of their ethnic heritage Metropolitan areas almost indistinguishable from one another 2. Below are possible points of support for each thesis statement. Thesis: The trend toward disposable, throw-away products has gone too far. 1.Fast-food chains generate huge amounts of non-biodegradable refuse. 2.Parks and recreational areas are strewn with non-recyclable beer cans. 3.Roadways are littered with non-returnable soda bottles. Thesis: The local library fails to meet the needs of those it is supposed to serve. 1.The hours are limited and inconvenient. 2.The part-time, inexperienced staff provide insufficient assistance. 3.The collection is outdated and incomplete. 16
Thesis: Television portrays men as incompetent creatures. 1.College male washing colors and whites together, to horror of older women in laundromat. 2.Father caring for child but unable to cope with emergency. 3.Men concerned only with taste of product, while wives are knowledgeable about healthfulness. Activities: Organize the Evidence (pages 53–54) 1.
Thesis: Our schools, now in crisis, could be improved in several ways. I. Teachers A. Certification requirements for teachers B. Merit pay for outstanding teachers II. Schedules A. Longer school days B. Longer school year III. Curriculum A. Better textbooks for classroom use B. More challenging content in courses
2. Thesis: Friends of the opposite sex fall into one of several categories: the pal, the confidante, or the pest. Overall Pattern of Development: Division-Classification • Frequently, an opposite-sex friend is simply a “pal.”—develop with definition • Sometimes, though, a pal turns, step by step, into a confidante.—develop with process analysis • If a confidante begins to have romantic thoughts, he or she may become a pest, thus disrupting the friendship.—develop with cause-effect
OPENING COMMENTS Some colleagues tell us they prefer to omit description when they teach freshman writing. Emphasizing the analytic side of exposition, they consider descriptive writing a digression, a luxury that they don’t have time for in an already crowded syllabus. To them, descriptive writing belongs in a creative writing course, not in freshman composition. On the other hand, some instructors do include description, but they discuss it after narration. We feel that descriptive writing should be included in freshman composition. And we’ve found that description can be covered before narration with excellent results. In other words, we recommend that description be the first pattern studied in the course. Why do we feel this way? For one thing, when students begin by writing descriptive essays, they learn the importance of specific details, and they start to develop the habit of observation. (The sensory chart described on page 89 is one way to encourage such attention to detail.) Also, since descriptive writing depends on creating a dominant impression, description helps students understand the concept of focus early in the semester. Descriptive writing also teaches students to select details that enhance an essay’s central point. Finally—and most importantly—students can discover real pleasure in writing descriptive pieces. They are challenged by the possibility they can make readers feel as they do about a subject. They enjoy using words to share a place, person, or object that has personal significance to them. Every semester, we have several students who admit that descriptive writing changed their attitude toward composition. For the first time, they see that writing, though difficult, can be rewarding and fun. The selections in this chapter represent the wide range of techniques found in descriptive writing. We suggest you start with Parks’s essay because its imagistic power dramatizes the way vivid sensory details support a dominant impression. Similarly, Angelou’s essay “Sister Flowers” captures the way our sensory perceptions affect our emotional responses. This piece is particularly useful in showing students how to use metaphor and simile to convey abstract concepts and shape concrete images. We think that students will find Baker’s “In My Day” and White’s justly celebrated “Once More to the Lake” poignant renderings of personal experience. To create their effects, Baker and White use flashbacks, a technique usually associated with narration. Finally, using a restrained tone and carefully chosen details, Judith Ortiz Cofer evokes the mood of precious childhood memories.
ANSWERS FOR PREWRITING ACTIVITIES Below we provide suggested responses to selected prewriting activities at the end of Chapter 3. Of course, other approaches are possible. (p. 96) 1. There are many ways to use description in these two essays; below we’ve listed some of the possibilities. In classroom use of this activity, we suggest you have students share their responses. They’ll be surprised and often delighted to discover their neighbors have devised quite different uses for description in the essays. Sharing and comparing such prewriting conveys the invaluable point that writers are individual and their writing is unique. Topic: How students get burned out Describe ineffective studying methods: cramming, skimming Describe student with 6 courses struggling with homework Draw portrait of aloof professor assigning too-difficult work Describe student working and carrying full load Topic: Being a spendthrift is better than being frugal Describe allure of some purchase: dress, sneakers, etc. Describe appeal of shopping center or mall Describe gourmet meal at expensive restaurant Topic: Being a spendthrift is worse than being frugal Describe shocked clerk ringing up your large purchase Describe empty pockets and meager lunches after a spree Describe sleepless night after charging a lot
ANSWERS FOR REVISING ACTIVITIES Below we provide suggested responses to selected revising activities at the end of Chapter 3. Of course, other approaches are possible. (p. 96) 3. Here are some possible ways to revise the sentences to create distinct, contrasting moods. Other versions are, of course, possible. a. Around the filthy, lopsided table slouched four grubby, droopy-eyed old men. Alert and eagle-eyed, the four natty old poker players sat tensely around the felt-topped table. b. Enticed by media attention to the movie’s special effects, hordes of boisterous teenagers thronged the street outside the theater showing “Race to Doom.” 19
Snaking down the alley beside the theater, a line of silent, slouch-hatted customers waited to see the notorious film. c. The skinny twelve-year-old girl teetered, wobbled, and finally tripped as she walked into church in her first pair of high heels. With head held high, hips swaying, and her eyes roving to see if anyone noticed, Mary Beth strolled down Main Street in her first pair of high heels. 4. We suggest that you offer your students the chance to read each other’s revisions of this paragraph. Such exposure to the versions of others helps them see a variety of possibilities in improving a piece of writing. Here are the main problems in the paragraph: — Details about driving on Route 334 are irrelevant and should be eliminated. — Statement that car has been “washed and waxed” detracts attention from arrival at farm. — Short, choppy sentences could be combined with others nearby: “Its paint must have worn off decades ago”; “They were dented and windowless.” For example, such combined sentences might read: “Then I headed for the dirt-colored barn, its roof full of huge, rotted holes”; “As I rounded the bushes, I saw the dirt-colored house, its paint worn off decades ago”; “A couple of dented, windowless, dead-looking old cars were sprawled in front of the barn.” — Spatial order is broken by placing description of house in between details about what is near the barn.
FLAVIO’S HOME Gordon Parks Questions for Close Reading (p. 105) 1. The dominant impression is implied. While Parks is explicit about his overall attitude to poverty in paragraph 1, this material is not the thesis. Rather, the dominant impression pertains more specifically to Flavio. It might be stated as, “Even in the midst of the worst afflictions of poverty, the human spirit survives in certain optimistic, energetic, caring individuals such as the twelve-year-old boy Flavio.” 2. In Flavio’s family, there’s no sense of understanding or emotional nurturing of children; rather, all the family’s focus is on survival. At twelve, Flavio is the oldest child of eight, ranging down to infancy. His parents work, leaving him with the care of the household and the other children. His mother is a laundress who washes clothes in the river, and the father sells bleach and kerosene at a small stand. The parents seem too fatigued to be interested in 20
their children; the father relates to them primarily by giving commands and demanding instant obedience. 3. The neighborhood is on a steep, difficult-to-climb mountainside. Paragraphs 2–3, 14, and 21 describe the sights and sounds Parks encounters on this arduous climb. He reports encountering “mud trails, jutting rock, slimefilled holes and shack after shack propped against the slopes on shaky pilings.” The trail is also crowded with people going up and down; “bare feet and legs with open sores climbed above us,” Parks writes (21). While the mountainside is “a maze of shacks,” from it one can see the beaches with the “gleaming white homes of the rich” (2). Flavio’s home is described in paragraph 6. It is a one-room shack, six by ten feet, constructed of miscellaneous boards with numerous gaps in the walls. The wooden floor is rotten and spotted with light leaking in through the holes in the roof. One corner has a hole dug for a toilet; it lets out onto the side of the mountain. 4. Flavio seems well aware that hosts should not eat in front of guests, but he is probably afraid that his domineering and skeptical father would be angered by an offer to join them. He may also be reluctant to be a good host because there isn’t enough food to go around; his family lives on the brink of starvation, and he knows the guests do not need the food as much as his family. Parks and Gallo understand that Flavio really can’t or shouldn’t offer food, and so they refuse. 5. barrios (1): Latin-American term for districts jacaranda (2): tropical tree having clusters of pale purple flowers jaundiced (3): yellow-toned, ill with a disorder of the bile (liver) spigot (14): faucet Questions About the Writer’s Craft (p. 105) 1. The dominant impression we receive of Flavio is of a child ravaged by poverty yet who possesses an open and persevering soul. Throughout the essay, Parks reveals Flavio’s character by describing what Flavio says and does rather than what the boy is like as a person. He gives us numerous details of Flavio’s physical appearance (3, 11, 23), pointing out the boy’s thinness, stick-like limbs, sunken eyes, jaundiced coloring, wrenching coughs, and filthy, skimpy clothing. Parks also notices one other thing—the brilliant smile that instantly crosses Flavio’s face as he sees the strangers. Parks details each time the smile reoccurs—when the boy opens the door (4), offers food (10), carries Parks’s camera (22), recovers from a coughing spell (23), and enters the doctor’s office (29). The nobility of the boy’s spirit also comes through in other details: his competence in household tasks and care of his siblings (5, 7, 9, 23–26) and his refusal to let Parks carry wood for him (22). 2. Parks describes how household tasks are made difficult by the need to conserve water. In paragraph 7, we see the process by which Flavio gets the rice washed, the children bathed, and the floor scrubbed, with only one pan of water. In paragraph 10, the boy serves dinner, a task complicated by the existence of only three plates and two spoons. He prepares breakfast in 21
paragraph 23, making a fire and reheating the dinner. These processes add to the dominant impression of Flavio by showing us his discipline, ingenuity, and steadiness. 3. Parks conveys strong sensory images in such phrases as “a rusted, bent top of an old gas range,” “a piece of tin,” “grimy walls,” “a patchwork of misshapen boards,” “other shacks below stilted against the slopes,” “rotting,” “layers of grease and dirt,” “shafts of light slanting down,” “spaces in the roof,” and “large hole.” We are able to flow from image to image because Parks uses numerous transitions of spatial organization: “beneath it,” “between them,” “under layers,” slanting down through,” “in the far corner,” and “beneath that hole.” Parks also uses a clear organizational pattern in the description; he begins describing the room with one important object, the stove. Then he moves from the walls to the floor; he ingeniously indicates the roof’s condition by pointing out the sunlight dappling the floor from the holes above. He concludes by describing a hole in the “far corner” which serves as a toilet and which empties out on to the slope of the mountain. This detail, that the latrine empties essentially into thin air, conveys the precariousness and primitiveness of the home. 4. The effect of this scene is to dramatize the huge disparity between the rich and poor in Rio, between not only their dress, but their emotional lives, the one basic and elemental, the other extravagant and romantic. The hotel lobby is filled with people dressed up for the evening in formal attire; Parks finds himself hoping the elevator will be empty since he has just been in the slums and is not very presentable. But a couple in evening clothes enter the elevator and embrace romantically, totally ignoring him. This action symbolizes the way in which the moneyed classes so easily ignore the “stink of the favela,” even when it is right in the elevator with them.
IN MY DAY Russell Baker Questions for Close Reading (p. 114) 1. The dominant impression is implied. You might state it as: “Parents rarely share the important memories of their upbringing with their children; only when it’s too late do the children realize how little they know their parents.” 2. Mrs. Baker believed in telling people exactly what was on her mind (11) and in taking on life’s tasks with determination and energy (14). In her old age, she raged at the boredom, weakness and loneliness of being elderly (40) until she became senile. Then she began to dwell in the past with the ferocity and energy typical of her personality. 3. Baker felt “forever out of touch” with his mother in her last years because he realized that he knew so little about her life, the life she was sketching for him in her random flights into the past. He writes, “Of my mother’s childhood and her people, of their time and place, I knew very little. A world 22
had lived and died, and though it was part of my blood and bone I knew little more about it than I knew of the world of the pharaohs” (49). He also felt out of touch with his children, because he recognized that he had shared his own past with them only to “stun” them with how hard his own childhood was (50). 4. Living in the past was Mrs. Baker’s only comfort in her infirmity. When Baker realized this, he stopped trying to get her to return to the unpleasant reality of her loneliness and kindly allowed her to live freely in the past. He even tried to follow along with her to learn about her life (44). 5. inconceivable (4): unlikely, unbelievable libertine (15): a morally unrestrained person banal (41): unoriginal, trite wrest (44): take or extract by force exemplary (50): serving as an illustration galled (51): irritated consign (58): to hand over Questions About the Writer’s Craft (p. 114) 1. Baker describes three memories of his mother in senility, interspersing between them images of her as a young, vital mother and as a bored, weak old woman. This alternating between images of her earlier vitality and her later weak-mindedness helps us to understand what her son has lost as she has mentally deteriorated. It also helps create the dominant impression that understanding our parents’ experiences is an important part of understanding ourselves that should not be left until it is too late. Specifically, Baker begins by giving us a brief description of an encounter he had with his mother after her bad fall, in which she thinks he is a stranger because he is so old (1–9). Then he provides some flashbacks to her as a young mother, so that we can understand the woman he expects her to be (10–15). The second example of her inability to focus on the present is the doctor’s interview in paragraphs 17–39. This scene is followed by a description of her in an intermediate stage, before her “last bad fall,” when she was aged, infirm, lonely, and unhappy (40–43). Baker concludes with a third scene of her meandering through the past, during which Baker felt it was best to let her remain in the past; he even tried to follow her into bygone days. 2. The quotations of Mrs. Baker’s own words are probably the most memorable aspects of Baker’s portrayal of what she was like as a young mother and as a mentally frail old woman. These direct quotations allow us to know her youthful personality: “I tell them what I think whether they like it or not” and “If they don’t like it, that’s too bad.” We learn in a direct way that while she is senile, she is still spunky: “You may know a lot about medicine, but you obviously don’t know any history.” 3. Repeating the words “she ran” is Baker’s way of conveying to us how energetically his mother went about getting her life in order. She was, he says, “determined to bend those who opposed her . . .” (14), and her running everywhere was a sign of her frantic attempt to control her children, her 23
household, and her life. This overabundance of energy, however, typically got her into trouble: she often tripped and fell; these falls serve to remind us of our ultimate mortality. The first incident occurred when she was a young woman running upstairs with a Thanksgiving turkey; her fall left her badly burned. Other falls occurred, we know, because she became bedridden after what Baker calls her “last bad fall.” The repeated references to the falls contribute a sense of poignancy and coherence to the selection. 4. Mrs. Baker’s comment is ironical because it is she who, in the end, wanders back mentally into the past. Her children, like most children, reject the past in order to move forward into their futures. As Baker points out, in his youth he “instinctively . . . wanted to break free, cease being a creature defined by her time, consign her future to the past, and create [his] own” (58). Other ironies include her belief that Baker is too old to be her son (5); her knowing her own birthday and a rhyme about Guy Fawkes Day when she also fails the doctor’s “reality” quiz “catastrophically” (33–38); her “knowing how to stare at a dolt” even though she herself is senile (39); and her recapturing her happy youth in senility.
SISTER FLOWERS Maya Angelou Questions for Close Reading (p. 121) 1.
The dominant impression is implied and can be stated as, “The care and attention of a loving mentor is crucial to a child’s healthy development, particularly in times of crisis.” In addition, Angelou seeks to draw a portrait of beloved Mrs. Flowers, the essence of whom Angelou expresses when she writes, “[Mrs. Flowers] was one of the few gentlewomen I have ever known, and has remained throughout my life the measure of what a human being can be” (paragraph 5). Mrs. Flowers represents for Angelou the gentility and sophistication as well as the benevolence that she has read about in novels and seen in films, but has never encountered first-hand, especially not among her fellow townspeople. She says, “She appealed to me because she was like people I had never met personally” (11) and calls her “the aristocrat of Black Stamps” (2). Flowers’s stunning beauty and impeccable grooming (2–4) powerfully impress Angelou, who lives in a community of relatively poor and minimally-educated people. Still more fascinating is Flowers’s refined grace (12), dazzling intellect, and stirring eloquence (22), all of which inspire Angelou to strive for a standard she previously thought accessible only to privileged whites. Angelou reflects, “She made me proud to be Negro, just by being herself” (11). Most of all, Angelou is profoundly honored and grateful that Flowers would not only spend time with her but also impart to her the “lessons for living” that would form the foundation of Angelou’s subsequent existence. 24
Angelou humorously describes her frustration and embarrassment when witnessing her unrefined Momma speaking to the highly-educated and proper Mrs. Flowers. In particular, Angelou is ashamed of Momma’s calling Mrs. Flowers “Sister Flowers.” To the young Angelou, such an informal appellation is inconsistent with what she considers the obvious superiority of her elegant neighbor. In Angelou’s opinion, “Mrs. Flowers deserved better than to be called Sister” (7). Worse still is Momma’s flawed grammar as she speaks to Flowers; Angelou agonizes over Momma’s incorrect and missing verbs and says that she “hated [Momma] for showing her ignorance to Mrs. Flowers” (7). Despite Angelou’s intense embarrassment over Momma, Momma and Flowers share an amicable and mutually respectful friendship—a fact which perplexes Angelou, who calls their relationship “strange” (6). Flowers does not object to Momma’s calling her “Sister” and in fact might be pleased to be included in the community of women; similarly, Momma feels enough kinship with Flowers to call her “Sister.” The two women often engage in “intimate conversation” with each other (10), and it is implied that Momma has asked Flowers’s assistance in mentoring the withdrawn young Angelou. Years later, Angelou finally realizes that Momma and Flowers were indeed “as alike as sisters, separated only by formal education” (7), a notion reinforced by Flowers’s insistence that Angelou appreciate the wisdom of “mother wit,” such as that of Momma (35). 4. The first significant lesson Mrs. Flowers teaches Angelou is about the beauty and power of language. In the process of convincing young Angelou that she needs to participate verbally in class, Flowers explains that “it is language alone which separates [man] from the lower animals,” a notion that was “a totally new idea” to Angelou (23). Soon after, in a statement that Angelou remembers as “valid and poetic,” Flowers says, “It takes the human voice to infuse [words] with the shades of deeper meaning” (24). Flowers’s melodic, invigorating reading of A Tale of Two Cities convincingly illustrates to Angelou the vast power of words. (Clearly, this lesson had a tremendous impact on Angelou, presently a renowned writer not only of novels but also of poetry.) The next important lesson concerns the nature of wisdom and intelligence. Probably perceiving Angelou’s embarrassment at Momma’s lack of refinement, Flowers informs her that many unschooled people are more knowledgeable and intelligent than some highly educated scholars. “Mother wit,” she asserts, is every bit as valuable (if not more so) as book knowledge, for it contains “the collective wisdom of generations” (35). Flowers’s lesson on knowledge is summed up when she advises Angelou to “always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy” (35). Following this advice, it seems likely that young Angelou would think twice before judging Momma harshly again. Beyond these explicitly-stated lessons, Angelou also receives the invaluable understanding that she is a unique and likable individual worthy of the attention of an exemplary woman, a realization that will help rebuild her wounded self-confidence.
5. taut (2): tightly pulled or strained voile (2): a light, sheer fabric benign (4): kind and gentle unceremonious (8): informal gait (8): particular way of walking moors (11): broad area of open land, often containing patches of wetness incessantly (11): continuing without interruption scones (11): small biscuit-like pastries crumpets (11): small, round, cake-like breads heath (11): large area of land containing low-growing shrubs chifforobe (17): tall piece of furniture containing drawers and space for hanging clothes sacrilegious (17): disrespectful of something held sacred infuse (24): to introduce into as if by pouring couched (35): expressed aura (42): an invisible atmosphere seeming to surround something or someone Questions About the Writer’s Craft (p. 122) 1.
Angelou relies primarily on visual and occasionally on both tactile and auditory impressions to convey Flowers’s “aristocratic” appearance. In paragraph 2, Angelou describes her graceful bearing that never evidences extremes of weather and her thin frame which lacks the “taut look of wiry people.” Flowers’s attire is the next object of Angelou’s attention as she observes the elegant woman’s airy “printed voile dresses,” “flowered hats,” and gloves (2). Angelou then describes Flowers’s “rich black” complexion, comparing it to the visual and tactile image of an easily peeled plum (3). Angelou also details Flowers’s “slow dragging” smile (15), thin black lips, “even, small white teeth” (4) and “soft yet carrying voice” (6). Later, she mentions Flowers’s “easy gait” (8). In general, Angelou organizes these details of Flowers’ appearance spatially, moving first from her physical carriage and attire up to her face and zeroing in on her smile (although she returns to Flowers’s “easy gait” later in the essay.) To describe her reaction when she first arrived at Flowers’s home, Angelou invokes the sense of smell when, for example, she cites the “sweet scent of vanilla” (29). She then draws upon the visual sense to describe what she observes: “browned photographs” and “white, freshly done curtains” (32). The next part of the visit calls upon the visual as well as the taste faculty as Angelou describes eating Flowers’s delectable cookies (“flat round wafers, slightly browned on the edges and butter-yellow in the center”) and drinking the refreshing, cold lemonade (34). The tactile sense is appealed to when she mentions the “rough crumbs” of the cookies scratching against her jaw (34). And the sense of sound is evoked as Angelou remembers Flowers’s reading voice, “cascading” and “nearly singing” (37). Overall, Angelou organizes this last set of richly-textured sensory impressions 26
spatially as well as chronologically; that is, she presents the details as she moves through the house and as the afternoon progresses. 2. The first figure of speech is the simile Angelou uses in comparing herself to an old biscuit (1). This image establishes young Angelou’s shame and withdrawal following the rape; indeed, her depression is what prompts Flowers to find time to talk with the child. Angelou then employs a series of striking figures of speech to describe Flowers’s character and demeanor. The most powerful appear in paragraph 11. There Angelou provides a series of similes using “like” to compare Flowers with the gentle, elegant “women in English novels who walked the moors . . . with their loyal dogs racing at a respectful distance” and “the women who sat in front of roaring fireplaces, drinking tea incessantly from silver trays full of scones and crumpets.” The final simile of the paragraph is an implied one; although it lacks “like,” it deliberately mirrors the structure of the previous two similes: “Women who walked over the ‘heath’ and read morocco-bound books and had two last names divided by a hyphen.” The function of these similes comparing Flowers to female British gentility is to reinforce the notion of Flowers as “the aristocrat of Black Stamps” (2). The basis of Flowers’s allure for Angelou is her otherworldly elegance and sophistication, particularly when juxtaposed with the ordinary citizens of Black Stamps. That this elegant and gracious woman actually seeks out the young Angelou is enough to transform the child from an “old biscuit” into one who excitedly runs down the road, flush with the pleasure of being liked. 3. The technique of imagined conversation injects humor into Angelou’s portrait of herself as a child, while also allowing readers greater insight into her character by giving them access to her mental processes. The young Angelou’s imagined scoldings of Momma resoundingly illustrate her embarrassment with “uncouth” Momma. Here, Angelou seems caught between two worlds: that of “backwards” Momma and Black Stamps and that of education and opportunity seemingly offered by the outside world. As Mrs. Flowers instructs, however, much wisdom resides in “mother wit” like Momma’s, and given this lesson, young Angelou would probably be led to re-evaluate her embarrassed attitude toward Momma. 4. From Angelou’s very first statement about Mrs. Flowers, it is apparent that race is a significant facet of life in Angelou’s town. Flowers is said to be “the aristocrat of Black Stamps,” a statement that draws its power from the notion that aristocrats have traditionally been white. This depiction of Flowers as being uniquely regal is heightened by Angelou’s comparing her to English female gentry (11) and by her observation that Flowers behaves differently from the average “Negro woman” (14) in town. Most significantly, Angelou states that Flowers made her “proud to be a Negro, just by being herself” (11), a difficult feat given the racist climate of the day. The town’s appellation “Black Stamps” (12) implies the existence of a “White Stamps,” a fact later confirmed when Angelou mentions “powhitefolks” (13). Angelou indicates that no Negro, not even the elegant Flowers, is immune to the disrespect of the town’s self-aggrandizing poor whites. Indeed, even Angelou’s reverence for Flowers “would have been shattered 27
like the unmendable Humpty-Dumpty” (13) if the “powhitefolks” had called this revered idol by her first name, Bertha. Angelou lives in a world that would sanction such racially-inspired disrespect and insult. In paragraph 42, Angelou refers to “Southern bitter wormwood,” a subtle reference to racism. In such a world, it is difficult for a black child—especially one so traumatized and wounded—to develop a strong sense of self. But that is just what the encounter with Mrs. Flowers achieves; it makes young Angelou “feel proud” to be a Negro, and with that comes the loosening of trauma’s hold on her.
ONCE MORE TO THE LAKE E. B. White Questions for Close Reading (p. 131) 1. White’s thesis is implied. One way of stating it is as follows: “In taking his son to revisit the lake where he experienced so many significant childhood events, White learns that he can only partly recapture the feelings and atmosphere of days long past. Instead, he gets in touch with a premonition of his own death.” 2. White suggests that his return to the lake was rather casual and impulsive (1). While he normally preferred the ocean, he says, sometimes the turbulence of the sea made him long for the calm of a placid lake in the woods. In addition, he could take his son along and introduce him to fresh water fishing. On a deeper level, he seems to have longed to revisit a place of significance from his youth and to share its pleasures with a son. 3. In paragraph 4, the author lies in his bed, hearing his son sneak out in the dawn light to take a motorboat out on the lake, just as White had himself done as a boy. His son’s behavior is so similar to his own as a youth that he suddenly feels as if “he was I, and therefore . . . that I was my own father.” Another significant transposition occurs when they are fishing (5). A dragonfly, an unchanging element of nature, alights on his rod and gives him the dizzying feeling that he has moved back in time, until he “didn’t know which rod [he] was at the end of.” Finally, in paragraph 10, he identifies deeply with his son’s attempts to gain mastery over the motorboat; he feels again all the same feelings he had in his youth as he grew to have a “spiritual” relationship with the motor. 4. The visit shows that things have remained much the same through the years. Nature has not changed much, nor has the town or the accommodations. In fact, White feels that the visit reveals the “pattern of life indelible” (8). Some details have changed, however, in keeping with the times. For example, the road has only two tracks, from the tires of automobiles, not three, from horse-drawn carriages (7); also, the boat is a modern outboard, not the one- and two-cylinder inboard motors of his youth. The waitresses are still country girls, but they have been impressed by the 28