e_646 - The Well Organized The Well Organized Paragraph Or...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: The Well Organized The Well Organized Paragraph Or all the things I never learned about how to arrange a paragraph around quotes and other evidence… As you know, a good essay contains several As you know, a good essay contains several paragraphs introducing various kinds of evidence that explain how that evidence is working to prove your overall argument to be reasonable. for example… THESIS QUOTE FROM TEXT STATISICAL DATA ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE FROM INTERVIEW But what to do about those pesky But what to do about those pesky paragraphs? Let’s try this exercise: imagine Let’s try this exercise: imagine yourself a lawyer in a courtroom… Writing a good Writing a good paragraph is just like a lawyer presenting evidence in court. Okay, maybe not quite like this. A good paragraph presents a quote and then A good paragraph presents a quote and then explains how it supports your overall thesis… …just like the way a lawyer presents a piece of evidence to a judge and jury and then explains how that evidence proves that a defendant is innocent or guilty. The paragraph is what makes your evidence work in The paragraph is what makes your evidence work in an essay. Without an effectively ordered paragraph, your evidence languishes and eventually fades away, unnoticed by your reader… If you were a lawyer, you wouldn’t, for example, walk If you were a lawyer, you wouldn’t, for example, walk up to a judge and jury, hold up the following in a zip­ lock bag, say, “Gun,” and then stand there silently. You would introduce the gun and then explain what You would introduce the gun and then explain what about it was incriminating in this case, such as… Ballistics fingerprints permit records (This is Elvis’s) Do the bullets at the crime scene match this gun? Are the fingerprints on the gun a match for the defendant? Is the permit for the gun issued to the defendant? So too works the paragraph. So too works the paragraph. Let’s look at an example. Let’s take an example from literature, such as the following quote from Toni Morrison’s Beloved: “A life. Could be” (60). And let’s imagine we’re writing an essay in which we are trying to argue that the novel is a work of optimism. Here’s a sample paragraph that might make use of this quote to make that argument… Early in Beloved, Morrison does in fact give a hint that Sethe might not live Early in a life entirely defined by downward spiraling tragedy. When Paul D takes Sethe and the girls to the carnival, there is a moment as they way along the road near sunset and Sethe sees the shadows of their hands intertwining, even though the hands in actuality are yet to do this. “A life,” Sethe thinks to herself, “Could be” (60). When she says, “A life,” Sethe is considering the possibility that Paul D might stay with her and, in a somewhat odd configuration, they could form mother and father for Denver and this new girl, Beloved, who has arrived in her home. And despite the fact that Sethe remains haunted by the murder of her child, the estrangement from her sons, and a host of other losses, Morrison offers some light at this point; when Sethe briefly imagines a future, we too allow ourselves to imagine a future for her. While it’s important to consider how Morrison offers some optimism early in Beloved, it’s only through a careful examination of the beginning and conclusion of the text that her optimism is confirmed. (1) Early in Beloved, Morrison does in fact give a hint that Sethe might not (1) live a life entirely defined by downward spiraling tragedy. (2) When Paul D takes Sethe and the girls to the carnival, there is a moment as they way along the road near sunset and Sethe sees the shadows of their hands intertwining, even though the hands in actuality are yet to do this. (3) “A life,” Sethe thinks to herself, “Could be” (60). (4) When she says, “A life,” Sethe is considering the possibility that Paul D might stay with her and, in a somewhat odd configuration, they could form mother and father for Denver and this new girl, Beloved, who has arrived in her home. (5) And despite the fact that Sethe remains haunted by the murder of her child, the estrangement from her sons, and a host of other losses, Morrison offers some light at this point; when Sethe briefly imagines a future, we too allow ourselves to imagine a future for her. (6) While it’s important to consider how Morrison offers some optimism early in Beloved, it’s only through a careful examination of the beginning and conclusion of the text that her optimism is confirmed. Introduce Locate Present Explain Interpret Transition This simple six­step approach helps This simple six­step approach helps manage evidence in a paragraph. 1. INTRODUCE the overall topic. the evidence. 3. PRESENT the evidence. When Paul D takes Sethe and the girls to the carnival, there is a moment “A life,” Sethe thinks to herself, “Could be” (60). as they way along the road near sunset and Sethe sees the shadows of 4. EXPLAIN the evidence, specifically the their hands intertwining, even though the hands in actuality are yet to do language of it and how it works. this. When she says, “A life,” Sethe is considering the possibility that Paul D 5. INTERPRET the evidence in terms of how it might stay with her and, in a somewhat odd configuration, they could form mother and father for Denver and this new girl, Beloved, who has arrived relates to and supports your overall argument in her home. (thesis). And despite the fact that Sethe remains haunted by the murder of her child, the estrangement from her sons, and a host of other losses, Morrison offers some light at this point; when Sethe 6. TRANSITION to the next piece of evidence briefly imagines a future, we too allow ourselves to imagine a future for her. (which can also be done in the next paragraph). Early in Beloved, Morrison does in fact give a hint that Sethe might not 2. LOCATE the specific location or occurrence of live a life entirely defined by downward spiraling tragedy. Now let’s all try this… Now let’s all try this… 1 Now, INTRODUCE/remind your reader of that overall topic. First, get your piece of evidence ready. Second, review what your overall thesis is. Next… Next… 2 LOCATE the specific location or occurrence of the evidence. If it’s from a primary source, tell your reader where it comes from in the source and what’s going on at the time. Now… Now… 3 PRESENT the evidence. Be sure to copy it precisely if you’re using a direct quote, and make sure you’re giving the correct citation information. Ask for help with this right now if you need it. Then… Then… EXPLAIN the evidence, specifically the language of it and how it works. If you’re not quoting directly, then don’tworry about the language; focus more on making sense of how the evidence works logically. If you are quoting directly for your evidence, try to re­ quote a small portion of it, explaining how those words are working for your argument overall. 4 And… And… INTERPRET the evidence in terms of how it relates to and supports your overall argument (thesis). Let’s assume that I’ve forgotten your thesis at this point, so now’s your chance to remind me. Take a second right now to go back and firm it up in your mind; then explain to me how the quote or piece of evidence you’re working with right now ties into your thesis. Answer this: why are we talking about this right now? 5 Lastly… Lastly… 6 TRANSITION to the next piece of evidence. Explain that while this piece of evidence is important, the next one will also be essential for understanding the overall point. (Again, this can also be done at the beginning of the next paragraph.) Evidence­based paragraphs: Evidence­based paragraphs: Introduce Locate Present Explain Interpret Transition ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 03/29/2011 for the course ED 101 taught by Professor Propas during the Spring '11 term at Grand Valley State.

Ask a homework question - tutors are online