Uploaded by Thomas Brophy [Cadwallader MS]

How To Analytical Paragraphs

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Becoming a Jedi Master at the
Literary Response Analytical
Paragraph
What are the Essential Elements?
• A topic sentence that expresses a clear argument, claim, or interpretation.
• It should answer the question/prompt (if there is one).
• Supporting ideas or sentences that help explain, clarify, or elaborate upon
the topic sentence. Briefly summarize the story in relationship to your topic
sentence.
• Specific examples in the form of textual evidence that is seamlessly
integrated into your own original commentary.
• Sharp and insightful commentary/analysis.
• Logical flow and organization
– Transitions
– Strong word choice
– Varied sentence structure
What is the message/theme of “The
Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury?
Step 1: Topic Sentences
• SHOULD:
– make an arguable claim, assertion (often an inference or
interpretation—the point you’re trying to prove).
– focused, specific, clear, and not obvious.
– Provoke the following response in the reader: “Oh really, now?
Let’s see you prove it!”
• SHOULD NOT:
– describe the plot.
– State a fact that you can see for yourself in the text.
Step 1: Topic Sentence Examples
•
Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
 In the story “Gaston,” author William Saroyan writes about a girl and her
father.
 The story of “Cinderella” reveals that one cannot depend on one’s family.
 In the short story “Gaston,” William Saroyan illustrates the idea that people
are easily swayed by the influences around them.
 In the short story, “The Pedestrian,” the character of Leonard Mead is out on
a night time stroll when he is arrested by the police.
 In the politically correct version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” girls are
depicted as strong-minded and independent, suggesting that the
stereotypes of girls as weak and dependent are wrong.
Step 1: My Topic Sentence
• Ex: In “The Pedestrian,” author Ray Bradbury expresses the idea
that society has lost the valuable ability for thought and
reflection.
• Note: See how it is stated or framed as an interpretation in terms
of what the author is trying to do (“Ray Bradbury expresses”).
• Helpful sentence stems you could use:
– The author suggests… implies… highlights… posits…
argues… portrays… describes… expresses… asserts…
Step 2: Add Supporting Details
• Assume that the reader has not read your story, and that he or she does
understand your point as well as you do….
• Which is why you need to provide some background information that’s
crucial to understanding the rest of your paragraph.
• Background information means a brief summary of the story as it relates to
your topic argument.
Step 2: Add Supporting Details
• Ex: In “The Pedestrian,” author Ray Bradbury expresses the idea
that society has lost the valuable ability for thought and
reflection.
• This idea is clearly implied by the story, which paints a portrait of
a future society that is enslaved to television to such an extent
that sitting in front of this machine is all that anyone ever does.
Nobody engages in conversation, reads books, or even goes
outside for a walk. Nobody, that is, except for Leonard Mead,
which is unfortunate for him because by the story’s end, he is
taken into police custody for the “crime” of being a pedestrian.
Step 3: Quotes – Rules of Thumb
• No more than 2-3 quotes per paragraph. Minimum 1!
• Be selective! Don’t choose quotes that say something you could say
just as easily. Choose quotes that:
1) Clearly and irrefutably make your point in a sophisticated way.
2) Contain enough “meat” for analysis/discussion.
3) Are not too obvious; they should be noteworthy/memorable.
• Don’t begin or end a paragraph with a quote.
Step 3: Quotes – Rules of Thumb
• Do not use a quote in which two different characters are
talking one right after the other; it’s confusing.
• Don’t follow one quote with another quote.
• As best as you can, use a short section of your quote and
weave it into your own sentences. Ideally, your quote is only a
phrase or phrases taken out of a longer sentence, so that it’s
easier to integrate.
Step 3: Selecting/Finding Quotes (aka Textual Evidence)
– “The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the
dead, the gray or multi-colored lights touching their expressionless
faces but never really touching them” (386).
– “During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations
open, a great insect rustling and ceaseless jockeying for position as
the scarab beetles… skimmed homeward to the far horizons”
(385).
– “…these highways…were like streams in a dry season, all stone
and bed and moon radiance” (385)
Step 4: Quote Analysis/Commentary
• Your quote analysis should come AFTER the quote.
• It’s the most important part of your paragraph; it is your
opportunity to insightfully convince the reader that your point
of view is the right one.
• Quote analysis should always answer the following questions:
 Why is this quote important or significant?
 What significant features (close reading) are present in the
quote and how do they function to support my claim(s)?
 So what?
• Ask yourself these questions every single time you are to write a
quote analysis and make sure that your analysis answers the
question thoroughly.
• Do not re-state what’s already been stated in your quote. Strive
for depth!
Step 4: Quote Analysis/Commentary
• Things You Could Do:
– Make connections between the quote and other similar moments in the
story; paraphrase them and explain how they emphasize or highlight
similar ideas.
– Explain how an idea or message might change if the scene had been
written differently or the idea in the quote you used had been excluded.
– Perform a close reading—look at specific words (diction) or other literary
devices (imagery, irony, metaphors, similes, etc.) that the quote contains
and explain how they help highlight/support your interpretation.
Step 4: Quote Analysis/Commentary
• When you are explaining literature to a reader, use language that
focuses on something concrete that the writer/author is doing.
• Example:
– Weak: “Little Red Riding Hood” shows that females can be tough
as males. The grandmother, for example, is physically strong, has a
tough demeanor…
– Better: The author sends the message that females are just as
tough as males. He highlights this point by depicting Red’s
grandmother as someone with great physical strength. He also
portrays Red to be fearless…
Step 4: Quote Analysis/Commentary
• Take time to walk the reader step-by-step through your
logic/reasoning.
• Example:
– OK: The only house in the city that is full of light is Leonard Mead’s
house. This shows that his house symbolizes knowledge and life.
– Better: Leonard Mead’s house is lit up, the only beacon of light in
Bradbury’s future society. Bradbury makes this apparent to the reader by
emphasizing the tomb-like darkness of the other houses. This contrast
between light and dark is introduced to highlight the differences between
Mead and everybody else. While his society lives in the “darkness” of
their ignorance, Mead—a thinker—lives in a house full of light, which is
often used to represent knowledge and enlightenment…
Step 4: Quote Analysis/Commentary
– “The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their expressionless faces but never really touching them” (386).
• For Bradbury, the houses of the people in this future society are not houses, but
“tombs,” as if to suggest that the people are, if not literally “dead,” then at least
dead on the inside. Their faces are even “gray” and “expressionless,” without energy,
without life.
– “During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations open, a great insect
rustling and ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab beetles… skimmed homeward
to the far horizons” (385).
• Bradbury depicts life as hurried, with cars and daily travels compared to that of
insects, which makes the people seem less human, at least as compared to his
protagonist, Mr. Leonard Mead.
– “…these highways…were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon
radiance” (385)
• The simile here also emphasizes Bradbury’s belief that a society without thought and
reflection is practically as dead as the city that Mead wanders through; it is like a
riverbed bereft of water and life, empty and barren.
The only thing missing now is a…
• Concluding sentence
– Relates back to the thesis sentence
– Brings paragraph to a close.
– Extends the importance of the idea(s) presented
in the topic sentence.
– Answers the question “so what?”
• Why should readers care about your paragraph?
Step 5: Adding a concluding sentence
• In short, a society that gives up writers and long
walks in favor of empty images on a television screen
also gives up everything that makes life worth living;
such a society may as well give up life itself.
How can we make it flow better?
• Add transitions
– Shows reader relationship between one idea and the
next.
– Makes your writing easier to understand.
• Integrate quotes by introducing the quote with
signal phrases
– So the reader knows where/when you got your evidence
– So you don’t commit the literary crime of “dropping
quotes,” which make sentences sound ungrammatical
and awkward.
Integrate Your Quotes!
• “Dropped” or “floating” quotes are quotes that appear
suddenly in your paragraph without proper introduction or
hasn’t been integrated with your own words, creating an
awkward, choppy, or “interrupted” effect to the flow of
your writing
• Examples:
– William Saroyan foreshadows the eventual break up of the young
girl’s relationship with her father with the fate of Gaston. “And
we’ll have to squash it?” (199).
– As the story continues, readers are informed that the father is a
little eccentric through the man’s physical appearance. “the
biggest mustache she had ever seen…he wore a blue-and-white
striped jersey instead of a shirt and tie…he wore blue slacks, but no
shoes and socks” (193).
How to Integrate Your Quotes
• A well-integrated quote is a lot like a hamburger:
 The “top bun” is a sentence of your own thoughts/ideas along with a
brief summary which helps explain where in the story that you got the
quote.
 You should always keep in mind that your audience is always
someone who is reasonably intelligent but who may not have read
the story you are writing about. Consequently, you will want to
provide just enough information so that the reader understands what
is going on.
 The “meat” is the quote (using signal phrases and transitions to connect
it to the rest of your writing).
 The “bottom bun” is your quote analysis/commentary.
Rough draft of our paragraph
In “The Pedestrian,” author Ray Bradbury expresses the idea that society has lost the valuable ability for
thought and reflection. This idea is clearly implied by the story, which paints a portrait of a future society that
is enslaved to television to such an extent that sitting in front of this machine is all that anyone ever does.
Nobody engages in conversation, reads books, or even goes outside for a walk. Nobody, that is, except for
Leonard Mead, which is unfortunate for him because by the story’s end, he is taken into police custody for the
“crime” of being a pedestrian. “The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the
gray or multi-colored lights touching their expressionless faces but never really touching them” (386). For
Bradbury, the houses of the people in this future society are not houses, but “tombs,” as if to suggest that the
people are, if not literally “dead,” then at least dead on the inside. Their faces are even “gray” and
“expressionless,” without energy, without life. “During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas
stations open, a great insect rustling and ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab beetles… skimmed
homeward to the far horizons” (385). Bradbury depicts life as hurried, with cars and daily travels compared to
that of insects, which makes the people seem less human, at least as compared to his protagonist, Mr.
Leonard Mead. “…these highways…were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance.”
The simile here also emphasizes Bradbury’s belief that a society without thought and reflection is practically
dead as the city that Mead wanders through is like a riverbed bereft of water and life, empty and barren. In
short, a society that gives up writers and long walks in favor of empty images on a television screen also gives
up everything that makes life worth living; such a society may as well give up life itself.
Remaining Problems:
1) Dropped Quotes
2) No transitions
•
Example: William Saroyan foreshadows the eventual break up of the young girl’s relationship with
her father with the fate of Gaston. “And we’ll have to squash it?” (199).
•
Revision: William Saroyan foreshadows the eventual break-up of the young girl’s relationship with
her father with his depiction of Gaston’s fate. On the phone with her mother while the man is away,
the young girl asks, “And we’ll have to squash it?” (199)
•
Example: As the story continues, readers are informed that the father is a little eccentric through the
man’s physical appearance. “the biggest mustache she had ever seen…he wore a blue-and-white
striped jersey instead of a shirt and tie…he wore blue slacks, but no shoes and socks” (193).
•
Revision: As the story continues, readers are informed that the father is a little eccentric through
the man’s physical appearance. Saroyan describes him as having “the biggest mustache [the girl]
had ever seen”(193) ,and unlike the businessmen she was apparently used to, her father “wore a
blue-and-white striped jersey instead of a shirt and tie…and…he wore blue slacks, but no shoes and
socks” (193).
Citing Quotes
•
Rule #1: Quotes must be cited with page #s placed inside parentheses after the
quotations. Punctuation for the sentence goes AFTER the right parenthesis.
•
Rule #2: If the quote is the first one to appear in your essay, you must also
include the author’s last name. Every quote afterwards only requires a page #.
– Example using Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees:
– In the novel The Bean Trees, the character Lou Ann Ruiz ponders a possible
split with her husband Angel, but does not “particularly do anything about
it” (Kingsolver, 24).
Modifying Quotes
•
Use brackets if you are changing a word in the quote; you may need to do this if
you want to keep the sentence grammatically consistent. Do NOT overuse!
•
Use an ellipsis (…) to indicate that you are omitting words from direct quotes.
Sometimes you only need part of a quotation to make a point.
– Example using Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees:
– Original Quote: “all I was seeing behind those shut eyes was Newt
Hardbine’s daddy flying up into the air, in slow motion, like a fish flinging
sideways out of the water. And Newt laid out like a hooked bass” (11).
– While learning how to change the tires on her bug, Taylor remarks that her
mother could not know that “all [she] was seeing behind those shut eyes
was Newt Hardbine’s daddy…And Newt laid out like a hooked bass” (11).
Final Tips
• Write in 3rd person, formal academic voice.
– No contractions!
– Ban phrases like “I think,” “In my opinion,” or “I believe.”
• Literary present tense!
– The stuff/events of literature always occur in the present
moment.
• Ban stiff, awkward, and trite phrases from your writing
toolbox!
– “In this quote…” (Blah!)
– “This quote shows that…” (Yuck!)
– “This shows that…” (Ew!)
Final draft of our paragraph
In “The Pedestrian,” author Ray Bradbury expresses the idea that society has lost the valuable
ability for thought and reflection. This idea is clearly implied by the story, which paints a portrait of a
future society that is enslaved to television to such an extent that sitting in front of this machine is all that
anyone ever does. Nobody engages in conversation, reads books, or even goes outside for a walk.
Nobody, that is, except for Leonard Mead, which is unfortunate for him because by the story’s end, he is
taken into police custody for the “crime” of being a pedestrian. This message is highlighted by Bradbury
when he describes the setting. For example, when Leonard Mead takes his usual evening stroll through
town, Bradbury describes the home as “tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the
dead” (386). For Bradbury, the houses of the people in this future society are not houses, but “tombs,” as
if to suggest that the people are, if not literally “dead,” then at least metaphorically dead. Their faces are
even characterized as “gray” and “expressionless,” without energy, and therefore without life. As Mead
continues along his walk, he notices the empty highways and remembers that during the day, they are
filled with “a thunderous surge of cars… a great insect rustling and ceaseless jockeying for position as the
scarab beetles… skimmed homeward to the far horizons” (385). In this image-laden passage, Bradbury
depicts life as hurried, the lives of people in this society akin to the lives of insects. This imagery
emphasizes society’s loss of humanity. And as busy as the highways are during the day, Mead observes
that at night, they “were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance” (385). The
simile here also emphasizes Bradbury’s belief that a society without thought and reflection is as
practically dead as a riverbed bereft of water and life, empty and barren. In short, a society that gives up
writers and long walks in favor of empty images on a television screen also gives up everything that
makes life worth living; such a society may as well give up on life itself.
Your Assignment
• Use this formula to write a literary response analytical
paragraph about any of the short stories we’ve read in
Q1. Answer the following question.
– Do any of the short stories express Existentialist ideas?
• Typed, double-spaced, MLA Format (12 point font, 1”
margins), and under 250 words.
• Due: Friday 10/20
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