Controlling Idea

Controlling Idea
Regents Part 3
What is a Controlling Idea?
• It is a statement that explains the
common bond shared by two works of
literature (based on given “focus”)
• It is a sentence
• It must be able to be supported by
the two works of literature given
Actual Task
• You are given two literary passages (i.e. a poem
and an excerpt from a short story)
• The directions tell you what the passages are
“about” (i.e. childhood memories)
• Read the two passages, marking the text for later
usage in your paragraphs (key ideas, literary
methods/techniques, ideas, insights)
• Answer the 5 multiple choice questions based on
the texts
• Write two paragraphs (test #’s 26 and 27)
carefully reading the instructions given
Directions for
#26 Write a well-developed paragraph in which you use ideas
from both passages to establish a controlling idea about human
dignity. Develop your controlling idea using specific examples
from both passages.
#27 Choose a specific literary element (e.g. theme,
characterization, structure, point of view, etc.) or literary
technique (e.g. symbolism, irony, figurative language, etc.) used
by one of the authors. Using specific details from that
passage, in a well-developed paragraph, show how the author
uses that element or technique to develop the passage.
Controlling Idea Paragraph
• Controlling Idea:
A person possesses human dignity
when he has a strong sense of selfworth and self-respect.
#26 Controlling Idea Paragraph
• First state the actual controlling idea
(make it your 1st sentence) (RED)
• Relate it to the first passage in a quick
sentence (i.e. “In Passage I, by Anton
Checkov, . . .”(GREEN)
• Develop with specific support from the
• Repeat with Passage II
A person possesses human dignity
when he has a strong sense of selfworth and self-respect. In Passage I, by
Anton Checkov, Mashenka shows her
human dignity by standing up for herself
and not allowing Madame Kushkin to
humiliate her. When she first found
Madame Kushkin searching through her
belongings, Mashenka felt trapped
because she was of a lower social status
and got “the feeling that is so familiar
to persons in dependent positions.”
However, Mashenka “could not imagine a
greater insult” than what Madame
Kushkin did
to her. Mashenka states that “it’s vile. . .
it’s insulting . . . .” She knew she could no
longer work for them and had to leave at
once. She did this despite the fact that
she had no place to go but back to her
parents “who had nothing.” This was better
than having her dignity taken away by
working for someone who would go through
Mashenka’s belongings because she didn’t
trust her. In Passage II, by Isaac Singer,
a small, frail old woman demonstrates her
feelings of self-worth through her pride in
and respect for the job she does. Despite
her age, it was routine for
the woman to walk with the “unwieldy
pack” of laundry on her shoulder week
after week to bring it home so she could
clean it herself. Her pure strength and
endurance allowed her to come back and
uphold her duty as a washwoman. She
never gave up, even when she became ill. “ .
. . an inner obstinacy seemed to call out:
No you may not fall.” Because of her pride
she could not rest while she was ill. “She
had been driven by an indomitable will to
return the property to its rightful owners,
to fulfill the task she had undertaken.”
The old lady
displayed her human dignity by showing
the strength, pride and self-respect she
had to face difficult challenges every day.
#27 Literary Method Paragraph
• First sentence (topic sentence) should give
passage “title,” author, literary method
and the idea it develops.
• The remainder of the paragraph provides
proof/support from the passage and
explains how that proof support brings
out/develops a larger idea
Singer’s use of descriptive details in
Passage II helps to create a vivid image
of a woman whose dignity, self-respect
and pride in her work are what is most
important to her. He states that each
“piece of linen sparkled like polished
silver” to convey the thoroughness with
which the wash woman did her job. The
author also describes the difficulty of
her actual task, from bringing water
from a pump because she had no faucet
to drying inside in her attic so thieves
would not steal it. He exclaims, “Only
God knows all the old woman had to
endure each time she did a wash!”
One particular winter, the author recalls,
was so cold that “people were dying of the
cold.” Even so, the old washwoman still did
her job. When the author’s mother gave
the old woman a cup of tea to warm her
hands, , he notes, “Her fingers were
gnarled from work, and perhaps from
arthritis too. These hands spoke of the
stubbornness of mankind, of the will to
work not only as one’s strength permits
but beyond the limit of one’s power.” This
image conveys her great pride, strength
and sense of duty.
When the washwoman finally returns with
the laundry, the authors says, “her face
[was] as white as a linen sheet. . . it was as
though a corpse had entered the room.”
His physical description of her
demonstrates that despite illness, she
persisted in her job; she says, “The wash
would not let me die.” This woman took
such pride in what she did that she could
not rest, or even die, until her job had
been completed.
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