Elements of an Essay, English homework help

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Question Description

Directions

  1. Read the definitions of the four non-fiction elements listed here:

    Voice, Style, Structure, Ideas.
    • Voice: When we read a literary essay, we usually hear the narrator’s voice; we hear a person speaking to us and we begin to notice if he or she sounds friendly or hostile, stuffy or casual, self-assured or tentative. The voice may be intimate or remote. It may be sincere or ironic. The possibilities are as endless as the number of essayists. A writer’s persona is the personality he/she assumes through his/her voice to serve the purpose of the essay.
    • Style: Writers have unique styles, the same way stylish people we know have a personal style. Writers make specific choices in words, syntax, sentence length, metaphors, repetition and many other ways to manipulate language and create a unique sound in their writing.
    • Structure: Literary essayists are not inclined to follow any formulaic structure, as is taught to a first year college student (i.e. first a topic sentence and then three examples). Instead, they invent structures that fit their own way of seeing the world. Walker's structure includes sprinkles of personal experience within this persuasive essay to call for changes in the attitude of her reader.
      • Please review this linked PowerPoint presentation on structure:Structure in Literary Essays.ppt
        • attached PPT below to view
    • Ideas: Literary essays express ideas more directly than fictional stories. They attempt to persuade the reader to look at the world through a new perspective. Readers of essays are in one sense miners, unearthing hidden meanings. In another sense, they are like coproducers in creating meaning.
  2. Find quotes from Walker’s essay (attached PDF) that represent each of the four elements above. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose each quote.
    • Voice: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s persona in this essay?
    • Style: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s unique style?
    • Structure: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s persuasive structure?
    • Ideas: How does your chosen quote uncover the meaning of the essay?
  3. Post your quotes and explanations.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

STRUCTURE IN LITERARY ESSAYS Introduction ▪ You may have been assigned an essay in the past called “Cause and Effect Essay” or “Process Analysis Essay” but those limited structures are rarely found in published essays. ▪ Published, literary essays employ a combination of structural or development techniques to add more variety and interest. ▪ We will learn several types of structures and development techniques in this presentation. Description ▪ Writers add color and interest to their writing with plenty of description, appealing to the five senses. ▪ Topic: In Pennsylvania where I grew up, many people show signs of being smokers. ▪ Description: “Everywhere you go you can see people with tubes leading from their noses, behind their ears, and over to portable oxygen tanks: in grocery stores, in cars, at Bingo night in the neighborhood church.” Examples ▪ Writers often start a paragraph with a general statement, but then once they have established a topic, give specific examples that will stick in the reader’s mind. ▪ Topic: Many people are still cigarette smokers despite the health risks. ▪ Example: “The first of my relatives to die of cigarette-smoking related ailments was my grandfather, who succumbed to heart failure at 67.” Narration (Storytelling) ▪ Stories grab the reader’s attention and can help make an abstract or general point unforgettable. ▪ Topic: There is always someone in my family smoking. ▪ Narration: “My father even smoked while he was changing clothes. He would be smoking as he rushed to get out of his overalls, coated with oil from the shift at Midas Mufflers and into his bartender clothes.” Definition ▪ Writers often place a difficult word or idea into a recognizable category and then explain how it is different from all others. ▪ Topic: Microcredit loans ▪ Definition: “These small loans, as little as $25, go to the poorest people, mostly women living on $1 a day or less. These loans could protect against terrorism by undermining the poverty that feeds social decay and destruction.” Process Analysis ▪ Describing a process may be an important element of an essay. ▪ Topic: Autopsies ▪ Process: “For the benefit of readers who are interested, here’s what generally happens during a forensic autopsy: The first step is to photograph the body. Trace evidence such as hair samples and nail scrapings are collected, and fingerprints taken.” Compare/Contrast ▪ By comparing an unfamiliar subject to a familiar one, writers help readers gain a context for a topic. ▪ Topic: American Impressionism ▪ Compare/Contrast: “American impressionists such as John H. Twachtman, Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, and Mary Cassatt were influenced by the French painter in the 1890s and into the early 20th century. Like their French counterparts, they were interested in recreating the sensation of light in nature and used intense colors and similar dab or fleck brushstrokes, but they departed with the French painter’s avant garde approach to form.” Cause and Effect ▪ Writers often explore the reasons an event or trend occurred or discuss its aftereffects. ▪ Topic: The Great Depression ▪ Cause and Effect: “The Great Depression was the worst economic slump ever in U.S. history and one which spread to virtually all of the industrialized world. The main cause was the greatly unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920’s.” Conclusion ▪ Structure is an integral element of the literary essay. ▪ Writers make choices about how to employ a variety of structures within their essays to create an interesting reading experience, and to best convey their desired meaning and purpose. ▪ Structural varieties include: description, narration, examples, process analysis, definition, compare/contrast, and cause/effect. Alice Walker In Search oj Our Mothers' Gardens I described her own nature and temperament. Told how they needed a larger life for their expression. ... I pointed out that in lieu of proper channels, her emo­ tions had overflowed into paths that dissipated them. I talked, beautifully I thought, about an art that would be born, an art that would open the way for women the likes of her. I asked her to hope, and build up an inner life against the coming of that day. ... I sang, with a strange quiver in my voice, a promise song.-]ean Toomer, "Avey," Cane The poet speaking to a prostitute who falls asleep while he's talkingWhen the poet Jean Toomer walked through the South in the early twenties, he discovered a curious thing: black women whose spirituality was so intense, so deep, so unconscious, that they were themselves unaware of the richness they held. They stumbled blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, that they considered themselves unworthy even of hope. In the selfless abstractions their bodies became to the men who used them, they became more than "sexual objects," more even than mere women: they became "Saints." Instead of being perceived as whole persons, their bodies became shrines: what was thought to be their minds became temples suitable for worship. These crazy Saints stared out at the world, wildly, like lunatics-or qUietly, like suicides; and the "God" that was in their gaze was as mute as a great stone. Who were these Saints? These crazy, loony, pitiful women? Some of them, without a doubt, were our mothers and grandmothers. In the still heat of the post-Reconstruction South, this is how they seemed to Jean Toomer: exquisite butterflies trapped in an evil honey, toiling away This essay first appeared in Alice Walker, In Search oj Our Mothers' Gardens (New York, 1972). 402 Alice Walker their lives in an era, a century, that did not acknowledge them, except as "the mule of the world." They dreamed dreams that no one knew-not themselves, in any coherent fashion-and saw visions no one could stand. They wandered or sat about the countryside crooning lullabies to ghosts, and drawing the mother of Christ in charcoal on courthouse walls. They forced their minds to desert their bodies and their striving spir- .. its sought to rise, like frail whirlwinds from the hard red clay. And when those frail whirlwinds fell, in scattered particles, upon the ground, no one mourned. Instead, men lit candles to celebrate the emptiness that remained, as people do who enter a beautiful but vacant space to resurrect a God. Our mothers and grandmothers, some of them: moving to music not yet written. And they waited. They waited for a day when the unknown thing that was in them would be made known; but guessed, somehow in their darkness, that on the day of their revelation they would be long dead. Therefore to Toomer they walked, and even ran, in slow motion. For they were going nowhere immediate, and the future was not yet within their grasp. And men took our mothers and grandmothers, "but got no pleasure from it." So complex was their passion and their calm. To Toomer, they lay vacant and fallow as autumn fields, with harvest time never in Sight: and he saw them enter loveless marriages, without joy; and become prostitutes, without resistance; and become mothers of children, withou t fulfillment. For these grandmothers and mothers of ours were not Saints, but Artists; driven to a numb and bleeding madness by the springs of creativity in them for which there was no release. They were Creators, who lived lives of spiritual waste, because they were so rich in spirituality-which is the basis of Art-that the strain of enduring their unused and unwanted talent drove them insane. Throwing away this spirituality was their pathetic attempt to lighten the soul to a weight their work-worn, sexually abused bodies could bear. What did it mean for a black woman to be an artist in our grandmothers' time? In our great-grandmothers' day? It is a question with an answer cruel enough to stop the blood. Did you have a genius of a great-great-grandmother who died under some ignorant and depraved white overseer's lash? Or was she required to bake biscuits for a lazy backwater tramp, when she cried out in her soul to paint watercolors of sunsets, or the rain falling on the green and peaceful pasture- In Sear . cis? Or was her body broken and forced t ten than not sold away from her)-eight hen her one joy was the thought of modelone or clay? How was the creativity of the black worn: entury after century, when for most of the merica, it was a punishable crime for a bI; e freedom to paint, to sculpt, to expand tt Consider, if you can bear to imagine it, wI singing, too, had been forbidden by law. Lis Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Roberta Flae . (hers and imagine those voices muzzled ~mp;ehend the lives of our "crazy," "Sain 'The agony of the lives of women who m Essayists, and Short-Story Writers (over, with their real gifts stifled within them. _~ And, if this were the end of the story, we' paraphrase of Okot p'Bitek's great poem: 0, my clanswomen Let us all cry together! Come, Let us mourn the death The death of a Queen The ash that was produ By a great fire! 0, this homestead is ut Close the gates With lacari thorns, For our mother The creator of the Stoo And all the young won Have perished in the \\ But this is not the end of the story, for a and grandmothers, ourselves-have not pI ask ourselves why, and search for and finl all efforts to erase it from our minds, just American women are. It did not acknowledge them, except as "the :led dreams that no one knew-not even ion-and saw visions no one could under­ out the countryside crooning lullabies to If Christ in charcoal on courthouse walls. esert their bodies and their striving spir­ lwinds from the hard red clay. And when Ittered particles, upon the ground, no one s to celebrate the emptiness that remained, 1but vacant space to resurrect a God. 'S, some of them: moving to music not yet unknown thing that was in them would be how in their darkness, that on the day of Ig dead. Therefore to Toomer they walked, . they were going nowhere immediate, and ir grasp. And men took our mothers and re from it." So complex was their passion fallow as autumn fields, with harvest time :nter loveless marriages, without joy; and :tance; and become mothers of children, lthers of ours were not Saints, but Artists; .dness by the springs of creativity in them They were Creators, who lived lives of so rich in spirituality-which is the basis their unused and unwanted talent drove spirituality was their pathetic attempt to York-worn, sexually abused bodies could man to be an artist in our grandmothers' lay? It is a question with an answer cruel great-grandmother who died under some seer's lash? Or was she required to bake " when she cried out in her soul to paint 'alling on the green and peaceful pasture- T j t In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens 40 3 lands? Or was her body broken and forced to bear children (who were more often than not sold away from her)-eight, ten, fifteen, twenty children­ when her one joy was the thought of modeling heroic figures of rebellion, in stone or clay? How was the creativity of the black woman kept alive, year after year and century after century, when for most of the years black people have been in America, it was a punishable crime for a black person to read or write? And the freedom to paint, to sculpt, to expand the mind with action did not exist. Consider, if you can bear to imagine it, what might have been the result if singing, too, had been forbidden by law. Listen to the voices of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, and Aretha Franklin, among others, and imagine those voices muzzled for life. Then you may begin to comprehend the lives of our "crazy," "Sainted" mothers and grandmothers. The agony of the lives of women who might have been Poets, Novelists, Essayists, and Short-Story Writers (over a period of centuries), who died with their real gifts stifled within them. And, if this were the end of the story, we would have cause to cry out in my paraphrase of Okot p'Bitek's great poem: 0, my clanswomen Let us all cry together! Come, Let us mourn the death of our mother, The death of a Queen The ash that was produced Bya great fire! 0, this homestead is utterly dead Close the gates With lacari thorns, For our mother The creator of the Stool is lost! And all the young women Have perished in the wilderness! But this is not the end of the story, for all the young women-our mothers and grandmothers, ourselves-have not perished in the wilderness. And if we ask ourselves why, and search for and find the answer, we will know beyond all efforts to erase it from our minds, just exactly who, and of what, we black American women are. 404 Alice Walker One example, perhaps the most pathetic, most misunderstood one, can provide a backdrop for our mothers' work: Phillis Wheatley, a slave in the 17oos. Virginia Woolf, in her book A Room of Ones Own, wrote that in order for a woman to write fiction she must have two things, certainly: a room of her own (With key and lock) and enough money to support herself. What then are we to make of Phillis Wheatley, a slave, who owned not even herself? This sickly, frail black girl who required a servant of her own at times-her health was so precarious-and who, had she been white, would have been easily considered the intellectual superior of all the women and most of the men in the society of her day. Virginia Woolf wrote further, speaking of course not of our Phillis, that "any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century [insert "eigh­ teenth century," insert "black woman," insert "born or made a slave"] would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in .some ,lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard [insert "Saint"], leared and mocked at. For it needs little skill and psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by contrary instincts [add "chains, guns, the lash, the ownership of one's body by someone else, submission to an alien religion"L that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty." The key words, as they relate to Phillis, are "contrary instincts." For when we read the poetry of Phillis Wheatley-as when we read the novels of Nella Larsen or the oddly false-sounding autobiography of that freest of all black women writers, Zora Hurston-evidence of "contrary instincts" is every­ where. Her loyalties were completely divided, as was, without question, her mind. But how could this be otherwise? Captured at seven, a slave of wealthy, doting whites who instilled in her the "savagery" of the Africa they "rescued" her from, one wonders if she was even able to remember her homeland as she had known it, or as it really was. Yet, because she did try to use her gift for poetry in a world that made her a slave, she was "so thwarted and hindered by ... contrary instincts, that she ... lost her health...." In the last years of her brief life, burdened not only with the need to express her gift but also with a penniless, friendless "freedom" and several small children for whom she was forced to do stren­ uous work to feed, she lost her health, certainly. Suffering from malnutrition and neglect and who knows what mental agonies, Phillis Wheatley died. In Se So torn by "contrary instincts" was blad her deSCription of "the Goddess"-as she p not have-is ironically, cruelly humorous. ridicule for more than a century. It is usu memory as that of a fool. She wrote: The Goddess comes, she moves Olive and laurel binds her golde Wherever shines this native of t Unnumber'd charms and recenl It is obvious that Phillis, the slave, c< morning; prior, perhaps, to bringing in c'·····'M~·,· lunch. She took her imagery from the on others. With the benefit of hindsight we ask, "1 But at last, Phillis, we understand. No struggling, ambivalent lines are forced or not an idiot or a traitor; only a sickly lit home and country and made a slave; a wo song that was your gift, although in a lane your bewildered tongue. It is not so muc alive, in so many of our ancestors, the noti Black women are called, in the folklore th society, "the mule of the world," because that everyone else-everyone else-refuse! "Matriarchs," "Superwomen," and "Mean "Castraters" and "Sapphire's Mama." Whe ing, our character has been distorted; wh( we have been handed empty inspiration farthest corner. When we have asked for In short, even our plainer gifts, our lab< knocked down our throats. To be an arti lowers our status in many respects, rath( will be. Therefore we must fearlessly pull out 0 with our lives the living creativity some a allowed to know. I stress some of them In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ost pathetic, most misunderstood one, can :hers' work: Phillis Wheatley, a slave in the Room of One's Own, wrote that in order for a ;t have two things, certainly: a room of her eJugh money to support herself. f Phillis Wheatley, a slave, who owned not lck girl who required a servant of her own at ious-and who, had she been white, would intellectual superior of all the women and [her day. speaking of course not of our Phillis, that gift in the sixteenth century [insert "eigh­ Iman," insert "born or made a slave"] would t herself, or ended her days in -some lonely fitch, half wizard [insert "Saint"], 'feared and :ill and psychology to be sure that a highly ;e her gift for poetry would have been so try instincts [add "chains, guns, the lash, the eone else, submission to an alien religion"], h and sanity to a certainty." to Phillis, are "contrary instincts." For when eatley-as when we read the novels of Nella lng autobiography of that freest of all black -evidence of "contrary instincts" is every­ etely divided, as was, without question, her rise? Captured at seven, a slave of wealthy, :r the "savagery" of the Africa they "rescued" even able to remember her homeland as she her gift for poetry in a world that made her a :i hindered by ... contrary instincts, that the last years of her brief life, burdened not er gift but also with a penniless, friendless dren for whom she was forced to do stren­ ealth, certainly. Suffering from malnutrition t mental agonies, Phillis Wheatley died. 405 So tom by "contrary instincts" was black, kidnapped, enslaved Phillis that her description of "the Goddess"-as she poetically called the Liberty she did not have-is ironically, cruelly humorous. And, in fact, has held Phillis up to ridicule for more than a century. It is usually read prior to hanging Phillis's memory as that of a fool. She wrote: The Goddess comes, she moves divinely fair, Olive and laurel binds her golden hair. Wherever shines this native of the skies, Unnumber'd charms and recent graces rise. [My italics] It is obvious that Phillis, the slave, combed the "Goddess's" hair every morning; prior, perhaps, to bringing in the milk, or fixing her mistress's lunch. She took her imagery from the one thing she saw elevated above all others. With the benefit of hindsight we ask, "How could she?" But at last, Phillis, we understand. No more snickering when your stiff, struggling, ambivalent lines are forced on us. We know now that you were not an idiot or a traitor; only a sickly little black girl, snatched from your home and country and made a slave; a woman who still struggled to sing the song that was your gift, although in a land of barbarians who praised you for your bewildered tongue. It is not so much what you sang, as that you kept alive, in so many of our ancestors, the notion of song. Black women are called, in the folklore that so aptly identifies one's status in society, "the mule of the world," because we have been handed the burdens that everyone else-everyone else-refused to carry. We have also been called "Matriarchs," "Superwomen, ...
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TeacherBruning
School: Boston College

Attached.

Student’s Name 1
Student’s Name
Lecture’s Name
Course Name
4 November 2016
Elements of an Essay
Voice
“To be an artist and a black woman, even today lowers our status in many respects, rather than
raises it and yet, artists we will be."
Alice Walker uses a determined voice, determined to be an artist and prove to the whole world
how great black women are. Also, this comes amid knowing that being a black woman and at the
same time an artist does not earn one respect in the society.
Style
...

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