Step #2: Notes/Organizing Your Evaluating an Extended Argument Essay Outline
Instructions: Complete each portion of the outline in complete paragraphs of at least 150 words
or more. Please use complete sentences and reference page numbers/and/or paragraphs numbers
in each response, so I can reference your notes.
Your thesis statement: Identify whether you believe the essay you are critiquing is effective or
ineffective (or both) and offer some main reasons why you believe this.
Body of the Essay Section One
The thesis of the argument/essay you are evaluating.
Body of the Essay Section Two
Who is the intended audience? Who is the ideal audience? What does the writer hope the
audience will do?
Body of the Essay Section Three
* What common values/concerns does the author include would be shared with the ideal
audience (common ground)?
* Identify and trace the author’s tone about the events and people in the essay. Show the shifting
of tone by identifying each.
Body of the Essay Section Four
* Discuss the author’s use of pathos, emotional appeals and ethos, appeals to authority
(credibility). Be sure to comment on his/her word choices.
* Does the writer use euphemisms? What is their intended affect on the essay’s readers?
* Evaluate the writer’s logic. Do you notice any logical fallacies in the arguments?
Thinking and Reading Critically
young man buys two guns and then kills 32 students and himself in his expression of his “right to bear arms.” When will we ever learn?
The following letter to the editor of a college newspaper takes a position
on the issue of how violent media—in this case, video games—influence
young people. Read the letter, highlighting and annotating it.
Now, consider how this letter is similar to and different from Gerard
Jones’s essay (pp. 58–61). First, identify the writer’s thesis, and restate it in
your own words. Then, consider the benefits of the violent video games
the writer identifies. Are these benefits the same as those Jones identifies?
In paragraph 4, the writer summarizes arguments against her position.
Does Jones address any of these same arguments? If so, does he refute
them in the same way this writer does? Finally, read the letter’s last
paragraph. How is this writer’s purpose for writing different from Jones’s?
This letter to the editor was published on October 22, 2003, in Ka Leo o
Hawai‘i, the student newspaper of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Entertainment and technology have changed. Video games today are more graphic
and violent than they were a few years ago. There is a concern about children
being influenced by the content of some of these video games. Some states have
already passed laws which ban minors from the viewing or purchasing of these
video games without an accompanying adult. I believe this law should not exist.
Today’s technology has truly enriched our entertainment experience.
Today’s computer and game consoles are able to simulate shooting, killing,
mutilation, and blood through video games. It was such a problem that in
1993 Congress passed a law prohibiting the sale or rental of adult video games
to minors. A rating system on games, similar to that placed on movies, was put
into place, which I support. This helps to identify the level of violence that a
game might have. However, I do not believe that this rating should restrict
people of any age from purchasing a game.
Currently there is no significant evidence that supports the argument that
violent video games are a major contributing factor in criminal and violent
behavior. Recognized universities such as MIT and UCLA described the law as
misguided, citing that “most studies and experiments on video games containing violent content have not found adverse effects.” In addition, there actually
Reading and Responding to Arguments
are benefits from playing video games.
“There actually are
They provide a safe outlet for aggression
benefits from playing
and frustration, increased attention performance, along with spatial and coordivideo games.”
Some argue that there is research that shows real-life video game play is related
to antisocial behavior and delinquency, and that there is need for a law to prevent
children from acting out these violent behaviors. This may be true, but researchers
have failed to indicate that this antisocial and aggressive behavior is mostly shortterm. We should give children the benefit of the doubt. Today’s average child is
competent and intelligent enough to recognize the difference between the digital
representation of a gun and a real 28-inch military bazooka rocket launcher. They
are also aware of the consequences of using such weapons on real civilians.
Major software companies who create video games should write Congress
and protest this law on the basis of a nonexistent correlation between violence
and video games. If the law is modified to not restrict these games to a particular age group, then these products will not be unfairly singled out.
Writing a Critical Response
Sometimes you will be asked to write a critical response—a paragraph or
more in which you analyze ideas presented in an argument and express
your reactions to them.
Before you can respond in writing to an argument, you need to be sure
that you understand what the writer means to get across and that you have
a sense of how ideas are arranged—and why. You also need to consider how
convincingly the writer conveys his or her position.
If you have read the argument carefully, highlighting and annotating it
according to the guidelines outlined in this chapter, you should have a
good idea what the writer wants to communicate to readers as well as how
successfully the argument makes its point.
Before you begin to write a critical response to an argument, you
should consider the questions in the checklist on the facing page.
When you write your critical response, begin by identifying your
source and its author; then, write a clear, concise summary of the writer’s
position. Next, analyze the argument’s supporting points one by one,
considering the strength of the evidence that is presented. Also consider
whether the writer addresses all significant opposing arguments and
whether those arguments are refuted convincingly. Quote, summarize, and
paraphrase the writer’s key points as you go along, being careful to quote
accurately and not to misrepresent the writer’s ideas or distort them by
quoting out of context. (For information on summarizing, paraphrasing,
quoting, and synthesizing sources, see Chapter 9.) As you write, identify
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