Descriptive Analysis

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Descriptive Analyses of the Essays and Short Stories

Narration and Description

Although the narrative and descriptive essays are often given as separate assignments in composition courses, they are combined in this first section so that teachers can present expressive writing and still reserve time for the many forms of informative and argumentative writing. This choice is tricky because it confirms the folk wisdom about expressive writing and rhetorical difficulty. According to custom, students can write narratives first because they are already familiar with storytelling and can organize a personal experience according to simple chronology. Similarly, students can write descriptive essays early because they can use their
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The writing assignments that conclude this section ask students to experiment with these strategies in their own essays. As students plan their first drafts, you should encourage them to see the relationship between two lines of action: (1) the events as they happened in real time and space, and (2) the events as they might be arranged and presented in an expressive way. Ask them to consider how certain events in their essays will have to be telescoped or expanded to dramatize the narrator’s conflict or point of view. Once they have plotted the story line, they will be ready to write. Each writing assignment sends students back to one of the essays for advice, evidence, and stimulation. For example, assignment 2 suggests that students explore a personal experience in which they had to perform an unpleasant deed (Orwell), assignment 3 asks students to chronicle their own experiences with storytelling (Goodwin), assignment 4 asks students to parallel surrounding and familial cultural events (Cofer), and assignment 6 invites students to offer their own proof of the adage “seeing is believing” (Angelou, Dubus, Adams).
MAYA ANGELOU “My Name Is Margaret”
The purpose of Maya Angelou’s autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings—to promote understanding between people of all races—is evident in the excerpted episode “My Name Is
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