Engl 1023: Writing a Response Essay Length: at least 3 pages Topic



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ENGL 1023:Writing a Response Essay
Length: at least 3 pages
Topic: Choose a short story, poem, or play from the “Family and Friends” chapter beginning on page 200 that has characters or events that remind you of ones from your own life. Compare and contrast the elements of this work with your own experiences to show what made the work compelling for you. Be sure to use details and passages from the work to illustrate your response.
Defining the response essay

The response essay uses comparison and contrast to help the writer access and appreciate a work of literature by relating it to a personal experience. While personal anecdote will be an integral part of the essay, the paper should also focus on particular elements of the literature. In other words, the essay will not only explain how the writer’s experience is similar to one found in the chosen literary work, but also why the experience is similar. The writer should explore which particular elements of the work conjure the writer’s response and build the essay around those connections.


General guidelines for writing the response essay (suggestions, not a formula)

  • Carefully read and annotate the literary work. Identify points of comparison and contrast.

  • Choose a method of organization from the table below:




By Subject

  1. Introduction

  2. My Uncle Jimmy

    1. Working man-ran a gas station

    2. Handshaking ritual

    3. Rough treatment

  3. My Papa’s Waltz

    1. Blue collar worker-dirt-caked palm

    2. Dancing ritual-rhythm of poem

    3. Rough treatment

  4. Conclusion

Point by Point

  1. Introduction

  2. Working man-blue collar worker

    1. Uncle Jimmy

    2. My Papa’s Waltz-images

  3. Ritual

    1. Handshaking

    2. Dancing-rhythm of poem

  4. Roughhousing

    1. Uncle Jimmy

    2. My Papa’s Waltz-diction

  5. Conclusion




  • Write the first draft of your response by stating your thesis and then using direct quotations and paraphrases from the source to support your thesis.

  • Use MLA style to include parenthetical citations after all summarized, paraphrased, and quoted material within your essay. See page 471 in LB Brief for examples.

  • Include a “works Cited” page using MLA style. Also see the model essay on page 479 in LB Brief for an example.

  • Revise your explanatory synthesis essay. Check for style. Avoid a series of short, choppy sentences. Combine sentences for a smooth, logical flow of ideas. Finally, check for grammatical correctness, punctuation, and spelling.


Paper requirements

The essay must be typed, double-spaced on one side of 8.5 x 11 inch white paper. Use a 12 point font and standard margins. Your name should be typed at the top of the page along with my name, ENGL 1013, and the time the class meets. Double space from this heading and center your title (required), and then double-space and begin the essay. Pages should be numbered. Essays not following these guidelines will not be accepted.


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