Cause and Effect and Comparison/Contrast What is Cause and Effect? Process describes how something happens, cause and effect analyzes why something happen. Cause-and-effect essays examine causes, describe effects, or do both. Cause and effect, like narration, links situations and events together in time, with causes preceding effects, but causality involves more than sequence: cause-and-effect analysis explains why something happened—or is happening—and predicts what probably will happen.
What is Comparison and Contrast? In the narrowest sense, comparison shows how two or more things are similar, and contrast shows how they are different.
Choose WHICH of these two rhetorical patterns interests you most. Then, choose one of the following essays to read and react to regarding your chosen pattern.
IF YOU CHOOSE CAUSE-AND-EFFECT, READ AND ANSWER THE STYLE AND STRUCTURE QUESTIONS FOR ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ESSAYS (in the Patterns for College Writing text).
“Television: The Plug-In Drug” by Marie Winn (325)
“Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls” by Katha Pollitt (335)
“A Peaceful Woman Explains Why She Carries a Gun” by Linda M. Hasselstrom (345)
“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell (351)
IF YOU CHOOSE COMPARISON AND CONTRAST, READ AND ANSWER THE STYLE AND STRUCTURE QUESTIONS FOR ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ESSAYS (in the Patterns for College Writing text).
“Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts” by Bruce Catton (386)
“Two Ways to Belong in America” (397)
“Sex, Lies, and Conversation” by Deborah Tannen (407)
“Walt and Ray: Your Trusted Friends” by Eric Schlosser (414)
Choose WHICH of these two patterns you’re going to use in your next essay. You’ll receive an outline for your chosen pattern on Monday. Please indicate your name and choice below. NAME: ESSAY PATTERN:
How do you account for the popularity of one of the following: blogs, hip-hop, video games, home schooling, reality TV, fast food, or sensationalist tabloids like the Star? Write an essay considering remote as well as immediate causes for the success of the phenomenon you choose.
Almost half of American marriages now end in divorce. To what do you attribute this high divorce rate? Be as specific as possible, citing “case studies” of families with which you are familiar.
What do you see as the major cause of any one of these problems: acquaintance rape, binge drinking among college students, voter apathy, school shootings, or academic cheating? Based on your identification of its causes, formulate some specific solutions for the problem you select.
Comparison-and-Contrast Writing Options
Find a description of the same news event in two different magazines or newspapers. Write a comparison-and-contrast essay discussing the similarities and differences between the two versions of the same story/event.
Write an essay about a relative or friend you have known since you were a child. Consider how your opinion of this person is different now from what it was then.
Write an essay comparing your own early memories of school with those of a parent or an older relative.
Write an essay comparing any two groups that have divergent values—vegetarians and meat eaters or smoker and non-smokers, for example.
How is being a participant—playing a sport or acting in a play, for instance—different from being a spectator? Write a comparison-and-contrast essay in which you answer this question.