Ap lang 101: The Rhetorical Analysis Question

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AP Lang 101: The Rhetorical Analysis Question

Objective: Participants will read a recent rhetorical analysis question, study the scoring guidelines, and examine sample papers from the bottom, middle, and top “families” of scores, color-coding the writer’s use of evidence and explanation to develop his/her position.

Florence Kelley (1859-1932) was a United States social worker and reformer who fought successfully for child labor laws and improved conditions for working women. She delivered the following speech before the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia on July 22, 1905. Read the speech carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Kelley uses to convey her message about child labor to her audience. Support your analysis with specific references to the text.

The Prompt (2011, Question 2)

Deconstructing the Prompt
BIG Question: _____________________________________________________________________?
Little Question: ____________________________________________________________________.
The Passage
We have, in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread. They vary in age from six and seven years (in the cotton mills of Georgia) and eight, nine and ten years (in the coal-breakers of Pennsylvania) to fourteen, fifteen and sixteen years in more enlightened states.

No other portion of the wage earning class increased so rapidly from decade to decade as the young girls from fourteen to twenty years. Men increase, women increase, youth increase, boys increase in the ranks of the breadwinners; but no contingent so doubles from census period to census period (both by percent and by count of heads), as does the contingent of girls between twelve and twenty years of age. They are in commerce, in offices, in manufacturing.

Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all the night through, in the deafening noise of the spindles and the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy.

In Alabama the law provides that a child under sixteen years of age shall not work in a cotton mill at night longer than eight hours, and Alabama does better in this respect than any other Southern state. North and South Carolina and Georgia place no restriction upon the work of children at night; and while we sleep little white girls will be working tonight in the mills in those states, working eleven hours at night.

In Georgia there is no restriction whatever! A girl of six or seven years, just tall enough to reach the bobbins, may work eleven hours by day or by night. And they do so tonight, while we sleep.

Nor is it only in the South that these things occur. Alabama does better than New Jersey. For Alabama limits the children’s work at night to eight hours, while New Jersey permits it all night long. Last year New Jersey took a long backward step. A good law was repealed which had required women and [children] to stop work at six in the evening and at noon on Friday. Now, therefore, in New Jersey, boys and girls, after their fourteenth birthday, enjoy the pitiful privilege of working all night long.

In Pennsylvania, until last May, it was lawful for children, 13 years of age, to work twelve hours at night. A little girl, on her thirteenth birthday, could start away from her home at half past five in the afternoon, carrying her pail of midnight luncheon as happier people carry their midday luncheon, and could work in the mill from six at night until six in the morning, without violating any law of the Commonwealth.

If the mothers and teachers of Georgia could vote, would the Georgia legislature have refused at every session for the last three years to stop the work in the mills of children under twelve years of age?

Would the New Jersey Legislature have passed that shameful repeal bill enabling girls of fourteen years to work all night, if the mothers in New Jersey were enfranchised? Until the mothers in the great industrial states are enfranchised, we shall none of us be able to free our consciences from participation in this great evil. No one in this room tonight can feel free from such participation. The children make our shoes in the shoe factories; they knit our stockings, out knitted underwear in the knitting factories. They spin and weave our cotton underwear in the cotton mills. Children braid straw for our hats, they spin and weave the silk and velvet wherewith we trim our hats. They stamp buckles and metal ornaments of all kinds, as well as pins and hat-pins. Under the sweating system, tiny children make artificial flowers and neckwear for us to buy. They carry bundles of garments from the factories to the tenements, little beasts of burden, robbed of school life that they may work for us.

We do not wish this. We prefer to have our work done by men and women. But we are almost

powerless. Not wholly powerless, however, are citizens who enjoy the right of petition. For myself, I shall use this power in every possible way until the right to the ballot is granted, and then I shall continue to use both.

What can we do to free our consciences? There is one line of action by which we can do much. We can enlist the workingman on behalf of our enfranchisement just in proportion as we strive with them to free the children. No labor organization in this country ever fails to respond to an appeal for help in the freeing of the children.

For the sake of the children, for the Republic in which these children will vote after we are dead, and for the sake of our cause, we should enlist the workingmen voters, with us, in this task of freeing the children from toil!

©2011 The College Board

Answering the BIG and Little Questions

Kelley’s message about child labor


“To call to her audience’s* attention the horrible conditions” of ________________________

“To work for reform of ____________________ laws”

“To call for the extension of ________________


“To enlist the support of _______________________ who could _____________ in the child-labor law reform movement”

*Identify her audience to the 5th slash: members of the National Woman Suffrage Association/

Studying the Scoring Guidelines
General Directions: This scoring guide will be useful for most of the papers you read. If it seems inappropriate for a specific paper, ask your Table Leader for assistance. Always show your Table Leader books that seem to have no response or that contain responses that seem unrelated to the question. Do not assign a score of 0 or – without this consultation.

Your score should reflect your judgment of the paper’s quality as a whole. Remember that students had only 40 minutes to read and write; the paper, therefore, is not a finished product and should not be judged by standards appropriate for an out-of-class assignment. Evaluate the paper as a draft, making certain to reward students for what they do well

All papers, even those scored 8 or 9, may contain occasional lapses in analysis, prose style, or mechanics. Such features should enter into your holistic evaluation of a paper’s overall quality. In no case should you score a paper with many distracting errors in grammar and mechanics higher than a 2.

Scoring Guidelines (Italicizing and underlining are mine.)
9 Papers earning a score of 9 meet the criteria for 8 papers and, in addition, are especially sophisticated in their argument, thorough in their development, or impressive in their control of language.
8 Effective

Papers earning a score of 8 effectively analyze* how Kelley uses rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. They develop their analysis with evidence and explanations that are appropriate and convincing, referring to the passage explicitly or implicitly. The prose demonstrates a consistent ability to control a wide range of the elements of effective writing but is not necessarily flawless.

7 Papers earning a score of 7 fit the description of 6 papers but provide more complete explanation, more thorough development, or a more mature prose style.
6 Adequate

Papers earning a score of 6 adequately analyze how Kelley uses rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. They develop their analysis with evidence and explanations that are appropriate and sufficient, referring to the passage explicitly or implicitly. The writing may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the prose is clear.

5 Papers earning a score of 5 analyze how Kelley uses rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. The evidence or explanations used may be uneven, inconsistent, or limited. The writing may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but it usually conveys the writer’s ideas.
4 Inadequate

Papers earning a score of 4 inadequately analyze how Kelley uses rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. These papers may misunderstand the prompt, misrepresent the strategies Kelley uses, or may analyze those strategies inadequately. The evidence or explanations used may be inappropriate, insufficient, or less convincing. The prose generally conveys the writer’s ideas, but may be less consistent in controlling the elements of effective writing.

3 Papers earning a score of 3 meet the criteria for a score of 4 but demonstrate less success in analyzing Kelley’s use of rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. They are less perceptive in their understanding of the passage or Kelley’s strategies, or the explanation or examples may be particularly limited or simplistic. The papers may show less maturity in control of writing.
2 Little Success

Papers earning a score of 2 demonstrate little success in analyzing Kelley’s use of rhetorical strategies to convey her message about child labor to her audience. These papers may misunderstand the prompt, misread the passage, fail to analyze the strategies Kelley uses, or substitute a simpler task by responding to the prompt tangentially with unrelated, inaccurate, or inappropriate explanation. The prose often demonstrates consistent weaknesses in writing, such as grammatical problems, a lack of development or organization, or a lack of control.

1 Papers earning a score of 1 meet the criteria for a score of 2 but are undeveloped, especially simplistic in their explanation or weak in their control of language.
0 Indicates an on-topic response that receives no credit, such as one that merely repeats the prompt.
Indicates a blank response or one that is completely off topic.
*For purposes of scoring, analysis refers to identifying features of a text and explaining how the author uses these to develop the meaning or to achieve a particular effect or purpose.

Examining Sample Papers

Looking for Evidence and Explanation (The Quotation Sandwich)




College Board Student Performance Q & A (available on APCentral)

“Every analysis is actually an argument” in which students “must make claims about the text’s central argument, its purpose, its appeals, and its tone, and then they must cite specific evidence from the text to support those claims.”

Lower Half Papers:

  • Some were limited to “a narrow focus on her anger at child labor practices.” They “asserted or described what Kelley said or did rather than analyzing how her strategies worked to further her purposes.”

  • Some students argued rather than analyzed, “taking positions on child labor themselves.”

  • Some “engaged in naming and listing rhetorical devices . . . without addressing the “so what” question.” (My bolding)

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