• April 19th, 2016

English 101

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements


Objective:   The final essay is designed to allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of the writing techniques we’ve studied this semester and your skill at using them.


Instructions:  Write a well-organized, detailed essay exam answer to ONE of the following five questions. The length should be approximately 500 to 600 words.

The following are guidelines for essay exam answers: 

  1. Read the questions carefully.   Notice that the questions do notask you to  summarize the essays, but to discuss them.   Similarly,  if you are asked to discuss an essay, do not write instead about the author’s life or character.
  2. Think out your answer before writing.  Shape it into a real essay with an introduction and conclusion.
  3. Support what you say with specific examples from the readings.  For instance, if you say that King uses  metaphors, give some examples of these.
  4. Do not pad your answer, but answer all parts of the question you choose.
  5. Write roughly500 – 600 words.   Please do not exceed this limit without permission.
  6. Proofread your answer.   When you mention a detail from an essay, check it by looking back at your textbook.

                                         EXAM QUESTIONS

  1.   King uses various figures of speech (metaphors, similes, and irony) in Letter fromBirmingham Jail.  Select a few of these and explain what they contribute to his message.  Discuss at least one or two that bear directly on his letter’s main purpose, which is to persuade the white moderates and the white church to support the blacks.

Hint:   Irony, when it’s a figure of speech, is rather like sarcasm.  It involves saying something that is more or less the opposite of what you really mean.

2.    In his essay “Politics and the English Language” Orwell says that people can use abstract language to defend the indefensible.   In other words, someone might write in generalities about some immoral action and seem to make a good case for it.  Orwell believed instead in using concrete details since we then might more easily see that a commonly accepted custom or idea is wrong.    Discuss at least two essays showing how their details reveal the need for a change in society’s behavior.   

3.  Which of the essays we read this semester taught you the most about writing? Offer examples from three essays that we read for this course, including at least one from the second half of the semester.   You may consider both the author’s techniques and the originality, intellectual courage, and depth of the author’s thinking.

  1. E. B. White’s powers of observation are extraordinarily sharp.  How do White’s details, imagery, and figures of speech increase the power of his essay?

    5.   Mills and Gore are both environmentalists, and both want us to act in ways that will keep our planet inhabitable, but they approach their subject very differently. Compare and contrast the techniques, the strengths and the weaknesses of Mills’ essay with those of Gore’s.   Did you find one essay more convincing than the other?  Why or why not?  (There’s no right answer, and it’s OK to proclaim a tie.)

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