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Writing The Red Scarf Girl
Essay
Thesis
First, let’s develop a thesis statement together.
 The thesis is the most important sentence; it’s
like the topic sentence for your whole paper.
 The thesis statement should be an answer to the
question that the paper asks you to address.
 In our case, how does the Cultural Revolution
compel Ji-li to come of age?
 Discuss with a partner an answer to this
question before we discuss as a whole class.

Thesis
Here’s the thesis we came up with:
The Cultural Revolution compels Ji-li to come
of age because as she grows, she realizes that the
Revolution is not as beneficial as she first
thought and that her family is most important.
Structuring Body
Paragraphs
Body paragraphs support your thesis statement.
 Start body paragraphs with a topic sentence, so
the reader knows what it will be about.


Example: At the beginning of the novel, Ji-li feels
excited about the Cultural Revolution.
Then include text evidence to support your topic
sentence.
 Let’s look at some example quotes that may or
may not support the example topic sentence.

Text Evidence

Which of the following quotes from the beginning
of the novel best supports our topic sentence?
1.
2.
3.
4.

“They hoped that I would be the happiest girl in the
world. And I was” (Jiang 1).
“‘But Grandma, we have to get rid of these old ideas, old
culture, old customs, and old habits. Chairman Mao says
they’re holding us back’” (Jiang 25).
“‘I could be in the Liberation Army’” (Jiang 7).
“‘the fact is that our family will not be able to pass the
investigations’” (Jiang 9).
All of these quotes were lifted from last year’s papers.
Structuring Body
Paragraphs
Now that we have the topic sentence and text
evidence, we just need a conclusion sentence.
 The conclusion sentence should explain how the
text evidence supports the topic sentence.
 Discuss a good conclusion sentence for:

At the beginning of the novel, Ji-li feels excited about the
Cultural Revolution. She is so devoted that she tells her
grandmother, “‘But Grandma, we have to get rid of these old
ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. Chairman Mao
says they’re holding us back’” (Jiang 25).
First Body Paragraph
Transition: At the beginning of the novel,
 Topic sentence: Ji-li feels excited about the Cultural

Revolution.

Example: She is so devoted that she tells her grandmother,
“‘But Grandma, we have to get rid of these old ideas, old
culture, old customs, and old habits. Chairman Mao says
they’re holding us back’” (Jiang 25).

Conclusion sentence: Ji-li is proud to support Chairman
Mao’s initiative to “Destroy the Four Olds.”
Finishing the graphic
organizer


You now have:

Thesis statement

Transition into first body paragraph

Topic sentence for first body paragraph

Text evidence for first body paragraph

Conclusion sentence for first body paragraph
All you need to do is write a hook and the purpose and
background info. for the introduction paragraph, follow
the steps we did for structuring body paragraphs 2 and 3,
and wrap up your thoughts in the conclusion paragraph
(restate thesis, summarize body paragraphs, explain how
Ji-li comes of age, and return to the hook).
Tips to Avoid Common
Mistakes
The whole paper must be in third-person, except for
quotes, the hook, and the return to the hook.
 Transition from the hook to the purpose of the
essay. (The whole paper should flow.)
 Introduce quotes (don’t start sentences with
quotation marks)—see the first body par. example.
 Use the Stylebook! It’s a great resource.
 Avoid sentences that start with “This shows that…”
or “This is how I know…”—just tell me what it
shows or what you know.


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