Avoid the 5-Paragraph Essay

Report
So that angels may get their wings,
puppies can stop getting kicked, and
you may become a more moral and
upstanding individual.
Let’s Write One
Now!
Review
THE FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSAY
• Is not about the number of paragraphs
• You can have a 12 paragraph, five paragraph essay
• The main problem is NOT that it’s just 3 points about a
subject
• Though that’s part of the problem
• The main problem is not that the intro merely says what
you’re going to say and the conclusion repeats it all in the
most boring way possible
• Though that’s part of the problem
The 5PE is:
• Any essay where the order of the points seems
completely arbitrary
• Any essay where mixing up the order of the paragraphs
would have no real effect on the essay as a whole
• Any essay where a point is made and never referenced
again (either for reminding the reader or further
broadening/examination)
• Any essay where the connection between points is nonexistent or not pointed out to the reader
• Any essay that stops an angel from getting its wings,
causes a puppy to get kicked, or makes you a bad
person for writing one
Review
We already discussed one method to prevent this. Adapt your
transitions into hybrid transition/topic sentences
1. Quickly recap the point of previous paragraph(s)
2. Preview where the next paragraph(s) are going
3. Highlight the connection between the two ideas (why are you
discussing them in this order?)
Number 3 is key. If you haven’t thought about a connection then it’s
impossible to write this transaction. That should be your clue.
But How Do We Organize Our Points?
• Cause and Effect
• Comparison and Contrast
• Better and Worse
• If . . . Then
• Either . . . Or
• Chronologically
• Problem/Needs/Solutions
• Theory/Practice/Example
These could possibly be used as
a master organizational pattern
for a whole essay, or will most
certainly be used as
organizational mixed-andmatched patterns within the
bodies of your paragraphs.
Example
Let’s make an example.
Let’s purposefully make it an essay of 5
paragraphs but not a five paragraph essay.
This paper would also be aptly handled in 4
pages (like your first assignment)
Example
My Thesis:
In only two concise pages, the opening chapter of
White Noise (and the reader’s introduction to Jack
Gladney) provides a number of hints at the major
themes that will encompass the entire novel.
Though a reader may not know this upon a first
read, a subsequent read shows that, from the
beginning, the novel has packed large quantities
of meaning into seemingly trivial details.
My Points Chronologically
• The link between consumerism and identity (Jack’s
observations about the students arriving on campus)
• Technological progress infringing upon nature (Jack’s
discussion of how the wooded area behind their house
is now a freeway)
• The emphasis on death (Jack’s seemingly random
mention of the college’s Chancellor’s death on a ski lift).
My Points (after some thought about
how they might connect)
• The emphasis on death (Jack’s seemingly
random mention of the college’s Chancellor’s
death on a ski lift).
• The link between consumerism and identity
(Jack’s observations about the students arriving
on campus)
• Technological progress infringing upon nature
(Jack’s discussion of how the wooded area
behind their house is now a freeway)
Emphasis on Death
• Good start, because it’s the central theme of the novel
• It’s the most random sentence in the first two pages (a
pattern that will continue)
• Jack mentions the death very matter of factly with no
emotion or commentary. This is something he does
when he’s not concerned with his own death.
• Hitler studies is mentioned on page 2, but no mention
of Hitler as a killer (highlights theme of death as a
professional matter versus the “real” scary thing)
Consumerism and Identity
• Long list of student possessions that takes up most of page one
• Jack can relate because he has possessions that make up his identity and
his family’s (robe, watch, green visor, camouflage outfit)
• This scene previews a major scene in the novel where Jack’s identity is
under threat and he rushes to the mall to shop compulsively and regain
his strength/identity
But why discuss this now? How does it connect to previous paragraph?
• To consume is to assert your life; to have possessions is to have the
weight of existence (allows reference back to death)
• Malls are full of crowds, crowds ward of death (allows me to discuss those
students as a crowd and relate the implications back to death discussion
of previous paragraph
Technological Progress Infringes Upon
the Natural
• Jack mentions that the woods were cleared behind his house for a
freeway (note how little time is spent in malls, cars, schools versus
nature. And when in nature in the novel- nature is under threat- ATE)
• This is the college on the hill (with connotations of nature) but is being
assaulted by station wagons and brand name products
• Mention any number of places in novel that show this (nobody trusts
natural senses, media messages rule, plenty of mechanical/electrical
noises in novel- no nature noises.
But why discuss this now? How does it connect to previous paragraphs?
• Consumer technology is linked to identity too (the ATM machine)
• ATE is about death, it’s technologically made, and exposure to it converts
Jack’s identity into nothing more than “the sum of his data.”
• The waves and radiation are “the dead’s way of speaking to the living.”
(connects to death point, and groups of consumers)
My Conclusion Synthesis
Will do ANYTHING more interesting than just
summing up what the reader just read about.
Likely, I would want my final paragraph to make a
final point about what it means that the first two
pages are so short but still manage to telegraph
so much of what is coming. In other words, I make
a final point about DeLillo’s style- not just rattle
off the 3 points I just made.
Transition #1
Since death sits at the center of all themes
in the novel, it’s not surprising that a human
death would be mentioned merely two
pages into the novel.
Transition #2
Although a fear of death permeates the novel and
many of its characters’ thoughts and
conversations, DeLillo uses another theme to
suggest that there is a way to temporarily keep
these anxieties at bay. The process of
consumption (in all its forms) shores up a person’s
identity in an effort to be larger than the death
they fear.
Transition #3
If consumerism rewards (and fails) the characters
in a number of ways related to their very
identities, the theme of technology trumping
nature further illustrates this duality by showing
how the late 20th century identity is tied into
capitalistic machines that both enhance our lives
and connect us with the deceased.

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