Writing Body Paragraphs

Contributor: Emily Love. Lesson ID: 10832

Would you buy a table with no legs, no matter how pretty it looks? Without support, it is useless. So is a strong thesis without evidence! Lilo and Stitch and P.I.E. teach how to write the essay body!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Watch the "Official Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial 'Farmer' ":

How do the advertisers try to get people to buy their trucks?

Do you get any information about the actual trucks?

The advertisers created a highly persuasive commercial by appealing to the desire many people have to be seen as hard-working and resilient.

The commercial praises the good qualities of farmers and then ends with the line, "To the farmer in all of us."

While these techniques may sway people to purchase these trucks, the advertisers do not offer any specific evidence to support the purchase.

When you are writing a literary analysis, you have to move beyond persuasive techniques and appeals to emotions -- you have to create a strong argument supported by evidence. You do this in your body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs are the most important components of your literary analysis. After you've hooked your readers and introduced your thesis statement, you have to prove your thesis statement.

(If you missed the Related Lesson on essay introductions, head over to the right-hand sidebar.)

Your body paragraphs require three important elements: assertions, evidence, and commentary. Consider these student examples from a literary analysis of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities:

Assertion The point of the paragraph presented in an argumentative statement derived from your thesis statement:

  • Bad example: Dickens uses light and dark symbolism throughout the novel. [statement of fact]
  • Good example: At the beginning of the book, Dickens paints the revolution in a positive way by using light symbolism, but as the book goes on, the symbols for the revolution become gradually darker. [argumentative statement]

Evidence Quotations taken directly from the piece of literature that prove your assertion; incorporate them into sentences in a smooth way:

  • Bad example: The revolution turns into a quest for revenge. "Saint Antoine had been, that morning, a vast dusky mass of scarecrows heaving to and fro, with frequent gleams of light above the billowy heads, where steel blades and bayonets shone in the sun" (251).
  • Good example: Later, when the revolution turns from a quest for justice into a slaughter for the sake of revenge, the morning of the storming of the Bastille is described as a vast, dusky mass of scarecrows heaving to and fro (251).

Commentary Your own words and ideas that explain how your evidence proves your assertion; for example, you can address the author's word choice, a character's action or lack of action, a literary device, or the development of a theme:

  • Good Example: The contrast in light symbolism is shown through the use of a morning setting, where light is usually intensifying, with darker descriptors, including the use of the word mass, which suggests a negative connotation for the sheer number of people with a violent mob mentality who will be the cause of much destruction to come. In addition, the fact that the scarecrows are described as heaving gives the scene an ominous, darker tone, as the word is usually associated with a force that comes with violence and darkness, thereby hinting at the darkening of the revolutionary spirit.

In order to simplify the components of a body paragraph, all you have to do is remember P.I.E., an organization method created by Karin Spirn of Las Positas College:

pie

  • P stands for point. The beginning of your paragraph should explain the point of the entire paragraph, or your assertion.
  • I stands for information. The middle of the paragraph includes the necessary information, or the evidence and commentary, to prove that your point (assertion) is true. This is the pie's filling, so it should take up the most room in your body paragraph!
  • E stands for explanation. At the end of the paragraph, you need to make sure you have explained clearly that your main point is true. You also need to explain how this one paragraph fits in with the rest of your paper. You always want to end your body paragraph in your own words and with your own ideas.

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