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Writing Workshop: Comparing Texts

In a subject-by-subject comparative essay, each body paragraph must

present a separate viewpoint of the topic.

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support the thesis statement.

rely on few supportive details.

depend on opinion rather than fact.

support the thesis statement.
Read the paragraph from a student’s literary essay comparing two different works.

(1) Sandra Cisneros’s “Mericans” is about a young American girl of Mexican descent who is struggling to find her own cultural identity. (2) Cisneros illustrates this through a number of images and ideas. (3) For example, the speaker, Micaela, calls her grandmother “awful,” and seems to resent the woman’s strict views and religious ideals. (4) The speaker also mentions how she and her brother emulate characters from popular American television programs when they play make-believe. (5) Lastly, she describes physically standing outside her family’s church, an act that symbolizes the fact that she feels like an outsider to Mexican culture. (6) Although Micaela is of Mexican descent, she seems to feel a stronger connection to the United States.

This paragraph supports the idea that Micaela

wishes her heritage was different because she has difficulty relating to her grandmother.

wants to find her own unique identity that is separate from her brother and her grandmother.

will never accept her Mexican roots because of her feelings toward her grandmother.

identifies with her Mexican heritage in a different way than her grandmother.

***NOT***
wants to find her own unique identity that is separate from her brother and her grandmother.
Read the excerpt from “In Response to Executive Order 9066.”

I’ve packed my galoshes
and three packets of tomato seeds. Denise calls them
love apples. My father says where we’re going
they won’t grow.

Read the excerpt from “Mericans.”

She’s so busy taking Junior’s picture, she doesn’t notice me and Keeks.
“Hey, Michele, Keeks. You guys want gum?”
“But you speak English!”
“Yeah,” my brother says, “we’re Mericans.”

Which of the statements best describes both excerpts?

Okita uses the tomato, a food native to the Americas, to highlight the speaker’s American identity, while Cisneros uses the English language to give her characters an American identity.

The writers use bleak imagery to convey the sense of isolation they feel from their respective cultures.

The speaker of Okita’s poem feels a sense of loss at the prospect of being moved from her home, while the speaker of Cisneros’s short story longs to leave her current location and return to America.

The American identity of both speakers is highly questionable, as they frequently refer to their foreign identities.

***NOT***
The writers use bleak imagery to convey the sense of isolation they feel from their respective cultures.
Read the paragraph from a student’s literary essay comparing two different works.

(1) Sandra Cisneros’s “Mericans” is about a young American girl of Mexican descent who is struggling to find her own cultural identity. (2) Cisneros illustrates this through a number of images and ideas. (3) For example, the speaker, Micaela, calls her grandmother “awful,” and seems to resent the woman’s strict views and religious ideals. (4) The speaker also mentions how she and her brother emulate characters from popular American television programs when they play make-believe. (5) Lastly, she describes physically standing outside her family’s church, an act that symbolizes the fact that she feels like an outsider to Mexican culture. (6) Although Micaela is of Mexican descent, she seems to feel a stronger connection to the United States.

Which best describes this paragraph?

the introduction to the essay

a body paragraph of the essay

the thesis of the essay

the conclusion of the essay

a body paragraph of the essay
Read the paragraph from a student’s essay comparing Sandra Cisneros’s “Mericans” and Dwight Okita’s “In Response to Executive Order 9066.”

(1) Sandra Cisneros’s “Mericans” is about a young American girl of Mexican descent who is struggling to find her own cultural identity. (2) Cisneros illustrates this through a number of images and ideas. (3) For example, the speaker, Micaela, calls her grandmother “awful,” and seems to resent the woman’s strict views and religious ideals. (4) The speaker also mentions how she and her brother emulate characters from popular American television programs when they play make-believe. (5) Lastly, she describes physically standing outside her family’s church, an act that symbolizes the fact that she feels like an outsider to Mexican culture. (6) Although Micaela is of Mexican descent, she seems to feel a stronger connection to the United States.

Which is the best thesis statement for the entire essay?

While the speaker of Okita’s poem feels strongly about her identity as an American citizen, the speaker of Cisneros’s short story identifies more closely with her Mexican family.

Though the speakers in Okita’s poem and Cisneros’s short story have strong roots in foreign cultures, both of them feel more connected to their American identities.

The family members in Cisneros’s and Okita’s works play a significant role in the lives of both narrators as they contemplate their place in hostile environments.

Cisneros and Okita rely on imagery to convey their ideas about American identity.

Though the speakers in Okita’s poem and Cisneros’s short story have strong roots in foreign cultures, both of them feel more connected to their American identities.
When writing a compare-and-contrast essay about a common theme, the writer must

avoid explaining how both works develop the theme.

compare and contrast how the themes are developed.

be sure to use transitions and avoid literary devices.

explain why the author chose a particular theme.

compare and contrast how the themes are developed.
Read the sentence.

In the story “Mericans,” Micaela thinks her grandmother is awful.

Which is the best revision of this sentence using academic vocabulary?

Micaela’s grandmother mistreats her, and Micaela does not like her.

Micaela does not like her grandmother because the old woman mistreats her.

The main character of “Mericans” does not like her awful old grandmother at all.

The protagonist of “Mericans,” Micaela, expresses that her grandmother is awful.

The protagonist of “Mericans,” Micaela, expresses that her grandmother is awful.
The poem “In Response to Executive Order 9066” and the short story “Mericans” share the theme of

being relocated against one’s will.

accepting religious influence.

finding an American identity.

moving toward the unknown.

finding an American identity.
Read the sentence.

The speaker of Okita’s poem likes to eat American things like hot dogs.

Which is the best revision of this sentence using academic vocabulary?
The speaker of the poem prefers Japanese food to American food.
The narrator of the poem likes hot dogs, which are considered a typical American food.
The poem’s narrator likes to eat junk food and hot dogs, just like most kids.
The speaker of the poem likes to eat American foods, not Japanese foods.

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