Detailed Paragraph – Structure and Description

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					                        Body Paragraph – Structure and Description
                            (for Response to Literature Essays)

A response to literature paragraph contains plenty of detail and support from the text to prove the topic
sentence. The outline below shows the different types of sentences to be used and their typical structure:


Topic Sentence – the major point of the paragraph; should be arguable and provable; should be
about the piece of literature.

       Lead-in – introduces the concrete detail and provides context so that it makes sense.
       Concrete Detail 1 – provides specific evidence from the text to prove your point
             Commentary 1– comments on and explains the importance of the concrete detail
             (explains why you chose the quote/example you’re using and how it is important to
             the essay)
             Commentary 2 – additional comments and analysis explaining the concrete detail

       Lead-in – introduces the concrete detail and provides context so that it makes sense.
       Concrete Detail 2 – provides specific evidence from the text to prove your point
             Commentary 1 – comments on and explains the importance of the concrete detail
             (explains why you chose the quote/example you’re using and how it is important to
             the essay)
             Commentary 2 – additional comments and analysis explaining the concrete detail

Concluding Sentence – wraps up the paragraph and reinforces the topic sentence.



DEFINITIONS:
Topic Sentence (TS) – This is the main idea of the paragraph, which the rest of the paragraph will be
spent developing or proving. This sentence serves as an umbrella under which all other sentences must
fall. Phrasing should be clear and straightforward. Avoid using redundant and wordy phrases (“I think
that,” “I believe”) and be sure to make a statement is arguable and provable. The topic sentence should
be about the piece of literature.

Concrete Detail (CD) – These sentences are specific details that form the backbone or core of your
body paragraphs. Here you include quotations for the text, facts, specifics, examples, descriptions,
illustrations, support, proof, evidence, or plot references/paraphrase.
Commentary Sentences (CM) – These sentences clarify or expand on the idea just given in the
concrete detail. By stating an opinion or comment, these sentences help to further explain the point that
has just been made by offering analysis, interpretation, evaluation, or personal response. Commentary
sentences demonstrate the writer‟s ability to “read between the lines.” Because they are all your
thinking, commentary sentences show your understanding of the piece of literature. More than one
commentary sentence is necessary.

Conclusion Sentence (CS) – This is not a restatement of your topic sentence. The concluding sentence
should summarize your position by adding a little extra punch. The reader will know how you view a
subject by the tone or thought that you leave with the reader.
                               DETAILED PARAGRAPH SAMPLE
                (This paragraph is taken from an essay about The Diary of Anne Frank.)
         Mr. Van Daan‟s pessimistic attitude annoys and disturbs the other inhabitants of the Annex. For
example, he displays his negative nature when he asks his wife what is being served for dinner. She
answers her husband by saying, “„Beans,‟” and Mr. Van Daan complains, “„Not again‟” (361). Instead
of being grateful for the food that Miep and the Frank family work so hard to provide, he shows only
disappointment and disgust. All around him people are rationing food during war-time, and Miep risks
her life daily trying to buy food on the black market, yet Mr. Van Daan thinks of nothing but his own
appetite. Mr. Van Daan again displays his gloomy outlook when he speaks to a bewildered newcomer,
Mr. Dussel, as the frightened man suddenly arrives in the Annex. Mr. Van Daan asks Dussel, “„Did Mr.
Kraler warn you that you won‟t get much to eat here? You can imagine . . . and now you make eight‟”
(369). In this situation, Mr. Van Daan‟s reaction is the exact opposite of the warm hospitality that Mr.
Frank shows his guest. Instead of thinking of the importance of saving Dussel‟s life, Mr. Van Daan
thinks only of the difficulties created by adding another refugee to the hiding place and another mouth to
feed. It is no wonder that Anne Frank writes such scathing comments in her diary about the ill-
mannered Mr. Van Daan.

                                      Sample Paragraph Outline

Topic Sentence: Mr. Van Daan‟s pessimistic attitude annoys and disturbs the other occupants of the
Annex.

       Transition and Lead-in For example, he displays his negative nature when he asks his wife what
       is being served for dinner.
       Concrete Detail: She answers her husband by saying, “„Beans,‟” and Mr. Van Daan complains,
       “„Not again‟” (361).

               Commentary: Instead of being grateful for the food that Miep and the Frank family work
               so hard to provide, he shows only disappointment and disgust.

               Commentary: All around him people are rationing food during war-time, and Miep risks
               her life daily trying to buy food on the black market, yet Mr. Van Daan thinks only of his
               own appetite.

       Transition and Lead-in: Mr. Van Daan again displays his gloomy outlook when he speaks to a
       bewildered newcomer, Mr. Dussel, as the frightened man suddenly arrives in the Annex.
       Concrete Detail: Mr. Van Daan asks Dussel, “„Did Mr. Kraler warn you that you won‟t get
       much to eat here? You can imagine . . . and now you make eight‟” (369).

               Commentary: In this situation, Mr. Van Daan‟s reaction is the exact opposite of the
               warm hospitality that Mr. Frank shows his guest.

               Commentary: Instead of thinking of the importance of saving another life, he thinks only
               of the difficulties created by adding another refugee to the hiding place and another
               mouth to feed.

Concluding sentence: It is no wonder that Anne Frank writes such scathing comments in her diary about
the ill-mannered Mr. Van Daan.