Over the last few weeks, I have learned about what makes an essay an essay, after reading the required chapters of “Essentials of College Writing” (Connell & Soles, 2013) the knowledge needed to compare and contrast a narrative and descriptive essay is at my grasp. The essays I have chosen to use as support are “Homeless” by Anne Quindlen and “Are the Rich Happy?” by Stephen Leacock. While the differences between these two essays are apparent, the similarities are more recognizable. By using information, I have gained from the class I hope this paper can help you form your own opinion on which essay is superior. There are many different reasons why an author would write a narrative or descriptive essay and for each form, there is a main purpose, though it does not always have to be evident right away. A narrative story is to entertain or engage the reader, maybe for fun or to teach a lesson. In difference to a narrative, which can be truth or fiction, a descriptive is about a true event, person or place. The purpose of a descriptive essay is to create an accurate and vivid “picture” by using specific details.
Details help you focus the reader’s attention on characteristics that make people, places, objects, and events unique and help them “come alive” for readers, a descriptive essay is about an actual person, place and/or event (Connell & Soles, 2013). The author Stephen Leacock started his essay,” Are the Rich Happy?” with, “Let me admit at the outset that I write this essay without adequate material. I have never known, I have never seen, any rich people. Very often, I have thought I have found them. However, it turned out that it was not so. They were not rich at all. They were quite poor. They were hard up. They were pushed for money. They did not know where to turn for ten thousand dollars.” The essays purpose was not openly stated, I had to finish reading before I understood what point the author was trying to get across. In contrast, Quindlen
began her essay “Homeless” by getting to the point from the very beginning, using words to describe exactly who and what she was writing about in her paper “Her name was Ann, and we met in the port authority Bus Terminal several Januarys ago. I was doing a story on homeless people. She said I was wasting my time talking to her; she was just passing through, although shed been passing through for more than two weeks. To prove to me that this was true, she rummaged through a tote bag and a manila envelope and finally unfolded a sheet of typing paper and brought out her photographs.” The author of both a narrative and a descriptive essay need to use elements to make sure that they maintain the reader’s attention. Like, the topic they have chosen to write about has to be interesting to others. Just because one person thinks something is interesting does not mean others will feel the same (Connell & Soles, 2013). The author of ‘Are the Rich Happy? ‘ Stephen Leacock knew that money will always be an issue among man and no matter how much money one has they will always want more, because there will always be reason to need more and that they will never be happy with what they have. Anne Quindlen also knew that homeless is a major issue in the world and that others would have a related emotion attachment to this. Another element is the use of language that allows the readers’ senses to create the whole picture.
A narrative uses words to represent physical objects rather than ideas, qualities, or concepts that help make characters come to life and give those personalities (Connell & Soles, 2013). In contrast, a descriptive essay demands emotion and expressive details that are more precise when describing certain aspects such as the characters, the plot and the main idea of why the essay was wrote. As written in “Are the Rich Happy” By Stephen Leacock, “ I know a man, for example– his name is Spugg- whose private bank account was overdrawn last month by twenty thousand dollars. He told me so at dinner at his club, with apologies for feeling out of sorts. He said it was bothering him. He said he thought it rather unfair of his bank to have called this to his attention.”(Para 7) In her essay Homeless, Anna Quindlen wrote, “Home is where the heart is; there is no place like it. I love my home with ferocity totally out of proportion to it appearance and location” (Para 4). By expressing, her emotions about her home I feel Anna hoped to make the reader reflect on how they feel about there own home. Another example of a strong tone would be, “People find it curious that those without homes would rather sleep sitting up on benches or huddled in doorways than go to shelters.
Certainly some prefer to do so because they are emotionally ill, because they have been locked up before and they are determined no to be again. Others are afraid of the violence and trouble they may find there. But some seem to want something that is not available in a shelter and they will not compromise, not for cot, or oatmeal, or a shower.’(Quindlen, “Homeless”, Para 7) So far, we have compared the purpose for each essay, how each essay has an audience that the author must keep in mind and the language used to intrigue the readers. Finally, I want to compare their structures. All essays need organization, writers use a number of different strategies to organize information and, often, the choice of how to organize is based on one own judgment of what would be most effective (Connell & Soles, 2013). The structures between the two essays are similar however; each has their own particular form. An author of a narrative essay can use chronological order, events arranged in a chronological order that are organized by time, and may start with the earliest event and go forward in time to the present or start from the present and go backward in time and spatial order which means organized by direction.(Connell & Soles, 2013).
A third organizational structure that I have found to be very useful for a narrative is dramatic order The dramatic structure is common in many types of writing and uses these five elements, an opening paragraphs that has an introduction, the introduction should have a strong thesis that helps create questions in the readers mind; it should also captivate their imagination. The rising action should take up the majority of the story and should include interaction, dialogue and detailed descriptions of the characters and the environment. It should also explain the reason for writing the essay; the climax or turning point, which will be the moment the conflict comes into sharp focus and is resolved. The falling action is where the rest of the story falls into place and, the concluding paragraph that will end the essay with answers to the reader’s questions. The essay may conclude with a discussion of why the topic of interest is important (Connell & Soles, 2013). As stated in Essentials of College writing second edition, a descriptive is very similar to a narrative because it to must have a sound structure, There must be an introduction that “tells readers what you will tell them”, a body that “tells them”, and a conclusion thatbbrings closure to your paper (Connell & Soles, 2013).
For the introduction, the author must accomplish a few goals: capture the readers’ attention by revealing the purpose of the paper, have a strong thesis statement and briefly describe the main points covered in the paper. For the body, which is the heart of your paper, the author must explain, describe, argue, explore, or elaborate on the point or thesis of the paper. The final part of the essay, the conclusion is where the author makes his or her final stand, they state they final opinion on the topic and they end the essay (Connell & Soles, 2013, chap. 5). Are narrative and descriptive essay similar? Do they share the same purpose? My answer is yes. The similarities out weigh the differences and with this knowledge I have formed my opinion that neither form of essay is superior, but both equally matched. I believe that both essays inspire the readers’ creativity and help bring forth their own opinions on the topics. I have formed my opinion using the facts described above, such as they both use expressive words to take a hold of their audience, they are wrote to create a clear picture of the characters and the plot, and they both have a similar structure. Based on the information I have gained I can say that the similarities are more recognizable than the differences.
Connell, Christine M & Sole, Kathy Essentials of College Writing, 2013 Leacock, S. (1916). Are the rich happy? In R. Nordquist (Ed.), About.com Guide to Grammar & Composition. Retrieved from http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/Are-the-Rich-Happy-by-Stephen-Leacock.htm Quindlen, A. (n.d.). Homeless. Retrieved from http://pers.dadeschools.net/prodev/homelesstext.htm
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