Essays are like the people that write them; each one is unique and individual. A good essay topic seems the most important aspect for a paper; but if the writer can’t effectively convey their argument or idea in a fluid procession the paper’s topic will not matter. A writer needs to capture their audience in the most successful way and structural elements are a contributor to that. In the essay, Graffiti: Art or Vandalism, the author effectively uses the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion to successfully elicit an opinion on graffiti to its readers.
Bailey Kung, introduces the topic with a hook and background that foreshadows the essay’s content as well as pulls in readers. The opening sentence reads, “ A name or image spray-painted on a wall can elicit smiles, stares, or scowls” (par1). This pulls readers in but it also foreshadows the content of the essay before the thesis is stated. “Smiles,” refers to the population who consider graffiti art. “Stares, or scowls” then refers to the population that deems it either fascinating or as vandalism (par1). The introduction continues on to talk about where graffiti is painted, and what it is affiliated with. The author also gives background information such as, “The creators of graffiti, called “writers”, have a variety of motivations, all of which produce forms of self-expression” (par1). Background information adds to the essay when necessary and in this case, Kung needs to insert background knowledge to keep readers from being lost.
The quote introduced above is an example of that. Basing an essay off common knowledge, most would not affiliate the name “writers” to a graffiti artist. Adding frequently used terms and background information that correlate with the topic into the introduction gives those with no knowledge of the subject a basis to follow along with. An effective essay uses an introduction to setup structure and paint a picture to readers. Kung achieves that in the introduction.
The body paragraphs in this essay have fluid transitions and these structural elements bring success to the paper. All fourteen-body paragraphs flow one into the next in a fluid thought procession. Kung starts by using the first body paragraph as background and introduction to the thesis and then continues on to forms of graffiti, examples and so on. Without a transitional thought process, readers become confused and the author’s point does not get made. Upon reading the paper Kung starts general and becomes more specific throughout the body paragraphs. For example, as stated above Kung defines the term of “writer” and in the second body paragraph continues on to explain specifically how you become a “writer”. This piece is meant to evoke an opinion out of its readers. Kung does not reveal any personal opinions on the subject matter in the body paragraphs as to let the facts steer the reader to their own conclusions.
This is evident by the compare and contrast format that starts around paragraph five. She states, “The underlying motivation for all graffiti, however is self-expression, the exercise of the right to free speech” (par5). After this transition into the fifth paragraph, Kung continues on to explain the “art” side of graffiti. Using resources from individuals claiming graffiti is a source of expression and “local color”(par5). She then contrasts in the eighth paragraph the vandalism aspect of graffiti opening with, “Arguments about semantics aside, creating graffiti is vandalism: the destruction or damaging of property without the consent of the owner” (par8). Kung illustrates both sides to the argument within the body paragraphs equally. She properly distributes the material, has a fluid thought process and uses background information to strengthen her paper’s argument.
Coinciding with the structure of body paragraphs is the conclusion where Kung makes use of the “so what?” to illustrate the importance of her topic. She says,” If graffiti artists truly believe in their “art” enough to break the law to create it, they commit a sort of civil disobedience” (par14). While keeping a neutral tone, Kung reveals her own opinion with the above quotation. Her statement subtly demonstrates her belief that graffiti is a form of art rather than a heinous crime. This “so what?” elicits more emotion in readers to think about the deeper meaning behind graffiti. Kung instills a single thought to bring the paper to an end, using this aspect of structural element to keep readers thinking about the subject: If graffiti artists are demonstrating expressions of art why does the public reprimand them? Just as any good conclusion she restates her thesis that illustrates whether graffiti is art versus vandalism. This structural format gives the paper more depth. Without the call to a “so what?” the essay is just facts written down not analyzed in any way.
Without structural elements to guide writers, readers would become uninterested or lost in the writing. Kung uses structural tools such as an informative attention-grabbing introduction, fluid body paragraphs, and a strong conclusion to successfully strengthen her paper’s argument. The hook in the introduction foreshadows what is to come in the essay. By transitioning from more general topics at the start of the essay to more specific topics as the essay progresses, this technique educates readers while allowing them to form their own opinions. Kung demonstrates to readers why her essay is significant and reestablishes the idea if readers have a passion they should pursue it while realizing the consequences of their actions. Analyzing how writers use certain techniques to strengthen their essay is useful because it allows us to explore the author’s deeper meaning throughout the essay.