Elements of an Essay, English homework help


  1. Read the definitions of the four non-fiction elements listed here:

    Voice, Style, Structure, Ideas.

    • Voice: When we read a literary essay, we usually hear the narrator’s voice; we hear a person speaking to us and we begin to notice if he or she sounds friendly or hostile, stuffy or casual, self-assured or tentative. The voice may be intimate or remote. It may be sincere or ironic. The possibilities are as endless as the number of essayists. A writer’s persona is the personality he/she assumes through his/her voice to serve the purpose of the essay.
    • Style: Writers have unique styles, the same way stylish people we know have a personal style. Writers make specific choices in words, syntax, sentence length, metaphors, repetition and many other ways to manipulate language and create a unique sound in their writing.
    • Structure: Literary essayists are not inclined to follow any formulaic structure, as is taught to a first year college student (i.e. first a topic sentence and then three examples). Instead, they invent structures that fit their own way of seeing the world. Walker’s structure includes sprinkles of personal experience within this persuasive essay to call for changes in the attitude of her reader.
      • Please review this linked PowerPoint presentation on structure:Structure in Literary Essays.ppt
        • attached PPT below to view
    • Ideas: Literary essays express ideas more directly than fictional stories. They attempt to persuade the reader to look at the world through a new perspective. Readers of essays are in one sense miners, unearthing hidden meanings. In another sense, they are like coproducers in creating meaning.
  2. Find quotes from Walker’s essay (attached PDF) that represent each of the four elements above. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose each quote.
    • Voice: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s persona in this essay?
    • Style: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s unique style?
    • Structure: How does your chosen quote represent Walker’s persuasive structure?
    • Ideas: How does your chosen quote uncover the meaning of the essay?
  3. Post your quotes and explanations.
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