Lacks Clear Continuity; Lacks Coherence

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Think about your favorite movie. What scenes do you like the most? Who is your favorite character? When is the best time, do you think, to see this movie? Where is the best place? Is the best place at your house or at a movie theater? Now think about the experience you have had watching your favorite movie in a theater or on regular television (and cable).

Think about the experience between the two. In a movie theater or on cable, your experience is uninterrupted.  You see all of the scenes and there aren’t any commercials to prevent you from hearing everything your favorite character says. In other words, you don’t feel cut off from the action.

However, when watching your favorite movie on regular television, just when an action or relationship gets hot and heavy, or just when the fight is about to start, the movie goes to commercial. Here you feel cut off, so to speak. The blood that rises during the climax falls right back down when the commercial interrupts your experience.

Depending upon how much you really like the movie and what station the movie is on, you endure the commercials, but there are definitely times when you exclaim aloud, “Just forget it!” and walk out the door to do something else.

Believe it or not, your professor feels exactly the same way when reading your paper.  When you receive the comment “Lacks Clear Continuity” or “Lacks Coherence,” your paper doesn’t stick together. The ideas don’t coordinate well. There is no correlation between your ideas and the ideas you present from others.

Something prevents your professor from reading it continuously. Similar to a commercial, an idea that you have not explained jumps off the page and interrupts the experience for the professor.  In addition, you don’t connect one idea to another within your analysis.

Because your professor has to read so many papers, it is important to examine each of your paragraphs to determine where you can possibly add more detail. Don’t leave your professor feeling left out of the conversation between you and the author’s ideas. Equip your professor with the ability to feel empowered through the knowledge you present in your paper.

In the following sample excerpt, the student addresses the concept of “miscegenation,” but fails to examine its significance and its link between characters within Faulkner’s novel.

Sample Excerpt

Secondly, Christmas doesn’t represent, physically, the image of a typical Negro in southern society.  He epitomizes the burden of miscegenation, because it is a problem that affects the histories of characters within the novel (and within all the novels being discussed).  It complicates the stories and Christmas’s history.  Every time he tells someone that he is part Negro, specifically in speaking to Joanna Burden, when they ask him if he is certain, he says in reply, “ ‘I don’t know it” (Light 240).  On the other hand, miscegenation also plays a significant function in Faulkner’s narratives in that it illustrates the possibilities in reconciling and repairing the division between black and white citizens. It is, in fact, the cause-effect of a contradiction that is present within the south.  “Southern society typically and publicly abhors racial mergings through integration, cohabitation, or miscegenation.  

Yet Faulkner’s narratives repeatedly present a world in which blacks and whites eat, live, and often sleep together despite Jim Crow laws and spoken categories of racial differentiation” (Snead 156). The contradiction lies in the narrative depiction of socially marginalized individuals, but also in the harmonic nature of the interpersonal relationships implicit within these lines.  Faulkner paints a two-sided coin.  In one instance, he depicts the social constraints invoked by segregation. In another, he demonstrates the possibility of repairing continuity to communities, which works against his (the) role of a social genealogist.  Is Faulkner uncertain about the construction of his characters?  No, because each character still fits within a certain framework, in a social position. 

Figure 26: Essay Excerpt on Christmas, Light in August

As you can see the student merely writes about the presence of miscegenation in Faulkner’s south from a general position and brushes over the subject without providing and defining links, be it social or racial.


1) Why does Christmas say “I don’t know it?”

2) Does Christmas deny or agree with the fact that he is a product of miscegenation?

3) If miscegenation affects the histories of characters within the novel, then how does miscegenation function as a bridge that closes the gap between the black and white citizens of the novel?

4) Isn’t Christmas supposed to know his heritage?

5) If he doesn’t, then on what does he base his lack of knowledge?

6) What is miscegenation? Does Faulkner use miscegenation as a method or way of bringing two different social groups together? Or does Faulkner just present the south and its contradictions?

7) What is the connection between Faulkner’s characterization of Christmas and Christmas as a character who isn’t confident and/or certain about his background?


Always remember this one thing: If there are still questions that require answers, then you have not completed the job of analyzing the literary work. Answering the questions will help you develop your analysis.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: