Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)
You have undoubtedly read the Academic Life Tips of this glossary and some comments where we express the importance of setting goals, enduring them, and reaching completion. When you sit down to write a paper, you are setting a goal to finish. You endure the heartache of coming up with ideas, with how to structure the paper, and with using support. However, there is one goal you don’t have the option of setting: the goal of incorporating a quote to meet the course requirement.
Typically, your professor will direct you to locate and examine evidence from the course textbook to support your claims; and if the evidence is in the form of a quote, incorporate the quote. With this in mind, your professor has added an additional requirement to your initial goal. Not only must you create a thesis, but also you must develop an analysis and incorporate quotes to support your claim. In essence, the original goal you set now has conditions. You will have to base your “finish” on fully meeting the requirements of the essay prompt. In other words, you will have to examine the prompt to make sure your paper reflects the instruction on which it is based.
Students develop the habit of incorporating a quote, and sometimes offer a few sentences just before the quote; but they don’t follow through or add an extended explanation on how the quote relates to the overall scheme of their papers. Quotes are not fillers. They serve a purpose within your essays. You must determine what purpose the quote will have between two sentences. In other words, you must prepare the reader for the quote; this is sentence number one. After you insert the quote, you must then follow up and define its significance within the body paragraph. This is sentence number two. By inserting “before and after” sentences, you ensure that you have addressed this element within your paper. Remember that you determine all of the elements that will be a part of your paper. Every element such as an example or a quote is foreign; it is an enemy until you make it a friend.
When you are introducing the quote, if the quote supports your claims, identify the quote as a friend immediately. However, if the ideas within the quote don’t support your claims, then identify the author’s beliefs as foreign. For example, if your claim is “All dogs are nice,” then you must make certain that you locate and incorporate those quotes to support this claim. You wouldn’t use a quote from an author that states, “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face” to support your claims. This author believes one thing and you believe another. Of course, you may use the quote within your essay to highlight different belief systems, but just be sure to identify the quote as opposing your own claims.
Your prep sentence must directly relate to the quote you are incorporating. What this means is you must have an understanding of what the quote means before you use it. Analyze each quote before incorporating it into your essay. Take the quote, separate its parts, and evaluate each part. A quote such as “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face” is two-part. The first part is “All dogs are nice.” The second part is “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face.” The first part is a general statement about all dogs. The quote doesn’t provide information about a specific dog. The second part represents a conditional statement. These are all the dogs that are both nice and lick your face. When providing an example for the second quote, it is possible to include a specific dog here. You can make the point that mean dogs are not nice and therefore do not lick your face. This will allow you to provide a list of non-mean dogs that are, by default, nice. The list of mean dogs will serve as a contrast.
Once you have developed a prep sentence and incorporated the appropriate quote, you must now provide a “follow-up.” The follow-up statement is an extended analysis of the quote itself. That’s why it is important to know and understand all of the parts of a quote, because there are often at least two. Don’t just use the follow-up statement to summarize the quote or what you have just said before it.
Instead use the statement that follows as an opportunity to reason logically. Don’t push the boundaries too far because you might lose your reader. Bring in an example of a nice dog in comparison to a mean dog. In one to four sentences, compare and contrast their histories. Nice Dog A is the type of dog that will greet you at the door. On the other hand, Mean Dog A is of the type that will bark louder than Nice Dog A. I could get Nice Dog A to lick my face before the other one would.
This is a simple illustration, but it is effective for this comment. Just remember that you shouldn’t use the follow-up statements only to summarize the quote. After explaining the quote, use a follow-up statement to analyze ideas housed within the quote. The following excerpt represents an example of how to provide a follow-up statement after incorporating a quote.
The reason why the masses are followers and not leaders is because leaders have the ability to promote teamwork. A leader offers the concept of togetherness and the illusion of a man-to-man tie. Moscovici contends that the masses are unable to exercise political power, nor do they have the ability to change the world or run the state: they have neither the ability to reason nor the gift of self-discipline necessary for survival and culture, for they are to a high degree the slaves of momentary impulse and susceptible to the influence of anyone. . . . (27) The masses are seen as collective and not as individual. When the individuality is lost, the masses forget their own interests and accept common desires, or desires told to them that seem appropriate for all.
The student does a good job of providing a follow-up to the quote. It is not enough to just provide a few sentences after a quote. It is always important to finish that part of a discussion central to your argument.
The bolded sentence represents a follow-up to the quote. It represents analysis. The student focuses on the quote, its elements, structure, impact, and contribution to other paragraphs and to the paper as a whole. The analysis sentences represent an interpretation of the quote. In other words, the student completes the goal of explicating the quote before moving on to other areas.
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.