Second Part: Abbreviating Quotes (Task #3: Abbreviate)

The second part of The FAVORS Step-by-Step Process: Abbreviating Plot Summary, Quotes, and Analysis involves removing quotes that do not support the topic sentence. Figure 79: Abbreviating Quotes Exercise (Sample Student Passage) begins our discussion.

Figure 79: Abbreviating Quotes Exercise (Sample Student Passage)

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where. There is an anxiousness in Elisa. Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221). Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden. She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed. She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice. “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221). It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa. It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. No one could get close or converse with Elisa. At the sound of his voice is when she can start. Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity. Henry never included her in any of his business. She was best seen and not heard.

Step #1: Highlight the quotes by adding shading. If you are working from a hardcopy, use a highlighter. In Figure 79, we have applied bolding to direct quotes.

Step #2: Determine which of the sentences represents the topic sentence. Underline the topic sentence. Remember you should know the topic sentence that supports the thesis.

Step #3: Cut and paste the topic sentence and the quote that you are using to support the topic sentence. The example is below. (We will address the first sentence that appears to be the topic sentence in another step-by-step process later.)

Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil. She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed. She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice. “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).

Step #4: Determine if the quote actually supports the topic sentence of your paragraph.  There will be quotes that you use to support other statements you write. Worry about them later. This exercise primarily helps you to abbreviate those particular quotes that do not support your topic sentence. The above quote does not support the topic sentence.  For example, the topic sentence prepares the reader for a discussion of Elisa’s habit of tending her garden; but the quote doesn’t embody the ideas expressed within the topic sentence.  However, the quote does support the sentence directly before it. Before determining what to do in a case where the quote does support a statement you have made but not the topic sentence, continue going through the steps to reach a final decision about what to do.

Step #5: Analyze the sentences that follow after the quote.

a. Identify only those sentences that specifically provide a follow-up explanation or evaluation of the quote.

b. Number those sentences. If you are working from a hardcopy, just number the sentences in different color ink. If you are working on the computer, separate those sentences from the body paragraph by cutting and pasting them into a different Word document.

c. Compare the quote and the supporting sentences that follow. Scan for differences and contradictions.

The topic sentence, the quote, and the sentences that follow are below. They all have been separated into a list also.

Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed.  She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice.  “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).  It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.  It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. No one could get close or converse with Elisa. At the sound of his voice is when she can start. Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity. Henry never included her in any of his business. She was best seen and not heard.

Topic Sentence: Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.

Quote: “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).

Follow-up Explanation #1 (Pre-Analysis): It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.

Follow-up Evaluation #1 (Analysis): It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders.

Follow-up Evaluation #2 (Analysis): Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.

Option #1: Choose to keep the topic sentence and remove the quote and the follow-up explanation. For this option, you can keep the quote, but you cannot keep the follow-up explanations. The quote supports a sentence before it. The rest of the follow-up explanation/evaluations support the quote, but not the topic sentence.

Option #2: Develop a different topic sentence for the quote and the follow-up explanations. Everything that you write in the body paragraph must support the topic sentence.

Option #3: Sort the sentences. This option is only necessary if you cannot come to a decision about what to do for option #1 and option #2. Consider the following steps during this process.

Step #6:  Choose one option.

  • Sort the sentences that appear to express the same ideas into sections.
  • Think about the main idea of each sentence. What is the subject of the sentence? What is the subject of the sentence doing? What is the sentence about? Ask these questions during the process to figure out how to separate the sentences into different sections.
  • Provide an explanation for each section that details the main idea of the section.

You can choose any method to help yourself during this process. You can choose to outline the sentences or cut and paste them into a table. It may be helpful to perform an outline in order to know how many sections you may have to create a table. There are two examples for Option #3: an outline and a table.

Exploration of Option #3: Outline of Body Paragraph Sentences (Outline Format)

Section #1: This body paragraph sentence represents a discussion of Elisa’s need to know what Henry is talking about with the two men in business suits.

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where.  There is an anxiousness in Elisa.

Section #2: These body paragraph sentences represent a discussion of Elisa’s work with the chrysanthemums.

Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221).

Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil. She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed.

Section #3: These body paragraph sentences represent a discussion of the voice of Elisa’s husband.

She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice.

At the sound of his voice is when she can start.

Section #4: These body paragraph sentences represent a discussion of the wire fence.

“He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221). 

It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa. It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.

No one could get close or converse with Elisa.

Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity. Henry never included her in any of his business. She was best seen and not heard.

Table 15: Exploration of Option #3, Outline of Body Paragraph Sentences (Table Format)

Sections Main Idea Explanations (for Sections) Body Paragraph Sentences
 #1 This body paragraph sentence centers on a discussion of Elisa’s need to know what Henry is talking about with the two men in business suits. Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where.There is an anxiousness in Elisa.
 #2 These body paragraph sentences center on a discussion of Elisa’s work with the chrysanthemums. Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221). Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed.
 #3 These body paragraph sentences center on a discussion of Elisa’s husband’s voice. She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice.At the sound of his voice is when she can start.
 #4 These body paragraph sentences center on a discussion of the wire fence. “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221). It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.  It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders.  Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.No one could get close or converse with Elisa.Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity.  Henry never included her in any of his business.  She was best seen and not heard.

Option #3 is a much longer process. It may be too long for a five-page to seven-page paper.  However, for a paper that runs ten to twelve pages or more, you will need this option. Remember that it is much more difficult to sustain the thesis throughout longer papers.

Step #7: This step is only necessary if you want to remove sentences that happen to be before the actual topic sentences. Let’s bring forward the whole paragraph.

Figure 80: Abbreviating Quotes Exercise (Removing Quotes)

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where. There is an anxiousness in Elisa. Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221). Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden. She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil. She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed. She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice. “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221). It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa. It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. No one could get close or converse with Elisa. At the sound of his voice is when she can start. Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity. Henry never included her in any of his business. She was best seen and not heard.

1) In the case of this example, we can remove everything before the topic sentence, which is the first sentence underlined.

2) We can keep the topic sentence.

3) We can keep the quote that supports a statement the student makes directly before it.

However, the lines directly after the quote (underlined), that are supposed to support the quote, may have to be removed. Therefore, we have to consider abbreviating the analysis.

Click here for “Third Part: Abbreviating Analysis.”

Click here for “Second Part: Abbreviating Quotes.”

Click here for “First Part: Abbreviating Plot Summary.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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