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Humanities Libertexts

3.2: Introduction

  • Page ID
    7139
  • Overview

    The Introduction to a Critical Analysis can be written any number of ways. However, unless you are told otherwise by your instructor, a good way to construct an Introduction is in the same way you construct a Summary. This is true because the last sentence of a Summary (as directed in this book) is a Thesis statement and so can serve to introduce the reader to your topic or claim.

    To begin a Summary/Introduction, read the selection you choose once through. Make one or two-word notes in your textbook margins to remind you what the paragraphs or sections or your whole selection seem to be saying. Underline words you do not recognize or seem to be used in a way with which you are not familiar. In order to start writing, you will have to decide what kind of writing your selection is primarily (is it primarily a narrative? Is it a description? Is it an argument? Is it an article? Is it a speech? Is it a historical account? – until you are sure, just use the word “selection”).

    Checklist

    Draft Checklist

    ___Title, author, summary statement

    ___Summary of each part of text

    ___Point or main idea of text

    ___Quote from text

    ___Paraphrase of quote

    ___Audience for text

    ___Where point of text best applies

    ___When point of ext best applies

    ___What you believe to be true (or important, or striking, etc.) about the point

    Prompts

    checklist

    Prompts from Draft Checklist:

    1. In the selection (what is the title?), the author (who is the author?) seems to be saying, suggesting, doing, or calling for what (in the whole reading)?
    2. In the first part of the selection (out of three to five sections), the author says or does what?
    3. In the next part, the author says or does what?
    4. Finally, the author says or does what?
    5. What seems to be the point or main idea of the selection?
    6. What is one phrase, passage, or sentence quoted from the selection that best sums up this point?
    7. How can I paraphrase the passage(s) where the point or main idea is expressed?
    8. The point seems to be for, about, or aimed at whom?
    9. Where does the point seem to apply most (in what context or situations)?
    10. When does the point seem to apply best?
    11. In the selection as a whole, you (the student) believe what to be true about the point? (Note: this can be your Thesis statement).

    Template/Draft

    Template/Draft from Prompts

    Introduction

    In the short speech “I Am Tired of Fighting,” Chief Joseph seems to be lamenting that his people have been annihilated and he declares his intention to stop fighting. In the opening statement, Chief Joseph declares his weariness with fighting. He continues by listing by name all the people he has lost to death or hardship. Finally, Chief Joseph repeats his lamentation that he is tired and “will fight no more forever.” The point that Chief Joseph seems to be making in this surrender speech is that fighting has destroyed his world and will destroy anyone’s world who must be involved in war.

    This point is best summed up when he says, “From where the sun stands I will fight no more forever.” “From where the sun stands” seems to be saying from this moment in time, everywhere, and for all people, which indicates the “universality” of his statement. “I will fight no more” states plainly his desire to give up the battle. It is with the last word in the passage, “I will fight no more forever,” that he reveals the depths of his despondency. The point seems to be both for his chiefs (“Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired”) and for any leader anywhere who chooses the path of war over the path to peace and the possible and terrible consequences of such a choice. Such decision-making should not be taken lightly where the loss of a people or a culture or a nation is at stake. Anytime the leadership of a nation considers the option of war over other means for settling problems, that is when such a declaration as Chief Joseph’s becomes a warning for that leadership. I think that Chief Joseph reinforced the finality of his retreat and the futility of fighting any more by speaking shortly and directly, yet very eloquently.

    Tutorial

    How to answer the prompts.

    Open your word processing program to a blank document. Put a heading at the top of the document. Center the words Self Evaluation for the title.

    Answer all the above questions with at least one complete sentence each (the more the better). Put your sentences together in a paragraph or two. Do not include the questions in your writing.

    Read the Selection You Choose

    To begin an Introduction, read the selection you choose thoroughly. Here is an example selection of a short reading

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\): Sample Reading

    I Am Tired of Fighting

    (Surrender Speech – Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce)

    I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes and no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are – perhaps some are freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun stands I will fight no more forever.

    Then answer each prompt below about the reading.

    Prompt 1

    (1 sentence, indented)

    In the selection (what is the title?), the author (who is the author?) seems to be saying, suggesting, doing, or calling for what (in the whole reading)?

    The answer to this question forms the opening statement to your Introduction. Use the pattern below to get started. A template for an opening statement to your Introduction:

    In the [insert the kind of writing or the word “selection”] [insert the title of the selection], [insert the author’s name] seems to be [saying, suggesting, etc.] that [insert a sentence-length summary].

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\): Opening Statement

    In the short speech “I Am Tired of Fighting,” Chief Joseph seems to be lamenting that his people have been annihilated and he declares his intention to stop fighting.

    Prompt 2

    (at least 1 sentence for each part)

    How can I summarize each section, part, or structural element of the selection?

    For summarizing “the section, part, or structural element” of a selection (a whole reading), you may divide it in any number of ways:

    1. First, see if your selection fits into any of particular patterns (or structural elements). Then answer this question using those terms. I called my selection here a “speech,” but its primary structural element seems to be “listing.” This works best for short selections.
    2. A second way to summarize parts in a selection is to summarize by paragraph or paragraph groupings. You simply use one sentence for every long paragraph or every group of short paragraphs. This works best for medium-length selections (1 – 4 pages)
    3. You may also get lucky and get a selection that is already divided into sections (like sections in the chapter of a textbook). They may even be set off by headings or numbers. In this case, you simply summarize what is said in each section with a sentence or two for each section. If there are no headings, you will have to divide the selection into about 5 – 7 parts yourself. This works best for long selections (5 pages or more).

    A template for Summary of Parts Statements

    In the opening [insert the section, part, or structural element], [insert last name of author] [does or says what? (insert here)]. He [or she] continues by [insert a summary of the next section, part, or structural element here]. Finally, [insert author’s last name] [insert a summary of the last section, part, or structural element here].

    Prompt 3

    (1 sentence)

    What seems to be the point or main idea of the selection?

    Read the whole selection again. Articulate the “message” or “point” that the author seems to be making.

    A template for Summarizing the Point:

    The point that [insert author’s last name] seems to be making in this [insert type of selection] is [insert what you think the message or point is here].

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\): Statement for Summarizing the Point

    The point that Chief Joseph seems to be making in this surrender speech is that fighting has destroyed his world and will destroy anyone’s world who must be involved in war

    Prompt 4

    (1 sentence, with phrase, passage, or sentence quoted)

    What is one phrase, passage, or sentence from the selection that best sums up this point?

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    This point is best summed up when he says, “From where the sun stands I will fight no more forever.”

    Prompt 5

    (same number of sentences as the passage)

    How can I paraphrase the passage(s) where the point or main idea is expressed?

    A “paraphrase” is a nearly word-for-word summary – in your own words – of a statement or of a series of statements.

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    “From where the sun stands” seems to be saying “from this moment in time, everywhere, and for all people,” which indicates the “universality” of his statement. “I will fight no more” states plainly his desire to give up the battle. It is with the last word in the passage, “I will fight no more forever,” that he reveals the depths of his despondency.

    Prompt 6

    (1 sentence)

    Who does the point seem to be for or about?

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    The point seems to be both for his chiefs (“Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired.”) and for any leader anywhere who chooses the path of war over the path to peace and the possible and terrible consequences of such a choice.

    Prompt 7

    (1 sentence)

    Where does the point seem to apply most (in what context or situations)?

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    The point seems to be both for his chiefs (“Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired.”) and for any leader anywhere who chooses the path of war over the path to peace and the possible and terrible consequences of such a choice.

    Prompt 7

    (1 sentence)

    Where does the point seem to apply most (in what context or situations)?

    Example \(\PageIndex{8}\):

    Such decision-making should not be taken lightly where the loss of a people or a culture or a nation is at stake.

    Prompt 8

    (1 sentence)

    When does the point seem to apply best?

    Example \(\PageIndex{9}\):

    Anytime the leadership of a nation considers the option of war over other means for settling problems, that is when such a declaration as Chief Joseph’s becomes a warning for that leadership.

    Prompt 9

    (1 or 2 sentences) (Thesis Statement)

    How can I summarize the entire selection (as a “thesis”)?

    A “thesis” is a statement that summarizes what you observe generally to be true about the whole selection as you understand it so far. It should be more specific than your Opening Statement and involve your observation(s) about the selection. This is one way (answering summary questions) to arrive at (or “form”) a thesis statement for an analysis.

    Note

    You may change your thesis statement at any time; in fact, you should plan on changing this last statement in your summary/introduction many times during the writing of your analysis.

    A template for a Thesis Statement:

    I think that [insert author’s last name] [insert what you observe to be true about the selection in general].

    Example \(\PageIndex{10}\):

    I think that Chief Joseph reinforced the finality of his retreat and the futility of fighting any more by speaking shortly and directly, yet very eloquently.

    Most Common Question: “Why does this ‘thesis’ not look like the thesis sentence in a 5-paragraph essay?”

    This does not look like a thesis sentence because it is a thesis statement, which indicates that it is not orthographically determined (determined by printers’ conventions like sentences and paragraphs) but rhetorically determined (determined by the function it serves in a larger rhetorical pattern).

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