Sample LA10 Essay Test Answers

Below are two examples from class today and my comments on both. These examples were typed exactly as written, mistakes and all. Use these examples and my comments to guide your writing tomorrow on the essay portion of the test.

Sample One

The overall mood of, “House on Mango Street,” is gloomy. Cisneros uses a lot of figurative language to emphasize the mood. For example, in the chapter, “The House on Mango Street,” she writes, “…and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath.” Cisneros used personification to exagerate the size of the windows and the disappointment that Esperanza feels with them. Also, imagery is used to enhance the mood. In the same chapter, Cisneros writes, “It’s small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they  were holding their breath. Bricks are crumbling in places and the front door is so swollen you have to push hard to get in.” Cisnero’s description of the worn down house creates a feeling of hopelessness and gloom because the house is not what Esperanza wants to live in. Finally,  parallelism helps create the gloomy mood. In “The Three Sisters,” Cisneros writes, “You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t escape what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” The parallelism helps hammer the message home that Esperanza can’t get away from Mango Street. This creates a sense of disappointment and sadness for the reader. In conclusion, Cisneros uses figurative language, imagery, and figurative language to enhance the gloomy mood.

Comments: This is a strong answer. First, notice that the writer clearly identifies the mood in the topic sentence. Next, notice that the writer used three specific examples from the book. By specific examples, I mean that the writer directly quoted the book. I expect you to use direct quotes; that’s why I’m letting you use your literary terms sheet! Also notice that the writer clearly and correctly identifies the literary technique being used. Finally, notice that the writer gives context for these quotes by telling which chapter they come from. While there are a few minor errors in spelling and punctuation, these do not distract from the overall quality of this response.

Sample 2

The overall mood of the novel is hopeful. Esperanza looks forward to the future and searches for what makes her the person she is. Cisneros gives personification to the trees, relating them back to stages in Esperanza’s life. As she grows, the meaning of the trees grow with her. The symbol of the window also presents this theme. Esperanza hopes for a life better than one on Mango Street. A life that is not filled with looking out the window and longing for what you don’t have. Most figurative language techniques can show the hopeful mood the reader feels.

Comments: This paragraph has good ideas, but needs more development. The mood is clearly identified in the topic sentence, and it is a plausible mood. However, the examples are not specific–there is no direct quote. Therefore, it is also difficult for me to determine whether or not the techniques are correctly identified. For example, Cisneros writes several things about the trees. Without a direct quote, I can’t really be sure the writer of this paragraph knows which part is personification. The second example actually gets off topic. The writer says the window symbolism develops a theme, not a mood. Finally, this paragraph only uses two (non-specific) examples. For the test, you must use at least three specific examples.


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