Sample #2


(reaction paper)

Pratt Institute
Department of English and Humanities
English 103

Following our readings of Sylvia Plath, James Wright and Anne Sexton, and our discussions of tone, early memories, and personality, compose a 200-word essay under the following title:

"My Early Memories, Myself"

In this essay, I would like you to relate and comment upon one of your early memories in life. What to do:

Describe the memory in as much detail as possible, identify who appeared in it, and relate your relationship with one or more of the people who exist in that memory.

Recall your journal entry and our list of emotions. How do your early memories affect your personality today? How do they affect those who appeared in your memory?

How do you see yourself? Just what kind of person are you? Why?

Impress your professor by relating one of the three poems we read to yourself or the memories you have of the parent, relative or acquaintance from that past event (optional).

Relax. This is our first essay. Write with confidence.

Don't be fooled by the relaxed tone of this assignment! OK, be fooled - the instructor is actually a very nice professor whom you might be lucky enough to come across during your stay with us at Pratt. As you can see this is a fairly free form assignment asking you to think about the poetry you've read, your own memories and identity, and how your memories form your ideas of yourself and your world. You are writing with the title as your formal essay question, and you don't have very many words to work with; this will be a concise paper - but from the number of questions and ideas raised, you can see that the professor expects a thoughtful, connected answer. You can also see that the professor is asking you to consider all of these issues - not write an answer to every single one. They are variations on a theme, and he wants you to really turn the ideas around in your head, to find a memory to base your writing on, but then to experiment and explore and to come up with something interesting - just like the poets did by considering themselves and their lives. You, however don't get to write a poem - the professor asks for a narrative essay. (Narrative = describing and relating experiences and ideas rather than a formal analysis.). There is also an optional section where the professor asks you to make a formal link between your ideas and something you found in the poetry you read in class. If you can see a correlation between your thoughts and one of the poets/poems - write it in! This shows that you understand the material, but, better still, it shows that you can see connections between yourself and others and the ways literature connects to us.