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How to Catch River Crabs

A Process Analysis Essay

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In this short essay, a student explains the process of crabbing--that is, the steps involved in catching river crabs. Read (and enjoy) this student composition, and then respond to the discussion questions at the end.

How to Catch River Crabs

by Mary Zeigler

As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared.

First, you need a boat, but not just any boat. I recommend a 15-foot-long fiberglass boat complete with a 25-horsepower motor, extra gas in a steel can, two 13-foot-long wooden oars, two steel anchors, and enough cushions for the entire party. You will also need scoops, crab lines, a sturdy crate, and bait. Each crab line, made from heavy-duty string, is attached to a weight, and around each weight is tied the bait--a slimy, smelly, and utterly grotesque chicken neck.

Now, once the tide is low, you are ready to begin crabbing. Drop your lines overboard, but not before you have tied them securely to the boat rail. Because crabs are sensitive to sudden movements, the lines must be slowly lifted until the chicken necks are visible just below the surface of the water. If you spy a crab nibbling the bait, snatch him up with a quick sweep of your scoop. The crab will be furious, snapping its claws and bubbling at the mouth. Drop the crab into the wooden crate before it has a chance to get revenge. You should leave the crabs brooding in the crate as you make your way home.

Back in your kitchen, you will boil the crabs in a large pot until they turn a healthy shade of orange. Just remember to keep the crab pot covered. Finally, spread newspapers over the kitchen table, deposit the boiled crabs on the newspaper, and enjoy the most delicious meal of your life.


Questions for Discussion

  1. Define each of the following words as they are used in this essay: chronic, grotesque, brooding.

  2. In the introductory paragraph, has the writer clearly identified the skill to be taught and provided enough background information for readers to know when, where, and why this skill may be practiced?

  3. Has the writer provided necessary warnings in appropriate places?

  4. Is the list of needed materials (in paragraph two) clear and complete?

  5. Have the steps in paragraph three been arranged in the exact order in which they are to be carried out?

  6. Has the writer explained each step clearly and used appropriate transitional expressions to guide readers smoothly from one step to the next?

  7. Is the concluding paragraph effective? Explain why or why not. Does the conclusion make it clear how readers will know if they have carried out the procedures correctly?

  8. Offer an overall evaluation of the essay, pointing out what you think are its strengths and weaknesses.
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