A Scrapbook of Styles: Passages for Rhetorical Analysis
Edward Abbey's List of Examples in "The Great American Desert"
In this passage from chapter two of "Journey Home," rogue environmentalist Edward Abbey identifies some of the most unappealing characteristics of desert life through a series of vivid examples.
Hyperbole in Martin Amis's "Money"
Note the effects created by hyperbole, tricolons, and crots in these two paragraphs from Martin Amis's novel "Money."
Ritual in Maya Angelou's "Caged Bird"
In these paragraphs from the first volume of her autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Maya Angelou recalls the first funeral that she attended as a child--and her first encounter with the fact of her own mortality.
Nicholson Baker's Encomium to Perforation
In this unconventional encomium from his first novel, "The Mezzanine," Nicholson Baker celebrates the miraculous qualities of perforation.
Russell Baker's Sketch of Mr. Fleagle
In this description of his high school English teacher, journalist Russell Baker relies on repetition to convey an overwhelming impression of dullness and, well, primness.
Hypotaxis in James Baldwin's "Notes of a Native Son"
In this excerpt from the autobiographical essay "Notes of a Native Son," James Baldwin employs hypotactic structures to rank, order, and build his observations from evidence to conclusion.
Bill Barich's Descriptive Narrative
In "Steelhead on the Russian," Bill Barich recounts his experiences fishing for trout in northern California's Russian River. Here, after seeking advice from his mentor, he describes his first effort to "play the fish."
A Definition of Pantomime, by Julian Barnes
In this excerpt from the essay "MPTV," Julian Barnes defines the essential characteristics of the pantomime, a form of popular theater in England since the 16th century.
Hyperbole in Dave Barry's "Revenge of the Pork Person"
As you read these excerpts from a column composed in the mid-1980s, decide for yourself whether Dave Barry may still be telling the truth even when he is making things up.
Saul Bellow on the Writer's Voice
The subject of Saul Bellow's Romanes Lecture, "The Distracted Public," is "the contemporary crisis" of distraction--the "hostile condition (massive and worldwide)" that writers and other artists "are called upon to overcome." In these two paragraphs from the end of the lecture, Bellow explains how the writer's voice can rise above "the moronic...
Paralepsis in Benchley's "The Tooth"
In this passage from "The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth," Robert Benchley employs an ancient rhetorical strategy for comic effect, describing "the scene in the dentist's waiting-room" after disclaiming any intention of doing so.
The Meaning of Home, by John Berger
In this passage from "And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos" (1984), John Berger draws on the philosophy of Mircea Eliade, a Romanian-born historian of religion, to offer a memorable definition of home.
Process Analysis in Berry's "A Few Words for Motherhood"
In this excerpt from the essay "A Few Words for Motherhood," Wendell Berry describes the process of assisting at the birth of a calf--an experience that leaves the author "feeling instructed and awed and pleased." Berry's paratactic style, characterized by straightforward diction, is deceptively simple.
A Definition of Monkeying, by Carol Bly
Carol Bly begins her essay "Getting Tired" by describing a John Deere 6600 combine, which leads to reflections on the nature of modern farm work. In the following excerpt from that essay, Bly offers a definition of "monkeying" from a distinctly rural point of view.
Summer Rituals by Ray Bradbury
In this passage from Ray Bradbury's semi-autobiographical novel "Dandelion Wine," a young boy describes the family ritual of gathering on the porch after supper--a practice "so good, so easy and so reassuring that it could never be done away with."
Lists and Anaphora in Bill Bryson's "Neither Here Nor There"
In the opening chapter of "Neither Here Nor There," journalist Bill Bryson recalls his first visit to Europe as a college student 20 years earlier. In the following paragraph from that chapter, Bryson uses lists and anaphora to convey how "smitten" he was by his first impression of Luxembourg City.
Parenthetical Details in Truman Capote's Place Description
In these three paragraphs from "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote offers a brief history and description of Garden City, Kansas. Observe how the author frequently interrupts his sentences (with parentheses) to insert factual and illustrative details.
Raymond Chandler's Hardboiled Prose Style
These examples of Raymond Chandler's hardboiled prose have been drawn from the opening and closing chapters of his 1939 novel, "The Big Sleep."
Fragmented Invective in Coetzee's "Age of Iron"
In this excerpt from Coetzee's novel "Age of Iron," the narrator reflects fiercely and bitterly on the rulers she loathes. Her metaphorical invective is artfully fragmented as she searches for meaning in the dead language of Latin.
Colby's Narrative of New York in the 1970s
In this passage from her family memoir "The View from Morningside," author and educator Constance Taber Colby illustrates her thesis with a striking, double-edged narrative.
Evan S. Connell's Narrative Sketch of Mrs. Bridge
The following narrative sketch, from the final chapter of the novel "Mrs. Bridge," offers an image of entrapment that is both frightening and absurd.
Absolutes and Appositives in Frank Conroy's "Midair"
In these three paragraphs from the short story "Midair," Frank Conroy relies on a variety of sentence structures. Note, in particular, Conroy's effective use of appositives and absolute phrases.
Examples in Pat Conroy's "Confessions of an Ex-Catholic"
Pat Conroy uses several specific examples to demonstrate the pleasure he still takes in the "baroque and euphonic language" of the Catholic Church.
Harry Crews's Sketch of His Stepfather
In this excerpt from the opening chapter of his memoir, Harry Crews recounts his earliest impressions of his stepfather, who is eventually revealed to be a violent and dangerous drunk.
Place and Polysyndeton in Didion's "Goodbye to All That"
Consider the effects created by Joan Didion's use of polysyndeton in the opening paragraphs of her autobiographical essay "Goodbye to All That."
Verb Style in Annie Dillard's "Mirages"
This short passage from "Mirages" illustrates Annie Dillard's characteristic verbal style--a sentence style based on "active" verbs. As Richard Lanham has observed, "The verb style wants to move fast."
Ritual in Doctorow's "World's Fair"
With his customary attention to precise details, E. L. Doctorow describes the small rituals carried out by the narrator's grandmother, a "desiccated, asthmatic little woman" whose gentleness has been consumed by senility and rage.
Examples in Margaret Drabble's "The Missing Piece"
In this opening paragraph from her essay "The Missing Piece," Margaret Drabble includes references to various literary figures alongside examples from her own life.
Dreiser's New York in the Early 1900s
Though more highly regarded for his themes of social conflict than for his style, Theodore Dreiser had a reporter's eye for detail.
Barbara Ehrenreich's Explanation of a Ritual
In this passage from the opening chapter of the book "Blood Rites," Barbara Ehrenreich explains why the ritualistic experience of boot camp is a psychological necessity for new soldiers.
Rodeo and Baseball, by Gretel Ehrlich
In this paragraph from her first book, "The Solace of Open Spaces," Gretel Ehrlich compares two American sports, one distinctly regional, the other national.
Cause and Effect in "The Dream Animal" by Loren Eiseley
In this excerpt from the essay "The Dream Animal," an informal study of human evolution, Loren Eiseley relies on patterns of cause and effect to explore the mystery of the rapid emergence of the human brain.
Examples in Epstein's "You Take Manhattan"
In "You Take Manhattan," Joseph Epstein describes the "permanent transience" and "jumpy rhythms" of the city he called home for three years. In the following excerpt from that essay, he employs a series of witty examples to illustrate the outsized attitudes and aspirations of New Yorkers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's New York in the 1920s
Nick Carraway, the narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby," is the anonymous observer of New York City in the early 1920s.
Classification in Ford's "Independence Day"
In this passage from Chapter Five of Richard Ford's novel, Frank Bascombe reflects on his own behavior through a highly personal classification of winces.
Ian Frazier's List of Reasons in "Great Plains"
One critic has pointed to this lengthy series as evidence of Ian Frazier's "immature and unsophisticated" literary style. Other readers see it as an example of the artful playfulness that characterizes his best work.
Kinky Friedman's Interior Monologue: On Loners
In these two paragraphs from "Armadillos and Old Lace," Kinky Friedman indulges in an interior monologue (that is, he talks to himself) "on the subject of loners."
Stephen Fry on Corporal Punishment
Although he does not argue in favor of corporal punishment, Fry insists that "the men who beat me were not swine" and the punishments "at least had the virtue of being over quickly."
Reasons and Examples in Paul Fussell's "Class"
This passage considers one of the more visible signs of social class: clothing and other belongings "with messages on them you're supposed to read and admire." Notice how Fussell introduces several specific examples as he explains why people "feel a need to wear legible clothing."
Onomatopoeia in "The Tunnel" by William H. Gass
In this sketch of Culp, the limerick-writer, William H. Gass relies on onomatopoeia and other sound effects to illustrate the character's cartoonish ability to "whine, yelp, growl, howl, and bay with the worst of them."
Lists and Anaphora in Nikki Giovanni's "View of Home"
In these final two paragraphs from the essay "Pioneers: A View of Home," poet and teacher Nikki Giovanni illustrates her points through lists and a forceful anaphora.
William Golding's Encomium to Books
William Golding originally delivered this encomium to the book in a lecture in 1976--well before the arrival of laptops, Kindles, e-books, and other competitors to what Golding calls "physical books."
Hot Hands, by Stephen Jay Gould
In this excerpt from the essay "The Streak of Streaks," paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould relies on examples and statistics to explain--and debunk--the popular belief known as "hot hands," a version of the gambler's fallacy.
Narration in Graham Greene's "Lost Childhood"
In this brief narrative from the opening of the essay "The Lost Childhood" (published in 1947), Graham Greene recalls "the dangerous moment" when he first discovered that he could read.
Pete Hamill on Stickball in New York
In his memoir "A Drinking Life" (1994), Pete Hamill re-creates everyday life in Brooklyn and Manhattan during the 1940s and '50s. This passage, set in the days immediately following the end of World War II, describes the rules and rituals of a once popular New York City street game.
Definition of a Jerk, by Sydney J. Harris
In this brief essay, journalist Sydney J. Harris offers an extended definition of a familiar character type.
Process Analysis in Joseph Heller's "Catch-22"
In these two paragraphs from the opening chapter of "Catch-22," we learn how Yossarian, a U.S. Air Force pilot in World War II, fights off boredom in a military hospital. Consider how the steps involved in his private "war" on language introduce the novel's theme of the absurd response to an absurd predicament.
Hemingway's Use of Repetition
The first two paragraphs of Ernest Hemingway's short story "In Another Country" illustrate the author's effective use of repetition and polysyndeton.
John Hersey's Narrative Report
Here, in a passage that might be favorably compared to Jack London's account of the San Francisco earthquake and fire ("The Story of an Eyewitness"), John Hersey offers a narrative report on the flooding of Winsted, Connecticut in 1955.
Sentence Variety in Gilbert Highet's "Diogenes"
Gilbert Highet offers a memorable sketch of the "doggish" Greek philosopher Diogenes, who made a virtue of extreme poverty. Highet's mix of simple, compound, and complex sentences--some short, some long--helps to put us under the spell of a master teacher.
The Gramercy Gym, by Edward Hoagland
Recognized by John Updike as the best essayist of his generation, Edward Hoagland is especially well known for his nature and travel writing. This descriptive passage, however, is drawn from an essay on boxing--a "waning sport," says Hoagland, and one of the most "poignant ways to earn a living."
A Description of the Barracks in Block 16 of Manzanar
The memoir "Farewell to Manzanar" recounts the experiences of the Wakatsuki family at an American internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. In this excerpt, Jeanne Wakatsuki, just seven years old at the time of her imprisonment, provides a clear-eyed description of the "shack" in which the family was forced to live for almost...
Langston Hughes on Harlem in the 1920s
In the following passage from his autobiography "The Big Sea," Langston Hughes describes how Harlem became a tourist destination for white New Yorkers during the 1920s. Notice how his predominately paratactic style (along with his reliance on lists in paragraphs four and five) gives the writing a casual, conversational flavor.
James W. Johnson's New York in the Early 1900s
In these opening paragraphs from Chapter Six of James Weldon Johnson's "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man," the unnamed narrator recalls his first encounter with the deceptive enchantments of Manhattan.
Joyce Johnson's New York in the 1950s
Novelist Joyce Johnson relies on lists to organize the many cultural images and references in these two paragraphs describing life in the Lower East Side at the height of the Beat Movement.
A Definition of Happiness by Nikos Kazantzakis
In this excerpt from his memoir "Report to Greco" (1965), Kazantzakis recounts an experience that illustrated for him the meaning of happiness.
Jack Kerouac's New York in the 1950s
At the end of Jack Kerouac's novel, narrator Sal Paradise finds himself where his cross-country journey began a year earlier--in New York City.
Cause & Effect in Stephen King's "Horror Movies"
In this excerpt from an article that first appeared in 1981, Stephen King examines the causes and effects of an experience that points, he says, to the "insanity" inside us all.
John Lahr's Profile of David Mamet
The following paragraph has been drawn from the conclusion of John Lahr's profile of David Mamet. Notice how the description of the cabin where the playwright works, the references to the books on his table, and the brief quotations from Mamet's sister and from Mamet himself all serve to reveal aspects of character.
Anthony Lane's Two Kinds of Movies
In this passage from a review of the film "The White Ribbon" (2009), Anthony Lane compares two kinds of movies: those that merely entertain and those that encourage thoughtful discussion.
Lists in William Least Heat-Moon's Place Description
In this passage from Chapter 14 of "Blue Highways," William Least Heat-Moon describes a cafe in Darlington, South Carolina. Note his reliance on detailed lists to convey a sense of place.
Fran Lebowitz on the Greenwich Village Postal System
In the following paragraph from the essay "Taking a Letter," Fran Lebowitz offers a fresh (and ironic) perspective on the postal workers in her neighborhood.
Comparison in Laurie Lee's "Appetite"
In this excerpt from his essay "Appetite," Laurie Lee uses a then-and-now comparison to illustrate his thesis: "One of the major pleasures in life is appetite, and one of our major duties should be to protect it."
Personification in Jonathan Lethem's "Motherless Brooklyn"
The narrator of Jonathan Lethem's novel "Motherless Brooklyn" (1999) is Lionel Essrog, an orphan with Tourette syndrome. In the novel's opening paragraph, Essrog describes his neurological disorder through metaphors and extended personification.
From the Carpentry Shop to the Forge, by Bernard Levin
One of the most influential as well as controversial British journalists of his era, Bernard Levin was a columnist for "The Times" from 1971 until 1997. In this passage from "Enthusiasms" (1983), a discourse on the pleasures of his life, Levin recalls a fortunate encounter with failure in a woodworking class at boarding school.
Process Analysis in Barry Lopez's "Migration"
In this excerpt from "Arctic Dreams" (1986), Barry Lopez traces the process by which North American caribou "trek hundreds of miles each year between their winter range near the tree line and well-defined calving grounds on the tundra."
The Historical Present in "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt
Narrated in the present tense, McCourt's memoir provides a lyrical and painful account of growing up in Limerick, Ireland.
Thomas McGuane's Description of the Matchless 500
In this paragraph from the essay "Me and My Bike and Why," American novelist Thomas McGuane describes his first motorcycle.
Character Sketch by John McPhee
John McPhee's essay "Giving Good Weight" offers a detailed study of the vendors and customers at the Greenmarket in New York City. In this excerpt, he combines vivid descriptions with direct quotations to offer a sketch of a schoolteacher who works in the market during his summer vacations.
Subordination in Bernard Malamud's "A New Life"
In this paragraph from early in Bernard Malamud's novel "A New Life," Sy Levin relates his encounter with his first class on the opening day of the fall term. Notice the various kinds of subordination used by Malamud, in particular participial phrases and absolutes.
"Changes," by Peter Matthiessen
In "Men's Lives" (1986), Peter Matthiessen describes the effects of pollution on the waters around the South Fork of Long Island and the disappearing way of life of the local fishermen. The changes that he records in the following paragraphs took place in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Joseph Mitchell's Place Description: McSorley's Saloon
In this paragraph from "The Old House at Home" (1940), Mitchell describes New York City's oldest Irish tavern in a series of clearly arranged sentences, many of them short and deceptively simple yet always precise and evocative.
Jessica Mitford on the Embalmer's Art
In this excerpt from "The American Way of Death," Jessica Mitford describes the grisly process of restoring a damaged corpse.
Participial Phrases in Momaday's "House Made of Dawn"
In this passage from N. Scott Momaday's novel "House Made of Dawn," Abel observes two eagles in flight--"an awful, holy sight, full of magic and meaning." Observe how Momaday uses present and past participial phrases to convey the rapid movements of the eagles.
Willie Morris's Descriptive Narrative
In the following passage from his memoir "North Toward Home," Willie Morris relies on concrete details that both record and interpret an experience.
Toni Morrison's New York in the 1920s
Appearing early in Toni Morrison's "Jazz," this passage establishes the colloquial tone of the novel.
Polysyndeton in Julie Myerson's "Sad-Grand Moment"
British novelist and journalist Julie Myerson relies on polysyndeton to convey a moment that "ought to have been . . . significant."
Coordination in O'Neill's "Netherland"
Joseph O'Neill's narrator recalls a cricket game played in a New York City park one summer afternoon. The coordinated words, phrases, and clauses not only advance the action but evoke a mood of increasing tension.
Susan Orlean's Extended Metaphor: "Super-Duper"
In this excerpt from the travel piece "Super-Duper," journalist Susan Orlean introduces specific examples to support her thesis that "the real contest at the Super Bowl" is not the game itself but the metaphorical battles leading up to it.
Ethopoeia in George Orwell's "A Hanging"
In the following two paragraphs from George Orwell's essay "A Hanging," the narrator shifts his point of view from that of a disinterested observer to one who identifies intimately with the prisoner. In classical terms, this sort of identification is known as "ethopoeia."
Walker Percy's New York in the 1960s
In Walker Percy's novel "The Last Gentleman," the character of Will Barrett lives alone in New York City, a detached observer of life.
The Copia of S.J. Perelman's Comic Prose
Hyperbole, inflated diction, and abstruse allusions are just a few of the characteristics of S.J. Perelman's comic prose style.
Edgar Allan Poe's New York in the 1840s
Note Poe's attention to details of place and the ways that his descriptions evoke moods as well as images.
Metaphors and Comparisons in Porter's "The Necessary Enemy"
In this excerpt from the essay "The Necessary Enemy," Katherine Anne Porter employs a series of memorable metaphors in her comparison of the twin forces of love and hate in a marriage.
Developing a Topic Sentence With Examples in Pritchett's "London"
In this paragraph from the essay "London," V.S. Pritchett develops his short topic sentence ("London is prolific in its casualties, its human waste and eccentrics") with a series of sharply drawn examples.
Remedial Reading by Richard Rodriguez
In his autobiography "Hunger of Memory," Richard Rodriguez recounts his experiences as a Mexican-American growing up in Sacramento, California in the 1950s. In the following passage, the young boy discovers the comfort that reading provides and "the lonely good company of books."
Contrast in Rybczynski's "Home"
In "Home: A Short History of an Idea," Canadian architect and writer Witold Rybczynski contrasts cultures that have adopted a sitting-up posture with those that favor squatting.
Examples in "Under the Influence" by Scott Russell Sanders
In the following passage, Scott Russell Sanders uses a series of concise examples to demonstrate his point that what had once seemed "a private grief" was in fact "a public scourge."
Cumulative Sentences in "The Falls" by George Saunders
"I like style," George Saunders once told an interviewer. "I like to sound odd and, hopefully, unique." In the following two paragraphs from his short story "The Falls," Saunders achieves that distinction through cumulative sentences.
David Sedaris's Description of a Nudist Trailer Park
In this excerpt from his essay "Naked," an account of a week-long visit to a nudist colony, David Sedaris describes his living quarters and the surrounding neighborhood.
Process Analysis in Richard Selzer's "The Knife"
In these paragraphs from "The Knife," Richard Selzer vividly describes the process of "the laying open of the body of a human being."
Absolutes and Participial Phrases in Shaw's "The Eighty-Yard Run"
Here, in the opening paragraph of his short story "The Eighty-Yard Run," Irwin Shaw relies on participial phrases and absolutes to bring to life Christian Darling's memory of his few seconds of fleeting glory.
Contrast and Hyperbole in Jean Shepherd's "Endless Streetcar Ride"
Here, in the essay-like introduction to "The Endless Streetcar Ride," Jean Shepherd relies on hyperbole to develop a memorable contrast between "them" and "us"--the "stars" and the "numberless ciphers."
Leslie Marmon Silko's Legend of the Yellow Woman and the Giant
In both her fiction and nonfiction, Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko draws on the oral story-telling traditions of her ancestors, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. In this passage, a feature of the terrain near the Pueblo village of Old Laguna is explained by the legend of Kochininako (Yellow Woman) and Estrucuyo (the giant).
Analogies in David Simon's "Homicide"
In this excerpt from the book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," David Simon relies on a series of analogies to convey, from the dual perspectives of detective and suspect, what goes on in a police interrogation room.
Family Sketches in Kate Simon's "Bronx Primitive"
In her first memoir, "Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood," Kate Simon vividly recalls growing up in the Tremont section of the Bronx. Here she describes three relatives who shared the family's apartment on 98th Street and who helped teach her a valuable lesson.
Mark Singer's Profile of "Mr. Personality"
Here, in the second paragraph of a sketch that first appeared in "The New Yorker" magazine, Singer describes "the founder and at the moment the only member" of an organization called the Goodnicks of America.
Two Versions of Sontag's "Kidnapped by Movies"
In an essay first published in 1995 and revised the next year, Susan Sontag examined the causes for what she saw as the "ignominious, irreversible decline" of films. Compare these two versions of Sontag's text, and consider in what ways (if any) the revision shows an improvement over the original.
Descriptive Details in Wallace Stegner's "Town Dump"
In these five paragraphs from his memoir "Wolf Willow," Wallace Stegner employs precise descriptive details to convey the poetry of a town dump.
Parataxis in Steinbeck's "Paradox and Dream"
In his essay "Paradox and Dream" (1966), John Steinbeck examined the values and dreams of his fellow citizens. His familiar paratactic style (heavy on coordination, light on dependent clauses) is clearly illustrated here in the first three paragraphs of the essay.
Appositives in Alexander Theroux's "How Curious the Camel"
In the following excerpts from a short essay on the camel, Alexander Theroux both informs and delights--often relying on appositives to clarify and amplify his observations.
The Running Style in Lewis Thomas's "On Cloning"
Lewis's seemingly casual, almost spontaneous way of writing fits the definition of the running style: a sentence style that appears to follow the mind as it worries a problem through, mimicking the "rambling, associative syntax of conversation."
Sentence Variety in Thurber's "Life and Hard Times"
In this paragraph from James Thurber's autobiography, notice how he helps to maintain our interest by varying the length of his sentences.
Examples in Frank Trippett's "Loaded Words"
In the following paragraph from the essay "Watching Out for Loaded Words," editor and reporter Frank Trippett offers several examples without once using the word "example."
Barbara Tuchman's Historical Narrative: The Black Death
In these two paragraphs from "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century," Barabra Tuchman vividly illustrates the terrifying symptoms of the plague that came to be known as the Black Death.
John Updike's Descriptive Narrative
You don't have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the stylistic richness of John Updike's essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." In these four paragraphs from his report on the final game played by Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams, Updike demonstrates his mastery of narrative and descriptive prose.
Gore Vidal's Definition of Prettiness
The blend of historical information and personal narrative is a strategy Gore Vidal often adopts in his essays.
Comparison in Sarah Vowell's Place Description
In this carefully crafted paragraph from the essay "Shooting Dad," Sarah Vowell conveys distinct impressions of her father and herself by describing--and comparing--their different work spaces at home.
Points of View in Alice Walker's "Beauty"
In the opening paragraphs of the narrative essay "Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self," Alice Walker mingles the point of view of her childhood self with that of the adult who is recalling the experience.
Sentence Variety in Alice Walker's "Am I Blue?"
In these two opening paragraphs, Alice Walker relies on a variety of sentence structures to hold our attention as she develops her affectionate description of a horse named Blue.
Eudora Welty's Sketch of Miss Duling
Eudora Welty's precise physical description of her first-grade teacher, Miss Duling, also provides insights into the character of this "lifelong subscriber to perfection."
E.B. White's Diction and Metaphors in "Death of a Pig"
In these opening paragraphs of the essay "Death of a Pig," E.B. White mixes formal with informal diction while introducing an extended metaphor.
E.B. White's New York in the 1940s
In the first paragraph, drawn from the opening of "Here Is New York," E.B. White approaches the city through a simple pattern of division. In the next two paragraphs, taken from the end of the essay, White anticipates the terror that would visit the city more than 50 years later.
Examples in E.B. White's "Progress and Change"
After commenting on the gradual disappearance of the Pullman berth (a small sleeping compartment in trains), E.B. White offers this reflection on the "dim degeneracy" that often accompanies progress.
Status Details in Tom Wolfe's Descriptions
In two paragraphs from the novel "A Man in Full," Tom Wolfe conveys a sense of character through physical description--or what he calls "status details."
Richard Wright's Hunger for Books
In Chapter 13 of his autobiography, Richard Wright recounts how, at age 15, he had to forge the name of a white co-worker in order to borrow Mencken's books from the Memphis Public Library.