Analytic Paragraph


The Analytical Paragraph – The 6 Basic Components

A Review 

You write an analytical paragraph (note:  a body paragraph of an essay is the same thing as an analytical paragraph) in response to a question about literature.  For example, you would not respond in an analytical paragraph to the question - What is the plot of the novel Animal Farm?  However, you would respond in an analytical paragraph to this question – In what ways do the pigs abuse their power in Animal Farm?)  The analytical paragraph lays out and explains the evidence that supports your thesis.  Each analytical paragraph should include the following: 

  1. 1. Topic Sentence – This tells the reader what your paragraph is about; it is the main idea of that paragraph.  It should be the first sentence of your paragraph.  If you are writing an essay the topic sentence will connect to the thesis of your essay.  Your topic sentence cannot be a factual statement.  It must be something that can be argued for or against.

  1. 2. Context for your textual evidence – For each piece of evidence you choose, you must orient the reader to what is going on in the text.  What is happening in the text in the pages where your quotation is found in the book.  As a rule, do not write more than two sentences of context.  DO NOT SUMMARIZE the entire story here.    

3. Textual evidence – This is a short sentence or passage which you copy directly, word for word, from the text because you want to use it as evidence to prove your topic sentence and/or thesis.  You need to put quotation marks (“…”) around it because the words are written by somebody else.  Remember, your quote is your evidence and must support what you are trying to argue.   

4. Page Reference – Put the page number to indicate where in the text you found your quote.  The page number is placed at the end of the quote in parenthesis.  Do not include the following:  page, pages, p., book title, etc. Just the number is all you need. 

      Bart complains, “I hate peas” (18) .   

5. Analysis – Explain in your own words how your evidence supports your topic sentence.   Talk about specific words, phrases, or ideas found in your evidence.  Make specific connections between your evidence and the topic sentence (also connect it to the thesis in an essay).  Do not just restate the quote or summarize the story.  Analysis should be a minimum of two (2) sentences.

6. Concluding/Transition Sentence – If you are writing just one analytical paragraph then this sentence serves as your conclusion.  It answers the question “what’s your point?”  It should tie back to the topic sentence.  If you are writing an essay, and this is one of your body paragraphs, then this sentence is used to move from the idea you are currently writing about to the next idea you will write about in your next body paragraph.  It serves as a transition. 


Paragraph Example: 

      Candy, who co-chaperones the patients on their fishing trip, embodies an unhindered and natural essence that can break down the oppressive machinery of the ward.  Her presence damages what Bromden perceives as the equipment that invisibly controls the patients.  When she enters the ward, Bromden imagines a “blue smoke … near the ceiling over her head;  [he thinks] the apparatus burned out all over the ward trying to adjust to her come busting in like she did” (196). Candy enters so suddenly and unexpectedly that the machinery cannot calibrate itself and, thus, burns out.  This apparatus is unable to register Candy’s free and unguarded movements because it is used to only controlling the confined men. Candy does not only disrupt the machinery, but also the nurses. She does not simply walk into the ward, but “[jounces] up the hall past the Nurses’ station, where all the nurses try to freeze her bounce with a unified icy look” (196).  Even the nurses are caught off guard by Candy’s unconstrained movements. As she jounces past them, the nurses fix her with a glare.  They work together to make her stop, to make her move uniformly and emotionlessly.  They, too, have no control over Candy.  Her free spirit prevails over the tyrannical control of the nurses and their machinery.