Chapter 5: Maintaining Focus and Purpose: The Body Paragraphs

The Author’s Subject is Not Your Subject

In the process of analyzing an article there is often a tricky moment where the subject of the article threatens to become indistinguishable from the subject of the analytical essay. Remember that the author’s subject is not your subject; the author’s text is your subject. Maintain a critical distance and always make it clear that these are another author’s claims that you are analyzing.

Do not present the author’s claims as if they are facts!

Make a note of the language we use in this passage from Paragraph 4.


Justice notes that sometimes such differences, even when expressed, still lead to divisions that may seem insurmountable. “We parcel up land into properties,” Justice writes, marking our divisions from one another. In more extreme cases, we are “separated permanently by mountains or water barriers” which seem to end definitively any sense or hope of unity: “because of our success in outgrowing our original environment we ceased to have a common place and identity.” This insurmountable division seems an unavoidable result of human evolution and prosperity, Justice implies—as the earliest groups of humans thrived in their shared landscape, “eventually, as population grew over generations, a new band would split off.”

They may not seem like much, but phrases such as  “Justice notes,” “Justice writes,” and “Justice implies” are pivotal parts of any paragraph that incorporates cited passages. It is important to continually remind your reader and yourself that you are analyzing another author’s argument and not repeating irrefutable truths. Always be examining how the author’s text works, and use citations to examine specific aspects of the argument, not present  the argument as true. Without that angle of investigation, you will get caught summarizing an argument rather than analyzing it.

Now let’s watch how we use claim, evidence, and warrant, topic sentences, and cited passages, to create our final two body paragraphs. Watch Video 5.3 on the inner workings of a body paragraph.


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Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.