Part 6 out of 9
In the novel and the drama, both of which may have a complicated plot,
several minor climaxes or crises may be found. There may be a crisis to
each single event or episode, yet they should all be a part of and lead up
to the principal or final climax. Instead of detracting from, they add to
the interest of a carefully woven plot. For example, in the _Merchant of
Venice_, we have a crisis in both the casket story and the Lorenzo and
Jessica episode; but so skillfully are the stories interwoven that the
minor climaxes do not lessen our interest in the principal one.
In short stories, the turning point should come near the close. There
should be but little said after that point is reached. In novels, and
especially in dramas, we find that the climax is not right at the close,
and considerable action sometimes takes place after the climax has been
_A._ Point out the climax in each of five stories that you have read.
_B._ Where is the climax in the following selection?
We spoke, and Sohrab kindled at his taunts,
And he too drew his sword; at once they rushed
Together, as two eagles on one prey
Come rushing down together from the clouds,
One from the east, one from the west; their shields
Dashed with a clang together, and a din
Rose, such as that the sinewy woodcutters
Make often in the forest's heart at morn,
Of hewing axes, crashing trees--such blows
Rustum and Sohrab on each other hailed.
And you would say that sun and stars took part
In that unnatural conflict; for a cloud
Grew suddenly in heaven, and darked the sun
Over the fighters' heads; and a wind rose
Under their feet, and moaning swept the plain,
And in a sandy whirlwind wrapped the pair.
In gloom they twain were wrapped, and they alone;
For both the onlooking hosts on either hand
Stood in broad daylight, and the sky was pure,
And the sun sparkled on the Oxus stream.
But in the gloom they fought, with bloodshot eyes
And laboring breath; first Rustum struck the shield
Which Sohrab held stiff out; the steel-spiked spear
Rent the tough plates, but failed to reach the skin,
And Rustum plucked it back with angry groan.
Then Sohrab with his sword smote Rustum's helm,
Nor clove its steel quite through; but all the crest
He shore away, and that proud horsehair plume,
Never till now denied, sank to the dust;
And Rustum bowed his head; but then the gloom
Grew blacker, thunder rumbled in the air,
And lightnings rent the cloud; and Ruksh, the horse,
Who stood at hand, uttered a dreadful cry;--
No horse's cry was that, most like the roar
Of some pained desert lion, who all day
Hath trailed the hunter's javelin in his side,
And comes at night to die upon the sand.
The two hosts heard that cry, and quaked for fear,
And Oxus curdled as it crossed his stream.
But Sohrab heard, and quailed not, but rushed on,
And struck again; and again Rustum bowed
His head; but this time all the blade, like glass,
Sprang in a thousand shivers on the helm,
And in the hand the hilt remained alone.
Then Rustum raised his head; his dreadful eyes
Glared, and he shook on high his menacing spear,
And shouted: "Rustum!"--Sohrab heard that shout,
And shrank amazed: back he recoiled one step,
And scanned with blinking eyes the advancing form;
And then he stood bewildered; and he dropped
His covering shield, and the spear pierced his side.
He reeled, and, staggering back, sank to the ground,
And then the gloom dispersed, and the wind fell,
And the bright sun broke forth, and melted all
The cloud; and the two armies saw the pair--
Saw Rustum standing, safe upon his feet,
And Sohrab wounded, on the bloody sand.
--Matthew Arnold: _Sohrab and Rustum_.
+Theme LXXVI.+--_Write a story and give special attention to the climax._
1. The immigrant's error.
2. A critical moment.
3. An intelligent dog.
4. The lost key.
5. Catching a burglar.
6. A hard test.
7. Won by the last hit.
8. A story suggested by a picture you have seen.
(Name the incidents leading up to the climax. Is the mind held in suspense
until the climax is reached? Are any unnecessary details introduced?)
+146. Conversation in Narration.+--When introduced into narration, a
conversation is briefer than when actually spoken. It is necessary to have
the conversation move quickly, for we read with less patience than we
listen. The sentences must be for the most part short, and the changes
from one speaker to another frequent, or the dialogue will have a "made to
order" effect. Notice the conversation in as many different stories as
possible. Observe how variation is secured in indicating the speaker. How
many substitutes for "He said" can you name? In relating conversation
orally, we are less likely to secure such variety. Notice in your own
speech and that of others how often "I said" and "He said" occur.
_A_. Notice the indentation and sentence length in the following
Louden looked up calmly at the big figure towering above him.
"It won't do, Judge," he said; that was all, but there was a significance
in his manner and a certainty in his voice which caused the uplifted hand
to drop limply.
"Have you any business to set foot upon my property?" he demanded.
"Yes," answered Joe. "That's why I came.
"What business have you got with me?"
"Enough to satisfy you, I think. But there's one thing I don't want to
do"--Joe glanced at the open door--"and that is to talk about it here--for
your own sake and because I think Miss Tabor should be present. I called
to ask you to come to her house at eight o'clock to-night."
"You did!" Martin Pike spoke angrily, but not in the bull bass of yore.
"My accounts with her estate are closed," he said harshly. "If she wants
anything let her come here."
Joe shook his head. "No. You must be there at eight o'clock."
--Booth Tarkington: _The Conquest of Canaan_ ("Harper's").
_B_. Notice the conversation in the following narrative. Consider also the
incentive moment and the climax. Suggest improvements.
When Widow Perkins saw Widower Parsons coming down the road she looked as
mad as a hornet and stepped to the back door.
"William Henry," she called to the lank youth chopping wood, "you've
worked hard enough for one day. Come in and rest."
"Guess that's the first time you ever thought I needed a rest since I was
born. I'll keep right on chopping till you get through acceptin' old
Hull," he replied, whereupon the widow slammed the door and looked twice
as mad as before.
"Mornin', widdy," remarked the widower, stalking into the room, taking a
chair without an invitation, and hanging his hat on his knee. "Cold day,"
he added cheerfully.
The widow nodded shortly, at the same time inwardly prophesying a still
colder day for him before he struck the weather again.
"Been buyin' a new cow," resumed the caller, impressively.
"Have, eh?" returned the widow, with a jerk, bringing out the ironing
board and slamming it down on the table.
"An' two hogs," went on the widower, wishing the widow would glance at him
just once and see how affectionate he looked. "They'll make pork enough
for all next winter and spring."
"Will, eh?" responded the widow, with a bang of the iron that nearly
wrecked the table.
"An' a--a--lot o' odd things 'round the house; an' the fact is, widdy, you
see--that is, you know--was going to say if you'll agree"--the widower
lost his words, and in his desperation hung his hat on the other knee and
hitched a trifle nearer the ironing board.
"No, Hull Parsons, I don't see a single mite, nor I don't know a particle,
an' I ain't agreein' the least bit," snapped the widow, pounding the
creases out of the tablecloth.
"But say, widdy, don't get riled so soon," again ventured Parsons. "I was
jest goin' to tell you that I've been proposing to Carpenter Brown to
build a new--"
By this time the widow was glancing at him in a way he wished she
"Is that all the proposin' you've done in the last five mouths, Hull
Parsons?" she demanded stormily. "You ain't asked every old maid for miles
around to marry you, have you, Hull Parsons? An' you didn't tell the last
one you proposed to that if she didn't take you there would be only one
more chance left--that old pepper-box of a Widow Perkins? You didn't say
that, now, did you, Hull Parsons?" and the widow's eyes and voice snapped
fire all at once.
The caller turned several different shades of red and realized that he had
struck the biggest snag he'd ever struck in any courting career, past or
present. He laughed violently for a second or two, tried to hang his
hat on both knees at the same time, and finally sank his voice to a
"Now, widdy, that's the woman's way o' puttin' it. They've been jealous o'
you all 'long, fur they knew where my mind was sot. I wouldn't married one
o' them women for nothing," added the widower, with another hitch toward
the ironing board.
"Huh!" responded the widow, losing a trifle of her warlike cast of
countenance. "S'pose all them women hadn't refused you, Hull Parsons, what
"They didn't refuse me, widdy," returned the widower, trying to look
sheepish, and dropping his voice an octave lower. "S'pose I hadn't oughter
tell on 'em, but--er--can you keep a secret, widdy?"
"I ain't like the woman who can't," remarked the widow, shortly.
"Well, then, I was the one who did the refusin'--the hull gang went fer me
right heavy, guess 'cause 'twas leap year, or they was tryin' on some o'
them new women's ways, or somethin' like that. But my mind was sot all
along, d'ye see, widdy?"
And the Widow Perkins invited Widower Parsons to stay to dinner, because
she thought she saw.
+Theme LXXVII.+--_Complete the story on pages 79-80,
or one of the following:_--
THE AUDACIOUS REPORTER
Soon after Fenimore Dayton became a reporter his city editor sent him to
interview James Mountain. That famous financier was then approaching the
zenith of his power over Wall Street and Lombard Street. It had just been
announced that he had "absorbed" the Great Eastern and Western Railway
System--of course, by the methods which have made some men and some
newspapers habitually speak of him as "the Royal Bandit." The city editor
had two reasons for sending Dayton--first because he did not like him;
second, because any other man on the staff would walk about for an hour
and come back with the report that Mountain had refused to receive him,
while Dayton would make an honest effort.
Seeing Dayton saunter down Nassau Street--tall, slender, calm, and
cheerful--you would never have thought that he was on his way to interview
one of the worst-tempered men in New York, for a newspaper which that man
peculiarly detested, and on a subject which he did not care to discuss
with the public. Dayton turned in at the Equitable Building and went up to
the floor occupied by Mountain, Ranger, & Blakehill. He nodded to the
attendant at the door of Mountain's own suite of offices, strolled
tranquilly down the aisle between the several rows of desks at which sat
Mountain's personal clerks, and knocked at the glass door on which was
printed "Mr. Mountain" in small gilt letters.
"Come!" It was an angry voice--Mountain's at its worst.
Dayton opened the door. Mountain glanced up from a mass of papers before
him. His red forehead became a network of wrinkles and his scant white
eyebrows bristled. "And who are you?" he snarled.
"My name is Dayton--Fenimore Dayton," replied the reporter, with a
gracefully polite bow. "Mr. Mountain, I believe?"
It was impossible for Mr. Mountain altogether to resist the impulse to bow
in return. Dayton's manner was compelling.
"And what the dev--what can I do for you?"
"I'm a reporter from the ----"
"What!" roared Mountain, leaping to his feet in a purple, swollen veined
--David Graham Philips ("McClure's").
When I took my aunt and sister to the Pequot hotel, the night before the
Yale-Harvard boat race, I found a gang of Harvard boys there. They
celebrated a good deal that night, in the usual Harvard way.
Some of the Harvard men had a room next to mine. About three a.m. things
quieted down. When I woke up next morning, it was broad daylight, and I
was utterly alone. The race was to be at eleven o'clock. I jumped out of
bed and looked at my watch--it was nearly ten! I looked for my clothes. My
valise was gone! I rang the bell, but in the excitement downstairs, I
suppose, no one answered it.
What was I to do? Those Harvard friends of mine thought it a good joke on
me to steal my clothes and take themselves off to the race without waking
me up. I don't know what I should have done in my anguish, when, thank
goodness, I heard a tap at my door, and went to it.
"Well, do hurry!" (It was my sister's voice.) "Aunt won't go to the race;
we'll have to go without her."
"They've stolen my clothes, Mollie--those Harvard fellows."
"Haven't you anything?" she asked through the keyhole.
"Not a thing, dear."
"Oh, well! it's a just punishment to you after last night! That ---- noise
"Perhaps it is," I said, "but don't preach now, sister dear--get me
something to put on. I want to see the race."
"I haven't anything except some dresses and one of aunt's."
"Get me Aunt Sarah's black silk," I cried. "I will wear anything rather
than not see the race, and it's half-past ten nearly now."
(Correct your theme with reference to the points mentioned in Section
+147. Number and Choice of Details--Unity.+--In relating experiences the
choice of details will be determined by the purpose of the narrative and
by the person or persons for whom we are writing. A brief account of an
accident for a newspaper will need to include only a clear and concise
statement of a few important facts. A traveling experience may be made
interesting and vivid if we select several facts and treat each quite
fully. This is especially true if the experience took place in a country
or part of a country not familiar to our readers. If we are writing for
those with whom we are acquainted, we can easily decide what will interest
them. If we write to different persons an account of the same event, we
find that these accounts differ from one another. We know what each person
will enjoy, and we try to adapt our writing to each individual taste. Our
narrative will be improved by adapting it to an imaginary audience in case
we do not know exactly who our readers will be. In your high school work
you know your readers and can select your facts accordingly.
To summarize: a narration should possess unity, that is, it should say all
that should be said about the subject and not more than needs to be said.
The length of the theme, the character of the audience to which it is
addressed, and the purpose for which it is written, determine what facts
are necessary and how many to choose in order to give unity. (See Section
+148. Arrangement of Details--Coherence.+--We should use an arrangement of
our facts that will give coherence to our theme. In a coherent theme each
sentence or paragraph is naturally suggested by the preceding one. It has
been pointed out in Sections 82-85 that in narration we gain coherence by
relating our facts in the order of their occurrence. When a single series
of events is set forth, we can follow the real time-order, omitting such
details as are not essential to the unity of the story.
If, however, more than one series of events are given, we cannot follow
the exact time-order, for, though two events occur at the same time, one
must be told before the other. Here, the actual time relations must be
carefully indicated by the use of expressions; as, _at the same time,
meanwhile, already_, etc. (See Section 12.) Two or more series of events
belong in the same story only if they finally come together at some time,
usually at the point of the story. They should be carried along together
so that the reader shall have in mind all that is necessary for the
understanding of the point when it is reached. In short stories the
changes from one series to another are close together. In a long book one
or more chapters may give one series of incidents, while the following
chapters may be concerned with a parallel series of incidents. Notice the
introductory paragraph of each chapter in Scott's _Ivanhoe_ or Cooper's
_The Last of the Mohicans_. Many of these indicate that a new series of
events is to be related.
It will be of advantage in writing a narrative to construct an outline as
indicated in Section 84. Such an outline will assist us in making our
narrative clear by giving it unity, coherence, and emphasis.
1. Name events that have occurred in your school or city which could be
related in their exact time-order. Relate one of them orally.
2. Name two accidents that could not be related in their exact time-order.
Relate one of them orally.
3. Name subjects for real narratives that would need to be written in the
first person; in the third person.
4. In telling about a runaway accident, what points would you mention if
you were writing a short account for a newspaper?
5. What points would you add if you were writing to some one who was
acquainted with the persons in the accident?
6. Consider the choice and arrangement of details in the next magazine
story that you read.
+Theme LXXVIII.+--_Write a personal narrative in which the time-order can
be carefully followed._
1. The irate conductor.
2. A personal adventure with a window.
3. An interrupted nap.
4. Lost in the woods.
5. In a runaway.
6. An amusing adventure.
7. A day at grandfather's.
(Consider the unity and coherence of the theme.)
+Theme LXXIX.+--_Write in the third person a true narrative in which
different events are going on at the same time._
1. A skating accident.
2. The hunters hunted.
3. Capsized on the river.
4. How he won the race.
5. An experience with a balky horse.
6. The search for a lost child.
7. How they missed each other.
8. A strange adventure.
9. A tip over in a bobsleigh.
(How many series of events have you in your narrative? Are they well
connected? What words have you used to show the time-order of the
+149. Interrelation of Plot and Character.+--Though in narration the
interest centers primarily in the action, yet in the higher types of
narration interest in character is closely interwoven with interest in
plot. In reading, our attention is held by the plot; we follow its
development, noticing the addition of incidents, their relation to one
another and to the larger elements of action in the story, and their union
in the final disentanglement of the plot; but our complete appreciation of
the story runs far beyond the plot and depends to a large extent upon our
interpretation of the character of the individuals concerned. The mere
story may be exciting and interesting, but its effect will be of little
permanent value if it does not stir within us some appreciation of
character, which we shall find reflected in our own lives or in the lives
of those about us. We may read the _Merchant of Venice_ for its story, but
a deeper study of the play sets forth and reenforces the character of
Portia, Shylock, and the others. With many of the celebrated characters of
literature this interest has grown quite apart from interest in the plot,
and they stand to-day as the embodiment of phases of human nature. Thus by
means of action does the skillful author portray his conception of human
life and human character.
On the other hand, when we write we shall need to distinguish action that
indicates character from that which is merely incidental to the plot. In
order to develop a story to its climax we may need to have the persons
concerned perform certain actions. If by skillful wording we can show not
only what was done but also to some extent the way in which it was done,
we may give our readers some notion of the character of the individuals in
our story. (See Section 10.) This portrayal of character may be aided by
the use of description. (See Section 134.)
Notice that the purpose of the following selection is to indicate the
character of Pitkin rather than to relate the incident. If the author were
to relate other doings of Pitkin, he would need to make the actions of
Pitkin in each case consistent with the character indicated by this
It was the day of our great football game with Harvard, and when I heard
my friend Pitkin returning to the room we shared in common, I knew that he
was mad. And when I say mad I mean it,--not angry, nor exasperated, nor
aggravated, nor provoked, but mad: not mad according to the dictionary,
that is, crazy, but mad as we common folk use the term. So I say my friend
Pitkin was mad. I thought so when I heard the angry click-clack of his
heels on the cement walk, and I carefully put all the chairs against the
wall; I was sure of it when the door slammed, and I set the coal scuttle
in the corner behind the stove. There was no doubt of it when he mounted
the stairs three steps at a time, and I hastily cleared his side of the
desk. You may wonder why I did all these things, but you have never seen
Why was Pitkin mad? I did not then know. I had not seen him yet, for I was
so busy--so very, very busy--that I did not look up when he slammed his
books on the desk with a resounding whack which caused the ink bottle to
tremble and the lampshade to clatter as though chattering its teeth with
fear, while the pens and pencils, tumbling from the holder, scurried away
to hide themselves under the desk.
I was still busily engaged with my books while he threw his wet overcoat
and dripping hat on the white bedspread and kicked his rubbers under the
stove, the smell of which soon warned me to rescue them before they
melted. Pitkin must be very mad this time. He was taking off his collar
and even his shoes. Pitkin always took off his collar when very mad, and
if especially so, put on his slippers, even if he had to change them again
in fifteen minutes.
"What are you doing? Why don't you say something? You are a pretty fellow
not to speak or even look up." Such was Pitkin's first remark. Sometimes
he was talkative and would insist on giving his opinion of things in
general. At other times he preferred to be left alone to bury himself and
his wrath in his books. Since he had failed to poke the fire, though the
room was very warm, I had decided that he would dive into his books and be
heard no more until a half hour past his suppertime, but I had made a
mistake. Today he was in a talkative mood, and knowing that work was
impossible, I devoted the next half hour to listening to a dissertation on
the general perverseness of human nature, and to an elaborate description
of my friend Pitkin's scheme for endowing a rival institution with a
hundred million, and making things so cheap and attractive that our
university would have to go out of business. When Pitkin reached this
point, I knew that I could safely ask the special reason of his anger and
that, having answered, he would settle down to his regular work. I gently
insinuated that I was still ignorant of the matter, and received the reply
quite in keeping with Pitkin's nature, "I bet on Harvard and won."
1. Read one of Dickens's books and bring to class selections that will
show how Dickens portrays character by use of action.
2. What kind of man is Silas Marner? What leads you to think as you do?
3. Select three persons from _Ivanhoe_ and state your opinion of their
4. Notice the relative importance of plot and character in three magazine
5. Select some person from a magazine story. Tell the class what makes you
form the estimate of his character that you do. To what extent does the
descriptive matter help you determine his character?
+Theme LXXX.+--_Write a character sketch or a story which shows character
by means of action._
1. The girl from Texas.
2. The Chinese cook.
3. Taking care of the baby.
4. Nathan's temptation.
5. The small boy's triumph.
6. A village character.
7. The meanest man I ever knew.
(Consider the development of the plot. To what extent have you shown
character by action? Can you make the impression of character stronger by
adding some description?)
+150. History and Biography.+--Historical and biographical narratives may
be highly entertaining and at the same time furnish us with much valuable
information. Such writings often contain much that is not pure narration.
A historian may set forth merely the program of events, but most histories
contain besides a large amount of description and explanation. Frequently,
too, all of this is but the basis of either a direct or an implied
argument. Likewise a biographer may be chiefly concerned with the acts of
a man, but he usually finds that the introduction of description and
explanation aids him in making clear the life purpose of the man about
whom he writes. In shorter histories and biographies, the expository and
descriptive matter often displaces the narrative matter to such an extent
that the story ceases to be interesting.
The actual time-order of events need not be followed. It will often make
our account clearer to discuss the literary works of a man at one time,
his education at another, and his practical achievements at a third.
Certain portions of his life may need to be emphasized while others are
neglected. What we include in a biography and what we emphasize will be
determined by the purpose for which it is written. For pure information, a
short account is desirable, but a long account is of greater interest. If
a man is really great, the most insignificant events in his life will be
read with interest, but a good biographer will select such events with
good taste and then will present them so that they will have a bearing
upon the more important phases of the man's life and character. Hundreds
of the stories told about Lincoln would be trivial but for the fact that
they help us better to understand the real character of the man.
1. Select some topic briefly mentioned in the history text you study. Look
up a more extended account of it and come to the class prepared to recite
the topic orally. Make your report clear, concise, and interesting. Decide
beforehand just what facts you will relate and in what order. (See
Sections 39, 52, 53.)
+Theme LXXXI.+--_Come to class prepared to write upon some topic assigned
by the teacher, or upon one of the following_:--
1. Pontiac's conspiracy.
2. The battle of Marathon.
3. The Boston tea party.
4. The battle of Bannockburn.
5. Sherman's march to the sea.
6. Passage of the Alps by Napoleon.
(Is your narrative told in an interesting way? Are any facts necessary to
the clear understanding of it omitted?)
1. Name an English orator, an English statesman, and an English writer
about each of whom an interesting biography might be written.
2. With the same purpose in view name two American orators, two American
writers, and two American statesmen.
+Theme LXXXII.+--_Write a short biography of some prominent person.
Include only well-known and important facts, but do not give his name.
Read the biography before the class and have them tell whose biography it
+151. Description in Narration.+--The descriptive elements, of narration
should always have for their purpose something more than the mere creating
of images. If a house is described, the description should enable us to
bring to mind more vividly the events that take place within or around it.
If the description aids us in understanding how or why the events occur,
it is helpful; but if it fails to do this, it has no place in the
narrative. Description when thus used serves as a background for the
actions told in the story, and has for its purpose the explanation of how
or why they occur.
Sometimes the descriptions are given before the incident and sometimes the
two are intermixed. In the following incident from the _Legend of Sleepy
Hollow_, notice how the description prepares the mind for the action that
follows. We are told that the brook which Ichabod must cross runs into a
marshy and thickly wooded glen; that the oaks and chestnuts matted with
grapevines throw a gloom over the place, and already we feel that it is a
dreadful spot after dark. The fact that Andre was captured here adds to
the feeling. We are prepared to have some exciting action take place, and
had Ichabod ridden quietly across the bridge, we should have been
About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road, and
ran into a marshy and thickly wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley's
swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this
stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the woods, a
group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grapevines, threw a
cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It
was at this identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured, and
under covert of those vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised
him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are
the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.
As he approached the stream his heart began to thump; he summoned up,
however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the
ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of
starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and ran
broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the
delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the
contrary foot. It was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it
was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of
brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and
heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward,
snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a
suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at
this moment a plashy tramp, by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive
ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the
brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It
stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom like some gigantic
monster ready to spring upon the traveler.
--Irving: _Legend of Sleepy Hollow_.
The most important use of description in connection with narration is that
of portraying character. Though it is by their actions that the character
of persons is most strongly brought out, yet the descriptive matter may do
much to strengthen the impression of character which we form. (Section
134.) Much of the description found in literature is of this nature.
Stripped of its context such a description may fail to satisfy our ideals
as judged by the principles of description discussed in Chapter VIII.
Nevertheless, in its place it may be perfectly adapted to its purpose and
give just the impression the author wished to give. Such descriptions must
be judged in their settings, and the sole standard of judgment is not
their beauty or completeness as descriptions, but how well they give the
+Theme LXXXIII.+--_Write a short personal narrative containing some
description which explains how or why events occur._
(Is there anything in the descriptive part that does not bear on the
+Theme LXXXIV.+--_Write a narrative containing description that aids in
giving an impression of character._
1. Holding the fort.
2. A steamer trip.
3. How I played truant.
5. The misfortunes of our circus.
6. Account for the situation shown in a picture that you have seen.
(Will the reader form the impression of character which you wish him to
form? Consider your theme with reference to its introduction, incentive
moment, selection and arrangement of details, and climax.)
1. Narration assumes a variety of forms,--incidents, anecdotes, stories,
letters, novels, histories, biographies, etc.,--all concerned with the
relation of events.
2. The essential characteristics of a narration are,--
_a._ An introduction which tells the characters, the time, the place,
and enough of the attendant circumstances to make clear the
point of the narrative.
_b._ The early introduction of an incentive moment.
_c._ A climax presented in such a way as to maintain the interest of
_d._ The selection of details essential to the climax in accordance
with the principle of unity.
_e._ The arrangement of these details in a coherent order.
_f._ The skillful introduction of minor details which will assist in
the appreciation of the point.
_g._ The introduction of all necessary description and explanation.
_h._ That additional effectiveness which comes from
(1) Proper choice of words.
(2) Suitable comparisons and figures.
(3) Variety of sentence structure.
_i._ A brief conclusion.
+152. Purpose of Exposition.+--It is the purpose of exposition to make
clear to others that which we ourselves understand. Its primary object is
to give information. Herein lies one of the chief differences between the
two forms of discourse just studied and the one that we are about to
study. The primary object of most description and narration is to please,
while that of exposition is to inform. Exposition answers such questions
as how? why? what does it mean? what is it used for? and by these answers
attempts to satisfy demands for knowledge.
In the following selections notice that the first tells us _how_ to
burnish a photograph; the second, _how_ to split a sheet of paper:--
1. When the prints are almost dry they can be burnished. The burnishing
iron should be heated and kept hot during the burnishing, about the same
heat as a flatiron in ironing clothes. Care must be taken to keep the
polished surface of the burnisher bright and clean. When the iron is hot
enough the prints should be rubbed with a glace polish, which is sold for
this purpose, and is applied with a small wad of flannel. Then the prints
should be passed through the burnisher two or three times, the burnisher
being so adjusted that the pressure on the prints is rather light; the
degree of pressure will be quickly learned by experience, more pressure
being required if the prints have been allowed to become dry before being
polished. White castile soap will do very well as a lubricator for the
prints before burnishing, and is applied in the same manner as above.
--_The Amateur Photographer's Handbook_.
2. Paper can be split into two or even three parts, however thin the
sheet. It may be convenient to know how to do this sometimes; as, for
instance, when one wishes to paste in a scrapbook an article printed on
both sides of the paper.
Get a piece of plate glass and place it on a sheet of paper. Then let the
paper be thoroughly soaked. With care and a little skill the sheet can be
split by the top surface being removed.
The best plan, however, is to paste a piece of cloth or strong paper to
each side of the sheet to be split. When dry, quickly, and without
hesitation, pull the two pieces asunder, when one part of the sheet will
be found to have adhered to one, and part to the other. Soften the paste
in water, and the two pieces can easily be removed from the cloth.
A. Explain orally any two of the following:--
1. How to fly a kite.
2. How a robin builds her nest.
3. How oats are harvested.
4. How tacks are made.
5. How to make a popgun.
6. How fishes breathe.
7. How to swim.
8. How to hemstitch a handkerchief.
9. How to play golf.
10. How salt is obtained.
B. Name several subjects with the explanation of which you are unfamiliar.
+Theme LXXXV.+--_Select for a subject something that you know how to do.
Write a theme on the subject chosen._
(Have you made use of either general description or general narration? See
Sections 67 and 68.)
Very frequently explanations of _how_ and _why_ anything is done are
combined, as in the following:--
In cases of sunstroke, place the person attacked in a cool, airy place. Do
not allow a crowd to collect closely about him. Remove his clothing, and
lay him flat upon his back. Dash him all over with cold water--ice-water,
if it can be obtained--and rub the entire body with pieces of ice. This
treatment is used to reduce the heat of the body, for in all cases of
sunstroke the temperature of the body is greatly increased. When the body
has become cooler, wipe it dry and remove the person to a dry locality. If
respiration ceases, or becomes exceedingly slow, practice artificial
respiration. After the patient has apparently recovered, he should be kept
quiet in bed for some time.
--Baldwin: _Essential Lessons in Human Physiology and Hygiene_.
Notice that the following selection answers neither the question _how_?
nor _why_? but explains what journalism is:--
What is a journal? What is a journalist? What is journalism? Is it a
trade, a commercial business, or a profession? Our word _journal_ comes
from the French. It has different forms in the several Romantic languages,
and all go back to the Latin _diurnalis_, daily, from _dies_, a day.
Diurnal and diary are derived from the same source. The first journals
were in fact diaries, daily records of happenings, compiled often for the
pleasure and use of the compiler alone, sometimes for monarchs or
statesmen or friends; later to be circulated for the information of a
circle of readers, or distributed in copies to subscribers among the
public at large. These were the first newspapers. While we still in a
specific sense speak of daily newspapers as journals, the term is often
enlarged to comprise nearly all publications that are issued periodically
and distributed to subscribers.
A journalist is one whose business is publishing a journal (or more than
one), or editing a journal, or writing for journals, especially a person
who is regularly employed in some responsible directing or creative work
on a journal, as a publisher, editor, writer, reporter, critic, etc. This
use of the word is comparatively modern, and it is commonly restricted to
persons connected with daily or weekly newspapers. Many older newspaper
men scout it, preferring to be known as publishers, editors, writers, or
contributors. Journalism, however, is a word that is needed for its
comprehensiveness. It includes the theory, the business, and the art of
producing newspapers in all departments of the work. Hence, any school of
professional journalism must be presumed to comprise in its scope and
detail of instruction the knowledge that is essential to the making and
conduct of newspapers. It must have for its aim the ideal newspaper which
is ideally perfect in every department.
Journalism, so far as it is more than mere reporting and mere money
making, so far as it undertakes to frame and guide opinion, to educate the
thought and instruct the conscience of the community, by editorial
comment, interpretation and homily, based on the news, is under obligation
to the community to be truthful, sincere, and uncorrupted; to enlighten
the understanding, not to darken counsel; to uphold justice and honor with
unfailing resolution, to champion morality and the public welfare with
intelligent zeal, to expose wrong and antagonize it with unflinching
courage. If journalism has any mission in the world besides and beyond the
dissemination of news, it is a mission of maintaining a high standard of
thought and life in the community it serves, strengthening all its forces
that make for righteousness and beauty and fair growth.
This is not solely, nor peculiarly, the office of what is called the
editorial page. To be most influential, it must be a consistent expression
in all departments, giving the newspaper a totality of power in such aim.
This is the right ideal of journalism whenever it is considered as
more than a form of commercialism. No newspaper attains its ideal in
completeness. If it steadfastly works toward attainment, it gives proof of
its right to be. The advancing newspaper, going on from good to better in
the substance of its character and the ability of its endeavor, is the
type of journalism which affords hope for the future. And one strong
encouragement to fidelity in a high motive is public appreciation.
--_The Boston Herald._
Give as complete an answer as possible to any two of the following
1. Why do fish bite better on a cloudy day than on a bright one?
2. Why should we study history?
3. Why does a baseball curve?
4. Why did the American colonies revolt against England?
5. Why did the early settlers of New England persecute the Quakers?
6. Why should trees be planted either in early spring or late autumn?
7. Why do we lose a day in going from America to China?
8. In laying a railroad track, why is there a space left between the ends
of the rails?
+Theme LXXXVI.+--_Choose one of the above or a similar question as a
subject for a theme. Write out as complete and exact an explanation as
Write out a list of subjects the explanation of which would not answer the
questions _why_? or _how_? How many of them can you explain?
+Theme LXXXVII.+--_Write out the explanation of one of the subjects in the
(Read what you have written and consider it with reference to clearness,
unity, and coherence.)
+153. Importance of Exposition.+--This form of discourse is important
because it deals so extensively with important subjects, such as questions
of government, facts in science, points in history, methods in education,
and processes of manufacture. It enters vitally into our lives, no matter
what our occupation may be. Business men make constant use of this kind of
discourse. In fact, it would be impossible for business to be transacted
with any degree of success without explanations. Loans of money would not
be made if men did not understand how they could have security for the
sums loaned. A manufacturer cannot expect to have good articles produced
if he is unable to give needful explanations concerning their manufacture.
In order that a merchant be successful he must be able to explain the
relative merits of his goods to his customers.
Very much of the work done in our schools is of an expository nature.
The text-books used are expositions. When they of themselves are not
sufficient for the clear understanding of the subject, it is necessary
to consult reference books. Then, if the subject is still lacking in
clearness, the teacher is called upon for additional explanation. On the
other hand, the greater part of the pupil's recitations consists simply in
explaining the subjects under discussion. Much of the class-room work in
our schools consists of either receiving or giving explanations.
1. Name anything outside of school work that you have been called upon to
explain during the last week or two.
2. Name anything outside of school work that you have recently learned
3. Name three topics in each of your studies for to-day that call for
4. Name some topic in which the text-book did not seem to make the
+Theme LXXXVIII.+--_Write out one of the topics mentioned in number three
of the preceding exercise._
(Have you included everything that is necessary to make your explanation
clear? Can anything be omitted without affecting the clearness?)
+154. Clear Understanding.+--The first requisite of a good explanation
is a clear understanding on the part of the one who is giving the
explanation. It is evident that if we do not understand a subject
ourselves we cannot make our explanations clear to others. If the ideas in
our mind are in a confused state, our explanation will be equally
confused. If you do not understand a problem in algebra, your attempt to
explain it to others will prove a failure. If you attempt to explain how a
canal boat is taken through a lock without thoroughly understanding the
process yourself, you will give your listeners only a confused idea of how
it is done.
The principal reason why pupils fail in their recitations and examinations
is that in preparing their lessons, they do not make themselves thoroughly
acquainted with the topics that they are studying. They often go over the
lessons hurriedly and carelessly and come to class with confused ideas.
Consequently when the pupils attempt to recite, there is, if anything, an
additional confusion of ideas, and the recitation proves a failure.
Carelessness in the preparation of daily recitations, negligence in asking
for additional explanations, and inattention to the explanations that are
given, inevitably cause failure when tests or examinations are called for.
1. Name five subjects about which you know so little that it would be
useless to attempt an explanation.
2. Name five about which you know something, but not enough to give clear
explanations of them.
3. Name four about which you know but little, but concerning which you
feel sure that you can obtain information.
4. Name six that you think you clearly understand. Report orally on one of
+Theme LXXXIV.+--_Write out an explanation of one of the subjects named in
number four of the preceding exercise._
(Read your theme and criticise it as to clearness. In listening to the
themes read by other members of the class consider them as to clearness.
Call for further explanation of any part not perfectly clear to you.)
+155. Selection of Facts--Unity.+--After we have been given a subject for
explanation or have chosen one for ourselves, we must decide concerning
the facts to be presented. In some kinds of exposition this selection is
rather difficult. Since the purpose is to make our meaning clear to the
person addressed, we secure unity by including all that is necessary to
that purpose and by omitting all that is not necessary. It is evident that
selection of facts to secure unity depends to some extent upon the
audience. If a child asks us to explain what a trust is, our explanation
will differ very much from that which we would give if we were addressing
a body of men who were familiar with the term _trusts_, but do not
understand the advantages and disadvantages arising from their existence.
Examine the following as to selection of facts. For what class of people
do you think it was written? What seems to be the purpose of it?
THE FEUDAL SYSTEM
This connection of king as sovereign, with his princes and great men as
vassals, must be attended to and understood, in order that you may
comprehend the history which follows. A great king, or sovereign prince,
gave large provinces, or grants of land, to his dukes, earls, and
noblemen; and each of these possessed nearly as much power, within his own
district, as the king did in the rest of his dominions. But then the
vassal, whether duke, earl, or lord, or whatever he was, was obliged to
come with a certain number of men to assist the sovereign, when he was
engaged in war; and in time of peace, he was bound to attend on his court
when summoned, and do homage to him, that is, acknowledge that he was his
master and liege lord. In like manner, the vassals of the crown, as they
were called, divided the lands which the king had given them into estates,
which they bestowed on knights, and gentlemen, whom they thought fitted to
follow them in war, and to attend them in peace; for they, too, held
courts, and administered justice, each in his own province. Then the
knights and gentlemen, who had these estates from the great nobles,
distributed the property among an inferior class of proprietors, some of
whom cultivated the land themselves, and others by means of husbandmen and
peasants, who were treated as a sort of slaves, being bought and sold like
brute beasts, along with the farms which they labored.
Thus, when a great king, like that of France or England, went to war, he
summoned all his crown vassals to attend him, with the number of armed men
corresponding to his fief, as it was called, that is, territory which had
been granted to each of them. The prince, duke, or earl, in order to obey
the summons, called upon all the gentlemen to whom he had given estates,
to attend his standard with their followers in arms. The gentlemen, in
their turn, called on the franklins, a lower order of gentry, and upon the
peasants; and thus the whole force of the kingdom was assembled in one
array. This system of holding lands for military service, that is, for
fighting for the sovereign when called upon, was called the _feudal
system_. It was general throughout all Europe for a great many ages.
--Scott: _Tales of a Grandfather_.
+Theme LXXXV.+--_Write a theme on one of the following:_--
1. Tell your younger brother how to make a whistle.
2. Explain some game to a friend of your own age.
3. Give an explanation of the heating system of your school to a member of
the school board of an adjoining city.
4. Explain to a city girl how butter is made.
5. Explain to a city boy how hay is cured.
6. Explain to a friend how to run an automobile.
(Consider the selection of facts as determined by the person addressed.)
+156. Arrangement--Coherence.+--Some expositions are of such a nature that
there is but little question concerning the proper arrangement of the
topics composing them. In order to be coherent, all we do is to follow the
natural order of occurrence in time and place. This is especially true of
general narrations and of some general descriptions. In explaining the
circulation of the blood, for instance, it is most natural for us to
follow the course which the blood takes in circulating through the body.
In explaining the manufacture of articles we naturally begin with the
material as it comes to the factory, and trace the process of manufacture
in order through its successive stages.
In other kinds of exposition a coherent arrangement is somewhat difficult.
We should not, however, fail to pay attention to it. A clear understanding
of the subject, on the part of the listener, depends largely upon the
proper arrangement of topics. As you study examples of expositions of some
length, you will notice that there are topics which naturally belong
together. These topics form groups, and the groups are treated separately.
If the expositions are good ones, the related facts will not only be
united into groups, but the groups will also be so arranged and the
transition from one group to another be so naturally made that it will
cause no confusion.
In brief explanations of but one paragraph there should be but one group
of facts. Even these facts need to be so arranged as to make the whole
idea clear. The writer may have a clear understanding of the whole idea,
but in order to give the reader the same clear understanding, certain
facts must be presented before others are. In order to make an explanation
clear, the facts must be so arranged that those which are necessary to the
understanding of others shall come first.
Examine the following expositions as to the grouping of related facts and
the arrangement of those groups:--
Fresh, pure air at all times is essential to bodily comfort and good
health. Air may become impure from many causes. Poisonous gases may be
mixed with it; sewer gas is especially to be guarded against; coal gas
which is used for illuminating purposes is very poisonous and dangerous if
inhaled; the air arising from decaying substances, foul cellars, or
stagnant pools, is impure and unhealthy, and breeds diseases; the foul and
poisonous air which has been expelled from the lungs, if breathed again,
will cause many distressing symptoms. Ventilation has for its object the
removal of impure air and the supplying of fresh, wholesome air in its
place. Proper ventilation should be secured in all rooms and buildings,
and its importance cannot be overestimated.
In the summer time and in climates which permit of it with comfort,
ventilation may be secured by having the doors and windows open, thus
allowing the fresh air to circulate freely through the house. In stormy
and cold weather, however, some other means of ventilation must be
supplied. If open fires or grates are used for heating purposes, good
ventilation exists, for under such circumstances, the foul and impure air
is drawn out of the rooms through the chimneys, and the fresh air enters
through the cracks of the doors and windows.
Where open fireplaces are not used, several plans of ventilation
may be used, as they all operate on the same principle. Two openings
should be in the room, one of them near the floor, through which
the fresh air may enter, the other higher up, and connected with a
shaft or chimney, which producing a draft, may serve to free the room
from impure air. The size of these openings may be regulated according
to the size of the room.
--Baldwin: _Essential Lessons in Human Physiology_.
THE QUEEN BEE
It is a singular fact, also, that the queen is made, not born. If the
entire population of Spain or Great Britain were the offspring of one
mother, it might be found necessary to hit upon some device by which a
royal baby could be manufactured out of an ordinary one, or else give up
the fashion of royalty. All the bees in the hive have a common parentage,
and the queen and the worker are the same in the egg and in the chick; the
patent of royalty is in the cell and in the food; the cell being much
larger, and the food a peculiar stimulating kind of jelly. In certain
contingencies, such as the loss of the queen with no eggs in the royal
cells, the workers take the larva of an ordinary bee, enlarge the cell by
taking in the two adjoining ones, and nurse it and stuff it and coddle it,
till at the end of sixteen days it comes out a queen. But ordinarily, in
the natural course of events, the young queen is kept a prisoner in her
cell till the old queen has left with the swarm. Not only kept, but
guarded against the mother queen, who only wants an opportunity to murder
every royal scion in the hive. Both the queens, the one a prisoner and the
other at large, pipe defiance at each other at this time, a shrill, fine,
trumpetlike note that any ear will at once recognize. This challenge, not
being allowed to be accepted by either party, is followed, in a day or
two, by the abdication of the old queen; she leads out the swarm, and her
successor is liberated by her keepers, who, in her turn, abdicates in
favor of the next younger. When the bees have decided that no more swarms
can issue, the reigning queen is allowed to use her stiletto upon her
unhatched sisters. Cases have been known where two queens issued at the
same time, when a mortal combat ensued, encouraged by the workers, who
formed a ring about them, but showed no preference, and recognized the
victor as the lawful sovereign. For these and many other curious facts we
are indebted to the blind Huber.
It is worthy of note that the position of the queen cells is always
vertical, while that of the drones and workers is horizontal; majesty
stands on its head, which fact may be a part of the secret.
The notion has always very generally prevailed that the queen of the bees
is an absolute ruler, and issues her royal orders to willing subjects.
Hence Napoleon the First sprinkled the symbolic bees over the imperial
mantle that bore the arms of his dynasty; and in the country of the
Pharaohs the bee was used as the emblem of a people sweetly submissive to
the orders of its king. But the fact is, a swarm of bees is an absolute
democracy, and kings and despots can find no warrant in their example. The
power and authority are entirely vested in the great mass, the workers.
They furnish all the brains and foresight of the colony, and administer
its affairs. Their word is law, and both king and queen must obey. They
regulate the swarming, and give the signal for the swarm to issue from the
hive; they select and make ready the tree in the woods and conduct the
queen to it.
The peculiar office and sacredness of the queen consists in the fact that
she is the mother of the swarm, and the bees love and cherish her as a
mother and not as a sovereign. She is the sole female bee in the hive, and
the swarm clings to her because she is their life. Deprived of their
queen, and of all brood from which to rear one, the swarm loses all heart
and soon dies, though there be an abundance of honey.
The common bees will never use their sting upon the queen,--if she is to
be disposed of they starve her to death; and the queen herself will sting
nothing but royalty--nothing but a rival queen.
--John Burroughs: _Birds and Bees_.
+Theme LXXXVI.+--_Write an expository theme._
1. Duties of the sheriff.
2. How a motor works.
3. How wheat is harvested.
4. Why the tide exists.
5. How our schoolhouse is ventilated.
6. What is meant by the theory of evolution.
7. The manufacture of ----.
8. How to make a ----.
(Consider the arrangement of your statements.)
+157. Use of an Outline.+--Before beginning to write an explanation we
need to consider what we know about the subject and what our purpose is;
we need to select facts that will make our explanations clear to our
readers; and we need to decide what arrangement of these facts will best
show their relation to each other. We shall find it of advantage,
especially in lengthy explanations, to express our thoughts in the form of
an outline. An outline helps us to see clearly whether our facts are well
chosen, and it also helps us to see whether the arrangement is orderly or
not. Clearness is above all the essential of exposition, and outlines aid
clearness by giving unity and coherence.
Select three of the following subjects and make lists of facts that you
know about them. From these select those which would be necessary in
making a clear explanation of each. After making out these lists of facts,
arrange them in what seems to you the best possible order for making the
explanation clear to your classmates.
1. The value of a school library.
3. The manufacture of clocks.
5. Athletics in the high school.
7. Debating societies.
+Theme LXXXVII.+--_Following the outline, write an exposition on one of
the subjects chosen._
(Notice the transition from one paragraph to another. See Section 87.)
+158. Exposition of Terms--Definition.+--Explanation of the meaning of
general terms is one form of exposition (Section 63). The first step in
the exposition of a term is the giving of a definition. This may be
accomplished by the use of a synonym (Section 64). We make a term
intelligible to the reader by the use of a synonym with which he is
familiar; and though such a definition is inexact, it gives a rough idea
of the meaning of the term in question, and so serves a useful purpose.
If, however, we wish exactness, we shall need to make use of the logical
+159. The Logical Definition.+--The logical definition sets exact limits
to the meaning of a term. An exact definition must include all the members
of a class indicated by the term defined, and it must exclude everything
that does not belong to that class. A logical definition is composed of
two parts. It first names the class to which the term to be defined
belongs, and then it names the characteristic that distinguishes that term
from all other members of the same class. The class is termed the _genus_,
and the distinguishing characteristics of the different members of the
class are termed the _differentia_. Notice the following division into
genus and differentia.
TERM TO BE | CLASS | DISTINGUISHING
DEFINED | _(Genus)_ | CHARACTERISTIC
| | _(Differentia)_
A parallelogram | is a quadrilateral | whose opposite sides
| | are parallel
Exposition | is that form of | which seeks to explain
| discourse | the meaning of a term.
Each definition includes three elements: the term to be defined, the
genus, and the differentia; but these are not necessarily arranged in the
Select the three elements (the term to be defined, the genus, and the
differentia) in each of the following:--
1. A polygon of three sides is called a triangle.
2. A square is an equilateral rectangle.
3. A rectangle whose sides are equal is a square.
4. Description is that form of discourse which aims to present a picture.
5. The characters composing written words are called letters.
6. The olfactory nerves are the first pair of cranial nerves.
7. Person is that modification of a noun or pronoun which denotes the
speaker, the person spoken to, or the person or things spoken of.
8. The diptera, or true flies, are readily distinguishable from other
insects by their having a single pair of wings instead of two pairs, the
hind wings being transformed into small knob-headed pedicles called
balancers or halters.
+160. Difficulty of Framing Exact Definitions.+--In order to frame a
logical definition, exactness of thought is essential. Even when the
thought is exact, it will be found difficult and often impossible to frame
a satisfactory definition. Usually there is little difficulty in selecting
the genus, still care should be taken to select one that includes the term
to be defined. We might begin the definition of iron by saying, "Iron is a
metal," since all iron is metal, but it would be incorrect to begin the
definition of rodent by saying, "A rodent is a beaver," because the term
beaver does not include all rodents. We must also take care to choose for
the genus some term familiar to the reader, because the object of the
definition is to make the meaning clear to him.
The chief difficulty of framing logical definitions arises in the
selection of differentia. In many cases it is not easy to decide just what
characteristics distinguish one member of a class from all other members
of that class. We all know that iron is a metal, but most of us would
find it difficult to add to the definition just those things which
distinguish iron from other metals. We may say, "A flute is a musical
instrument"; so much of the definition is easily given. The difficulty
lies in distinguishing it from all other musical instruments.
_A._ Select proper differentia for the following:--
TERM TO BE DEFINED | CLASS (Genus) | DISTINGUISHING
| | CHARACTERISTIC
| | _(Differentia)_
1. Narration | is that form of discourse | ?
2. A circle | is a portion of a plane | ?
3. A dog | is an animal | ?
4. A hawk | is a bird | ?
5. Physiography | is the science | ?
6. A sneak | is a person | ?
7. A quadrilateral | is a plane figure | ?
8. A barn | is a building | ?
9. A bicycle | is a machine | ?
10. A lady | is a woman | ?
_B._ Give logical definitions for at least four words in the list below.
+161. Inexact Definitions.+--If the distinguishing characteristics are not
properly selected, the definition though logical in form may be inexact,
because the differentia do not exclude all but the term to be defined. If
we say, "Exposition is that form of discourse which gives information,"
the definition is inexact because there are other forms of discourse that
give information. Many definitions given in text-books are inexact. Care
should be taken to distinguish them from those which are logically exact.
Which of the following are exact?
1. A sheep is a gregarious animal that produces wool.
2. A squash is a garden plant much liked by striped bugs.
3. A pronoun is a word used for a noun.
4. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle and tendon, convex on its upper
side, and attached by bands of striped muscle to the lower ribs at the
side, to the sternum, and to the cartilage of the ribs which join it in
front, and at the back by very strong bands to the lumbar vertebrae.
5. A man is a two-legged animal without feathers.
6. Argument is that form of discourse which has for its object the proof
of the truth or falsity of a proposition.
7. The base of an isosceles triangle is that side which is equal to no
8. Zinc is a metal used under stoves.
9. The epidermis of a leaf is a delicate, transparent skin which covers
the whole leaf.
+Theme LXXXVIII.+--_Write an expository paragraph about one of the
1. Household science and arts.
6. Half tones.
7. Steam fitting.
(Consider the definitions you have used.)
+162. Division.+--The second step in the exposition of a term is division.
Definition establishes the limits of the term. Division separates into its
parts that which is included by the term. By definition we distinguish
triangles from squares, circles, and other plane figures. By division we
may separate them into scalene, isosceles, and equilateral, or if we
divide them according to a different principle into right and oblique
triangles. In either case the division is complete and exact. By
completeness is meant that every object denoted by the term explained is
included in the division given, thus making the sum of these divisions
equal to the whole. By exactness is meant that but a single principle has
been used, and so no object denoted by the term explained will be included
in more than one of the divisions made. There are no triangles which are
neither right nor oblique, so the division is complete; and no triangle
can be both right and oblique, so the division is exact. Such a complete
and exact division is called _classification_.
Nearly every term may be divided according to more than one principle. We
may divide the term _books_ into ancient and modern, or into religious and
secular, or in any one of a dozen other ways. Which principle of division
we shall choose will depend upon our purpose. If we wish to discuss
_sponges_ with reference to their shapes, our division will be different
from what it would be if we were to discuss them with reference to their
uses. When a principle of division has once been chosen it is essential
that it be followed throughout. The use of two principles causes an
overlapping of divisions, thus producing what is called cross division.
Using the principle of use, a tailor may sort his bolts of cloth into
cloth for overcoats, cloth for suits, and cloth for trousers; using the
principle of weight, into heavy weight and light weight; or he may sort
them with reference to color or price. In any case but a single principle
is used. It would not do to divide them into cloth for suits, light weight
goods, and brown cloth. Such a division would be neither complete nor
exact; for some of the cloth would belong to none of the classes while
other pieces might properly be placed in all three.
In the exact sciences complete exposition is the aim, and classification
is necessary; but in other writing the purpose in hand is often better
accomplished by omitting minor divisions. A writer of history might
consider the political growth, the wars, and the religion of a nation and
omit its domestic life and educational progress, especially if these did
not greatly influence the result that he wishes to make plain. If we
wished to explain the plan of the organization of a high school, it would
be satisfactory to divide the pupils into freshmen, sophomores, juniors,
and seniors, even though, in any particular school, there might be a few
special and irregular pupils who belonged to none of these classes.
An exposition of the use of hammers would omit many occasional and
unimportant uses. Such a classification though exact is incomplete and is
_A._ Can you tell which of the following are classifications? Which are
partitions? Which are defective?
1. The inhabitants of the United States are Americans, Indians, and
2. Lines are straight, curved, and crooked.
3. Literature is composed of prose, poetry, and fiction.
4. The political parties in the last campaign were Republican and
5. The United States Government has control of states and territories
6. Plants are divided into two groups: (1) the phanerogams, or flowering
plants, and (2) cryptogams, or flowerless plants.
7. All phanerogamous plants consist of (1) root and (2) shoot; the shoot
consisting of (_a_) stem and (_b_) leaf. It is true that some exceptional
plants, in maturity, lack leaves, or lack root. These exceptions are few.
8. We may divide the activities of the government into: keeping order,
making law, protecting individual rights, providing public schools,
providing and mending roads, caring for the destitute, carrying the mail,
managing foreign relations, making war, and collecting taxes.
_B_. Notice the following paragraphs, State briefly the divisions made.
+1. Plan of the Book.+--What is government? Who is the government? We
shall begin by considering the American answers to these questions.
What does The Government do? That will be our next inquiry. And with
regard to the ordinary practical work of government, we shall see that
government in the United States is not very different from government in
the other civilized countries of the world.
Then we shall inquire how government officials are chosen in the United
States, and how the work of government is parceled out among them. This
part of the book will show what is meant by self-government and local
self-government, and will show that our system differs from European
systems chiefly in these very matters of self-government and local
Coming then to the details of our subject, we shall consider the names and
duties of the principal officials in the United States; first, those of
the township, county, and city, then those of the state, and then those of
the federal government.
Finally, we shall examine certain operations in the American system, such
as a trial in court, and nominations for office, and conclude with an
outline of international relations, and a summary of the commonest laws of
business and property.
--Clark: _The Government_.
2. +Zooelogy and its Divisions.+--What things we do know about the dog,
however, and about its relatives, and what things others know can be
classified into several groups; namely, things or facts about what a dog
does or its behavior, things about the make-up of its body, things about
its growth and development, things about the kind of dog it is and the
kinds of relatives it has, and things about its relations to the outer
world and its special fitness for life.
All that is known of these different kinds of facts about the dog
constitutes our knowledge of the dog and its life. All that is known by
scientific men and others of these different kinds of facts about all the
500,000 or more kinds of living animals, constitutes our knowledge of
animals and is the science _zooelogy_. Names have been given to these
different groups of facts about animals. The facts about the bodily
make-up or structure of animals constitute that part of zooelogy called
animal _anatomy_ or _morphology;_ the facts about the things animals do,
or the functions of animals, compose animal _physiology;_ the facts about
the development of animals from young to adult condition are the facts of
animal _development;_ the knowledge of the different kinds of animals and
their relationships to each other is called _systematic_ zooelogy or animal
_classification;_ and finally the knowledge of the relations of animals to
their external surroundings, including the inorganic world, plants and
other animals, is called animal _ecology_.
Any study of animals and their life, that is, of zooelogy, may include all
or any of these parts of zooelogy.
--Kellogg: _Elementary Zooelogy_.
3. Are not these outlines of American destiny in the near-by future
rational? In these papers an attempt has been made:--
First, to picture the physical situation and equipment of the American in
the modern world.
Second, to outline the large and fundamental elements of American
character, which are:--
(_a_) Conservatism--moderation, thoughtfulness, and poise.
(_b_) Thoroughness--conscientious performance, to the minutest detail,
of any work which we as individuals or people may have in hand.
(_c_) Justice--that spirit which weighs with the scales of righteousness
our conduct toward each other and our conduct as a nation toward
(_d_) Religion--the sense of dependence upon and responsibility to the
Higher Power; the profound American belief that our destiny is in
(_e_) The minor elements of American character--such as the tendency to
organize, the element of humor, impatience with frauds, and the
movement in American life toward the simple and sincere.
--Beveridge: _Americans of To-day and To-morrow_.
_C._ Consult the table of contents or opening chapters of any text-book
and notice the main divisions.
_D._ Find in text-books five examples of classification or division.
_E._ Make one or more divisions of each of the following:--
1. The pupils in your school.
2. Your neighbors.
3. The books in the school library.
4. The buildings you see on the way to school.
5. The games you know how to play.
7. Results of competition.
+Theme LXXXIX.+--_Write an introductory paragraph showing what divisions
you, would make if called upon, to write about one of the following
2. The school system of our city.
3. The churches of our town.
4. Methods of transportation.
5. Our manufacturing interests.
6. Games that girls like.
7. The inhabitants of the United States.
(Have you mentioned all important divisions of your subject? Have you
included any minor and unimportant divisions? Consider other possible
principles of division of your subject. Have you chosen the one best
suited to your purpose?)
+163. Exposition of a Proposition.+--Two terms united into a sentence so
that one is affirmed of the other become a proposition. Propositions, like
terms, may be either specific or general. "Napoleon was ambitious" is a
specific proposition; "Politicians are ambitious" is a general one.
When a proposition is presented to the mind, its meaning may not at once
be clear. The obscurity may arise from the fact that some of the terms in
the proposition are unfamiliar, or are obscure, or misleading. In this
case the first step, and often the only step necessary, is the explanation
of the terms in the proposition. The following selection taken from
Dewey's _Psychology_ illustrates the exposition of a proposition by
explaining its terms:--
The habitual act thus occurs automatically and mechanically. When we say
that it occurs automatically, we mean that it takes place, as it were, of
itself, spontaneously, without the intervention of the will. By saying
that it is mechanical, we mean that there exists no consciousness of the
process involved, nor of the relation of the means, the various muscular
adjustments, to the end, locomotion.
It is possible for our listeners or readers to understand each term in a
proposition and yet not be able to understand the meaning of the
proposition as a whole. When this is the case, we shall find it necessary
to make use of methods of exposition discussed later.
Explain orally the following propositions by explaining any of the terms
likely to be unfamiliar or misunderstood:
1. The purpose of muscular contraction is the production of motion.
2. Ping-pong is lawn tennis in miniature, with a few modifications.
3. An inevitable dualism bisects nature.
4. Never inflict corporal chastisement for intellectual faults.
5. Children should be led to make their own investigations and to draw
their own inferences.
6. The black willow is an excellent tonic as well as a powerful
7. Give the Anglo-Saxon equivalent for "nocturnal."
8. A negative exponent signifies the reciprocal of what the expression
would be if the exponent were positive.
+Theme XC.+--_Write an explanation of one of the following:_
1. Birds of a feather flock together.
2. Truths and roses have thorns about them.
3. Where there's a will, there's a way.
4. Who keeps company with a wolf will learn to howl.
5. He gives nothing but worthless gold, who gives from a sense of duty.
6. All things that are,
Are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.
7. Be not simply good--be good for something.
8. He that hath light within his own clear breast, May sit i' the center,
and enjoy bright day; But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the midday sun; Himself is his own dungeon.
(Select the sentence that seems most difficult to you, determine what it
means, and then attempt to make an explanation that will show that you
thoroughly understand its meaning.)
+164. Exposition by Repetition.+--In discussing paragraph development
(Section 50) we have already learned that the meaning of a proposition may
be made clearer by the repetition of the topic statement. This repetition
may be used to supplement the definition of terms, or it may by itself
make clear both the meaning of the terms and of the proposition. Each
repetition of the proposition presents it to the reader in a new light or
in a stronger light. Each time the idea is presented it seems more
definite, more familiar, more clear. Such statements of a proposition take
advantage of the fact that the reader is thinking, and we merely attempt
to direct his thought in such a way that he will turn the proposition over
and over in his mind until it is understood.
Notice how the following propositions are explained largely by means of
repetitions, each of which adds a little to the original statement.
How to live?--that is the essential question for us. Not how to live in
the mere material sense only, but in the widest sense. The general
problem, which comprehends every special problem, is the right ruling of
conduct in all directions under all circumstances. In what way to treat
the body; in what way to treat the mind; in what way to manage our
affairs; in what way to bring up a family; in what way to behave as a
citizen; in what way to utilize all those sources of happiness which
nature supplies--how to use all our faculties to the greatest advantage of
ourselves and others--how to live completely? And this being the great
thing needful for us to learn, is, by consequence, the great thing which
education has to teach. To prepare us for complete living is the function
which education has to discharge: and the only radical mode of judging of
any educational course, is, to judge in what degree it discharges such
--Herbert Spencer: _Education_.
The gray squirrel is remarkably graceful in all his movements. It seems as
though some subtle curve was always produced by the line of the back and
tail at every light bound of the athletic little creature. He never moves
abruptly or jerks himself impatiently, as the red squirrel is continually
doing. On the contrary, all his movements are measured and deliberate, but
swift and sure. He never makes a bungling leap, and his course is marked
by a number of sinuous curves almost equal to those of a snake. He is here
one minute, and the next he has slipped away almost beyond the ability of
our eyes to follow.
--F. Schuyler Matthews: _American Nut Gatherers_.
+Theme XCI.+--_Write a paragraph explaining one of the propositions below
by means of repetition._
1. Physical training should be made compulsory in the high school.
2. Some people who seem to be selfish are not really so.
3. The dangers of athletic contests are overestimated.
4. The Monroe Doctrine is a warning to European powers to keep their hands
off territory in North and South America.
5. By the "treadmill of life" we mean the daily routine of duties.
6. The thirst for novelty is one of the most powerful incentives that take
a man to distant countries.
7. There are unquestionably increasing opportunities for an honorable and
useful career in the civil service of the United States.
(Have you used any method besides that of repetition? Does your paragraph
really explain the proposition?)
+165. Exposition by Use of Examples.+--Exposition treats of general
subjects, and the topic statement of a paragraph is, therefore, a general
statement. In order to understand what such a general statement means, the
reader may need to think of a concrete case. The writer may develop his
paragraph by furnishing concrete cases. (See Section 44.) In many cases no
further explanation is necessary.
The following paragraph illustrates this method of explanation:--
The lower portions of stream valleys which have sunk below sea level are
called _drowned valleys_. The lower St. Lawrence is perhaps the greatest
example of a drowned valley in the world, but many other rivers are in the
same condition. The old channel of the Hudson River may be traced upon the
sea bottom about 125 miles beyond its present mouth, and its valley is
drowned as far up as Troy, 150 miles. The sea extends up the Delaware
River to Trenton, and Chesapeake Bay with its many arms is the drowned
valleys of the Susquehanna and its former tributaries. Many of the most
famous harbors in the world, as San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, the
estuaries of the Thames and the Mersey, and the Scottish firths, are
--Dryer: _Lessons in Physical Geography_.
+Theme XCII.+--_Develop one of the following topic statements into an
expository paragraph by use of examples:_--
1. Weather depends to a great extent upon winds.
2. Progress in civilization has been materially aided by the use of nails.
3. Habit is formed by the repetition of the same act.
4. Men become criminals by a gradual process.
5. Men's lives are affected by small things.
6. Defeat often proves to be real success.
(Have you made your meaning clear? Does your example really illustrate the
topic statement? Can you think of other illustrations?)
+166. Exposition by Comparison or Contrast.+--We can frequently make our
explanations clear by comparing the subject under discussion with
something that is already familiar to the reader. In such a case we shall
need to show in what respect the subject we are explaining is similar to
or differs from that with which it is compared. (Section 48.) Though
customary it is not necessary to compare the term under discussion with
some well-known term. In the example below the term _socialism_ is
probably no more familiar than the term _anarchism_. Both are explained in
the selection, and the explanations are made clearer by contrasting the
one with the other.
Socialism, which is curiously confounded by the indiscriminating with
Anarchism, is its exact opposite. Anarchy is the doctrine that there
should be no government control; Socialism--that is, State Socialism--is
the doctrine that government should control everything. State Socialism
affirms that the state--that is, the government--should own all the tools
and implements of industry, should direct all occupations, and should give
to every man according to his need and require from every man according to
his ability. State Socialism points to the evils of overproduction in some
fields and insufficient production in others, under our competitive
system, and proposes to remedy these evils by assigning to government the
duty of determining what shall be produced and what each worker shall
produce. If there are too many preachers and too few shoemakers, the
preacher will be taken from the pulpit and assigned to the bench; if there
are too many shoemakers and too few preachers, the shoemaker will be taken
from the bench and assigned to the pulpit. Anarchy says, no government;
Socialism says, all government; Anarchy leaves the will of the individual
absolutely unfettered, Socialism leaves nothing to the individual will;
Anarchism would have no social organism which is not dependent on the
entirely voluntary assent of each individual member of the organism at
every instant of its history; Socialism would have every individual of the
social organism wholly subordinate in all his lifework to the authority of
the whole body expressed through its properly constituted officers. It is
true that there are some writers who endeavor to unite these two
antagonistic doctrines by teaching that society should be organized wholly
for industry, not at all for government. But how a cooeperative industry
can be carried on without a government which controls as well as counsels,
no writer, so far as I have been able to discover, has ever even
--Lyman Abbott: _Anarchism: Its Cause and Cure_.
+Theme XCIII.+--_Write an exposition that makes use of comparison:_--
1. A bad habit is a tyrant.
2. Typewritten letters.
3. The muskrat's house.
4. Compare Shylock with Barabas in Marlowe's _Jew of Malta_.
5. Methods of reading.
6. All the world's a stage.
7. Compare life to a flower.
(Can you suggest any other comparisons which you might have used? Have you
been careful in your selection of facts and arrangement?)
+167. Exposition by Obverse Statements.+--In explaining an idea it is
necessary to distinguish it from any related or similar idea with which it
may be confused in the minds of our readers. Clearness is added by the
statement that one is _not_ the other. To say that socialism is not
anarchy is a good preparation for the explanation of what socialism really
is. In the following selection Burke excludes different kinds of peace and
by this exclusion emphasizes the kind of peace which he has in mind.
The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war; not peace
to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations;
not peace to arise out of universal discord, fomented from principle,
in all parts of the empire; not peace to depend on the juridical
determination of perplexing questions, or the precise marking the shadowy
boundaries of a complex government. It is simple peace; sought in its
natural course, and in its ordinary haunts.--It is peace sought in the
spirit of peace; and laid in principles purely pacific. I propose, by
removing the ground of the difference, and by restoring the _former
unsuspecting confidence of the colonies in the Mother Country_, to give
permanent satisfaction to your people; and (far from a scheme of ruling by
discord) to reconcile them to each other in the same act, and by the bond
of the very same interest which reconciles them to British government.
+168. Exposition by Giving Particulars or Details.+--One of the most
natural methods of explaining is to give particulars or details. After a
general statement has been made, our minds naturally look for details to
make the meaning of that statement clearer. (See Sections 45-47.) This
method is used very largely in generalized descriptions and narrations.
Notice the use of particulars or details in the following examples:--
Happy the boy who knows the secret of making a willow whistle! He must
know the best kind of willow for the purpose, and the exact time of year
when the bark will slip. The country boy seems to know these things by
instinct. When the day for whistles arrives he puts away marbles and hunts
the whetstone. His jackknife must be in good shape, for the making of a
whistle is a delicate piece of handicraft. The knife has seen service in
mumblepeg and as nut pick since whistle-making time last year. Surrounded
by a crowd of spectators, some admiring, some skeptical, the boy selects
his branch. There is an air of mystery about the proceeding. With a
patient indulgent smile he rejects all offers of assistance. He does not
attempt to explain why this or that branch will not do. When finally he
raises his shining knife and cuts the branch on which his choice has
fallen, all crowd round and watch. From the large end between two twigs he
takes a section about six inches long. Its bark is light green and smooth.