Practicing Prose Analysis is a great way to prep for the AP exam! Review practice writing samples and corresponding feedback from Fiveable teacher Candace Moore.
The Practice Prompt
Notes from the Teacher
While reading, consider the following questions:
- What is the author’s language doing?
- What choices has the author made in her language?
- What is the meaning/impact of those choices?
As if you were writing a whole essay, write a thesis that establishes
1) the relationship Petry establishes between Lutie Johnson and the setting,
2) which figurative language devices Petry employed to establish the relationship, and
3) any complexity you identified in that relationship.
Start a new paragraph that analyzes one pattern of figurative language and its role in the relationship. You should have at least two pieces of evidence and at least three sentences of commentary making the connection between the language and the claim from your thesis.
Read the selection carefully and then write an essay
analyzing how Petry establishes Lutie Johnson’s
relationship to the urban setting through the use of
Writing Samples and Feedback
Student Sample 1
In The Street, by Ann Petry, the author establishes a victim and attacker relationship between Johnson and the urban setting. She uses personification, metaphor, and imagery of the wind to convey their relationship. Although the setting is portrayed as very violent, Petry also showcases its annoying characteristics to further add to their relationship.
The passage starts off with introducing the wind as it "rattled the tops of garbage cans and “sucked window shades out”. Immediately, it’s described as a violent figure that gives off an aggressive and depressing atmosphere. It purposely bothers people, going as far as driving them out the streets. It meticulously bothers Lutie Johnson as she shivers when “the cold fingers of the wind touched the back of her neck, and explored the sides of her head.”: making her feel uncomfortable and powerless.
You have a thesis that establishes a line of reasoning, and names the relationship between Lutie and the setting, which is great! So that earns the point. My push for you would be to get all of that into one sentence, because that would cut down on the repetition, and strengthen your writing style. 1/1: Thesis
Your paragraph uses well-selected evidence, but as a reader, I’m not convinced that you know what part of your argument you’re proving in this paragraph, or how your line of reasoning is supported. The first three sentences are connected by the violence/aggression, but then you shift to a different aspect of the relationship in the second half without a clear link between. Ev&Comm: 2/4
Student Sample 2
In The Street, by Ann Petry, she establishes a negative relationship between Lutie Johnson and the urban setting. She uses the literary devices, personification and metaphor to show how the wind is impacting the people in the city. Petry also displays how the people in the urban area felt with the wind to express the negative relationship they have with the wind.
The way that the wind is expressed in the passage is as it were a human and has human features. An example of the wind having a human feature would be when the wind “did everything it could to discourage the people walking along the street.” One can notice that the wind ruined a person’s spirit while they are strolling through the streets. "And then the wind grabbed their hats, pried their scarves from around their necks, stuck its fingers inside their coat collars, blew their coats away from their bodies. " Petry used personification in that sentence to make it seem as though the wind has hands by saying that it grabbed hats and stuck its fingers in their coat collars to portray that the wind felt very eerie.
Your thesis establishes a relationship (negative), and names the devices that you will use in your analysis. However, your thesis does not establish a strong line of reasoning because you don’t make a whole argument when you say “how the people … felt” and “how the wind is impacting” instead of giving your interpretation (e.g. the people felt like victims, or the wind assaults them). 1/1
Your paragraph does clearly interpret the personification in the passage, and uses evidence that shows how Petry gives human qualities to the wind. However, you did not go the next step to analyze the relationship through the personification thoroughly. Try to spend more of your paragraph connecting the device to your argument, as well as clarifying the connection between the evidence points in your paragraph. 2/4
Student Sample 3
In The Street by Ann Petry, a negative relationship was established between the character Lutie Johnson and the urban setting in the story. The author uses diction, personification, and imagery to portray how the wind and Lutie have a negative relationship.
The word choice of Petry clearly establishes a negative relationship between Lutie and the wind by using words like “discourage,” “entangling,” “cold,” and “shivered.” All of these words hold negative connotation and create a feeling of invasiveness and being attacked. When the wind lifted Lutie’s hair and she “shivered as the cold fingers of the wind touched the back of her neck,” the audience can clearly see that the wind is not creating a pleasant sensation for Lutie. If the author were to use plain diction like “Lutie felt cold when the wind toughed her neck,” there would be no emotion and nor establishment of a strong relationship. The audience would have just known that the wind was cold.
Your thesis establishes your argument about a negative relationship and names the devices you will use. 1/1
The first two sentences of your paragraph are very strong – you have a device supported by the evidence, and your commentary connects to the argument. However, the rest of the paragraph does not analyze the relationship; it only interprets the diction. If you explained the connotation of that line as clearly, you would have a strong commentary. 2/4
Student Sample 4
In The Street, Ann Petry portrays the abusive relationship between Johnson and the urban setting, through the usage of diction, personification, and imagery. The main culprit of this abuse is the natural wind, how it is violent and stops at nothing to bother the characters.
The passage begins with introducing the wind as it “rattled the tops of garbage cans” and “sucked window shades out”. Right off the bat, the characteristics of the wind is violent, a force that cannot be stopped. The wind is aggressive, purposely bothering the people, completely emptying the streets. The wind then begins abuses Johnson, making her shiver with “[its] cold fingers touch[ing] the back of her neck, and explor[ing] the sides of her head.” This removes any power that Johnson could of had, ending with the wind dominating over her.
You have a strong thesis in regards to its argument establishment – you have clearly interpreted the relationship. 1/1
Your evidence is well-selected, and your commentary tightly connected to the line of reasoning you established in your thesis. The last sentence is very strong. Organizationally, I would move the second sentence to the beginning of the paragraph as your assertion, creating a thread for the paragraph from the start that you can follow through the rest of the sentences. This makes your line of reasoning clearer and stronger, and more “sophisticated”. 3/4
Student Sample 5
In The Street, by Ann Petry, a tug of war dynamic relationship is established between Lutie Johnson and the urban setting and portrayed in a negative light. Through the use of personification, imagery, and diction the fight Johnson faces against the brutal wind is shown.
Petry uses personification throughout the passage to describe the wind as if it is a person. Things such as, “Each time she thought she had the sign in focus, the wind pushed it away from her” By doing this the audience sees the wind directly affecting Johnson and creating a fighting relationship between the two of them. As Johnson tries to read a sign the wind pushes it away as if it doesn’t want her to go. By making it seem like the wind is trying to directly fight Johnson it makes the fight more personal The wind even chills Johnson by touching the back of her neck with its “cold fingers”. The wind now seems even more human like, as if the wind is grabbing Johnson in an aggressive manner. The act of the wind touching her neck is meant to scare Johnson and hold her back even more for where she needs to go. Each time Johnson tugs away from the wind, the wind pulls even more to fight Johnson.
Your thesis is strong, and establishes the relationship as one with a “tug of war dynamic”. 1/1
Your first sentence of your body paragraph establishes personification as the device, but only defines personification instead of beginning your interpretation that will lead to analysis (e.g. … personification to show the wind as creating barriers for Lutie). Your analysis is clear and effective, however, in showing the relationship and how the personification creates it. 3/4
Student Sample 6
In The Street, by Ann Petry, the author establishes an obstructive relationship between Luti Johnson and the urban setting, particularly the wind. Petry employs the use of personification, imagery, and metaphor to express how Luti struggles against the wind.
The author used personification to describe the wind throughout this passage. This makes the effects of the wind seem deliberate and personal. When Luti is first introduces in the passage, the wind “lifted” her hair, exposing her neck. This action caused Luti to feel vulnerable and cold. Then, “the cold fingers of the wind touched the back of her neck, explored the sides of her head.” This statement makes it seem as if the wind is purposely violating Luti’s privacy and exposing her to the cold. By using personification to describe the wind, the author takes a natural element and turns it into a cruel, aggressive character. By giving the wind this “personality,” Petry is able to convey how destructive its actions are towards Luti.
Good thesis! You’ve given a very specific name to the relationship that establishes a line of reasoning. Having two sentences to establish these parts isn’t necessary, though. 1/1
I appreciate that you have an assertion that shows where the sentence is going. Again those first two sentences could be one: Throughout the passage, the author personifies the wind’s actions as deliberate and personal. The rest of the paragraph is strong, however, and connects clearly and effectively to your argument. Make sure that it connects clearly to the thesis, as well.
Student Sample 7
In The Street, by Ann Petry, the author uses personification in order to show the wind as a powerful figure. Through these literary devices, the audience can see the influence of the winds on the people of the town, creating the wind to seem like a relentless bully.
At the beginning of the story, the personification of the wind is established. The wind comes off as aggressive and ruthless by driving people into their homes. The wind’s motive is then revealed, creating a sense of motivation that drives the wind “It did everything it could to discourage the people walking along the street” By blinding people with dust and wrapping the newspaper around their feet, the wind is portraying doing what a human would do when they are being malicious and ruthless. When Lutie Johnson is introduced, the audience gains a sense of innocence in her character. So, when the wind “… blew her eyelashes away from her eyes so that her eyeballs were bathed in a rush of coldness…”, the wind is conceived as a bully. The audience can help to feel bad for what she has to endure. The wind continues to have this bully mentality when she tries to read the sign. However, the wind eventually lets her read the sign, allowing her to see it for an instant.
Strong thesis! “Relentless bully” shows you are clear on the relationship, as well as how you plan to analyze it through the personification. 1/1
You have very effective word choice in your analysis, which makes your writing and analysis fluid. The line of reasoning from your thesis is supported by your interpretation of the wind as malicious, ruthless, etc. However, your introduction of Lutie as a character with innocence is not as clearly connected or supported, and your last sentence seems to contradict the rest of the paragraph. 3/4