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Linking main points

In the other tasks we discussed tying the introduction and conclusion to the assignment topic. It is equally important to ensure that each paragraph or section of the essay is also clearly linked to, and is relevant to, the topic.

In researching for an assignment it is easy to get sidetracked by interesting issues that are not directly relevant to the topic, and this is another area where students can lose marks.

As you write each paragraph, ask yourself:

  • Why am I including this information? How does it relate to the topic?
  • Have I written an introductory sentence to clearly indicate how it relates?

One way to help you stay focused on the topic is to keep a copy of the topic next to you as you read, take notes, and write drafts for your essay. Post a copy of the topic on your computer or desk calendar; this way as you do your research you can be certain to not get sidetracked onto other interesting avenues.

Analysing sample paragraphs

Click on the highlighted text to see the comments.

Read the following paragraph from an essay on Wide Sargasso Sea:

Antoinette is left to wander Coulibri, the family home, and do as she likes. It is during this time that she seeks refuge in nature. We discover that she hides in the garden, listening and observing, when visitors come to Coulibiri. From the haven of the garden and within proximity of "the tree of life" (p. 6), the realities of Antoinette's life unfold:

I had heard what all these smooth smiling people said about her [Antoinette's mother] when she was not listening and they did not guess I was. Hiding from them in the garden when they visited Coulibri, I listened (p. 13).

Antoinette's innocence is crushed. Her life, like her precious garden, has the potential of paradise with its "tree ferns" (p. 6), wild orchids and magnificent colours. Yet we are told that a "six foot snake (p. 13) lurks in the depths of the garden; the serpent that will deliver evil...

What do you think this paragraph is about? Choose your response from the following options:

Antoinette seeks refuge in nature

Antoinette has lost her innocence

The garden at Coulibiri represents evil

Check your answers

Feedback

Antoinette is left to wander Coulibri, the family home, and do as she likes. It is during this time that she seeks refuge in nature. We discover that she hides in the garden, listening and observing, when visitors come to Coulibiri. From the haven of the garden and within proximity of "the tree of life" (p. 6), the realities of Antoinette's life unfold:

I had heard what all these smooth smiling people said about her [Antoinette's mother] when she was not listening and they did not guess I was. Hiding from them in the garden when they visited Coulibri, I listened (p. 13).

Antoinette's innocence is crushed. Her life, like her precious garden, has the potential of paradise with its "tree ferns" (p. 6), wild orchids and magnificent colours. Yet we are told that a "six foot snake (p. 13) lurks in the depths of the garden; the serpent that will deliver evil...

The first sentence makes it clear that this paragraph centres on the garden of the family home, Coulibri. But what is the student saying about it?

The first sentence should show how this paragraph relates to the topic as a whole. If we read further, we find that the student is talking about Antoinette's lost innocence and how the description of the garden represents that loss.

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