Page Length: 3-4 pages (do not go over 4 pages—less is more. Make every word count, and repeat this mantra: “Quality, not quantity.”)
Process Points: Your process points account for 5% of your essay grade. If you do not have the process stages ready in class when they are due, you will lose these points on your essay grade. Peer review accounts for another 5% of your essay.
I incorporate process points because I have years of experience watching students procrastinate on the very most basic aspects of their essays. I am also teaching you a technique to break down writing assignments into workable steps—this is something you can use your whole life.
Making an Evaluation
For this essay, you will need to create an evaluation of Daughter from Danang or The Gangster We Are All Looking For. When you write an evaluation essay, you are making an overall judgment of your topic, backing up your judgment with explanation and support, and then finally returning to your evaluation in the conclusion—either by restating it, or adding a new twist to it. Unlike a personal narrative of a remembered event, the supporting paragraphs in the heart of your essay come from evidence rather than personal memory.
A sample evaluation:
The Gangster We Are All Looking For deliberately confuses the reader. It incorporates dream-states and real-life states to give us a glimpse into the narrator’s child-like mind.
Your essay has to contain the following sections:
- Introductory paragraph that either gives background to your subject or states your evaluation.
- At least three body paragraphs that support your evaluation through examples from the text or film. You can place your thesis in the beginning of the second paragraph if your first paragraph gives background information.
- A conclusion.
In addition, your essay must handle the following two concerns:
- Another important aspect of an evaluation is your anticipation of other viewpoints. You can easily incorporate your understanding of other viewpoints by devoting one of your body paragraphs to possible objections. This is known as counterarguing.
Example: Heidi Bub is a selfish American girl, who does not have enough cultural sensitivity to understand her Vietnamese family.
Possible counterargument/objection: Yes, but she was ill-prepared to face the cultural differences.
Alternative counterargument: Yes, but the film manipulates us into thinking she is ignorant. We don’t know the “real” Heidi Bub.
Solution: A series of sentences that address one of these objections. “While” clauses are helpful here.
While it may seem that Heidi Bub was ill-prepared for her journey to Vietnam, common sense suggests otherwise. Indeed, she would have sufficient information about Vietnam stored in her personal memory (after all, she left at age 7) to realize the need for intensive preparation. Had Heidi left her homeland at a younger age, her lack of understanding would be more palatable. In the film, however, it comes off as downright ignorant. (You could insert a piece of dialogue from the film here.)
- This leads to the second important concern:
To support your evaluation, you will need to bring in evidence. Read handout called the quote sandwich.
If you choose to write about the film for your essay, please do consult the transcript of the film for your citation purposes: Link (Links to an external site.)