American Literature


American Literature

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Into the Wild Essay: Additional Tips and Guidelines


Structure of the Essay

  1. Intro Paragraph
    1. The purpose of the intro is to capture the reader’s attention and identify the topic and purpose of the paper.
      1. First sentence: hook – draw the reader in and immerse them in the topic
      2. Next 3-4 sentences: connecting info – be sure to introduce the full title of the book and author, as well as major plot points as they pertain to your thesis.
      3. Final sentence: thesis – setting the reader up for the rest of the essay.
    2. Body Paragraphs (x3) (at least)
      • . This is where you delve into the main arguments, supporting evidence, and analysis of your essay.
        1. First sentence: topic sentence (Point) – establish the main idea of your PQA paragraph.
        2. Next 4-6 sentences: evidence(Quotes) followed by Analysis. Connect your idea to the larger themes (answer the question “why is this important to the story?” and “how does this prove my point?”) Avoid simply summarizing the text!
        3. Final sentence: transition sentence – segue into the next paragraph.
        4. Repeat steps 1-3 two more times.
      • Conclusion
        • . (Courtesy of the Harvard University Writing Center): “This is your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view…your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they’ve finished the essay. The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.”


MLA Citations

After every quote, include in parentheses: author’s last name followed by page number. It should look like (Krakauer 84). The period goes after the parentheses.


Other Helpful Tips

  • This is a formal paper. No “I,” “you,” or “we.” Instead use “the readers,” “the audience,” etc.
  • For every piece of textual evidence you use to illustrate your arguments, provide at least 1-2 lines of analysis.
  • Avoid “in conclusion,” “to sum up,” “finally,” or the fan favorite: “that’s all folks!”


Your Outline

Intro Paragraph:

  1. Hook:




  1. Thesis:



Body Paragraph 1:

  1. Topic sentence (point):



  1. Key words/phrases (include page number) of at least one quote to support your point (quote):



  1. How does this propel your argument (analysis)?



Body Paragraph 2:

  1. Topic sentence (point):



  1. Key words/phrases (include page number) of at least one quote to support your point (quote):



  1. How does this propel your argument (analysis)?



Body Paragraph 3:

  1. Topic sentence (point):



  1. Key words/phrases (include page number) of at least one quote to support your point (quote):



  1. How does this propel your argument (analysis)?





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