Paragraph Activities


Exercise 1

Consider the paragraph below on the topic of trauma in novelist J. D. Salinger’s work.  Identify the topic sentence and supporting points.  Some of the supporting points may be more than one sentence each.  Explain how each illustrates the topic sentence.

Salinger, a World War II veteran, suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, a disorder that influenced the themes in many of his works. He did not hide his mental anguish over the horrors of war and once told his daughter, “You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose, no matter how long you live.” His short story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” details a day in the life of a WWII veteran who was recently released from an army hospital for psychiatric problems. The man acts questionably with a little girl he meets on the beach before he returns to his hotel room and commits suicide. Another short Story, “For Esme – with Love and Squalor,” is narrated by a traumatized soldier who sparks an unusual relationship with a young girl he meets before he departs to partake in D-Day. Finally, in Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, he continues with the theme of posttraumatic stress, though not directly related to war. From a rest home for the mentally ill, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield narrates the story of his nervous breakdown following the death of his younger brother.


Exercise 2

Identify the topic sentence(s), supporting sentences, and concluding sentence in the following paragraph.

The desert provides a harsh environment in which few mammals are able to adapt. Of these hardy creatures, the kangaroo rat is possibly the most fascinating. Able to live in some of the most arid parts of the southwest, the kangaroo rat neither sweats nor pants to keep cool. Its specialized kidneys enable it to survive on a miniscule amount of water. Unlike other desert creatures, the kangaroo rat does not store water in its body but instead is able to convert the dry seeds it eats into moisture. Its ability to adapt to such a hostile environment makes the kangaroo rat a truly amazing creature.

Exercise 3

Read the following incomplete paragraph and then read the supporting sentences below it.  Which sentence best fits in which location to illustrate the points made in the paragraph? Match the sentences lettered a, b, c, and d to the locations numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Lack of ownership of a television set is a way to preserve innocence, and keep the exposure towards anything inappropriate at bay. From simply watching a movie, I have seen things I shouldn’t have, no matter how fast I switch the channel. 1. 2. Television shows not only display physical indecency, but also verbal. Many times movies do voice-overs of profane words, but they also leave a few words uncensored. 3. 4. All ages can flip through and see or hear such things. They make t.v. toxic for the mind, and without it I wouldn’t have to worry about what I may accidentally see or hear.

  1. On Empire, one of the most viewed dramas today, the main characters Cookie and Lucious Lyon use profane words during their fights throughout entire episodes.
  2. The movie Fast and Furious has the same problem since the women are all half-naked in half tops and mini-skirts or short-shorts.
  3. The synopsis of Euro Trip, which describes high school friends traveling across Europe, leads viewers to think that the film is an innocent adventure; however; it is filled with indecency, especially when the students reach Amsterdam.
  4. Because The Big Bang Theory is a show about a group of science geeks and their cute neighbors, viewers might think that these science geniuses’ conversations would be about their current research or other science topics. Instead, their characters regularly engage in conversations about their personal lives that should be kept private. 


Exercise 4

In each of the following sentence pairs, choose the more effective topic sentence and explain what makes it better.

This paper will discuss the likelihood of the Democrats winning the next election.

To boost their chances of winning the next election, the Democrats need to listen to public opinion.

The unrealistic demands of union workers are crippling the economy for three main reasons.

Union workers are crippling the economy because companies are unable to remain competitive as a result of added financial pressure.

Authors are losing money as a result of technological advances.

The introduction of new technology will devastate the literary world.

Rap music is produced by untalented individuals with oversized egos.

This essay will consider whether talent is required in the rap music industry.





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