“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides right through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” – Maya Angelou
At times we make a statement clear by relating in detail something that has happened. In the story we tell, we present the details in the order in which they happened. A person might say, for example, "I was embarrassed yesterday," and then go on to illustrate the statement with the following narrative:
I was hurrying across campus to get to a class. It had rained heavily all morning, so I was hop-scotching my way around puddles in the pathway. I called to two friends ahead to wait for me, and right before I caught up to them, I came to a large puddle that covered the entire path. I had to make a quick choice of either stepping into the puddle or trying to jump over it. I jumped, wanting to seem cool, since my friends were watching, but didn't clear the puddle. Water splashed everywhere, drenching my shoe, sock, and pants cuff, and spraying the pants of my friends as well. "Well done, Dave!" they said. My embarrassment was all the greater because I had tried to look so casual.
The speaker's details have made his moment of embarrassment vivid and real for us, and we can see and understand just why he felt as he did.
In this section, you will be asked to tell a story that illustrates or explains some point. The paragraphs below present narrative experiences that support a point. Read them and then answer the questions that follow.
Paragraphs to Consider
Bonnie and I had gotten engaged in August, just before she left for college at Penn State. A week before Thanksgiving, I drove up to see her as a surprise. When I knocked on the door of her dorm room, she was indeed surprised, but not in a pleasant way. She introduced me to her roommate, who looked uncomfortable and quickly left. I asked Bonnie how classes were going, and at the same time I tugged on the sleeve of my heavy sweater in order to pull it off. As I was slipping it over my head, I noticed a large photo on the wall – of Bonnie and a tall guy laughing together. It was decorated with paper flowers and a yellow ribbon, and on the ribbon was written "Bonnie and Blake." "What's going on?" I said. I stood there stunned and then felt anger that grew rapidly. "Who is Blake?" I asked. "Bonnie laughed nervously and said, "What do you want to hear about – my classes or Blake?" I don't really remember what she then told me, except that Blake was a sophomore math major. I felt a terrible pain in the pit of my stomach, and I wanted to rest my head on someone's shoulder and cry. I wanted to tear down the sign and run out, but I did nothing. Clumsily I pulled on my sweater again. My knees felt weak, and I barely had control of my body. I opened the room door, and suddenly more than anything I wanted to slam the door shut so hard that the dorm walls would collapse. Instead, I managed to close the door quietly. I walked away understanding what was meant by a broken heart. Losing My Father
Although my father died ten years ago, I felt that he'd been lost to me four years earlier. Dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, an illness that destroys the memory. He couldn't work any longer, but in his own home he got along pretty well. I lived hundreds of miles away and wasn't able to see my parents often. So when my first child was a few weeks old, I flew home with the baby to visit them. After Mom met us at the airport, we picked up Dad and went to their favorite local restaurant. Dad was quiet, but kind and gentle as always, and he seemed glad to see me and his new little grandson. Everyone went to bed early. In the morning, Mom left for work. I puttered happily around in my old bedroom. I heard Dad shuffling around in the kitchen, making coffee. Eventually I realized that he was pacing back and forth at the foot of the stairs as if he were uneasy. I called down to him,...