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“What’s in a Name” Summary example

Here’s what three main points would look like:

1) Henry Louis Gates’ father experienced discrimination during Gates’ childhood in the South

2) This discrimination took the form of a name, “George” that was used as a blanket designation for all African Americans

3) Although Gates’ father earned good money and could buy what he wanted for his family, there was nothing he could do about this level of discrimination by people he had to interact with on a daily basis. It was “One of those things.”

Or, if an assignment called for one single main point:

1) Through the experience of watching his father called “George,” Henry Louis Gates experienced the discrimination that his father had to deal with regularly as an African American in the South. Now, thinking about it later, he realizes what it was like for his parents.

See, this is a combination of the big factors from the above (the things that can’t be left out) and also a more boiled-down version.

Now, let’s look at what a short summary of Gates’ essay would look like:

In the essay “What’s in a Name,” Henry Louis Gates expresses his viewpoint on the discrimination that his parents, particularly his father, experienced during his childhood in the South. The specific example that Gates refers to involves an incident where a shopkeeper who was friendly with his father referred to him as “George,” a name that Gates now realizes was a popular way of referring to African Americans in those times. Perhaps because his father made good money and the shopkeeper felt uneasy about his status, or simply because of the color of his skin, Gates’ father had to accept this discrimination and there was nothing he could do about it. As his mother told young Gates, “It was one of those things” (p. 6).

(A summary should be Complete, Accurate, Brief, Independent, and Neutral (CABIN).)

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