Argument Paper

Prompt: Do you think anyone in the United States can be successful, so long as they work hard and persevere or hard work is not enough, and that other factors—like race, gender, sexual orientation, pedigree, etc.—play a large role in determining the degree to which (and ease with which) a person can succeed in America. Write an essay that discusses the validity of these two positions and indicate which side—
I wanted you to choose and write about this side anyone in the United States can be successful, so long as they work hard and persevere.

A successful paper will have:
A good title (Try a two-part title, with an attention-getter + topic. For example, Under the Influence: The American Dream Deludes, Denies, and Deceives).
An effective introduction (both interesting and focused).
A clear, well-phrased thesis statement in the first paragraph.
Adequate and relevant supporting information (quotations, statistics, analysis. etc.).
An easy-to-follow organization.
A satisfying conclusion.
Correct MLA document design.
MLA-style in-text citations that indicate the authors and (if available) page numbers of your sources.
MLA-style works cited page for also

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Here is an essay example

My Job in an Apple Plant

Introductory paragraph

(with italicized Thesis Statement)

In the course of working my way through school, I have taken many jobs I would rather forget. I have spent nine hours a day lifting heavy automobile and truck batteries off the end of an assembly belt. I have risked the loss of eyes and fingers working a punch press in a textile factory. I have served as a ward aide in a mental hospital, helping care for brain-damaged men who would break into violent fits at unexpected moments. But none of these jobs was as dreadful as my job in an apple plant. The work was physically hard; the pay was poor; and, most of all, the working conditions were dismal.

First supporting paragraph

(with italicized Transition and Topic Sentence)

First of all, the job made enormous demands on my strength and energy. For ten hours a night, I took cartons that rolled down a metal track and stacked them onto wooden skids in a tractor-trailer. Each carton contained twelve heavy cans or bottles of apple juice. A carton shot down the track about every fifteen seconds. I once figured out that I was lifting an average of twelve tons of apple juice every night. When a truck was almost filled, I or my partner had to drag fourteen bulky wooden skids into the empty trailer nearby and then set up added sections of the heavy metal track so that we could start routing cartons to the back of the empty van. While one of us did that, the other performed the stacking work of two men.

Second supporting paragraph
(with italicized Transition and Topic Sentence)

I would not have minded the difficulty of the work so much if the pay had not been so poor. I was paid the minimum wage of that time, two dollars an hour, plus the minimum of a nickel extra for working the night shift. Because of the low salary, I felt compelled to get as much overtime pay as possible. Everything over eight hours a night was time-and-a-half, so I typically worked twelve hours a night. On Friday I would sometimes work straight through until Saturday at noon — eighteen hours. I averaged over sixty hours a week but did not take home much more than one hundred dollars.

Third supporting paragraph

(with italicized Transition and Topic Sentence)

But even more than the low pay, what upset me about my apple plant job was the working conditions. Our humorless supervisor cared only about his production record for each night and tried to keep the assembly line moving at a breakneck pace. During work, I was limited to two ten-minute breaks and an unpaid half hour for lunch. Most of my time was spent outside on the truck loading dock in near-zero-degree temperatures. The steel floors of the trucks were like ice; the quickly penetrating cold made my feet feel like stone. I had no shared interests with the man I loaded cartons with, and so I had to work without job companionship. And after the production line shut down and most people left, I had to spend two hours alone scrubbing clean the apple vats, which were coated with a sticky residue.

Concluding paragraph

I stayed on the job for five months, hating all the while the difficulty of the work, the poor money, and the conditions under which I worked. By the time I quit, I was determined never to do such degrading work again.

*From English Skills with Readings by John Langan

The Essay in Three Parts

Introduction: A paragraph that gets things started and reveals to the reader what they’re in for
Attention-getter: a question, quotation, statistic, definition, etc.
Introduction to the topic/background on the topic
The thesis statement (your position on the topic) and an outline of support (the reasons that back your position)
Body: Several paragraphs that support the thesis statement with evidence and analysis
Topic sentence: the main idea of the paragraph
Supporting information that expands on and backs up the topic sentence: Explains, illustrates, and discusses/interprets quotations, statistics, etc. that provide evidence to support the main idea of the paragraph (and by extension, the thesis)
(Sometimes) a concluding thought about the main idea of the paragraph or a transition to the next paragraph
Conclusion: A paragraph that wraps things up—tells the readers what you told them and brings things to a logical end
Restatement of the thesis statement
Restatement of supporting ideas
A final thought that wraps up the essay

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