As Doris Lessing grew older, she came to understand her father better. Using plenty of descriptive elements, write about a person that you came to understand more fully. Try to focus on a particularly revealing moment.
Ninth grade was a big deal for me. I rode a bus for the first time. I had a different teacher for every class, and most of my classmates were strangers. I left the small town grade school where I spent the first eight years of my education and entered the larger, consolidated county high school. But ninth grade was a big deal for another reason: I became interested in learning. For some reason, I began to find the news interesting. I began to admire people who had read books and who talked intelligently.
Because of that, I most admired my social studies teacher, Mr. Curo. He was a good looking Italian (and I mean gooood looking!). The girls were bonkers over him. He was in his late 20's, drove a red sports car, dressed to kill, and was also the new football coach. But I liked him because he was smart. He was the best talker I had ever been exposed to. He was a whiz on obscure topics like scientology, right wing hate groups and exploratory drugs. But he also knew his stuff when it came to more common topics. He could rattle off the prime ministers of every country on the planet; plus, he had an opinion about them (usually a negative one).
Most importantly, Mr. Curo preached learning. "If you want people to take you seriously, read and learn." If he said that once, he said it a hundred times the first month of school. "The mind is where it's at," he would say on other occasions. "If you people spent as much time snuggling up to your books as you do each other," he would say with a laugh, "you might amount to something." He was funny, smart and a smooth talker. Everyday I looked forward to third period.
Then one day he didn't show up. Rumors ran through the hallways. Mr. Curo had been fired. No, he had been suspended. No, he had taken a leave of absence. We heard a million stories and didn't know what to believe. The gist of it had to do with a woman from out of town who had charged him with rape. I didn't believe it. Neither did the other students. We formed groups on Mr. Curo's behalf, made signs and put them up in the hallways and showed up at the monthly school board meeting to complain. Obviously, the school board members refused to discuss the issue, saying that litigation was pending.
Mr. Curo had been out of class two weeks when the last home football game came around. It was the first weekend of November but uncharacteristically warm. People weren't even wearing jackets. Mr. Curo, of course, had been relieved of his football duties, but on this night after the halftime show, appeared. He seemed to come out of nowhere , standing at the least populated corner of the field, far enough back to be out of the bright lights. I wouldn't even have seen him had I not been returning from the band room after putting my instrument away.
The first moment I saw him changed my opinion of him forever. He was with a woman--and what a bombshell she was ! A Swedish blonde. I had never seen a woman so good looking. I was fourteen at the time, so I was doing my share of fantasizing about women, but this doll was even better looking than my fantasies. Had that been all, I wouldn't have minded. I might have been a little jealous, but I certainly wouldn't have held a girlfriend like that against him. And yet as I approached from the dark, as yet unseen and undetected, I saw him put his hand on her lower back, then slip it down inside her pants and rest it on her butt (her very beautiful butt, I have no doubt).
That moment infuriated me. How dare this man talk to us about the life of the mind and all that intellectual garbage when--in reality--he was as anxious to fondle a woman's butt as the rest of us fourteen year olds. He wasn't really any different! He just talked better.
Mr. Curo never came back to school, and I don't know what happened to him. I might have been too hard on him that night, but from that point on, I've been less quick to make up my mind about people.
I like the way this paper builds up to a specific, revealing moment (the teacher putting his
hand down the woman's pants). The more you can zero in on a particular moment, the better focus your paper will have Goto next sample("A Lesson About Sports") Goto previous sample("Good-Bye") Return to gallery of sample student papers Return to composition page Return to home page
A second strength of the paper is the background detail. It is relevant to helping us understand the context and why the writer feels as he does.
Once again, the brief quotes help liven up the paper, giving it greater immediacy.
Some teachers don't like parentheticals, such as "(her very beautiful, butt, I have no doubt)." Admittedly, they can be overused and distracting, but I like the way this guy uses them. They add voice to the paper.
Most importantly, everything works to support the main point: "from that point on, I've been less quick to make up my mind about people."
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