Summary, Analysis, Response Essay Example

College Class Sample

Need to write a Reading Response and Analysis essay? As a college English professor, I've found many students are confused about how to do these correctly. So I have written up a number of examples as well as instructions on how to do these well. For more help writing your essay see my instructions on How to Write a Reading Response.

Below is a sample of an essay I wrote by compiling the responses of my class to“The Year that Changed Everything” by Lance Morrow.

Summary, Analysis, Response Papers Include:

1. A summary of the argument.

2. An analysis of whether the argument is written effectively.

3. A personal response.

Responding to "The Year that Changed Everything" by Lance Morrow

The Morrow essay was a bit difficult for my students to understand because it required some historical knowledge of the time period to make sense, so I am not surprised that it was taken out in favor of other essays in the most recent edition. However, it does still exist online in the link to the side if you want to compare the original to this Summary-Analysis-Response.

This essay is one that I compiled from all the suggestions given during an in-class exercise last year. Since it is based on a group response, it is a bit longer than the typical student essay I require. I generally ask students to do essays that are 300 to 500 words, and this one is over 700 words.However, I think it is useful for you to see the format, and to see a thorough example. This essay could be used in discussing a topic such as:

  • What is the most pivotal year in the last century?
  • What are the most important events in the last century?
  • Unrevealed secrets have important effects on history.

It can also be used to discuss the changes that have taken place between your instructor's generation and your own.

What do Americans Feel About Who they are?

American Family
American Family | Source

Essay Format

In a short Summary, Analysis, Response essay, sentences and paragraphs within each section need to read smoothly. Ask your instructor about whether you should put transitions between the sections or whether they would like you to use headers. Since this type of essay is often used as a preliminary step to writing an Annotated Bibliography, you might want to ask your instructor what type of Bibliographical format they want you to use. Here is the correct MLA Bibliographical citation for this essay:

Morrow, Lance. "The Year That Changed Everything." Time (2005). Print.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy in 1947
John F. Kennedy in 1947 | Source

Student Summary Sample

In his informative essay, “The Year that Changed Everything,” Lance Morrow claims that 1948 should be considered a pivotal one in American history. The author says this year was one in which future Presidents Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson went through “formative ordeals.” He explains how each man’s life was changed through decisions to reveal or conceal secrets.Nixon rose in politics through attempting to uncover communist activity in the Alger Hiss case. Kennedy prepared for the presidency by concealing his Addison’s disease and allowing his family to cover up family sexual indiscretions. Johnson hid the questionable balloting in his congressional election. Morrow also mentions other provoking secrets of this era such as Kinsey’s sex report, DDT, and Orwell’s novel, 1984 . He alludes to changes in world events by noting Gandhi’s assassination, The Marshall Plan and the birth of the State of Israel. Suggestively, Morrow notes that in this year of secrets and the birth of television Americans questioned again whether they were a moral or immoral people.

Alger Hiss was an American statesman accused of espionage.

Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss | Source

Student Analysis Sample

“The Year that Changed Everything" is a definition essay is written in a classical style which attempts to persuade the audience to accept the author’s conclusion that 1948 was an important year.The author backs this claim up with three main sub-claims which show how this year was important in the lives of three future Presidents: Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson.Furthermore, he links these presidents and this year by claiming that all of them were involved in either uncovering or covering up secrets.In paragraph 7, he claims that these dramatic secrets were an emblem of this era, which exemplified the uneasiness of Americans about who they were.He gives more examples of secrets in paragraph 8 and examples of great changes in paragraph 9.He then concludes with his major thesis that 1948 was a year when three future presidents encountered “formative ordeals” which propelled them toward their presidency but also toward tragedy.

The audience for this article is educated, people.The author expects people to not only understand his references to the Kinsey report, DDT, and Silent Spring but also to be able to deduce how these support his thesis.While dropping these references and allowing the audience to inductively understand his points may be effective for those who lived through this historical period, it makes the article less effective for younger people who, for example, don’t have memories about DDT nor remember pictures about what it did to birds and animals.The author attempts to establish common ground through historical references but these may not be effective for those who don’t know them.What also limits the effectiveness of the article is the fact that the author does not explain how his examples relate to his thesis.The logical connections between his examples are also sometimes weak.Does Nixon’s involvement in uncovering the Hiss case really compare clearly to Kennedy’s cover-up of his medical history and Johnson’s cover-up of his dirty politics?

What is effective about the essay is that it causes the reader to think differently about what sorts of events should be considered important and it also makes the reader think about the connections between personal decisions and political events.

Short History of Rachel Carson and Silent Spring

Student Response Sample

I think that this essay is very thought-provoking even though I do not think Morrow clearly connects his examples to his thesis, and I think his explanations are weak throughout.I also think that his choice of 1948 is rather arbitrary for some of the examples. For instance, Kennedy found out about his illness in 1947 and concealed it until his death, so why focus on 1948? Nevertheless, I do think that Morrow convinces me that 1948 was a “seedbed” for a chance in the way in which Americans viewed themselves, politicians and the political process.Our current adversarial politics and distrust in politicians do seem to be rooted back in the Vietnam era and Watergate, the era when these three Presidents were in charge of our country.Finally, I like the idea that at the core, Americans believe it is important to question:“Are we a good people or a bad people?”

This article will be useful in my paper about the question, “What do Americans ultimately believe about themselves?”I will use this paper to discuss how this question was formulated and worked out in the last century.

The World of 1948

Summary, Analysis, Response Essay Poll

What country are you from?

  • United States
  • England
  • Australia
  • Other English speaking country (tell us in comments below!)
  • English is not my first language (tell us about the course you are taking in the comments below)
See results without voting

More by this Author


No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    VirginiaLynne profile image

    VirginiaLynne1,250 Followers
    304 Articles

    VirginiaLynne has been a University English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes at helping people write essays faster and easier.

    Click to Rate This Article