Goal of James Baldwin| An Essay



Write a three-page, MLA-formatted essay in response to the following:

What is the goal of James Baldwin’s essay “A Talk to Teachers”? What effects does he want to have on readers, and what aspects of his essay serve his purposes? What broader changes does he want for society?


Reading comprehension

  • Briefly summarize the source text
  • Include Baldwin’s main claim (thesis)

Your own argument

  • Thesis statement that references the source and is debatable and supportable
  • Use source text to respond to the prompt without making the same argument as Baldwin
  • Focused paragraphs each developing a sub-point (use APEC as a model)

Effective quoting from the source text

  • MLA formatting, punctuation
  • Relevant details
  • Quote length no more than 3 lines
  • Use signal phrases

Rhetorical analysis

(Rhetoric = using words to change people’s minds)

  • Explain how specific quotations support your claims about Baldwin’s purposes
  • Interpret how readers might react to aspects of the source
  • Provide rationale for the questions your claims might provoke


  • Precision
  • Conciseness
  • Grammatical Clarity

Steps for Writing the Essay

  1. Read and understand the prompt
  1. Read the source text
  1. Annotating/underlining/jotting down quotes
  2. Look out for patterns
  3. Look up new vocabulary
  1. Reverse outline the source text
  1. Bulleted main points, main, evidence
  1. Brainstorm
  1. Make your own outline
  1. Working thesis statement
  2. Topic sentences
  3.    Quotations from the source text
  1. Draft the essay
  1. Does not have to be in order
  2. Give yourself enough time
  3. Update your thesis
  1. Revise and edit
  1. Re-vision = re-look at the essay
  2. Read whole essay aloud to yourself
  3. Read whole essay aloud to someone else
  4. Make sentence-level changes
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