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Julia Peterson, wearied with labor in the cornfield, is sitting with her bare feet in a stream and her head leaning against the trunk of a tree. Her brother Otto has gone, “whooping with uncontrollable delight,” to bathe in a neighboring pond.
Read aloud now the following passage:
As she rested, the beauty of the scene came to her. Over her the wind moved the leaves. A jay screamed far off, as if answering the cries of the boy. A kingfisher crossed and recrossed the stream with a dipping sweep of his wings. The river sang with its lips to the pebbles. The vast clouds went by majestically far above the tree tops, and the snap and buzzing and ringing whir of July insects made a ceaseless, slumberous undertone of song solvent of all else. The tired girl forgot her work. She began to dream.
- HAMLIN GARLAND: Main Travelled Roads.
We see at once that this is a descriptive passage because it describes. It is made up of eight groups of words, each group beginning with a capital letter. We see, too, that each group, while expressing a distinct thought of its own, helps to develop the topic of the whole passage. The topic is “The Beauty of the Scene.” The entire passage is a paragraph. Each group of words that helps to develop the topic is a sentence. The art of writing is the art of building and joining paragraphs. But before we can build a paragraph we must know the topic around which it is to be built. The topic of a paragraph may be compared to the core of an apple.
A paragraph is a group of sentences developing a single topic.
A sentence is a group of words expressing a complete thought.
QUESTIONS 1. In the paragraph quoted on page 89, what objects are described as being seen?
2. What objects are described as being heard?
3. Which sentence begins with something seen and ends with something heard?
4. What five words in the first sentence constitute the topic of the paragraph?
Write a descriptive paragraph.
Read also these paragraphs:
The messenger dogs are used in place of men, and are called to work over the fighting zone where men as messengers would be in constant danger from enemy fire. Their value lies, not merely in saving the lives of men, but in carrying messages much more swiftly than men could do over the same ground. There is also less risk of the loss of the message by the death or injury of the messenger. A dog can creep or run in almost complete safety where a man would be hit, and the lives of many men in the firing line may be saved by a message carried by a dog to a point two or three miles behind.
- ADAPTED FROM THE New York Times.
A Saranac boat is one of the finest things that the skill of man has ever produced under the inspiration of the wilderness. It is a frail shell, so light that a guide can carry it on his shoulders with