Essay Topic for Out-of-Class Writing on Nothing But the Truth
Due Date: Monday, June 20 (during class time)
While reading the book, one student wrote: “Philip is not an angel, but he is the real victim in this book. His parents spoil him, and his father scares him enough so that he cannot tell either parent the truth about why he can’t join the track team. What happens at school is unfair to him. A fifteen minute conference with Dr. Palleni, Miss Narwin, Philip’s parents, and Philip would have made the whole problem absolutely clear, and they could have worked out a solution, but he is not offered such a meeting. Finally, he is the pawn in the political schemes of Superintendent Seymour and Ted Griffen. Philip’s humming the national anthem was not the right thing to do, but given his powerlessness, it was not such a bad thing. The adults in this book are the ones that do most of the damage, and poor Philip suffers.”
Another student wrote, “Philip is the primary reason for the whole mess described in the book. He’s a liar, a class clown, a bad student, and a spoiled brat. He ruins the career and reputation of his English teacher, Miss Narwin. He makes the lives of everyone around him worse. A teenager is not a baby. He deserved to be punished severely. But even punishment won’t make up for hurting his teacher’s valuable career and life, and giving voters an excuse to vote against the school budget.”
Writing Question: Which of these arguments, Philip as victim or Philip as wrongdoer, is more accurate to your belief about the book? Explain by using examples, quotations and information from the book. Make sure to create an introduction paragraph with a thesis statement, body, and conclusion paragraphs.
(Hint: A possible thesis statement might read one of two ways: “I agree with the first student who believes Philip is a victim because of ___________________, _________________ and ______________.” Or “I agree with the second student who sees Philip as the wrongdoer because of _____________________, _________________________ and ___________________.)
How To Put Quotations into Your Essay:
Since you are going to quote from the book, follow these rules.
1. Keep your quotations short. Going on and on is not a good idea. You can use as little as a word and go up from there. You should try to work your quotation into the grammar of the sentence you are writing.
2. Use the page number where the quotation can be found, but do not write “page,” “pg.” “p.” Just the number is the way to do it with a notable exception.
3. If you are going to use a long quotation (more than three lines) indent 10 spaces throughout.
Examples: a. In Nothing But the Truth, Miss Narwin claims that it is “precisely because Philip is a troubled boy” that she doesn’t want “to give up on him” (49).
b. Philip’s mother spoils him by making cookies as large as “pizzas” (32).
c. In a short conversation on p. 56, Philip tells Ken Barchett, “I am going to get transferred out of her class.”
d. The following conversation takes place between Superintendent Seymour and Ted Griffen:
Albert Seymour: I think we have a real problem here.
Ted Griffen: What kind of a problem?
Albert Seymour: The teacher has tenure.
Ted Griffen: Oh, yeah. That’s a problem. I didn’t know that.
Albert Seymour: Yes, but there may be a way out.