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Comparison Contrast Point Point Essay

COMPARISON AND CONTRAST


When you read assignments, certain key words and phrases - compare and contrast, similarities and differences, relative merits, advantages and disadvantages - indicate that you should use a comparison-and-contrast pattern to organize your essay.

The first step is to establish a basis of comparison, the common element or elements in the subjects you will discuss. For example, although cats and dogs are dissimilar pets, both can learn from their owners. Cats and dogs may be taught different behaviors in different ways, but these differences can be analyzed because both animals share a common element: Both are trainable. Without a common element, you would have no basis for analysis - that is, no basis of comparison.

When you compare and contrast, make sure that you discuss the same elements for both subjects. For instance, if you were going to compare and contrast two poems, you might consider the following elements in both works:

                                    Poem 1                                    Poem 2

                                Symbolism                               Symbolism
                                   Meter                                       Meter
                                  Theme                                     Theme

You would not consider symbolism and theme in one poem and meter and symbolism in the other.

There are two forms of comparison/contrast papers. Each form has its own characteristics that are useful for different types of paper formats. Here is a description of each of those two forms:

Subject-by-Subject Comparison

A subject-by-subject comparison is, in effect, two separate essays about the same subject. Of course, the essays are linked with a transition and cover the same points. For example, to compare and contrast dogs and cats, you might organize your information in the following way:

       Introduction: Thesis statement - Even though dogs and cats are both popular pets, they have vastly different characteristics that require owners to deal with them in different ways.

        Dogs
               Point 1: Dependent
               Point 2: Eager to please
               Point 3: Easily trained

        Cats
               Point 1: Independent
               Point 2: Indifferent about pleasing
               Point 3: Not easily trained

        Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

Subject-by-subject comparisons work best for short papers that cover simple subjects.

Point-by-Point Comparison: When you write a point-by-point comparison, you write about each major point for both subjects before moving on to another main point. For example, the information about cats and dogs might be organized in the following manner:

    Introduction: Thesis statement - Even though dogs and cats are both popular pets, they have vastly different characteristics that require owners to deal with them in different ways.

        Degree of dependence on owner
                   Dogs
                   Cats

        Eagerness to please
            Dogs
                Cats

        Trainability
             Dogs
             Cats

        Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

Point-by-point comparisons are especially useful for longer, more complicated essays in which you discuss a number of different points.

     Next, the sounds were different in Idaho from those in San Francisco.  In Idaho, the sounds were those typical of a farm:  the barking of dogs, the mooing of the cows, the whistling of wind in the trees.  The sounds of the night were always my favorite.  At sundown, the coyotes started to howl, and the sound echoed eerily from the surrounding forests and hills. The frogs answered with a cacophony of croaks from the creek at the bottom of the hill, and the crickets added to the noise.   The cattle and the dog joined in, too.   If I listened quietly, I could hear the wind whistle around the corner of the house.  Sometimes, the annoying buzz of a mosquito would add to the sound mix.  The air was alive with sound, but the sounds were those of nature.  I could listen or not listen because the sounds weren’t intrusive.  Even in town, the rare sound of a siren only meant that the deputy was on his way home to dinner and was signaling his wife to set the table.

     In San Francisco, my ears were assaulted by the sounds of the city:  the honking of cars, yelling of people, and wailing of sirens.  My first night in the city was a horror!  I couldn’t sleep all night.  My dorm room was across the street from St. Francis Memorial Hospital, right in the middle of the city.  The emergency room faced the dorm.  All night long, I could hear the ambulances and the sirens as they raced to the emergency entrance.   I could hear the ambulance attendants talking to the nurses.  I could hear the cars going by incessantly, braking and accelerating with the change of the traffic light on the corner.  I couldn’t hear myself think!  This was not pleasant background sounds of nature;  it was intrusive, loud, human-made noise that was inescapable.  I learned to fight noise with noise:  my stereo against the outside world.

     Last, the people seemed totally different in Idaho from those in San Francisco.  (This is not an exaggeration.  They were a different species altogether.)  In Idaho, people were pretty much the same—color-wise and everything-else-wise.  My father was a typical “blue collar” person (except his collar was usually green).  He was a farmer and drove a school bus to make ends meet. He wore blue overalls over black work pants and a dark green shirt—everyday.  He had one suit in his entire life.  He wore it to weddings and funerals.  He also had one tie and one white shirt.  My mother made her own clothes and mine, too, until I got old enough to make my own, so everything had a homemade, flowered-print sort of look.  People worked, went to church, cooked, ate, and lived very similar lives.  They didn’t beg on the streets, and they didn’t appear to be confused about their genders, at least not in public. 

     In San Francisco, on the other hand, the people were a revelation!  There were people in uniforms, in suits, in rags—all kinds of people.  On my first walk down Market street, I saw beggars in filthy clothes sitting on the sidewalks with signs, “Help me, I’m hungry.”  There was also a blind man playing an accordion, with a can for donations in front of him.  Then, there were the men with makeup . . .not that there’s anything wrong with that!.  However, I’d never seen a man wear makeup; I didn’t even know there were men who might want to wear makeup.   I was completely confused as to why both men and women, wearing hot pants, would be standing around on street corners in the cold San Francisco weather.  It seemed like a strange fashion statement to make.  Added to that, there were Asians, and African Americans, and East Indians, and Greeks, and Russians, and Mexicans, and everything else.  The people were confusing, fascinating,  amazing, and truly wonderful!