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Comparison & Contrast. The Riverside Reader. When you come in…. Grab a book! Read: “Two Views of the River” by Mark Twain pp.159-162 Consider: What does Twain accomplish by dividing the two views of the river than alternating them beneath several headings?

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comparison contrast

Comparison & Contrast

The Riverside Reader

when you come in
When you come in…
  • Grab a book!
  • Read: “Two Views of the River” by Mark Twain pp.159-162
  • Consider:
    • What does Twain accomplish by dividing the two views of the river than alternating them beneath several headings?
    • Which attitude – poetic or pragmatic – does Twain anticipate his readers have toward the river? Explain your answer.
    • Where does Twain use transition phrases and sentences to match up the parts of his comparison?
mark twain s two views of the river
Mark Twain’s “Two Views of the River.”
  • Create a chart that demonstrates at least five differences in the apprentice’s and the pilot’s views of the river.
comparison contrast background
Comparison & Contrast Background
  • Compare = look for similarities
  • Contrast = look for differences
  • Analyze similarities & differences in a systematic, useful way that brings out significant differences
  • Strict comparison
    • Compare only things that are truly alike (actors with actors, musicians with musicians, but not actors with musicians)
    • Make a judgment, and finally a choice
  • Fanciful comparison
    • Set up an imaginative, illuminating comparison between two things that don’t seem at all alike
    • Helps clarify a complex idea
fanciful comparison pitfalls
Fanciful Comparison – Pitfalls
  • Constructing an entire essay using a fanciful comparison can quickly breakdown.
  • Use this method most effectively as a device for enlivening your writing and highlighting dramatic similarities.
    • Probably won’t be using to make judgments or recommend choices
    • Capture readers’ attention and show new connections
  • Think about what your readers already know and what they’re going to expect
    • A lot about both (two popular TV shows)
      • Spend a little time pointing out similarities and concentrate on making the comparison
    • Very little about either (Buddhism & Shintoism)
      • Define each, using concepts audience is familiar with, then point out important contrasts
    • A lot about one and a little about the other (football & rugby)
      • Use the known to explain the unknown
  • Keep the essay balanced (not 90% on Buddhism and 10% on Shintoism)
  • Divided, or subject-by-subject, pattern
    • Present all info on one topic before you bring in info on the other topic
    • Benefits: lets you present each part of essay as a satisfying whole; especially good in short essays
    • Drawbacks: sometimes writers slip into writing what seems like two separate essays; in long essays, writers may have trouble organizing material clearly enough to keep readers on track
  • Alternating, or point-by-point, pattern
    • Work your way through the comparison point by point, giving information first on one aspect of the topic, then on the other
    • Benefits: shows subjects side by side, emphasizing the points you’re comparing; good for longer essays to show many complex points to help readers see how those points match up
    • Drawback: if used on a simple topic in a short essay, it will sound choppy and disconnected, like a list
strategies cont d
Strategies (cont’d)
  • COMBINE strategies to make the best of both worlds.
  • Guidelines:
    • Balance parts
    • Include reminders
    • Supply reasons
points to remember
Points to Remember
  • Decide whether you want the pattern of your comparison to focus on complete units (divided) or specific features (alternating).
  • Consider the possibility of combining the two patterns.
  • Determine which subject should be placed in the first position and why.
  • Arrange the points of your comparison in a logical, balanced, and dramatic sequence.
  • Make sure you introduce and clarify the reasons for making your comparison.

Read Deborah Tannen’s Rapport-Talk and Report-Talk pp.174-187

Answer the questions that follow (also available on next slide).

read deborah tannen s rapport talk and report talk
Read Deborah Tannen’s “Rapport-Talk and Report-Talk”


  • What does Tannen want to demonstrate about the relationship between communication failure and conversational style?
  • How do size (the number of people) and status (those people claiming authority) contribute to Tannen’s comparison of rapport-talk and report-talk?


  • What assumptions does Tannen make about the probable gender of most of her readers?
  • How does Tannen assume her audience can benefit from her analysis?


  • How does Tannen use advice columns, movies, and cartoons to illustrate the problems of domestic communication?
  • How does Tannen use her own experience as a lecturer to compare the way men and women talk in public?