“Destitute Pea Pickers in California” by Dorothea Lange,Approaching a City” by Edward Hopper;http://goo.gl/SyHuKZ

| November 26, 2014

“Destitute Pea Pickers in California” by Dorothea Lange,Approaching a City” by Edward Hopper;http://goo.gl/SyHuKZ

Essay 3: Comparing and Contrasting Two Image
This essay offers practice in looking (reading) closely and moving from describing
observations of specific details into stating larger ideas which can be expressed in a thesis
statement. You might think of this as expanding from “local” ideas (specific observations) to
one “global” idea (a more comprehensive claim and thesis). In addition, this essay offers
practice using the comparison and contrast method of organization, a method with many
useful applications.
Please read Chapter 14 on “Responding to Visual Representations” as well as
Chapter 7 on “Comparing and Contrasting” in
The Bedford Guide for College Writers
You will be writing about what you think is the
differences you observe
when studying two images together. For your paper topic,
please choose ONE SET of two images from the
sets linked
Set 1:
“Destitute Pea Pickers in California” by Dorothea Lange

Marie Antoinette and her Children” by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun
Set 2:

Approaching a City” by Edward Hopper
“South Broadway at Chelton Avenue”
by Camilo Vergara
(Note: If you are unable to access the NY Times site, you can also see Vergara’s image here:
Set 3:

Washington, D.C. Government Charwoman” by Gordon Parks

American Gothic” by Grant Wood
Working with one set of images,
compare and contrast
the two images in that
set, and
illustrate and explain your reasoning as to the main point(s) of comparison and/or
contrast you find important for the viewer to study
when looking at and thinking about both
images. Your
should make an overall claim which states
you think it is useful,
informative, interesting, significant, meaningful, etc to compare/contrast the images in the
particular way(s) you describe in your essay.
You will
support your thesis by describing specific examples of details you observe while
viewing the images yourself
so that your reader can look at the images and see your basis for
comparison/contrast and understand
these similarities and differences are important to
consider. Assume that your reader has seen the two images you are discussing but that
he/she does not have them available while reading your essay, so you will need to be very
clear and specific when you refer to the images.
Generating Ideas:
You need to come up with a
dominant idea
, which means that
it is not
enough to simply list details about each image: you have to make a larger point
. By “larger
point,” I bet you can guess that I mean that you need to have a
thesis statement
, which
means that you have to
make a specific claim
in your discussion of the two images,
showing how the details you observe in these images help to prove the larger point you are
making about what the viewer can learn from comparing and contrasting these images in the
way(s) you explain in your paper
To come up with your thesis, start by observing the images carefully and reflecting on your
observations, and
do some freewriting
about some of the questions from the “visual analysis
checklists” in the textbook
in Chapter 14
. Reread the observations described in your
freewriting. What are the main things you notice about these images? Do you see more
similarities or more differences? What effect do the images have on you as the viewer, and
why do you think they have this effect?
Hopefully, there is an idea or two you keep coming back to when thinking about the images. If
you had to sum up your overall experience in trying to observe, think about, and freewrite on
these images, what would you say? Do you think people will discover something new if they
compare and contrast these images that they might not see in one image alone? What can
people learn from looking at these images together?
There are a couple of different options for structuring a
comparison/contrast paper, as explained in Chapter 7. Please also see the .pdf file from the
UNC Writing Center in the Essay 3 folder for some useful ideas.
Two common patterns of organization for comparison/contrast are the “opposing” pattern
(also called “block” or “subject-by-subject”) and the “alternating” pattern (also called “point-by-
point”). Our textbook gives detailed templates for both patterns.
With the opposing pattern, in the body of your essay, you discuss the images one at a time:
you first have a paragraph in which you discuss one image on a series of specific points of
comparison/contrast (not mentioning the second image in that paragraph), and then you
discuss the second image on those same points in the next paragraph, referring back to the
previous paragraph to clarify your ideas.
In the alternating pattern, you compare/contrast the two images first on point one, then point
two, and so on; this means you talk about both images together in all of your body
paragraphs, showing how they each relate to specific points of comparison/contrast which are
important to your discussion.
Your essay should be 3 to 5 double-spaced pages in length. Be sure to
state your
clearly in a succinct statement at the beginning of your essay. Support your thesis by
referring to
specific details you have observed
in the images you are discussing. Different
people notice different things when they look at visual art, so you need to be specific to try
and help your reader look again at the artwork and see the same things that you notice. As
with literature, there is no one “correct” way to see visual art or to interpret what it means or
why it is interesting or significant, but you must
back up your ideas by pointing out specific


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