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107. The Coherent Paragraph. In our study of Chapters IV and V we have come to realize the value of applying the test of unity to our written work. We have also learned something of the meaning of coherence and emphasis, but in this chapter we are to become more familiar with them. When a paragraph has a single main thought, we say that it has unity, or that it is a unit. When thoughts take their places in a natural order, so that the sentences fit together closely, we say that the paragraph has coherence. A step toward unity is to exclude all details which do not have a bearing on the paragraph topic. (See sect. 28.) A step toward coherence is to arrange the details in a natural or logical order. Sometimes a carefully worded topic sentence is the best guide through a paragraph. Sometimes connectives help us show the relation of one sentence to another.

108. Connectives. Whether a writer uses topic sentences or not, he will often need conjunctions and conjunctive phrases, such as: however, yet, then, too, hence, moreover, accordingly, in short, also, further, nor, but, and, on the contrary, while, on the other hand, still, indeed, therefore, first, secondly, finally.

A connective liable to be overworked is and. It is often

used to fill gaps, as and-er is used by pupils in reciting. We should hesitate to allow it to stand at the beginning of a sentence or a paragraph, and in revising a manuscript we should cut out every and we do not absolutely need.

A demonstrative adjective,1 used with a noun, frequently makes a good connecting link. It enables the writer to repeat a word or an idea that he wishes to keep before the reader.


323. In the following selections, point out the value of the connectives:


I was in Franklin Park this morning [February 25] about ten minutes before sunrise. The somewhat pale moon was still shining in the west, while the eastern horizon and the clouds above it were suffused with pink. This pink grew brighter and brighter until it became golden. Just then I heard a single half-suppressed caw, and turning toward the west beheld a long, dark line of crows, at least fifty, pursuing a northerly course. The loud cries of a pair of blue jays resounded from a group of cedar trees a few minutes after the sun rose. The chickadees, too, were early risers and three hairy woodpeckers put in an appearance in good season. Squirrels, both red and gray, were numerous, and at one time I noticed five gray fellows in a single pine tree. In passing a low hedge of evergreens, I heard a chirp, and looking carefully, I saw a song sparrow perched in the hedge. I tried by various whistles and bird notes to get him to sing his spring song to me, but the only response he would give was a melancholy chirp, which seemed to mean that spring had not yet come.


In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, to tell the precise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten), there lived, many years since, while the country was yet a province of Great 1 See page 167.

Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina. He inherited, however, but little of the martial character of his ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient, hen-pecked husband. Indeed, to that latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrews at home. Their tempers, doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation. . . . A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blest. — IRVING, "The Sketch-Book."


By this time the sun had gone down, and was tinting the clouds towards the zenith with those bright hues which are not seen there until some time after sunset, and when the horizon has quite lost its richer brilliancy. The moon, too, .. These silvery beams . . . They softened . . . With the lapse of every moment, the garden grew more picturesque . . . The commonplace characteristics . . . were now transfigured by a charm of romance. A hundred mysterious years were whispering among the leaves. Through the foliage that roofed the little summer-house the moonlight flickered to and fro, and fell silvery white on the dark floor, the table, and the circular bench, with a continual shift and play, according as the chinks and wayward crevices among the twigs admitted or shut out the glimHAWTHORNE, "The House of the Seven Gables."



324. Rewrite the following incoherent theme to make it one coherent paragraph. Begin with a better topic sentence. Before class test your theme by the questions in Exercise 60.

It was a rather large farm of twenty acres.

There was a tall elm tree in one corner of the yard.

Underneath one of the large branches was a rabbit house where

four white angora rabbits were kept. The chickens were running around on the grass.

About forty yards from the tree was a barn. The boys were putting hay in the top of it for the winter's feed for the cows and horses.

There were a blue truck wagon, a rake, and a cutting machine near the barn.

In the distance were a number of cows feeding near a pond. Milk pails were hanging upon the whitewashed fence near the tree. 325. Insert these connectives in their proper places in the following paragraph: in short, and lastly, for one thing, for another.

People had no fancy for amateur explosions it did not clearly appear that it was legal. it seemed a somewhat advanced example of civilization to set before barbarians. The matter, became a storm.

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326. Copy five of the topic sentences in Exercises 79 and 82, and write one or more sentences that naturally follow each of the five.

NOTE. If all members of the class should write from a topic sentence placed on the blackboard, they would readily see possibilities of infinite variety in such an exercise as the foregoing.

327. Write five sentences of your own on as many different subjects and, as above, add to each at least one or more sentences that are closely connected.

328. Write a paragraph in which you use one of the following as an opening sentence:

1. He had plenty to do through the next hour. 2. I sauntered to the window and stood gazing at the people picking their way to church. 3. All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet schoolroom. 4. Dinner time came. 5. His heart opened wide to real dis


329. Exchange themes and test their coherence. Mark O opposite any sentence which should be omitted, and C against any lack of connection.

330. Explain the working of some machine or instrument, or the process of doing something. First prepare a list of topics. As you revise, test the coherence of your paragraph, or paragraphs.

331. Write a letter to a friend, giving an account of some recent experience. Write rapidly. Think of your subject, not of how you are writing. Revise in order to secure coherence and put in correct letter form (see Chap. VIII).

332. Either as critic of your own letter, or of a classmate's, point out any lack of proper form or of unity and coherence.

109. The Emphatic Paragraph. Of the many ways of securing emphasis in a paragraph we shall consider two: (1) emphasis through position and (2) emphasis through proportion.

110. Emphasis through Position. When a man makes a speech, he naturally begins in a way that will attract and hold the attention of his audience. If in the course of his talk he at times grows less interesting, when he comes to the conclusion he rouses himself to leave a lasting impression. As the closing words naturally linger longest in the ears of the listeners, we may say that the most important part of the speech is the end. The part of next importance is the beginning. So it is with a book, a chapter, a paragraph, and a sentence. What first strikes the eye of the reader will repel or attract; the image that is last to leave his eye he will be most likely to remember. We may say, therefore, that the last sentence in a paragraph is in the most conspicuous position, and that the first sentence is in the position of second importance; that the last words in a sentence are by position the most emphatic, and that the opening words are only less emphatic.

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