Please help with some ideas/info on the following prompt:
"Animal Craftsman" is a reflective essay. Write an essay in which you explain what elements of the selection make it a reflective essay. Use examples from the text to support your argument.
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A reflective essay does just what the name suggests—it reflects on the author’s experiences. This means that the essay is personal in nature. It will describe the author’s opinions and observations. It is a type of nonfiction. In this case, Brooks describes his experience watching a wasps build a nest and his admiration for their handiwork.
The elements of a reflective essay are 1) it is nonfiction, 2) it focuses on the author’s personal experiences, 3) it shares the author’s reflections on those experiences, and 4) it makes a judgment on those experiences. The last is not necessary, but is often included and is included by Brooks. If you were to write an essay explaining why “Animal Craftsmen” is a personal essay, I would focus on these elements.
First of all, this is nonfiction. It is a true story. He begins by describing his personal experience. He uses the first person, talking about himself as a child.
One evening, when I was about five, I climbed up a ladder on the outside of a rickety old tobacco barn at sunset.
He goes on to describe the wasp nest in vivid detail, both with the detail of an adult and the ardor of a child. It does not have the nature of a story, but as the recounting of a past event.
When describing how he feels about the wasp nest, Brooks describes things from his own unique perspective. He talks about how he was sure it was a human-made wasp house at first, and was baffled to discover the wasps built it themselves. At this point, the wonders of nature were open to him because he realized the incredible architecture and complexity that went into such a thing.
The knowledge of architecture—knowing where to build, what materials to use, how to put them together, remains one of the most intriguing mysteries of animal behavior.
This is where Brooks makes a judgment. Personal essays often end with such a judgment, because the purpose of the essay is to take one’s personal experiences and connect them to the greater meaning. The greater meaning is connected to their purpose for writing the essay. In this case, Brooks did not just write the essay because he loves wasps. He was writing because he wanted to make a point about how impressive nature is, and how much we should appreciate it.
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