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English Composition 1

The Writing Process: Prewriting | Drafting | Revising | Proofreading | The Final Draft

The Writing Process: The Final Draft

John was given the assignment of writing an essay of at least 800 words on Dorothea Lange's photograph Migrant Mother, and he has finally completed his essay. He persistently worked his way through the writing process, from prewriting, to drafting, to revising, and finally to proofreading, and now he is ready to send his essay out into the world for others to read. How has John done on his essay? His final draft appears below.

John's Final Draft

John J. Hinklemeyer
Professor Jones
ENG 1001-23
21 August 2006

A Motherís Strength

        In the 1930s, harsh weather conditions in the United States turned fields into dust and caused many Americans to suffer through extreme hardship and poverty. Many migrant families were destitute as they struggled just to survive. Dorothea Lange captured the plight of one of these families in her photograph Migrant Mother. The photograph depicts a family suffering from extreme poverty, but it also demonstrates the determination of a mother to do her best to care for her children and to endure through difficult times.
        The mother and her children are severely impoverished. The title of the photograph identifies the mother as a migrant worker, and the photograph was taken in 1936, at the time when many migrant farm workers suffered through the disaster of the "Dust Bowl." The family's clothing alone suggests their poverty. The mother wears a ragged gray shirt with frayed sleeves that appear to extend only as far as her elbows. Her children's clothing is not any better. The baby lies wrapped in a blanket or coat that has become soiled and gray, not the kind of clothing that anyone would want to wrap a baby in. Only one sleeve of the garment worn by the blonde-haired child leaning on the mother's left shoulder is visible, but it reveal two small holes or dark patches of dirt, and the bottom of the sleeve appears to be torn. The cloth appears to be more of a rag than a shirt. The child leaning on the mother's other shoulder wears a coat that hangs loosely off of his shoulders, suggesting that the coat is much too large for his small frame. It appears to have been a long time since any of the family's clothing was washed. Likewise, the mother and children themselves do not seem to have bathed for a while. They all appear soiled by the dusty and dirty environment around them. Most noticeable are the smudges around the baby's mouth and its darkened eyelids, along with the grimy and weathered skin of the mother's right forearm. The blonde child to the mother's left appears to have a streak of dirt or perhaps a bruise on his left arm. Finally, the canvas material behind the family also suggests their poverty. They are migrants, so they probably do not have a home of their own and may be living in a tent. This family clearly is suffering from extreme poverty, but the photograph also suggests that the mother is doing her best to care for her children during this difficult time.
        The mother in Langeís photograph is responsible for the survival and well being of her children, and it is clear that she is doing her best to provide for her children. Even the composition of the figures in the photograph suggests the motherís importance. The mother is at the center of the photograph, just as she is at the center of her family. Two of the children are resting against their mother, leaning in toward each of her shoulders, so that the mother literally is supporting the weight of her children. Both of the older children have their heads resting on the motherís shoulders, turning to the mother for comfort and support. The motherís care for her children can also be seen in the recent ďbowlĒ haircuts suggested by the shape of the older childrenís hair. The mother also cares for her baby, who rests peacefully in the motherís lap as she holds it close against her body. The motherís ruffled and slightly opened shirt front suggests that she may have recently breastfed her baby, and the child now rests peacefully in the comfort of its motherís arms. The mother is poor, and the whole family is suffering, but the mother does try to provide some support and comfort for her children.
        The responsibility of caring for her family helps the mother remain strong and determined not to be defeated during these difficult times. Her head is not bowed down in defeat. Instead, she looks ahead, as if looking for a way out of her situation. Even the presence of a photographer taking a picture of the mother does not distract her attention. She has more important things to think about. The motherís hand cupped against her cheek also suggests that she is deep in thought. Her dark eyes are focused ahead, her eyebrows furrowed, as if she is trying to see a better future somewhere in the distance. She is looking for answers, not giving in to despair. The children relying on their mother for support may help strengthen their motherís resolve to make it through these difficult times. Her children are depending on her, literally relying on her strength to hold them up, so she knows that she must be strong for her family. The woman is living in the midst of extreme poverty, but she must remain strong and look to the future for the sake of her children.
        At first, Dorothea Langeís Migrant Mother might seem to be a bleak picture, and it does show a poor family that is struggling to survive, but the photograph also shows a motherís determination to make it through difficult times and to provide for her family. It is hard to imagine the level of poverty and suffering that this family and many others suffered from in the 1930s. At least some children who lived during this time had strong mothers who did their best to help their families survive.

John wishes that he had more time to work on his essay. Even now, he sees ways that he can make it even stronger, but the time has come for John to turn in his essay.

He has done an excellent job. His final draft is well focused and well organized, and he supports and develops his ideas effectively, with a lot of specific evidence for the ideas that he presents. He also explains everything clearly, and he uses a confident writing voice throughout his essay and has done a nice job of avoiding problems with errors. All of the time and work that John has put in to his writing has paid off with an excellent essay.  

John's First Draft and his Final Draft: A Comparison

This is more of a contrast than a comparison, as John made many changes to the first draft of his essay as he revised. In fact, the final draft is so different from the earlier one than the first draft might be seen as little more than a guide for John as he continued to work on his essay. One professor notes that a sign of an inexperienced writer is that a sentence from the first draft of an essay is allowed to remain unchanged in a final draft. Notice that there is not one sentence in John's final draft that is exactly the way he wrote it in his first draft. He changed all of the sentences as he revised. 

All of the stages of the writing process are important, but the contrast between the first draft and the final draft of John's essay, as illustrated below, shows just how important the revision stage can be.  

The First Draft
     The photograph of "Migrant Mother" was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936. It is a black and white photograph and shows a family that is poor and suffering. The family is poor, but the photograph shows that the mother is strong and is trying to take care of her children.
       The family in "Migrant Mother" is very poor. You can tell this by the clothes that they are wearing. The baby is wrapped in an old coat or blanket that is very dirty. The mother's clothes are also dirty and the sleeve of her shirt is torn. The child on the left has on a coat that is too big for him, it probably is a hand-me-down or a coat that someone gave him. Small holes can be seen in the sleeve of the dingy shirt that the child on the right is wearing. The dirt on the family also shows that they are poor. The baby's face is filthy, and dirt is smudged on the arm of the child on the right. The mother's arm is also dirty, and she has her hand up to her chin, like she is trying to think of how she can help her family. It looks like the family is sitting in a tent of some sort because you can see a canvas background. They probably do not have a home. They do not seem to have any water to bathe with. The photograph was taken in 1936. This is the time of the "Dust Bowl," when migrant farm workers were suffering. The photograph shows that this family is poor.
       The photograph shows that the mother is trying to care for her family. The mother is at the center of the photograph, and she is the center of her family. Two of the children are leaning against the mother, one on each side of her. The children are leaning against the mother's shoulders. One child has his hands to his face, showing that he is sad about the situation. Both children are looking down because they are depressed. There is also a baby in the mother's lap. The baby is resting peacefully. It looks like the baby has just breast fed, showing that the mother is doing her best to care for him. It looks like the older children have recently had haircuts. It looks as if their hair were cut by putting a bowl on their head and cutting around it, but at least the mother made sure that they have their hair cut. The family is poor and suffering, but the mother is trying to be strong and care for her children.
       The mother is determined not to be defeated by her difficulties. She is going to care for her family and help them survive during this bad time in their lives. The mother's determination is shown by her face. She is looking ahead and does not even notice the photographer because she has more important things to worry about. She is worried about the future. Her hand on her face shows that she is thinking, and her eyes are squinted, like she is thinking and worrying about something. When someone feels defeated, they might put their head down, but the mother does not do this. She holds her head up and faces the suffering the future will bring. She is strong and determined. The children rely on the mother for comfort because they know that she will help them get through the bad times. The mother is determined not to be defeated.
       The painting "Migrant Mother" shows how important it is for a mother to be strong. The family is poor and suffering, but they will survive because the strong mother is not going to be defeated. 1936 was a bad year for many people, but this mother will make it through.  

The Final Draft
        In the 1930s, harsh weather conditions in the United States turned fields into dust and caused many Americans to suffer through extreme hardship and poverty. Many migrant families were destitute as they struggled just to survive. Dorothea Lange captured the plight of one of these families in her photograph Migrant Mother. The photograph depicts a family suffering from extreme poverty, but it also demonstrates the determination of a mother to do her best to care for her children and to endure through difficult times.
        The mother and her children are severely impoverished. The title of the photograph identifies the mother as a migrant worker, and the photograph was taken in 1936, at the time when many migrant farm workers suffered through the disaster of the "Dust Bowl." The family's clothing alone suggests their poverty. The mother wears a ragged gray shirt with frayed sleeves that appear to extend only as far as her elbows. Her children's clothing is not any better. The baby lies wrapped in a blanket or coat that has become soiled and gray, not the kind of clothing that anyone would want to wrap a baby in. Only one sleeve of the garment worn by the blonde-haired child leaning on the mother's left shoulder is visible, but it reveal two small holes or dark patches of dirt, and the bottom of the sleeve appears to be torn. The cloth appears to be more of a rag than a shirt. The child leaning on the mother's other shoulder wears a coat that hangs loosely off of his shoulders, suggesting that the coat is much too large for his small frame. It appears to have been a long time since any of the family's clothing was washed. Likewise, the mother and children themselves do not seem to have bathed for a while. They all appear soiled by the dusty and dirty environment around them. Most noticeable are the smudges around the baby's mouth and its darkened eyelids, along with the grimy and weathered skin of the mother's right forearm. The blonde child to the mother's left appears to have a streak of dirt or perhaps a bruise on his left arm. Finally, the canvas material behind the family also suggests their poverty. They are migrants, so they probably do not have a home of their own and may be living in a tent. This family clearly is suffering from extreme poverty, but the photograph also suggests that the mother is doing her best to care for her children during this difficult time.
        The mother in Langeís photograph is responsible for the survival and well being of her children, and it is clear that she is doing her best to provide for her children. Even the composition of the figures in the photograph suggests the motherís importance. The mother is at the center of the photograph, just as she is at the center of her family. Two of the children are resting against their mother, leaning in toward each of her shoulders, so that the mother literally is supporting the weight of her children. Both of the older children have their heads resting on the motherís shoulders, turning to the mother for comfort and support. The motherís care for her children can also be seen in the recent ďbowlĒ haircuts suggested by the shape of the older childrenís hair. The mother also cares for her baby, who rests peacefully in the motherís lap as she holds it close against her body. The motherís ruffled and slightly opened shirt front suggests that she may have recently breastfed her baby, and the child now rests peacefully in the comfort of its motherís arms. The mother is poor, and the whole family is suffering, but the mother does try to provide some support and comfort for her children.
        The responsibility of caring for her family helps the mother remain strong and determined not to be defeated during these difficult times. Her head is not bowed down in defeat. Instead, she looks ahead, as if looking for a way out of her situation. Even the presence of a photographer taking a picture of the mother does not distract her attention. She has more important things to think about. The motherís hand cupped against her cheek also suggests that she is deep in thought. Her dark eyes are focused ahead, her eyebrows furrowed, as if she is trying to see a better future somewhere in the distance. She is looking for answers, not giving in to despair. The children relying on their mother for support may help strengthen their motherís resolve to make it through these difficult times. Her children are depending on her, literally relying on her strength to hold them up, so she knows that she must be strong for her family. The woman is living in the midst of extreme poverty, but she must remain strong and look to the future for the sake of her children.
        At first, Dorothea Langeís Migrant Mother might seem to be a bleak picture, and it does show a poor family that is struggling to survive, but the photograph also shows a motherís determination to make it through difficult times and to provide for her family. It is hard to imagine the level of poverty and suffering that this family and many others suffered from in the 1930s. At least some children who lived during this time had strong mothers who did their best to help their families survive.

It is time for John to leave this accomplishment behind and to move on to the next challenge.

This page was last updated on Thursday, June 06, 2013. Copyright Randy Rambo, 2006.