counter narrative essay

Counter Narrative Essay

Directions: Students will prepare a read an article or story as a “resistance reading” and respond to it through counter narratives. Using what you have discovered during resistance reading, you will craft a response to the text following one of two patterns.

Option 1: A rebuttal to the author or the text calls out what is questionable, exclusionary, inflammatory, or oppressive. You can write this as a letter to the author, as an essay, or in the style of an “op-ed” article.

Option 2: Rewrite the original text/story from a different perspective. This works especially well if the text is fictional. For example, you can write as a marginal character from the story or create your own character in order to share a viewpoint that was missing.

You can do use one of three stories:

· READING 1 to the story “the three little pigs” found here

· READING 2 to the article “US lost track of 1,500 immigrant children, but says it's not 'legally responsible'” found here

· A story or article that you choose. Please let me know what you are doing before you start so I can make sure it is appropriate.

Remember that your essay needs to introduce the original reading and author, summarize the author’s view and the reading, and THEN explain the counter narrative in one of the two options above.

Requirements: This essay is developed with details, examples and support, so make sure that the body paragraphs go in to sufficient detail.

It should have a minimum of five paragraphs: one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one concluding paragraph. The final draft of the essay should be at least 2 pages long.

1. There should be three body paragraphs with clear topic sentences that have controlling ideas. There should be supporting sentences with specific examples of situations that give readers an understanding of each topic sentence. A concluding sentence may appear at the end of a body paragraph.

2. Because you read an article on this topic from an outside source, you MUST include this information in your paper.—remember to use citations when using an outside source. You must cite it IN the paper and then again at the END of the paper in a “reference list”

3. A concluding paragraph will have three parts: a restatement of the thesis statement, a summary of main points, and a reflection, prediction, or recommendation.

4. Your essay should be typed with 12 point font, Arial or Times New Roman, double spaced, 1 inch margins, academic in tone, proper heading, and page numbers.

First Draft: by end of day Thursday, July 5, 2018

+You should uploaded it into ecampus AND bring one copy PRINTED OUT to class

Final Draft: by end of day, Thursday, July 12, 2018

+Please turn in to ecampus.

If you revise the final draft after receiving feedback from me, the score for this essay will be the HIGHEST GRADE of all your drafts. If you decide not to revise the final draft a second time, your grade will be the final draft itself.

· To cite in a paper, after you give the information from the source, you will use the last name of the author and year it was published. So for example:

The effects of the study showed that people spoke differently depending on where they lived (Andone, 2018). This means that the location of where you live and where you grew up can determine the way you speak and the words you use.

Reference List

Andone, D. (2018). US lost track of 1,500 immigrant children, but says it's not 'legally responsible'. CNN. Retrieved from:

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Counter Narrative Analysis

The good racist people analysis.

Since the time of slavery, racism has become a systematically integrated into the subconscious of nearly all Americans, and this subconscious bias can often go undetected by even the people who reside in it. In “The Good, Racist People,” Ta-Nehisi Coates shines a light on American on these social norms and lifestyles which many “good Americans” might not necessarily consider racism. Going beyond what most readers consider obvious, such as lynching and segregation policies, Coates brings up the real example of a deli employee falsely accusing an African-American man of shoplifting. On the basis of a mere assumption. When that African-American man was identified as Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker, the incident caught national attention. The

The Movie Crash And Social Issues

The film examines systemic and institutional racism in the police station when Hansen talks to his superior officer about switching partners; his superior, Lieutenant Dixon, is a black officer and says that reporting Officer Tom Hansen as a racist could cost all of them their jobs, especially in the LAPD. Dixon suggests transferring to a one-man car and mockingly suggests Hansen explain his request by claiming to have “uncontrollable flatulence” rather than say his partner is racist. We also see instances of where racism is not race against race, it also portrays race against gender and race against class as two major forms of racism conflict in the movie.

Racism And The Criminal Justice System

With so many news stories and incidents surrounding the topic of race and the police these days, it is not surprising for people to come to the conclusion that racism may exist within the criminal justice system. We will be taking a deeper look into the problem to find out what other possible determinants may play a role in deciding how an officer makes an arrest or stop and continue to analyze what is happening in those contexts. The issues surrounding the topic of race is like the two faces of the same coin as there are usually two sides that we have to consider: reality and media portrayals. The reality side of situations is always there at the time, but it is so subtly hidden from society that nobody understands it unless they witness it firsthand and with the media spreading filtered information, it becomes even harder for us to identify the key issue; this is especially the case when dealing with the police and racial profiling. If you turn on the news and flip to a channel where it is reporting on the police and their arrests, you will most likely see more arrests pertaining to minorities than other ethnicities. In the news, we can often see a misrepresentation of ethnic minorities, usually African-Americans, being arrested when compared to others and this has caused problems around societies countless times. For this essay topic, I will be discussing the different issues surrounding race within the parameters of criminal justice and inequality; furthermore I will be

Racism Without Racists, By Jordan Peele

Furthermore, this scene also depicts racial profiling in America. According to Silva “blacks and dark-skinned Latinos are the targets of racial profiling by the police,” (2). In many cases, blacks are automatically assumed criminals and “always up to no good.”

Minorities In The Movie Crash

The criminal justice system, in regards to the film “Crash,” was reflected in such a way that is understood in today’s system. For example, police officers were quick to perceive African Americans as wrongful doing. The process of interrogation came down to force and inappropriate handling of an African American woman. Such stop and frisk resulted in degrading the dignity of both African American persons stopped by the White officers and the bad conduct performed by the older White officer was not reported by any of the individuals leading to discretion from all especially discretion from the White officer’s partner. Discretion has been evident in many situations and particularly dependent upon the

Race Relations Between The Police And The African American Community

The OJ Simpson murder case was an event that transfixed the nation over 20 years ago, with everyone who was around back then having some recollection of the whole ordeal. Today, that same case in entering back into the public consciousness, as a new television series dramatizing the events, entitled “The People vs. OJ Simpson”, just premiered. In an op-ed for the New York Times, John McWhorter pens an argument that the case was symbolic of race relations between the police and the African-American community. McWhorter, an African-American, goes into detail about how he did not understand why his community was cheering back in 1995 about Simpson being acquitted. McWhorter even believed that Simpson was guilty. However, he does now

Mass Incarceration Sociology

Though society consistently believes that African Americans possess and utilize drugs at a higher rate than white individuals, and are therefore more involved in petty crimes, this master narrative is incorrect. In a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2000, results displayed that, “white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use heroin at seven times the rate of black students” (Alexander 78). Despite the fact that white students use more drugs when compared to black students, “1 in every 14 black men was behind bars in 2006,” which represents “a rate...more than thirteen times higher than white men” (Alexander 79). Since African Americans are jailed more for drug abuse than white individuals, even though white individuals use and sell drugs more frequently, this suggests that African Americans have essentially become criminalized, or a primary target for police officials. Although the Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, police officials still possess the right to search anyone that they believe appears suspicious as long as it is done with “probable cause,” or on reasonable grounds. This right is granted to officials so that they can use their judgement to protect society efficiently; however, policemen often abuse this

Breaking The School Of Prison Pipeline

How would you feel if the outcome of your interaction with authority depended on whether you were black, Latino, or white? Unfortunately, police brutality is the sad reality that many black and Latino boys experience in their childhood. The disadvantages of their upbringing results to the reinforcement of societal restrictions on their success. On a positive note, education becomes salvation to marginalized group because it provides them means to escape the system that prevents them from becoming successful. However, Charles M. Blows and Victor M. Rios reveal that black and Latino boys are at a disadvantage in the school to prison pattern. Therefore, the recent death of Michael Brown only heightens public awareness of police brutality on colored males. According to Charles M. Blow, bias educational system is a major factor in criminalization of black and Latino boys. But we cannot disregard that a significant perpetrator of racism is ignorance and false media representation. Therefore an increase of awareness of the existence of discrimination and improvement on media depiction of black and Latino characters would render racism defenseless.

Protection of White Superiority in America's Justice System Essays

The United States prides itself on the fairness of its criminal justice system, a system that promises to protect the lives, liberties, and property of all citizens. As the threat of being a victim of a crime applies to all citizens of the United States, most Americans would agree that wrongdoers must be punished in order to maintain a safe and civil society. However, as demonstrated in Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow and Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing, the United States’ criminal justice system is a modern form of racial control. Although criminal laws are textually and facially impartial in regards to race, they are implemented in a way that is biased and discriminatory towards African Americans. Using Michael

White American Bigotry

He also uses the ACLU report that shows to a great extent properties the racial difference in arrests that concern drugs to the carefulness that cops need to pick which groups to watch and which people to capture. Cops are not by any means the only criminal equity substances with optional power, be that as it may. Prosecutors likewise have the caution to pick which arrestees to charge and which discipline to look for. What's more, notwithstanding the absence of an authoritative report enumerating racial differences around there (like the ACLU's national capture report), there are solid signs that prosecutorial tact likewise brings about different treatment of African American. Therefore throughout his work he states cases to show  their life ,what happens and what needs to be

Race In Criminal Justice System Essay

Most Americans get why this is wrong. But the role that race plays in the criminal justice system goes far beyond this type of profiling. These men show that not only are people of color stopped more frequently by police, their communities, particularly with anti-drug efforts, receive far more attention from police. And black men are often charged and prosecuted differently than their White

Fellner's Use Of Ethos Pathos Logos

Feller begins her claim on why law enforcement is unfair to African Americans by using ethos which is the appeal of credibility, by acknowledging the statement of professor David Cole’s to show credibility to the audience by saying, “inequalities in the criminal justice system "do not step from explicit and intentional race or class discrimination, but they are problems of inequality nonetheless."” (p. 3) She uses this quote in her Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States, to show the connection between the , “anachronistic requirement of intent, equal protection jurisprudence has not been able to

Effects Of Poverty In To Kill A Mockingbird

Almost every member of the black community in Maycomb County is admirable in their personalities and innocent in their nature, and this generalisation makes the crimes against the black community all the worse. Tom Robinson, a man discriminated and accused of a crime that he didn’t commit has come forth to the justice system. The color of his skin determines everything from his background too if he’s guilty or not. A black man’s life is unable to prove innocence because of his race. Poverty has affected many people back in the 1960’s but, if a black man or women were to experience this they would be put on the white

Rubin The Hurricane Carter Essay

The racist police officer had it set in his mind that Rubin Carter was a menace to society and he was going to do everything in his power to take him down. These things that Rubin was saying even made the cop want to put him away more. So the first chance he could get something on him he would. So it happened and the cop tried to pin a murder on Rubin Carter and another black man that was with him at the time of the murder. There was an instance that we saw an instance of stereotyping by other cops in that district. When they were out looking for the murderers they were told to look for two black men in a white car. When Carter was approached in his car he was told by

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Michigan Quarterly Review

Counternarratives: The Power of Narrative

Having written recently about the “danger of narrative”—how stories can distract us from thinking critically to make harmfully distorted representations seem natural and true—I thought it insufficient, if not irresponsible, not to make room for that other equally important possibility: narrative’s positive power.

In her well-known TED Talk, “ The Danger of a Single Story ,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie argues for the importance of a multiplicity of stories, voices, and perspectives in order to do justice to the fullest range of experience and explode reductive stereotypes of people and places. “Stories matter,” she says. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

As individual writers contributing our own stories to this multiplicity we might ask ourselves which stories, of the ones we can tell, need to be told. But no matter which stories we end up telling, we must attend to the ways craft itself can create opportunities for constructive and responsible representation. Many misrepresentations, for example, speak to lazy characterization. Characters, after all, are people as far as we’re concerned, and so we must work to ensure our characters, our people, have the richness and complexity readers require in order to care about, inhabit, and empathize with them. I’ve always found inspiration in the way Tobias Wolff puts it in his Paris Review interview :

And the most radical political writing of all is that which makes you aware of the reality of another human being. Self-absorbed as we are, self-imprisoned even, we don’t feel that often enough. Most of the spiritualities we’ve evolved are designed to deliver us from that lockup, and art is another way out. Good stories slip past our defenses—we all want to know what happens next—and then slow time down, and compel our interest and belief in other lives than our own, so that we feel ourselves in another presence. It’s a kind of awakening, a deliverance, it cracks our shell and opens us up to the truth and singularity of others—to their very being. Writers who can make others, even our enemies, real to us have achieved a profound political end, whether or not they would call it that.

Note how Wolff suggests that what can make narrative dangerous—its ability to “slip past our defenses”—is the very same thing that can make it positively powerful. Instead of blunting our critical faculties, stories can disarm us of our misconceptions, biases, and fears.

What about writers and stories who keep us both thinking critically and, at the same time or by turns, drawn in empathetically? Consider John Keene’s recent and deeply rewarding collection out from New Directions, Counternarratives .


In “An Outtake from the Ideological Origins of the American Revolution,” for example, we follow the sinuous trajectory of the life of Zion, a chronically escaping slave in Boston at the dawn of the American Revolution. To call Zion’s story “An Outtake” is to draw attention to the “counter” stance of this narrative against the received narrative of our history (the title also references a Pulitzer prize-winning history book)—it’s the aspect of the story edited out, suppressed, silenced. But returning agency to Zion by telling his story isn’t quite enough for Keene; the story he tells also serves to disrupt the comforting and simplifying assumptions we might be tempted to make about a character like this. To represent any character, even one who has been historically mis- or underrepresented, as perfect or infallible is to deny that character full complex humanity. So in “An Outtake,” Keene allows Zion’s relationship to our sympathies to be just as slippery as his relationship to his owners—just as they literally cannot hold him in place, we cannot force him to be simply either good or bad. In one paragraph we admire his cunning and determination:

… Zion charmed a Dutch whore strolling by to untie his bindings, whereupon he set off to find the first loosely hitched horse. As he ran he proclaimed himself free. Under duress one’s actions assume a dream-like clarity. An unattended nag stood outside a tavern, and off Zion strode.

And in the next we recoil at his depravity:

After a spree which stretched from the city of Boston west to the edges of Middlesex County, the slave played his worst hand when he committed lascivious acts just across the county line on the person of a sleeping widow, Mary Shaftesbone, near Shrewsbury. Having broken into her home and reportedly taken violent liberties with her, unaccountably Zion did not flee the town, but entered a nearby tavern and began a round of popular songs, to the delight of the crowd and the horror of the violated woman.

For each different counternarrative, Keene pushes himself to find a form appropriate to his subject. While these formal experiments are part of the joy of the book—“What can he do next?”—they also help highlight the themes basic both to this specific project and, at the end of the day, to all fiction and storytelling.

In “On Brazil, or Dénouement: The Londônias-Figueiras,” we start with the image of a recent newspaper staff report on a corpse found in a São Paulo favela. From here Keene travels back to the early fifteenth-century to bring us slowly back to the found corpse, demonstrating how an awareness of the past can deepen our understanding of the present and suggesting the shortcomings of the officially sanctioned narrative (the newspaper text). In “A Letter on the Trials of the Counterreformation in New Lisbon,” the story of a priest sent to reform the wayward House of the Second Order of the Discalced Brothers of the Holy Ghost takes on increasingly charged meaning as we realize who, unexpectedly, is telling the story (that is, writing the letter).


Perhaps my favorite of Keene’s counternarratives is “Gloss on a History of Roman Catholics in the Early American Republic, 1790-1825; or the Strange History of Our Lady of the Sorrows.” Like “On Brazil” or “A Letter,” this novella draws our attention to the fact of its written-ness in a way that prompts us to think about who gets to tell what story, who is granted voice.

Formally, “Gloss” is an eighty-page footnote. An “outtake” of sorts, just as we’re acclimating to the dry, dense terrain of the title’s first “History,” in a subversive inversion the footnote interrupts and takes over to tell the story of Carmel, “the lone child among the handful of bondspeople” remaining on a Haitian coffee plantation in 1803. Carmel’s story carries her from Haiti to a convent in Kentucky, where she serves a demanding white teenage girl. At first Carmel is mute—a silenced voice, perhaps, someone marginalized to the point of near invisibility or at least inhumanity: “Up until this point [her owner] had not really noted her presence, considering her no more extensively than one might remember an extra utensil in a large hand-me-down table service.” Instead of communicating verbally, Carmel draws; her drawings, as well as her silence, are subject to unfair projection and interpretation by other people, though she herself, like many writers, doesn’t fully understand what she creates.

As “Gloss” goes on to cover a series of strange and harrowing events at the Kentucky convent, Carmel gradually gains agency; as she gains agency, her voice takes over the narration, first as a series of diary entries in a kind of pidgin shorthand, then as a more straightforward first-person narrative in Standard English. Towards the end of the novella, she even takes on supernatural powers of the kind projected onto her earlier mysterious silence. Like a writer manipulating his characters, Carmel brings what I think we could justify calling her Künstlerroman to a climax by employing her newly developed ability to physically move people through space, compelling them to do what she wants with her mind—all from a place, again authorial, of literal self-willed invisibility. At the end of “Gloss” we see Carmel retelling her story to a group of fellow escaped servants.

In this way Keene’s Counternarratives both demonstrate and enact the power of narrative. They not only use important stories to assert the dignity of misrepresented characters and invite our empathy, but they also ask us to think critically about how stories wield their power.

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4 Sample Narrative Essays

Sample Narrative Essays

Seth French

Thesis in Introduction: Based on an Essay by Xihong Su

Essay Prompt:   Overall, has technology made your life better or worse? Think of specific moments in your life that illustrate how your relationship with technology has developed throughout your life in order to answer this question. Keep in mind that you’re not just telling a story. You’re writing an essay to support your response and using stories from your life to illustrate your answer. You should incorporate details to highlight your point and engage a reader’s interest. Your essay should be approximately 750 words.

The Internet Has Made My Life Better

While walking around campus, many students access the Internet by phone. They may chat with other people and play games. While attending class, we may participate in class activities and upload homework to D2L on the Internet. If there were no Internet, what would happen? Whether you recognize that the Internet has changed our lives or not, the Internet does change our lives. In my opinion, the Internet has made my life better.

The Internet has changed the way that I can communicate with friends. I left my hometown and went to the first university about fifteen years ago. I was excited that I could make new friends and learn new knowledge from the university. However, I missed my friends who were in other cities. I often mailed letters with some photos to my friends and told them something interesting in campus and kept in touch with them. It often took several days or one week to receive letters. Sometimes, a letter might be lost. In June 2001, to my joy, there was a public computer room where students could access the Internet in the university. In the first few months, the computer room was full of students all day long. At the same time, the Internet chat tool, QQ, became very popular among students. When my friends and I were all available, I used QQ to chat with them face to face and heard their voices and saw their facial expressions. How wonderful the Internet was! In addition, sending an email partly took the place of mailing a letter. I composed messages with some digital pictures and sent them to my friend in an email. An email was almost instant and helped me learn about information from friends as soon as possible. Now, I can post my latest information and pictures in my Facebook that is a worldwide network service. All my friends in Facebook can see the information and comment on it and share it.

The Internet provides me a lot of helpful information. First, as a student, I need to write some essays and research papers. For example, one assignment I had was to write about King David. I searched the keywords “King David” in relative databases in the OSU library and chose several papers that were most relative to King David. I also input “King David” in Wikipedia and saw relative descriptions of King David from different perspectives. These published electronic resources really helped me write a thoroughly researched paper.

Second, after one day of classes, I wanted to make healthy and delicious foods in my dormitory. Before buying foods, I looked for nutrition information of foods and decided which kind of foods I would buy. After I prepared my food materials, YouTube videos of cooking foods guided me to cook foods step by step. No matter what level my cooking skills were, if I followed the guidance I would make delicious foods.

Third, because I like relaxing myself on holiday, traveling could be very important in my life. Before traveling, I may try to find as much information as I can on the Internet, such as weather, transportation, hotels, ticket prices and local foods. There are also travel guides and comments from other people who have been to scenic spots. Comments and relative information helped me make a better traveling plan about three years ago. My husband and I spent one month in traveling across half of China and enjoyed the travel. Therefore, there are a lot of electronic resources on the Internet. It may be very difficult for me to get much useful information without the Internet in a short time.

The Internet gives me more entertainment as well. First, there are many games that people can play together on the Internet, such as Popkart. I liked playing Popkart about four years ago. I did not need to worry about the speed limit or accidents that a car might cause while I was driving a car in the game. Second, many entertainment performances can be found on the Internet. It may not be easy to see some live performances on TV, such as TV shows. However, I can find TV Shows on the Internet and see them many times.

The Internet enables me to communicate with other people in an effective way. It provides a lot of electronic information and increases the speed of obtaining information that I want. It also enriches my life. Therefore, the Internet has really made my life better.

Thesis in Conclusion: Based on an Essay by Victoria Ferguson

Essay Prompt:  For this essay you already food near to illustrate a key point about the relation to food culture and slash for identity keep in mind that you’re not just telling a story you’re writing an essay to support your main point in using a narrative using corporate details about your poison engage readers centers. Your essay should be approximately 750 words.

“You’ve gotta’ try this!”

My obsession with trying different types of food began in my dad’s second floor apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The apartment was “cool” because it was on the second floor. It had stone steps leading upward to the small patio and doorway that was teeming with many varieties of potted plants. A person passing by could see the soft blanket of colors that the flowers made against the railing of the patio – an urban jungle. My dad always had an interest in things that many, who are familiar with gender roles, would call “feminine.” These interests and passions consisted of potted plants, metro-sexual fashion, wine, and of course, fine cuisine. My dad was the type of person who would go to the grocery store to buy the freshest ingredients possible to try out the most recent recipe he had read in either his French or German cookbook. He also enjoyed coming home with the most foul-smelling cheese you can imagine because according to him “the stinky cheese is the best!” This sense of culinary adventure also extended into our experiences on the nights when dad didn’t feel like cooking.

Dad always had a way of finding what he called a “hole-in-the-wall place.” He always told me that “the hole-in-the-wall places always have the best food!” and boy, did we live by this mantra. We often found ourselves at restaurants where we were the only pair that spoke English. We would end up in the Mexican part of town at restaurants with the most delicious, authentic food in town. We would also go to many different Asian restaurants and on special occasions, we ended up at the nicest French restaurant in town and ate delicious, buttery escargot and flaky bread.

My most vivid memory of adventuring into the world of food occurred at a small, “hole-in-the-wall” Japanese restaurant called Ichiban. I was seven years old, and I loved Pokémon. The place was barely even visible from the road. When you walked through the ordinary glass, you found yourself inside of the elegant world of Ichiban. Little red cushioned chairs were neatly placed around square wooden tables. The red cushions gained even more vibrancy due to the overall reddish glow of the restaurant’s interior. A soft, red lighting beamed from lanterns that seemed to float in the air, like lonely balloons that had been left behind after escaping a child’s clutch. Bottles of Kikkoman brand soy sauce found their homes atop the square wooden tables, and seemed to accessorize the little red cushioned chairs. When we were seated, I did as any restaurant patron does: I looked at the menu and sipped on the glass of ice water in front of me.

As I was exploring the menu my dad leaned over and said to me: “You’ve gotta’ try Tako salad!” The first thing I thought of when my dad said “Tako salad” was the yummy combination of ground beef, cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, a dollop of sour cream and various toppings of the consumer’s choosing, that would all be served up in a crunchy, taco shell bowl. Thus the name “Taco salad.” When my dad asked me to try a food, I was always expected to give the dish a try. I was never that kid who got chicken or spaghetti at every restaurant.

I was a fearless and open-minded child who could never be labeled as picky eater. When my dad said we had to try the Tako salad, I of course agreed to order it. When it arrived, I realized that this was not the Taco salad I had envisioned. In front of me was a pure white bowl in the shape of a flower. In its center were colorful bits of cucumber with sesame seeds, fresh strips of something soft and green, and glistening pieces of white edged in pinkish purple. My dad was smiling at me.

I picked up my chopsticks and put one of the thin white slices into my mouth. It was strange, chewy, vinegary….delicious! We had ordered Tako Sun, cold octopus and vegetables in a sweet, savory vinegar sauce. That day at Ichiban, a miraculous transformation happened: a seven year old girl, who loved Pokémon and was seated on a red cushioned chair, fell in love with Asian cuisine. I began to make connections between food and culture. Japan is an island nation surrounded by bodies of water. With this abundance of water, the Japanese enjoy many seafood dishes that are not typically served in other cultures. One of those strange creatures is octopus. The simple elegant furnishings of the restaurant and the beautiful white bowl and the elegant arrangement of each item in it spoke of the Japanese attention to meticulous detail and fondness for precise rituals.

I am forever grateful to my dad for taking me out of my comfort zone. He made me give different and exotic foods a try. This did something even deeper for me than tantalize my taste buds: it made me love and appreciate cultures other than my own. Food is now the focal point of my experience with other cultures, and I have blossomed into a lifelong cross-cultural “foodie” thanks to the simple phrase my dad loved to say: “You’ve gotta’ try this!”

Sample Narrative Essays by Seth French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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100+ Narrative Essay Topics for your Next Assignment

Writing a narrative essay should be fun and easy in theory. Just tell your readers a story, often about yourself. Who knows you better than you? You should ace this!

Unfortunately, narrative writing can be very difficult for some. When a teacher leaves the topic choice wide open, it’s tough to even know what to write about. What anecdote from your life is worth sharing? What story is compelling enough to fill an entire essay?

The first step in writing a narrative essay is coming up with a list of potential topics to write about. From there, you should focus on the ideas you believe you can spend an entire essay and tell a compelling story on.

Narrative writing will show up for the rest of your life. You’ll need to tell life stories in college essays, in grad school applications, in wedding speeches, and more. So learning how to write a narrative essay is a skill that will stick with you forever.

But where do you begin?

You can always check out essay examples to get you started, but this will only get you so far.

At the end of the day, you still need to come up with a story of your own. This is often the toughest part.

To help you get things kicked off, we’ve put together this list of more than a hundred topic ideas that could easily be turned into narrative essays. Take a look and see what stands out to you!

Choosing a Topic

Narrative essays fall into several categories. Your first task is to narrow down your choices by choosing which category you want to explore.

Each of these categories offers a stepping off point from which you can share a personal experience. If you have no idea where to begin, reflecting on these main categories is a great place to start. You can pick and choose what you feel comfortable sharing with your readers. This list is not exclusive—there are other areas of your life you can explore. These are just some of the biggies.

As you explore categories, think about which one would be the best fit for your assignment. Which category do you have the strongest ideas for? Which types of stories do you tell the best?

These categories include:

Childhood Tales

Educational background, travel and adventure, friends and relationships, experiences and defining moments, my favorite things, ethics and values.

Once you’ve selected a category, it’s time to see which topic piques your interest and might intrigue your audience as well. These topics are all a natural fit for a story arc , which is a central part of a narrative essay.

Writing about your childhood can be a great choice for a narrative essay. We are growing and learning during this delicate and often awkward time. Sharing these moments can be funny, endearing, and emotional. Most people can relate to childhood events because we have all survived it somehow!

Your educational experience offers a wealth of ideas for an essay . How you’ve learned and have been inspired can help others be inspired too. Although we were all educated in one way or another, your educational experience is uniquely your own to share.

People love to read about adventures. Sharing your travel stories transports your reader to a different place. And we get to see it through your eyes and unique perspective. Writing about travel experiences can allow your passion for diving into the world shine through.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. We all have family stories that range from jubilantly happy and hilarious to sad and more serious. Writing about family can show your reader about who you are and where you come from.

Friends, enemies, and loved ones come in and out of our lives for a reason. And they provide great material for writing. If relationships exist to teach you something, what have you learned? Writing about those you’ve connected with demonstrates how others have influenced your life.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... sharing your best times and sharing your worst times can make great stories. These highs and lows can be emotional, funny, and thought-provoking.

Explaining to others what you love and why can really paint a picture of who you are and what you value. It’s important to note that simply sharing a favorite isn’t a very deep topic. However, you can take this topic deeper by expressing how this favorite has impressed you, inspired you, and affected your life.

Where you stand on deep issues tells a lot about you. Taking a stance and explaining your opinion on tough topics reveals some insight into your ethical reasoning.

Situational prompts allow you to step out of your past and picture a different future. If digging into your past experiences seems scary and intimidating, then look to your future. What you imagine can be insightful about your life and where you see yourself heading.

Writing a narrative essay can seem daunting at first. Sharing a bit of yourself with the world is a scary thing sometimes. Choosing the right topic, however, can make the process much smoother and easier.

Writing a narrative essay can be intimidating, but choosing the right topic can make the process much easier for you.

Browsing through topic ideas can inspire you to pick a topic you feel you can tell a story about and that can take up a full essay. Once you have a quality story to tell, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

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Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives – The DALN is an open public resource made up of stories from people just like you about their experiences learning to read, write, and generally communicate with the world around them.

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother

by Liza Long

A young boy holds a butterfly. The boy has an undiagnosed mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan — they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork — “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying — that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise — in fact,  the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill — Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed  the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 .

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

This essay, originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom, is licensed CC BY NC  ND 4.0. Liza Long is an Assistant Professor of English at the College of Western Idaho. Her book,  The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness,  was a 2014 “Books for a Better Life” winner. Liza’s essays have appeared in USA Today,, Huffington Post,  MindBodyGreen, and other places. She blogs on children’s mental health issues at  

Write What Matters by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Countering the Narrative

figure pushing dial from negative to positive

What’s your story? 

As a middle school English teacher, sometimes I wished I could have simply asked my students that question. I know well how the narratives we tell ourselves about ourselves shape what we believe we can and cannot do.

Instead, it’s been my job as a teacher to pick up on the little clues they have dropped day in and day out. As the best storytellers do, they have shown me their stories, giving glimpses of their backgrounds and beliefs. And those beliefs—their narratives—have a profound influence on whether or not they think they can succeed, whether or not they perceive education as a springboard or cinder block. The better I understand the narratives at work in their lives, the better position I’m in to help students—especially disengaged students—develop counternarratives to stories that may be holding them back.

We teachers have our narratives, too, whether or not we think of them as such. We carry personal myths about where we came from and how we got here. We may share internalized tales of feeling misunderstood and disenfranchised. We may perceive our school communities as allies or obstacles. There are realities, sure, but stories also have power to create reality.

I know I have my story, and it definitely has colored how I have approached teaching. Here are the bare bones. My family was working class. I was a high school dropout. I earned a GED and went to college. I became a teacher. For me, my personal narrative of self-doubt and struggle has synthesized with a counternarrative of overcoming obstacles, of opposition that led to transformation.

What follows are examples of three narratives that commonly unfold in classrooms. They are followed by possible counternarratives, shifts in perception that we can teach and, more importantly, model for our students. Counternarratives offer opportunities for us—students and teachers alike—to not just accept the stories the world tells us, but to practice becoming the authors of what comes next.

Narrative #1: “I’m Not Good at This”

I proctor multiple assessments each year, and the ramping up of high-stakes testing has put fear of failure front-and-center in many students’ minds—and teachers and administrators, too. In some classrooms, student scores are even posted on the wall to foster competition. These assessments are all well and good for kids who excel at test-taking, but can be torture chambers for those who don’t. Competition may be celebrated in our culture, but in schools it creates a dynamic where identifying clear winners and losers can bend and break young spirits.

Even if the results are not so publicly displayed, kids quickly figure out where they sit in the pecking order. I clearly remember my own experience as a third-grader. I was pulled out of class for reading remediation. Though no adult ever told me, I recognized that I was receiving extra instruction compared to the rest of my classmates. No special category or document was needed. In my mind—my own narrative—I was not just failing; I was a failure.

An emphasis on competitiveness has kids pigeonholing their academic abilities before they reach adolescence. The labels land and stick—smart, average, special needs—and the labels evolve into narratives about their identity. I have had students introduce themselves with confessions of failure even before giving their name: “Hi, I’m not good at reading. My name is Mary.”

The Counternarrative: “I’m Not Good at This ... Yet ”

The work of educational researchers Peter Johnston and Carol Dweck added a hopeful word to this narrative: YET . We can tack this on to any skill we’re struggling with: “I’m not as good at book reports as I’d like to be ... yet .” It is the essence of the growth mindset.

We need to understand and communicate that assessments are not absolute. Whatever the reliability and validity measures, standardized tests will always produce a scatter plot showing some students above, many in the middle and some below average—because that’s what average means and what standardized tests do. Too often we even forget that they are assessments —ways to assess where we’re at and how to adjust to get to where we want to go.

I have done my best to reassure students that giftedness and skill exist beyond the scope of any test score. I have had students assume that, because I teach English, I might not like or respect them if they do not care for books. They have actually found it reassuring when I tell them MY narrative: That there was a time when I had my own struggles with English. It took some time and effort for me to improve and reach a point where I actually enjoyed reading. When I was their age, I wasn’t good at reading ... YET .

Beyond that, though, I let them know that my care for them goes beyond their academic performance.

Narrative #2: “I’m Just Here So I Can Get a Job”

“I’m just going to do work and get a job,” more than one student has told me. It is a refrain, especially among students without much enthusiasm for formal learning. For many, maybe most students, going to school is primarily about one day making a living. They don’t make the connection between studying literature, contemplation, writing, critical thinking and what they’ll be when they grow up. And honestly, we haven’t always made a good case for the relevance of much of our coursework.

“If I’m going to be a cosmetologist, why do I need to learn this?” one student asked me my first year as a teacher. This is a fair question that deserves exploration, especially where education is viewed in terms of job training.

The Counternarrative: “I’m Here to Learn How to Learn”

Learning at its best is about exploration and critical reflection. Unfortunately, this tenet of education is more available to privileged students who are likely to have been exposed to more of life’s options. Their schools have more resources for bringing in guest authors, Skyping with scientists in Antarctica or taking field trips to the state capital to do a Q&A with a state representative.

In contrast, working-class kids and students in under-resourced communities may not get such experiences. They may be stuck with decades-old documentaries in the library and limited internet access. Classrooms may be full to bursting and personal relationships with teachers lacking. Instead of entering into project-based learning, they may be assigned worksheets and simple tasks. Their imaginations may have little exposure to a wider world of possibilities. Worse yet, they may be led to believe they don’t deserve to dream any bigger than what they see around them.

We all have our narratives, our stories about who we are and how the world works. Some of the narratives hold us back. Others remind us we are stronger than we may think.

As a high school junior, I did not know where I fit in the world, or what I wanted to pursue as a career. I really did not connect with any particular group of classmates. But there was one area that tickled my curiosity—the arts. What started as a budding interest in reading expanded into a love of learning that has now put me on a track to my Ph.D. I was the child of a laborer, and if teachers had not encouraged my interests and abilities, I do not know what path I would have followed.

So, what do I say to kids who may only see work/money through the keyhole view available to them? I share my story. I give them permission to dream. I tell them it’s cool to be a cosmetologist or any other work they find satisfying. I also tell them that the latest labor research suggests today’s young people will have 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime. Training for a specific vocation may get you that entry-level job. Pursuing an education that trains you how to think is the Swiss army knife of life. It will allow you to adapt to a world that changes, then changes again.

If they leave school having learned how to learn, they will have more control over their lives. That’s what I tell them.

Narrative #3: “I Don’t Know the Code”

When we walk into an unfamiliar social or cultural situation, our radar goes on high alert. Our minds must not just gather knowledge, but figure out “the code”—the relationships and communication norms of the people around us. This can be especially overwhelming for kids or youth coming from the nondominant culture and/or language. In addition, in school, there is the student-authority dynamic which is rife with pitfalls if the people involved don’t know the different codes at work. A joke that seems harmless to the teacher, for example, can be a slap in the face to a kid who feels singled out by it.

In many school settings, we expect students to know how or learn to “code switch,” adjusting rhetoric and behavior to the norms around them. However, they may come from a home situation or a home culture and language that does not easily integrate into our school norms. Code-switching is easier for some than for others, as well. For most of us, when we’re unfamiliar with the code in a situation, our first impulse may be to fall quiet and observe, or lose interest and check out. If we feel frightened or oppressed by the code, we may lash out.

In truth, most young people have an amazing capacity to code-switch. To me, it is the equivalent of being multilingual and worthy of respect.

The Counternarrative: “We Can Crack the Code ... Together”

Good relationships are the sine qua non of good teaching, more important than any other factor, in my opinion. If the two-way communication is effective, the chances of success of teaching and learning are on solid ground.

Many of us teach in diverse classrooms, and that likely means there are a whole bunch of codes being broadcast. It behooves us to assess what they are and game plan for how to create a common code—of conduct and communication—that we will share as a classroom.

Developing a shared classroom code can be taught collaboratively and explicitly. With student input, we can brainstorm and codify agreed-upon class norms: for example, how students signal when they want to ask a question (“Please raise your hand”); how to acknowledge they may be confused (“If you’re still unclear on the instructions, please meet me at my desk”); and how to focus class attention (“Everyone raise their hand until everyone is quiet”). Once we have agreed-upon codes of conduct, we start to transform into a team working together toward a common goal of learning. Mastering such a code also gives students a sense of control of their experience, and that contributes to greater confidence and self-control.

As teachers, we can also indicate our interest in learning and honoring our students’ codes. We do this by including a diversity of voices in the curriculum and daily discussion, and not just during Women’s History Month or on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For example, without singling students out, we can model our genuine interest in Latin American literature and culture by including relevant texts in our curriculum and including examples of Frida Kahlo’s art alongside other artwork on classroom walls. In this way, we can show them—not just tell them—that we’re attentive to their codes and hearing their narratives.

And if there’s a disconnect? Something going on we just don’t get? We don’t need to guess or act out of the old-school playbook of classroom management. We can ask for our students’ help in cracking a code we don’t yet know.

By replacing negative narratives with constructive counternarratives, we benefit our students and ourselves. We model ways to overcome challenges, work together to do better and honor what each of us brings to our classrooms and school communities. In doing so, we gradually shift the fear of what we can’t do to confidence in what we can.

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Essay Service Examples Literature The Reluctant Fundamentalist

A Counter Narrative of the 9/11 in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Critical Analysis

Mohsin Hamid has very skillfully highlighted the issues of mimicry and quest for identity in the character of Changez. He is presented as a man from outside world who follows his colonial masters with the hope to make place in their society which never came true. Furthermore, America in the novel is depicted as a colonialist country. People are attracted toward America, but in response they kicked them out. As a result of this disgust people return to their own culture and tried to know themselves truly.

The ‘traumatic’ event of 9/11 has a strong impact on Westerners attitude toward Islam and Muslims which results in distrust between them. The novel is not simply narrating a story, but the language tells us about the kind of complex relationship of the West with the East. The two distinct characters, the protagonist, Changez (a Pakistani Muslim) and the stranger, (an American) are not merely two individuals but they represent two different Countries. Changez represents the East, Muslims while the stranger American represents the West, Non-Muslims. From the very start there is distrust between two , Changez (Pakistan) and Stranger (America). In the very beginning of the novel, Changez says that he has alarmed the American which shows the lack of trust on each other and similarly the American looka at Changez with suspicious eyes. Ms. Uzma Imtiaz (2015), in her article, “The East and West trust deficit in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” She writes in her article;

“The very beginning lines of the novel reflect that Changez and the silent American do not trust each other. In fact they have doubts against each other, the words “alarmed you” that Changez uses while talking to an American reflect that the American startles to see Changez, while when Changez asks him about the purpose of his visit shows his concern. Yet Changez tries to comfort him by offering his services to him and showing him his affection for America.”

The silence of the stranger shows that, America do not consider Muslims worth talking. They are not giving us full attention. There is so much Colonialism, so much superiority. Americans considers themselves so high of birth. They are like heaven born. They are not considering Pakistani even of their standard, nor valuing their point of views. So they are looking down upon East form a Superior which show distrust amongst East and West.

counter narrative essay examples

Furthermore, novelist like Mohsin Hamid put forward a new kind of transnational narrative, distinct from the Anglophone literary manifestation of 9/11 and the post 9/11 condition. Peter Morey observes in his essay ‘“The Rules of the Game Have Changed’: Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and post-9/11 fiction that;

Initial fictional responses to 9/11 often took the form either of ‘trauma narratives’ attempting to trace the psychological scarring and mental realignment of character caught up in the Twin Towers attacks, or Semi-fictionalized ‘Muslims misery memoirs’ which often serve to underscore the injustice of Islamic rule and justify neoconservative interventionism”(136).

​There is significant number of Muslims who identify themselves as culturally rather than religiously Muslims. They do not strictly observe to the injunctions of Islam and nor do they religious orthodoxy (Moghissi et al., 2009; Rahnema, 2006). From the very start after the arrival in USA, his religious identity has replaced as cultural identity. He keeps on wearing beard after the 9/11. He keeps on drinking with colleagues in a party hosted by Jim. He damns care about the dominancy of Western Culture. He even has not found praying once throughout which shows that his religious identity is replaced by cultural identity.

Ultimately, the novel, gives a counter narrative of the 9/11 from the lens of the current political situation of the world. Although, these analysis by different critics provided a very basic and useful information about the novel It has highlighted some of the important and hidden issues that have caused great damage to Muslim countries. Thus, the novel truly depicts behavior of looking down upon of West toward East

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  5. 100+ Narrative Essay Topics for your Next Assignment

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  6. Student Narrative Essay Examples

    He was smaller than my mother, physically and figuratively. She sat beside him. She had a towering stature, with strong, swimmers' shoulders, but she was

  7. 30. Professional Narrative Essay Examples

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  8. Countering the Narrative

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  9. Counter Narratives

    When a student is facing a challenging situation (conflict with a friend, frustration at school, etc.) encourage them to create counter narratives. Students can

  10. A Counter Narrative of the 9/11 in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant

    Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions. Try EduBirdie. Cite this Page. APA; MLA