A number of years ago, I assigned students at a class three hard-boiled detective short stories and assigned them to write a comparative essay in response. I no longer remember the exact prompt I gave those students, but they needed to compare the stories. The three stories are all set in Los Angeles: The Big Sleep is one of the originators of the genre, with a white male hardboiled detective in the 1930s; in “Murder is My Business” the protagonist is a lesbian detective in LA of the 1980s; and in Devil in a Blue Dress the protagonist detective is a black man in LA of the 1950s.
Below is a real essay a student wrote in response, which has some good observation in it but the five paragraph structure of the essay seriously undermines the author’s ability to make any kind of argument. Please read over the essay once before class on Thursday (it shouldn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes). In class, we’ll spend about half the class looking at this example and go through an example process of revising the structure of this essay to be an inductive essay using an ABT thesis.Detective-comparisons-essay