Chapter 5: Maintaining Focus and Purpose: The Body Paragraphs

Claim, Evidence and Warrant

From Pixabay.

Body paragraphs will often begin with a claim, then cite some evidence, then develop the warrant by reading the evidence through the claim; however, you should not regard these three elements as immovable parts of a rigid formula of 1+1+1=3. Claim, evidence and warrant should work together more organically than that.  You will rarely make a claim without connecting it immediately to evidence. Nor will you simply cite evidence without reading it through the lens of your claim. Better to keep an eye to your thesis and outline and make sure you are always reading the text the way you want your audience to consider it. To understand exactly how this works, let’s compare our intended purpose for Paragraph 1 as detailed in our outline with the actual Paragraph 1 as it appears in our essay. In the final version of Paragraph 1, the evidence is bold and the claim is in italics.

Paragraph 1 (First Storey): quote and unpack the contrast of “cooperation” and “conflict”


Body Paragraph 1:

In his coy opening paragraphs, Justice describes the many uses of language as if they are features of a “new communications app” he “just invented.” Justice notes how language use “facilitates an expanding network of people” and “opens up incredible possibilities for creativity and cooperation. Such clever itemization of language’s many features enables Justice to establish effectively language as a human tool that has at its root the human desire to connect and work together. Though centuries of migration and conflict may have turned the world into a “Tower of Babel” in which populations are divided by different languages, “all of us living today have a common history” in which language was developed first and foremost to create community.

The whole paragraph works toward our analysis that Justice is really writing about how language, so often used as a demonstration of what divides us, is really symbolic of our common desire to work together, and how if used properly, it can overcome any difference or distance. The whole paragraph is essentially the warrant, punctuated by the transitional last line that claims Justice believes “language was developed first and foremost to create community.” Our choice of what evidence we use is not arbitrary and indicates our intended reading of this text. Our description of Justice’s writing as “coy” and “clever” persuades our reader toward our interpretation of the text—an assertion that what is undeniably in the text is doing what we in fact claim it is doing.