How To Write a Reaction Paper

Types of EssaysReflective and Personal Essay
Jun 27, 2018

Reacting to a particular subject is an innate human response. Individuals will have their own opinions and ideas towards an article, event, movie, book, or other rhetoric media. While individuals often keep these responses to themselves, some prefer to write them down. This allows them to analyze their ideas through a reaction paper. Most students will be familiar with the term response or reaction paper. Professors use this academic writing to help improve their student’s critical thinking skills. However, the document is not only for academic activities but also for other fields and personal affairs.

Response or Reaction Paper – Meaning of a Term

To understand how to write the document, an individual should first understand the definition of a reaction paper. Some individuals also refer to a reaction paper as a response paper. These documents tend to be in the form of assignments or reports. The reports require students to present their reactions to a piece of work. The reaction can be to an article , essay, book, movie, news reports, or even a professor’s notes. Professors may require students to write a reaction paper in various formats, such as a paragraph in an article critique or book review. However, most professors tend to ask their students to submit a stand-alone reaction paper. 

Students and other writers should understand that all reaction papers are analytical. The reaction paper aims to provide a deep understanding of a topic after extensive reading and examination of the source material. A reaction paper must include the ideas, opinions, reactions, and analysis of the author. Despite the writer sharing their inner thoughts, they should be aware of the tone of their writing. A reaction paper can have a formal or informal tone, depending on the format requirements. 

How to Start a Reaction Paper

Thorough reading and rereading is the number one tip on how to start writing a reaction paper. Like other analytical writing, a reaction paper requires an individual to dig deep into the content of the work, almost always beyond the literal definition of the content. An individual will need to provide meaning to something that an author subtly stated in the work. They will also need to deduce the purpose behind the work of an author. The reaction paper may require them to share their personal definition of abstract terms present in the work.

After reading or watching the subject work, an individual must then proceed with organizing their thoughts. They will need to remember relevant parts of the subject and how they responded to each part. Organizing thoughts and ideas may be tricky since the individual will need to depend on the guidelines that their professor provides. They can choose to write their ideas through freewriting or by creating a draft for the actual paragraphs. It is important to note that writers commonly use the first-person narrative when writing a response paper.

In considering how to start a reaction paper, a student should also choose a style that they will follow. The document normally requires an emotional and expressive style of writing. A student must write in a way where they can let effectively transcribe their thoughts into paper and vividly describe each idea. But writing with style does not necessarily mean that the organization of the paper suffers. The individual must make sure that they include an introduction, thesis statement, conclusion, body, and supporting statements to the reaction paper.

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Reaction Paper Outline

After preparing how to start writing a reaction paper, the writer should then proceed with the creation of an outline. The outline will be sentences that contain the main points of the reaction paper. The writer should create an outline for the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. These sentences will include the writer’s personal opinions and ideas regarding the subject.

For example, a student may be writing a reaction paper about the social issues in the novel Huckleberry Finn . They could create an outline that highlights the different issues like racism, slavery, and murder. To do this, they can write a sentence regarding racism and use it as the foundation for a particular paragraph. They can then proceed to write another sentence regarding slavery, and so on. The student can also use quotations or citations to support their main points. The outline will help the writer organize the ideas in the document and remind them of the important points to discuss.

Response Paper Format

As stated above, the document will follow the standard essay format. This means that the reaction paper should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, there are situations where an instructor will require students to include the document in a book or article review. For these situations, the response paper will become a section of another document. The student may need to remove the introduction and conclusion of the response paper. They will only be able to use the body of the reaction paper. Aside from this example, the document should follow the standard essay format.

The introduction of a response paper should provide background information regarding the topic. It should tell the reader the significance of the topic and its overall quality. For example, the writer may state their rating of a novel or movie in the introduction. They can also include a brief statement regarding the work’s author and production crew. Lastly, the introduction should include a thesis statement. The statement should summarize the writer’s overall response.

The body of a response paper is where the writer will discuss all their main points. When writing about an article, book, or movie, the writer may need to include a brief summary of the plot. If the writer created a reaction paper outline, they can simply follow it as they write each body paragraph. For a formal-toned response paper, the writer should include citations to authoritative sources that support their ideas. The citations can act as concrete pieces of evidence and make the reaction paper more persuasive. An important thing to note, the writer will need to write a reference list at the end of the document if they decided to use citations.

The conclusion of a response paper will summarize the whole document. It will provide a brief restatement of the main points. The conclusion should also restate the thesis statement from the introduction. Some reaction paper guidelines may require the writer to provide a final rating of the work or topic. These guidelines are common in article reviews and book reports. The conclusion should also end with a strong closing sentence that will leave the readers thinking.

Reaction Paper Example

Reading guidelines on how to write a response paper may be insufficient for an individual to accomplish the document effectively. Some writers have their own styles for writing a response paper. An instructor’s guidelines may also require a student to practice a specific style or format. Below is a reaction paper example that students can analyze to learn more about the document.

Reaction Paper On Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Racism is a deep-rooted issue that has been around since the early days of American society. It caused slavery and inhumane laws to develop. However, it also inspired some individuals to create literature that perfectly conveys the iniquity of racism. Maya Angelou’s  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings defined the experience of a black girl in the South. Angelou’s book is a personal narrative that sheds light on how racism affects a person’s whole being. Although I am aware of the racism in America, reading Angelou’s book made me realize just how deep and pervasive racism is and continues to be. This reaction paper is not so much a reaction to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings but to the racism of our country.

Angelou lived during the time of segregation—when it was legal to refuse service to Black people. White people thought themselves superior to black people simply due to the differences in their skin color and bone structure. The white people refused to associate or interact with them. Angelou recounts having to cross the street to avoid crossing paths with white people on the street and calling them “miss,” “missus,” or “mister.” One incident with a doctor struck me the most. According to Angelou, her mother brought her once to the dentist. In there, the receptionist—a white girl—shut the door on them. She waited until the dentist came out, but when he finally did, all he said was, “my policy is I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a n—‘s” (Angelou 189). Incidents like this are common in literature and movies but reading about it from a person’s autobiography carries a different weight. Angelou’s medical need was not a critical life and death matter. However, no person in the medical field should refuse to treat anyone in need of professional care. Incidents like this, which is not uncommon at all as it appears, reveals the kind of people that compose American society. What type of society prioritizes its prejudices over the value of another person’s life?

Angelou’s choice magnified the gravity of racism as she depicts the book through the eyes of a young child. Although the character of Maya is innocent, it is evident that she is already aware of the racism of white people. Even as a child, she understood that her family had to live on one side of town with all the other black people while the white people lived on the other side (Angelou 25-26). Still, her innocence was presented in, “the strange pale creatures that lived in their alien unlife weren’t considered folks. They were white folks” (Angelou 26). Even at her tender age, she understood that white people held themselves superior to black people and also how absurd it all is. To her, white people are just people or “folks” just like them. This truth is so simple and so natural, yet so many white people refuse to accept it. In fact, history tells us that white people tend to resort to violence and murder when a situation forces them to acknowledge and treat black people as humans.

Another great point that Angelou touched in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is religion. In the book, she talks about how she, or Maya, believes that only black people will inherit the kingdom of God except for a few white people. She believes that she, and all the black people, will receive rewards in heaven for the sufferings they endured on earth, while the white people who treated them poorly would receive punishment (Angelou 120). At first, I was surprised that someone, even a child, would think this way, but I realized that this type of thinking is not unique to Angelou’s character. Like many conservative Christians, White people believe that they will go to heaven for being Christians while everyone else, especially gay people and Muslims, will burn in hell. With Angelou, this manner of thinking is quite understandable. She, and her ancestors, had gone through so much inhumane suffering, and the only way to justify it is with the promise of salvation in the afterlife. 

Today, in the 21st century, racism is still very much present. However, it looks different now, but no less painful for those on the receiving end. Laws no longer allow racism and segregation, however, racism seems to inherently exist in the very foundations of our society. Living in a supposedly progressive large city, I witnessed a black man who not only worked hard but excelled in what he did. However, the company never offered him a promotion over the long years of his employment. Although it was not explicit, it was clear that the company refused to promote him because of his skin color. I am sure that he is not the only one who experienced this. Our government even had to pass laws and policies—Affirmative Action—to end discrimination in jobs. Even with such a program in place, black people and other minority groups still have to go through the eye of a needle for a company to acknowledge the work they have done. Worse, there are still reports of white people calling out slurs, making inappropriate jokes, or humiliating people of color. These experiences may not be life-threatening at the moment, but they are extremely damaging.

American society has a long way to go in terms of treating people with respect and dignity. Angelou is right in saying that racism is not innate—an individual learns it through years of indoctrination. People need to recognize the truth that we are all humans and that our skin color is of little importance. We are all different, but that does not make one group of people superior and another inferior. Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings  shows us how damaging racism is, how it not only affects a person’s external circumstances but also his/her being. Racism does not bring anything good to the table. It brings only pain, violence, and misplaced hatred. In the end, we are all human, and we should treat everyone as such.

Help With: Write a Reaction Paper

Knowing the definition of the document is not enough to accomplish it effectively. Writing a reaction or response paper will require an individual to critically analyze the subject and efficiently organize their ideas. The information above should help any individual start with their reaction paper. It should give them an overview of the document and how they can properly accomplish writing it. However, if a reaction paper proves to be difficult to finish, CustomEssayMeister can provide writing assistance. Our website offers the writing expertise of professional writers. Our writers can help any individual finish writing a reaction paper and follow specific guidelines. They can also help with other reports or essay writing assignments. Order now and let our writers help you!

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