Useful resources on analyzing a paragraph for Precis writing

ADVERTISEMENTS:

PASSAGE I

I know no place where the great truth that no man necessarily is brought home to the mind so, remorselessly, and yet so refreshingly, as the House of Commons. Over even the greatest reputations it closes with barely a bubble. And yet the vanity of politicians is enormous. Lord Melbourne,’ when asked his opinion of men, replied, ‘Good fellows, but vain, very vain.’

There is a great deal of vanity, both expressed and concealed, in the House of Commons. I often wonder why, for I cannot imagine a place where men so habitually disregard each other’s feel­ings, so openly trample on each other’s egotisms. You rise to address the House. The Speaker calls on you by name. Hardly are you through the first sentence when your oldest friend, your college chum, the man you have appointed guardian of your infant children, rises in his place, gives you a stony stare, and seizing his hat in his hand, ostentatiously walks out of the House, as much as to say, ‘1 can stand many things, but not this’.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Whilst speaking of the House I have never failed to notice one man, at all events, who was paying me the compliment of the closest attention, who never took his eyes off me, who hung upon my words, on whom everything I was saying seemed to be making the greatest impression. But this solitary auditor is not in the least interested either in me or in my speech, and the only reason why he listens so intently and eyes me so closely is that he has made up his mind of follow me, and is eager to leap to his feet, in the hope of catching the Speaker’s eye the very moment I sit down. Yet, for all this, vanity thrives in the House—though what it feeds on I cannot say. We are all anxious to exaggerate our own impor­tance, and desperately anxious to make reputations for ourselves and to have our names associated with some subject – to pose as its patron and friend. (317 words). (I.M.A. 1972)

Vocabulary

Remorselessly—without repentance ; barely—hardly ; enorm­ous—huge ; vain—proud ; concealed— hidden ; disregard-paying no attention ; trample—crush ; stare—look fixedly ; ostentatiously—in a showy manner ; compliment—praise ; auditor—listeners ; thrives— prospers ; Exaggerate-over-emphasize ; pose—assume the role of.

Analysis with Comments

ADVERTISEMENTS:

First Paragraph. There are four sentences in the para­graphs ; they can be condensed thus—(/) House of Commons brings home the truth that no man is necessary, (ii) Reputation hardly matters, (iii) Yet politicians are vain. Lord Melbourne called men vain. The condensation of the sentences shows that the first gives the topic whereas the rest of the two throw more light on it. So the analysis of the first paragraph is —

Topic point. House of commons brings home the unimpor­tance of man.

Supporting arguments, (i) Reputation is disregarded, (ii) Still politicians are vain though they think men are so.

Second Paragraph. First sentence restates that politicians are vain. Second sentence tells that there is no reason to be vain because others’ feelings are disregarded. Third, fourth and fifth sentences give two illustrations to explain the point (i) Speaker calls the members by name, (ii) Closest friends may not like views. Last three sentences are conversational in style so they present a bit of difficulty in condensing them in direct style. Analysis of the para­graph is—

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Topic point. In House of Commons there is regard for other’s feelings.

Supporting arguments. There are two illustrations of disregard (i) Speaker calls the members by name, (ii) closest friend may not like the views of others.

Third Paragraph. In this paragraph he gives another illus­tration. It is from the writer’s personal life, so we will have to generalize it. First and second sentences can be condensed thus : Those who pay compliments and attention to the speaker have some motive like taking the floor after the speech. Third sentence tells that still politicians are vain. Last sentence tells about the egotism in general terms. So the analysis of the paragraph is—

Topic point. Members of the House of Commons are vain though there is no reason to be so.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Supporting arguments, (i) Others pay attention to the speaker only to see that they may get a chance.

Topic point of the passage. Members of the House of Commons are vain though there is no reason to be so.

Finished Precis

Title. Baseless Vanity of English M.P’s.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Members of the House of Commons are vain though the proceedings of the House never encourage it. No attention is paid to the reputation of the member ; the Speaker calls them by name. Their feelings are ignored and even crushed. The closest friends may walk out as others express their views. If any one pays atten­tion or praises the speech of another member, it is with the motive to get a chance to speak. In fact members are given no importance. Thus there is nothing to feed their vanity, still they are vain. And House of Common proves that no man is necessary. (Words 104)

PASSAGE 2

The last ball has been bowled, the bats have been oiled and put away, and around Lord’s the grand stands are deserted and forlorn. We have said farewell to cricket. We have said farewell, too, to cricket’s king. The well graced actor leaves the stage and becomes only a memory in a world of happy memories. And to ‘hats off’ to the Jam Sahib-the prince of a little State, but the king of a great game…

I think it is undeniable that as a batsman the Indian will live as the supreme exponent of the Englishman’s game. The claim does not rest simply on his achievements, although, judged by them, the claim could be sustained. His season’s average of 87 with a total of over 3,000 run is easily the high water mark of English cricket. Thrice he has totaled over 3,000 runs, and no one else has equaled that record. And is not his the astonishing achievement of scoring two double centuries in a single match on a single day—not against a feeble attack but against Yorkshire, always the most resolute and resourceful of bowling teams ?

But we do not judge a cricketer so much by the runs he gets as by the way he gets them. ‘In literature as in finance’, says Washington Irving, much paper and much poverty may coexist.’ And in cricket, too, many runs and much dullness may be asso­ciated. If cricket is menaced with creeping paralysis, it is because it is losing the spirit of joyous adventure and becoming a dull instru­ment for compiling tables of averages. There are dull, mechanic fellows who turn out runs with as little emotion as a machine turns out pins. There is no colour, no enthusiasm, no character in their play. Cricket is not an adventure to them ; it is a business. It was so with Shrewsbury. His technical perfection was astonishing ; but the soul of the game was wanting in him.

There was no sunshine in his play, or swift surprise or splendid unselfishness. And without these things, without gaiety, daring and the spirit of sacrifice cricket is a dead thing. New the Jam Sahib has the root of matter in him. His play is as sunny as his face. He is not a miser hoarding up runs, but a millionaire spending them, with a splendid yet judicious prodigality. It is as though his pockets are bursting with runs that he wants to shower with his blessings upon the expectant multitude. It is not difficult to believe that in his little kingdom of Nawanagar, where he has the power of life and death in his hands, he is extremely popular, for it is obvious that his pleasure is in giving pleasure. (448 words) (N.D.A. 1972)

Vocabulary

Well graced : impressive or graceful ; exponent : one who ex­plains ; sustained : kept alive ; resolute : determined ; menaced : attacked ; creeping : that comes slowly and slowly ; paralysis : in­activity ; compiling : making : daring : courage ; judicious : wise ; prodigalitry : spending too much ; multitude : too many people.

Analysis with Comments

First Paragraph.

The paragraph is in a rhetorical style ; its aim is to impress the reader and not to give many arguments. The first sentence tells what is stated clearly in the second sentence. Third, fourth even fifth sentences are just repetitions. So the analysis of the paragraph is—

Topic point : Jam Sahib will live in the memory as a cricketer.

Supporting arguments : None.

Second Paragraph.

The style in this paragraph becomes more explanatory than rhetorical. But one can easily judge that third and fifth sentences give us two of his achievements as a cricketer. So the topic point of the first paragraph is the main argu­ment of the second. The analysis is—

Topic point: Jam Sahib was a great batsman.

Supporting arguments, (i) During the season his average score was 87 and total 3,000 runs, (ii) He collected 3,000 runs three times. (iii) He scored two double centuries in a single match on a single day against Yorkshire.

Third Paragraph.

This paragraph is also somewhat explana­tory one. This writer begins with a generalization. Then he comes to the game of other cricketers and compares with the adventurous game of Jam Sahib. Towards the close he points out that he was popular as a king as well. The analysis of the paragraph is—

Topic point : The way he played was commendable.

Supporting arguments, (i) Jam Sahib’s game was not dull ; there was enthusiasm in his run getting. Shrewsbury was technically perfect but dull, (ii) He did not aim at getting runs only rather he delighted the spectators, (iii) Even as a king he aimed at the pleasure of the public ; as he was popular.

Topic point of the passage.

Jam Sahib was a delightful cricketer and a popular king.

Finished Precis

Title : Jam Sahib, the cricketer and king.

Jam Sahib was a delightful cricketer and popular king. As a cricketer he will live in the memories of the people. One of his achievements was that during the season his average score was 87 and total 3000 runs. He totaled 3000 runs three times and none else could equal that record. But more commendable was his achievement of scoring double centuries in a single match on a single day. The team against which this feat was performed was the powerful team of Yorkshire. Apart from getting runs his game was praiseworthy. He was not dull ; there was enthusiasm in getting runs. By way of contrast Shrewsbury was technically perfect but quite dull in scoring. Jam Sahib did not aim at getting runs ; he delighted the spectator. People’s pleasure was his aim as a king. That is why he was a popular king. (words 143)

PASSAGE 3

In the competition of life he wins who can do the largest amount of work in the shortest space of time. That is why men use tools which make one pair of hands do the work of five or ten. The savage who scratches the earth with his bare hands has to give way to the man who drives the plough. It is not his physical strength but the tools that have enabled man to get the best out of cultivation, transport, and such activities as weaving, extracting oil, and making sugar. The plough, the loom, the bullock cart, the horse drawn vehicle, and the oil press have all reduced time and increased output. They have made progress possible : otherwise there would have been little to distinguish man from the ape.

Man worked with his tools until the advent of machinery driven by steam and electricity. The small tool gave way to the big machine, as bare hands had given way to hands equipped with tools.

If this country is to survive, the time has come for our cultivators to be taught these facts. But it will not help to theorize only ; the right answer must be found through actual practice. In Europe and America they have moved far in that direction. They plough and reap, bind the sheaves, and store the crops in granaries, all by means of machines. Adopted in this country, the process would have several advantages. Before cultivation can start, one has often to wait for the rains to come. If there is a brief shower one day, a small plot can be lightly scratched with the ploughshare.

If however, there is no rain in the weeks that follow, the sowing will be late, and the unripe corn may become covered with water in the late monsoon. There may be trouble at harvest, too ; extra hands are scarce in the village and men from outside have to be hired. Should there be a heavy downpour when the reaped crop is still lying in the fields, great losses will result. On the other hand, with a mechanical plough and harvester, full advantage could be taken of every favorable turn in the weather : cultivation would be completed and the ripened grain gathered with great speed.

These machines, it is true, can be put to work only over large tracts of land, and considerable funds are required for their procure­ment and use. But to deny ourselves their benefit on the ground that our peasantry cannot afford them is simply to invite ruin. Quadruped have four feet but no arms, and must do what they can for a subsistence. Man, however, is provided with two hands, which add vastly to his efficiency, and give him mastery over all other living beings. When he further increased his efficiency with the help of machines, he made another step forward. In this age of mechanization the cultivators as well as the artisans of our country must learn to accept the machine, or we shall give way to countries which are already skilled in its employment, even as the beasts had to give way to man. (501 words) (S.C.R.A. 1972)

Vocabulary

Savage : uncivilized man ; advent : introduction ; equipped : armed; survive : lives after; procurement: getting ; quadrupeds animals, which have four feet ; subsistence : living.

Analysis with Comments

First paragraph.

It is an introductory paragraph and so does not touch the actual subject of the passage. In the passage the writer is recommending the use of tools for the farmers of our country whereas in the first paragraph he simply tells about the use of tools. While writing we will have to rewrite these points in a manner that they are connected with the subject matter of the passage. Secondly there are a large number of examples of the machines. The analysis of the passage is—

Topic point: Use of tools helped man to progress and distin­guish himself from apes.

Supporting arguments : (/’) Savage is replaced by man because man could do large amount of work in a short time, (ii) Tools have increased output and made progress possible.

Second paragraph.

It is a short paragraph giving a state­ment that tools have been replaced by machines. There are no arguments or explanations. So the analysis of the paragraph is—

Topic point : Machines have replaced tools.

Supporting arguments : None.

Third paragraph :

It is in this paragraph that the writer comes to the pith of the argument. Reference to Europe and America is passing reference and cannot be called an example. Each sentence takes the arguments further. Analysis of the paragraph is —

Topic point : India should adopt mechanical methods of cultivation to eliminate disadvantage.

Supporting arguments : (i) We should not theorize on mechanized farming but should put the idea into practice, (ii) In Europe and America mechanical devices for every agricultural activity are used, (iii) Mechanized farming has many advantages—(a) big tracts of land can be ploughed to avail of a brief rain ; (b) saves from disadvantages of late sowing ; (c) solves harvesting problems.

Fourth paragraph :

This seems to be the conclusion of the passage. It is in continuation of the arguments given in the previous paragraph. There is repetition and summing up.

Topic point: Despite hurdles machines must be accepted.

Supporting arguments, (i) Acquiring machines may need funds but to deny their benefits would be ruinous, (ii) As man replaced savages, so mechanized countries would replace others if machines are denied to them.

Topic point of the passage : For progress mechanized farming is necessary.

FINISHED PRECIS

Title : Plea for mechanized farming.

Mechanized farming in India is necessary. It will help in many ways. After brief rain speedy plugging is needed. Only machines can do it. Similarly late sowing, if followed by heavy rains may cause damage to unripe crops. Mechanized farming can help in sowing earlier. Again, at the time of harvesting, crops may lie in the fields till it is spoiled by rains. So speedy harvesting is needed. Extra hands are not available in the villages.

Machines speed up harvesting and save the crops. Lack of funds does not mean that this benefit should be denied to farmers. Rather it would be dangerous if we do not take to machines. In fact man replaced savages with the help of tools, which gave him extra hands to do work speedily. Thus output was increased and man made progress. As man replaced savages, so countries using machines will have upper hand over others. Cultivators and artisans must take to machines. (words 156)

COMMENTS

The topic points of the first and second paragraphs are to be subordinated to the topic point of the passage. The main argument is given in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs. In order to keep up the spirit of the passage, it has to be done. Notice the connection that has been established between the arguments of the first and second paragraphs with the third and the fourth.

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