ENGL 1101/The Struggle Essay

From Gerald R. Lucas
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The topic of this essay should be a struggle in your life that you are currently battling or that you have overcome. This struggle could be personal or professional, center around an activity or an idea, real or imagined. It could center around your own identify, another person, or a group of people.


Your essay will identify your struggle, how you overcame it, how you have come to terms with the struggle, and/or how you continue to fight. Draw conclusions about the importance of your struggle based on your examination. Perhaps you could begin with the personal narrative and imply or directly state potential significance to a larger community as you develop your essay.

This essay should have a minimum of six paragraphs, though more are certainly acceptable, and a maximum of 1000 words. Please follow MLA style and cite at least two solid sources (no web sites).

Example Structure

  1. Title: be sure it’s catchy and descriptive.
  2. Introductory paragraph: Introduce the struggle and its significance in your life. The last sentence should contain an explicit thesis statement that argues why this struggle is important and how your essay might benefit others.
  3. First body paragraph: Contextualize your struggle. Write a brief narrative about how it has affected your life and continues to do so.
  4. Subsequent body paragraphs: Support, argue, develop, and illustrate your argument with specific examples. Use your two required sources and cite them correctly.
  5. Conclusion: Posit how this struggle has influenced your development as a person and how your approach might benefit others who have the same struggle.

Be careful to watch your tone: you are writing a persuasive essay. Be sure that your essay contains all of the required parts of an essay that we have discussed in class, like the title, formatting, diction, etc.


See Norah Ephron’s essay “A Few Words about Breasts” for her struggle to come to terms with her body image. Other examples include Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” and Vonnegut’s “Dispatch from a Man without a Country.”