Analysis or Classification

In a broad sense all expository paragraphs are analytical. To write about any subject you must it into particulars

(whether reasons or comparisons, illustrations or consequences) and then organize these into a coherent whole. More narrowly, however, analysis refers to the specific technique of developing a topic by distinguishing its components and discussing each in turn. G. K. Chesterton, for example, analyzes the category "people" in this way:

Roughly speaking, there are three kinds of people in this world. The first kind of people are People; they are the largest and probably the most valuable class. We owe to this class the chairs we sit down on, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in; and, indeed (when we come to think of it), we probably belong to this class ourselves. The second class may be called for convenience the Poets; they are often a nuisance to their families, but, generally speaking, a blessing to mankind. The third class is that of the Professors or Intellectuals, sometimes described as the thoughtful people; and these are a blight and a desolation both to their families and also to mankind. Of course, the classification sometimes overlaps, like all classification. Some good people are almost poets and some bad poets are almost professors. But the division follows lines of real psychological cleavage. do not offer it lightly. It has been the fruit of more than eighteen minutes of earnest reflection and research.

Chesterton develops his point by asking, in effect, "What kinds of people are This strategy of paragraph build ing is also called classification. (Chesterton uses the terms classification and class several times.) Speaking strictly, analysis and classification are not identical. The first begins with the general and works into particulars; the second starts with the particulars and sorts them into categories. But, practically speaking, the difference is not very significant. Both are concerned with a class and a number of specifics, and the problem is to make clear that a class encompasses particulars. Thus in Chesterton's humorous analysis the broad category "people"

is composed of the particular groups "People," "Poets," and "Professors."

Sorting out concrete topics, whether people or varieties of apples, is the easiest kind of analysis. But the technique also works with organization of a club, for in stance, or the economic classes of a complex society. In the following example the writer explains how the watches were arranged on a nineteenth-century sailing vessel. (The term watch has a double meaning: the two divisions of the crew, who alternated in working the ship, and the periods of the twenty-four-hour day when the groups were on duty.)

The crew are divided into two divisions, as equally as may be, called the watches. Of these, the chief mate commands the larboard, and the second mate the starboard. They divide the time between them, being on and off duty, or as it is called, on deck and below, every other four hours. The three night watches are called the first, the middle, and the morning watch. If, for instance, the chief mate with the larboard watch have the first night watch from eight to twelve, at that hour the starboard watch and the second mate take the deck, while the larboard watch and the first mate go below until four in the morning, when they come on deck again and remain until eight. As the larboard watch will have been on deck eight hours out of the twelve, while the starboard watch will have been up only four hours, the former have what is called a "forenoon watch below," that is, from eight A.M. till twelve A.M. In a man-of-war, and in some merchantmen, this alternation of watches is kept up throughout the twenty-four hours, which is called having "watch and watch"; but our ship, like most merchantmen, had "all hands" from twelve o'clock till dark, except in very bad weather, when we were allowed "watch and watch."

Richard Henry Dana

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