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Then we include a thesis statement that states the main idea. With the use of topic sentences, the various bases of comparison and contrast are then discussed, either as part of a chronology of events or by means of topic sentences that introduce each new point or idea. The last part of the comparison and contrast essay invariably sums up the most important comparisons or differences and leads to a logical conclusion. In this essay we are going to discuss the comparison and contrast essay entitled ‘Grant & Lee: A Study in Contrasts’ written by the historian Bruce Catton, on pages 239-242 of the book. It illustrates the point by point pattern of comparison and contrast essays.
Bruce Catton has been introduced as a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Civil War historian. The essay being discussed is from a compendium of stories about the Civil War by a number of historians entitled The American Story (1956). The opening sentence indicates the first off-battle meeting between these two generals, Grant and Lee, in Virginia on 8th April 1865, the purpose being to agree to the terms of the surrender of Lee’s army of Northern Virginia. A good opener, it captures the attention of the reader because it was one of the key steps that signalled the end of the American Civil War. Catton reiterates that the agreement to the terms and the signing of the papers signified the end of the War though it would take a few days to get the word across to supporters of both sides. Different in nature but strong in resoluteness, these two generals had some similarities and many contrasts. The essay goes on to describe Lee’s background, nature and aspirations. Supportive of aristocratic ideals, he had fought for and represented the Confederacy for the four years of the Civil War. He believed in family, culture and tradition but also espoused a class system where one was meant to rule others. By comparison, Grant was the son of a ...
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