low stakes writing assignments thus far W r i t i n g

low stakes writing assignments thus far W r i t i n g

The Secret Agent: Crafting a Thesis Statement

Due Wednesday 10/28 at Midnight

This week you will apply skills learned in the low stakes writing assignments thus far to craft thesis statements.

    • Using the Rhetorical Triangle, you will identify the historical and social milieu of each of the passages provided below.
    • Using your experience crafting discussion questions, you can pose similar, open-ended questions about the text, and generate example thesis statements responding to said questions.
    • Using your experience reading critically and annotating, you will identify significant details from which to build your argument.

I have provided passages from espionage fiction spanning the 20th century, along with a brief summary of historical and cultural contexts. Each contains a description of each work’s Secret Agent. Utilizing the skills listed above, please collaborate to create three thesis statements comparing and contrasting at least two of the provided texts. After creating your thesis statements, find at least five pieces of textual evidence from the provided texts to support your argument.


        1. [Thesis statement]
            1. [“Quote from text”]
            2. [“Quote from text”]
            3. [“Quote from text”]
            4. [“Quote from text”]
            5. [“Quote from text”]

Do not fret if this seems daunting or challenging! We will go over thesis statements on Thursday and again as we approach the GA deadline.


Book: From Russia With Love

Author: Ian Fleming

Publication Date: 1957

Agent: James Bond

“The photograph, which had been blown up to cabinet size, must have been made at a frontier, or by the concierge of a hotel when Bond had surrendered his passport. General G. carefully went over the face with his magnifying glass. It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of the jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt, and black knitted tie completed the picture.

“General G. held the photograph out at arm’s length. Decision, authority, ruthlessness—these qualities he could see. He didn’t care what else went on inside the man. He passed the photograph down the table and turned to the file, glancing rapidly down each page and flipping brusquely on to the next.

“The photographs came back to him. He kept his place with a finger and looked briefly up. ‘He looks a nasty customer,’ he said grimly. ‘His story confirms it. I will read out some extracts. Then we must decide. It is getting late.’ He turned back to the first page and began to rattle off the points that struck him.

“‘Height: 183 centimeters, weight: 76 kilograms; slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black; scar down right cheek and on left shoulder; signs of plastic surgery on back of right hand (see Appendix “A”); all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower; does not use disguises. Languages: French and German. Smokes heavily (NB: special cigarettes with three gold bands); vices: drink, but not to excess, and women. Not thought to accept bribes.’”

Book: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold

Author: John le Carré

Publication Date: 1963

Agent: Alec Leamas

“Leamas was a short man with close-cropped, irongray hair, and the physique of a swimmer. He was very strong. This strength was discernible in his back and shoulders, in his neck, and in the stubby formation of his hands and fingers. He had a utilitarian approach to clothes, as. he did to most other things, and even the spectacles he occasionally wore had steel rims. Most of his suits were of artificial fiber, none of them had waistcoats. He favored shirts of the American kind with buttons on the points of the collars, and suede shoes with rubber soles.

“He had an attractive face, muscular, and a stubborn line to his thin mouth. His eyes were brown and small; Irish, some said. It was hard to place Leamas. If he were to walk into a London club the porter would certainly not mistake him for a member; in a Berlin night club they usually gave him the best table. He looked like a man who could make trouble, a man who looked after his money; a man who was not quite a gentleman.

“The stewardess thought he was interesting. She guessed that he was North of England, which he might well have been, and rich, which he was not. She put his age at fifty, which was about right. She guessed he was single, which was half true. Somewhere long ago there had been a divorce; somewhere there were children, now in their teens, who received their allowance from a rather odd private bank in the City.”

Book: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Author: le Carré

Publication Date: 1974

Agent: George Smiley

“Mr. George Smiley was not naturally equipped for hurrying in the rain, least of all at dead of night. Indeed, he might have been the final form for which Bill Roach was the prototype. Small, podgy, and at best middle-aged, he was by appearance one of London’s meek who do not inherit the earth. His legs were short, his gait anything but agile, his dress costly, ill-fitting, and extremely wet. His overcoat, which had a hint of widowhood about it, was of that black, loose weave which is designed to retain moisture. Either the sleeves were too long or his arms too short for, as with Roach, when he wore his mackintosh, the cuffs all but concealed the fingers. For reasons of vanity, he wore no hat, believing rightly that hats made him ridiculous. ‘Like an egg cosy,’ his beautiful wife had remarked not long before the last occasion on which she left him, and her criticism as so often had endured. Therefore the rain had formed in fat, unbanishable drops on the thick lenses of his spectacles, forcing him alternately to lower or throw back his head as he scuttled along the pavement which skirted the blackened arcades of Victoria Station.”

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