Teacher’s Guide

An Upside Down Puzzle – Andrew Thomson

Essay Category: Narratives and Meditations

An Upside Down Puzzle is a descriptive and detailed personal narrative about discovering one’s passion in unexpected places. This student was assigned a personal narrative for First Year Writing Seminar and chose to write about a defining experience in his life. 

This essay uses descriptive language and detailed imagery to portray his experience in an operating room. Through the author’s description a vivid ‘scene’ comes alive in readers’ minds, and his tone reveals his growing passion for medicine as the narrative continues. While the essay provides a strong example of imagery, it lacks tension and could be more thought-provoking. The various metaphors and figurative language throughout the essay, but the essay could be strengthened by weaving the metaphor of the upside-down puzzle, which is found in the conclusion and also serves as the essay’s title, throughout the entire essay. 

The author’s tone and descriptive imagery are evident in this quote: “The team of doctors worked incessantly, like veteran assembly line workers, to accomplish the beautifully chaotic surgery. Some pieces of bone flew as they shaped the femur and tibia in order for the implant to fit perfectly. Staring through a small opening in the Plexiglas that was intended for sterile tools to be passed through, I bobbled to try and find the best angle to see the action. At one point, I was almost hit by a flying mass of bone and marrow about the size of a clementine, and I was shocked to see that part of it stuck to the Plexiglas in front of me.”

What Assignments to Use Essay For:

  • Narrative