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Journey into The Unknown-Early 20th Century Immigration to the United States

Expressive Writing
Teacher Page

Here is an example of expressive writing.



Copyright by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved.



EXPRESSIVE WRITING EXERCISE: Imagine that you are an immigrant arriving at Ellis

Island sometime around 1900. Write a journal entry expressing your feelings and first

impressions on arriving in the United States.


September 23, 1903

Ill never forget that foggy September morning when I first saw America, appearing out of

the mist like land in some dream. Ill also never forget the first day and night I spent here in

my new country.

Our ship had taken two weeks to steam across the Atlantic from Italy to New York Harbor.

Seven days of this trip were spent on stormy seas. Twice I was sure the ship was going to

sink and we were all going to die in the ocean waves. My father, mother, two brothers, and I

held hands in the darkness below deck during these storms. The only sounds I heard at those

times were screaming or crying, and I wished we had stayed in our sunny village in the hills

of Italy.

My brother woke me one morning and tugged me by my sleeve up onto the deck. Most of the

passengers were standing there shoulder to shoulder. I remember hearing laughs, cheers, and

excited talk. I looked out into the fog and saw the misty outline of a giant lady holding a

torch high in the air. Suddenly, I felt dizzy and thought I would fall over. I couldnt believe

that I was finally looking at something I had read about and long dreamed of seeingthe

Statue of Liberty. That was the first time I had felt truly happy since our trip began.

Our ship dropped anchor just off Ellis Island and my family and the others boarded a ferry for

the island. Once there, we were herded into a tremendous building with a big staircase inside.

We joined nine lines of people who were slowly making their way up the stairs. We waited in

our line for two or three hours. When I got to the top, a man in a white coat quickly examined

my body and pointed me toward a door that led to another room.

In the next room, our family waited for so many hours for our name to be called that I thought

I would faint. During that time we were each fed a bowl of stew and some bread and given a

place to sleep. Still, I was both hungry and tired the whole time. When an inspector finally

called our name, it had been 17 long hours. As we left that big room, I looked up at the ceiling

and tried to remember how happy I had been to see the Statue of Liberty. I hoped that our

future in America would be filled with that same happiness.

ANALYSIS OF MODEL: The author draws in the audience by using a simile that compares

the immigration experience to a dream. The first paragraph introduces the topic, and the

remainder of the essay describes the details of the journey from Italy to Ellis Island, using a

variety of sensory information. The author is also careful to mention the thoughts and

feelings associated with many of these details. The essay concludes by recounting the

feelings associated with one of the main events that took place in the essay.