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Third Person

The authors of these pieces capture their ideas without inserting themselves in the events or addressing the reader directly. Third person uses pronouns such as he, she, it, and they.

All writers in this collection speak for themselves—and themselves alone.


The Allegory of the Cave (Book VII of Plato's Republic)

The Greek philosopher Socrates contrasts two visual experiences to help his students discover Truth.

Analogy Times and PlacesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

Bears Do It

New Yorker staff writer David Owen explores some reasons why panda bears living in captivity have problems reproducing.

Cause and Effect Love and RelationshipsThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Beyond Salty and Sweet: A Budding Club of Tastes

New York Times contributor Peter Andrey Smith examines new ideas about the types of tastes we may be able to perceive.

Classification and Division IdentityThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Car Mechanic Dreams up a Tool to Ease Births

New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil explains how retrieving a lost wine cork led to a potentially life-saving obstetrical device.

Analogy Modern ChallengesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts Connect with Author

The Case for Reparations

Journalist TaNehisi Coates traces the history of systematic economic racism, from slavery through segregation up to contemporary housing policies, to support his argument in favor of reparations for African-Americans.

Argument and Persuasion Modern ChallengesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Crazy Cat Ladies

Kiri Blakeley, a contributor to Forbes magazine, defines the modern cat lady by exploring the connection women (and some men) have with cats.

Definition Humans and Their AnimalsThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Even the Gorillas and Bears in Our Zoos Are Hooked on Prozac

Author Laurel Braitman explains that zoo veterinarians often treat problem animal behavior with the same drugs used in human mental health care.

Example and Illustration • Humans and Their Animals • Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

A Fiesta Fit for a Princess — for Those Willing to Pay

Los Angeles Times reporter Marisa Gerber describes how the traditional quinceanera has evolved over the past 40 years.

Definition Times and PlacesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Finally, a Gravestone for Little Viola Vanclief

In this piece from the Los Angeles Times, reporter Garrett Therolf depicts the resting place for a victim of child abuse.

Description Times and PlacesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Graphic Ads Motivate Smokers to Quit

Tips from Former Smokers, the US government's anti-smoking ad campaign, focuses not on the possibility of death but on the poor quality of life resulting from cigarette smoking, leading many smokers to quit their habit.

Cause and Effect Modern ChallengesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

How Hurricane Katrina Turned Pets into People

Author David Grimm explains how one natural disaster changed the status of American pets and the way we care for them.

Process AnalysisHumans and Their AnimalsThird PersonDiscussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Is College Worth It?

Students often wonder whether they are getting their money's worth by going to college. The Economist examines the cost and return-on-investment of a college degree.

Argument and Persuasion School LifeThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

Is There a Formula for a Good Book?

Award-winning writer and editor Jason Heller (of the science-fiction genres) evaluates a variety of formulas, or rules, for literary success.

Classification and Division Language and WritingThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Men, According to Prostitutes

Reporter Chinki Sinha describes the lives of women who work in a red-light district in Mumbai, India.

Description Love and RelationshipsThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

The Other Huxtable Effect

Film and television expert Jason Bailey explores the feminist impact of Cosby Show character Clair Huxtable.

Cause and Effect IdentityThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

The Power of Two

Author Joshua Wolf Shenk classifies the attributes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney separately, and explains why they were even more gifted when pairing their creativity as a team.

Classification and Division IdentityThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

The Quiet Clash Between Transgender Women and Drag Queens

Gay editor, podcaster, and blogger Zack Ford illustrates the distinction between transgender and drag.

Comparison and Contrast IdentityThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

What can an animal do if its owner neglects and/or abuses it? Charles Siebert, contributing writer to the New York Times Sunday Magazine, addresses that question as animal rights continue to evolve.

Argument and Persuasion • Humans and Their Animals • Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

Sneakernomics: How Golf Lost the Millennials

Are young people captivated by the sport of golf? Author Matt Powell says no, exploring the reasons for their lack of interest.

Process AnalysisSport Third Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Training for the End of the World as We Know It

Writing for the Atlantic, Jessica Leigh Hester investigates the world of preppers, those folks preparing for the end of the world.

Definition IdentityThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Ultimate Frisbee’s Surprising Arrival as a Likely Olympic Sport

What is ultimate frisbee? In this article, author Charles Bethea explains the sport and why its players believe it belongs at the Olympics

DefinitionSport Third Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Victory in 30 Seconds: How Castrated Hogs, Baseball and Other Analogies Shape U.S. Elections

Former Presidential speechwriter John Pollack points out the function of analogies in American politics.

Analogy Language and WritingThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

The Volcano That Changed the Course of History

English professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood describes the global impact of Mount Tambora's 1815 eruption.

Cause and Effect Times and PlacesThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts Connect with Author

Why Adverbs, Maligned by Many, Flourish in the American Legal System

Jacob Gershman, who covers law for the Wall Street Journal, explains how a single adverb can change a court's interpretation of the law.

(This essay is now behind the Wall Street Journal paywall. You must access it through Newsstand. Sign in to Atlas to access this database.)

Example and Illustration • Language and Writing Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Why Are Police Using Military-Grade Weapons in High Schools?

Reporting for Rolling Stone, Molly Knefel explores a Los Angeles high school's response to increasing police presence.

Argument and Persuasion School LifeThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Why Do Some Zoos Euthanize Healthy Animals?

When is it okay to put down a zoo animal? European and US zoos want their animals to have different experiences, which means that healthy animals sometimes die at the zookeeper's hands. Writing for Mother Nature Network, Laura Moss explains the differences in zoo philosophies.

Comparison and Contrast • Humans and Their Animals • Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Wild Obsession: The Perilous Attraction of Owning Exotic Pets

Lauren Slater of National Geographic details the problems that exotic pets have caused their owners.

Example and Illustration • Humans and Their Animals • Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Will Cristal's College Dream Survive the Summer?

Essayist E. Tammy Kim follows the path of a low-income student from high-school graduation to college acceptance.

Narration School LifeThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Yes, Animals Were Harmed: 21 Films and TV Shows That Killed or Hurt Animals

The staff of the AV Club list twenty-one examples of filmed entertainment (from the early twentieth century to the present) in which animals accidentally or intentionally came to harm.

Example and Illustration Humans and Their AnimalsThird Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts