Posted in English 1103, Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: A Close Reading of “The Competition”

Falconer, Ian. The Competition. 2000. The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2000. Copyright 2000 Condé Nast Publications, Inc.

Yesterday in class, we examined Ian Falconer’s The Competition, and as a collaborative exercise, you and two or three of your classmates composed a one-paragraph summary of the magazine cover, followed by a second paragraph that presented your close reading or analysis of The Competition.

Below are three sample paragraphs that I wrote as models for you. The first is a summary of Falconer’s cover. The second and third offer close readings of the magazine cover. Each integrates one of the two possible interpretations that the authors of Writing Analytically offer on page 89.


Ian Falconer’s mostly black-and-white New Yorker cover The Competition depicts four beauty pageant contestants, three of whom stand in stark contrast to Miss New York. Her dark hair, angular body, narrowed eyes, tightly pursed lips, and two-piece bathing suit set her apart from the nearly-identical blondes–Miss Georgia, Miss California, and Miss Florida–whose wide-open eyes and mouths and one-piece bathing suits are typical of pageant contestants.


The contrast between the raven hair and eyes of Miss New York and the platinum-blonde and pale-eyed contestants from Georgia, California, and Florida in The New Yorker cover The Competition by Ian Falconer suggests what the authors of Writing Analytically present as the first of two possible interpretations: The cover “speak[s] to American history, in which New York has been the point of entry for generations of immigrants, the ‘dark’ (literally and figuratively) in the face of America’s blonde European legacy” (Rosenwasser and Stephen 89).

The self-satisfied expression of Miss New York in The New Yorker cover The Competition by Ian Falconer suggests what the authors of Writing Analytically present as the second of two possible interpretations: “[T]he magazine is . . . admitting , yes America, we do think that we’re cooloer and more individual and less plastic than the rest of you, but we also know that we shouldn’t be so smug about it” (Rosenwasser and Stephen 89).

Work Cited

Rosenwasser, David and Jill Stephen. Chapter 3: “Interpretation: Moving from Observation to Implication.” Writing Analytically, 8th edition. Wadsworth/Cengage, 2019. pp. 70-97.

As you continue to work on your final essay and annotated bibliography, review these samples as models for your own summaries and close readings of your sources.

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