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UChicago Required Essay: What does Play-doh have to do with Plato?

SuppiSteph 4 / 13  
Dec 28, 2011   #1
I wrote my essay in a story format, since it says on the UChicago site that the essays can be all real, or complete fantasy. My story is partially real, with a lot of made-up stuff mixed into it. I was thinking of maybe adding a picture of a sculpture of Plato made by me at the end? But I'm not sure if they would appreciate an image...though they do allow graphs to be put into the essay if you write about their second prompt option...

Anyhow, here's my essay:

Essay Option 1: 'What does Play-Doh have to do with Plato'?
"Mommy look! Look what I made!" giggled a little Chinese girl, kneeling on a chair at the kitchen table. She was probably around 4 years old.

"Let's see...oh my, good job darling! This is very good," said the Mom. They looked at the little cat figure on the table, surrounded by other bits and pieces of play-doh. It was a maroon kitten, with a white scarf.

Thinking about the scarf, the Mom asked "why is the kitty wearing a scarf Stephi? It's still summer."
The little girl put on a serious face and said, "Because! It's hiding the line where the body and the head stick together. So the head won't fall off."

"Oh my...how...creative-Don't drink that, dear! That's the play-toh cup. Here's your juice," exclaimed the Mom.
Giggling, the little girl set down the play-doh container and picked up her juice instead. "Oopsie, thank you Mommy! It's play-DOH, not play-TOH, Mommy. Play-doh would taste yucky."

"Play-toh, hmm...like that one philosopher guy, Plato..." A teenage girl sat on her bed, busily working on a project. Packages of sculpting clay lay in a circular arrangement around her, along with various clay-working tools. They made a kind of nest.

Sunlight streamed in through the windows along the wall to her left, providing all the light she needed. Her laptop was on, playing Christmas music. As the girl worked, she hummed and sang along with the tunes being played.

"Deck the halls with boughs of holly...falalalala...lalalalaa...oh dear..." she seemed to have made a mistake in her project. "Hmm...how to fix this...lalala..." and she continued to work, busily shaping the clay into what she had in mind.

"It's like that one time..." she mumbled to herself, remembering her childhood.
"I broke it! Mommy, Daddy, I broke it! It's broken...it's so sad..." sobbed the little Chinese girl, holding the three pieces of a play-doh figure. Walking over, her parents patted her on the back, hugging her and telling her it'd be okay.

"Don't worry Stephi, we can fix it. It's not dry yet, see?" said her Mom, gently squeezing the kitten's tail. "We can put him back together."

"No we can't! There will be cracks all over! And it's a HER! She's a girl!" complained the girl, frustrated that she had broken her sculpture in the first place.

Eventually her parents convinced her that superglue would do the trick, since though the play-doh wasn't quite dry, it was hard enough not to mold together easily. They finished putting the kitten back together, and the little girl held the kitten gently in her hands, frowning. "What's wrong, dear?" asked her Dad.

"She's not a very happy kitty anymore...she has a broken face, and the scarf didn't make sure the head wouldn't fall off," she said, on the verge of tears again.

The teenager laughed. That was so long ago! Glancing down at her sculpture, she thought of the maroon kitten again. She was almost done correcting her mistake, and by the time she finished, there would be no sign that she had messed up at all.

"I wonder where that kitten is now...I think we gave it away, along with all the other animals I made when I was little. I wonder what Plato would have said, about the broken kitten," she thought, continuing to tweak her sculpture. Clay bits lay all over the old checker board she used as a work surface.

It was Christmas time, and the family was going to a holiday party at a friends' house. There was going to be a gift exchange, and the little girl was very excited. She was bringing a little stuffed animal to give away, put in a nice small box and wrapped, then tied with holiday ribbons.

All through dinner, she squirmed in her seat, wondering what she would get. There weren't any other children her age for her to play with, so she sat and daydreamed. Her thoughts wandered through the list of things she could wish for. A cute stuffed animal? A pretty bracelet? Maybe she would get something nice to put in her hair... She thought and thought, and when it came time to exchange presents, she had wound her hopes up very high.

I sighed. I'd finally finished my tiny sculpture of Plato's head. What did I get that Christmas again, many years ago? Oh right! A pack of play-doh! It was the travel size kind, with the tiny containers, all packaged nicely into a clear plastic tube. My parents had congratulated me on getting such a nice gift of "play-toh". Smiling, I looked down at my sculpture.

"Hey Plato, what would you say about that? Foreshadowing in real life?" Of course, there was no reply, since it was only my sculpture of Plato's head that I was talking to, not the real Plato. I imagined the sculpture of Plato in rainbow colors. Getting off of my bed, I went downstairs and past where my Dad was working on his computer, towards the garage. "Hey Dad? I'm gonna go out for a little bit. I need to go buy some play-doh, to make some colorful Platos."

Thanks for any comments! =)
yuanyuan3045 6 / 23  
Dec 28, 2011   #2
I really enjoyed it! Nice to see a fellow student tackle to U Chicago essays, I going for the "don't write about reverse psychology" one.

Overall, the transition from third to first person is a bit abrupt, and it took me half way through the essay to realize that the little girl in the beginning was you and not your little sister. But that's just me.

So perhaps work on the transition and flow of the story from past to present?
Overall very interesting story, but you did not address the question (or perhaps that was your intention).
Thanks for help on my essay!
OP SuppiSteph 4 / 13  
Dec 28, 2011   #3
Thanks! Oh fun, I saw that and went "Haha so what DO I write about then?" good luck with it!
Yeah, I wasn't sure how to do it really. I wanted to make sure in the end that the reader knew that the girl in the story is me the whole time...I'll think a little more on that.

The italics weren't quite enough eh? I'll work on the transitions, too then.

I really couldn't find much connection between the two, so instead I just made a game with the pronunciation of play-doh and Plato, linking them with the creation of a sculpture of Plato using play-doh.

Chicago seems pretty open-minded to any interpretation, so it's just how someone writes about a prompt that makes it interesting, I think.

Yeah, you're welcome! Thanks for helping me with mine =D
cherrybomb94 20 / 44  
Dec 28, 2011   #4
why is the kitty wearing a scarf, Stephi?

I only read the first half, but this essay seems really well-written! Good luck!

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