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Death in the Open By Lewis Thomas ?. Understanding the writer s ideas 1. Because they either blend into the natural environment or usually go off to someplace.

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Presentation on theme: "Death in the Open By Lewis Thomas ?. Understanding the writer s ideas 1. Because they either blend into the natural environment or usually go off to someplace."— Presentation transcript:

1 Death in the Open By Lewis Thomas ?

2 Understanding the writer s ideas 1. Because they either blend into the natural environment or usually go off to someplace hidden and alone to die. Because they include all types; whereas in the city we usually see only dead dogs or cats on the highways. Because it seems improper to be there, and because he claims that we are astounded by visible death.

3 Understanding the writer s ideas 2. That it is something we think of only as an idea, not as a real event. That we become more aware of death as a natural event in the renewal and replacement process. Because it will put us more in touch with our surroundings and our own renewal and replacement cycles.

4 Understanding the writer s ideas 3. Because they seem to become their own offspring. 4. To make us question why death is not so obvious that is, we see so few dead birds, yet all the thousands we see flying around must die somewhere. In that death is never as obvious as it seems that it should be. He says it is more startling than unexpectedly seeing a live birds. Because it is uncommon. It is so out of the ordinary experience.

5 Understanding the writer s ideas 5. They usually go to find a concealed place to die. If not, others in the herd will move the body to a concealed place. 6. The odd stump is the thing which seems out-of-place. The late autumn fly dying on the front porch and the highway dog or cat fatality.

6 Understanding the writer s ideas 7. He has always had a problem of backyard squirrels, but he has never seen a dead squirrel. 8. It is just as well: the fact that death is usually concealed in nature. He feels that if this were not so, we would be too constantly aware of death.

7 Understanding the writer s ideas 9. (ironically) The fact that death is a normal, daily process. 10. He says we try to conceal death as well. We only really know of the deaths of people close to us; we only minimally publicize the life-death process in obituaries and birth anno9uncements. We speak of the dead in low voices. The result is that we think of deaths as unnatural events, anomalies, outrages, and we remain unaware of the enormity of the natural process. We speak in low voices, perform ceremonies, grieve, scatter bones, send flowers.

8 Understanding the writer s ideas 11. In order that we can better understand, and perhaps derive some comfort from the fact that even our own deaths are all part of a vast, ongoing natural process. We must give up the idea that death is catastrophe, or detestable, or avoidable, or even strange.

9 Understanding the writer s techniques 1. The thesis is at the beginning of par. 3: Everything in the world dies, but we only know about it as a kind of abstraction. The last paragraph reminds us of the ways in which we keep this notion a secret and encourages us to face the reality instead of the abstraction.

10 Understanding the writer s techniques 2. Thomas s point is that natural death is usually hidden from us but indeed it should be perceived more openly through a heightened perception. The multiple examples open our eyes to surrounding death. The mysterious wreckage is particularly vivid as an image which affects the reader deeply by juxtaposition: the horror of a wreck with the gentleness of a deer.

11 Understanding the writer s techniques 3. The one illustration is an animal dead on a highway, although this is not a specific illustration because Thomas wants us to feel first the generality of death. Paragraph 3 widens the scope of par. 2 so that death is recounted not only as a natural occurrence but as a part of the universal process of constant renewal and replacement.

12 Understanding the writer s techniques 4. In pars 4-8 the first sentence of each paragraph is the topic sentence. The illustrated focus of each is as follows: par. 4: single-celled animal; par. 5: insects; par. 6: birds; par. 7: elephants; par. 8 common, at home observations (the fly, backyard squirrels); par. 7: concerning elephants makes use of an extended example; and par. 8 makes use of personal observation.

13 Understanding the writer s techniques 5. Paragraph 9 accomplishes a transition between the illustrations of pars. 4-8 and the discussion of the human dealings with death both to link the two and to focus on the differences. The enormity of the statistical figures reminds us of the all- pervasiveness of death.

14 Understanding the writer s techniques 6. The first-person pronouns help us to personalize the essay, both to Thomas s experience and to our own. In other words, he makes us see what we usually do not see. In par. 8, especially, he uses such pronouns to personalize the illustrations which would be familiar to most of his readers. It is used throughout to refer to either death itself, the process of dying, or the result of death. By using the pronoun multiply like this, Thomas is able to reinforce the inclusiveness of death, while at the same time emphasizing the abstract value that he claims we place on it.

15 Understanding the writer s techniques 7. A. the atrocity which leaves us with an indecipherable feeling B. final, without continuation C. swarming and directionless, like the plankton (one-cell animals) in the sea.

16 Understanding the writer s techniques 8. Dropping off like flies. That is, to fall, faint, or die suddenly and in a group, one after another.

17 Understanding the writer s techniques 9. A. emphasizes the isolation aspect of the process B. makes it simultaneously a daily and a cyclical (season) occurrence C. llike alone, hidden this repetition intensifies the feeling here of horrible strangeness. D. In this sentence, Thomas wants us to understand fully that we have to give up all the abstractions we have attributed to death.

18 Understanding the writer s techniques 10. Par. 3: the repetition of If denoting a situation of possibility. Par. 10: the repetition of we to emphasize how we (people) deal with death within our own species Par. 11: again, the repetition of we used with the future tense or implied future action

19 Exploring the writer s ideas 1. In the open as (a) in nature, outside, or (b) talked or written about freely not a taboo subject.


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