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Sample Body Paragraphs Literary Analysis. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Sample Body Three dynamic symbols are prevalent in Maya Angelou’s excerpt.

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Presentation on theme: "Sample Body Paragraphs Literary Analysis. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Sample Body Three dynamic symbols are prevalent in Maya Angelou’s excerpt."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sample Body Paragraphs Literary Analysis

2 “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Sample Body Three dynamic symbols are prevalent in Maya Angelou’s excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that represent racism and prejudice. As Marguerite talks of the Candy Angel, the first symbol appears - a cavity. This cavity, eating away at tooth enamel, symbolically represents the pain of slavery. Marguerite claims “…that the pain was more serious than that which anyone had ever suffered” and “[She] prayed earnestly that [she would] be allowed to sit under the house and have the building collapse on my left jaw” (185). The idea of agony and suffering caused by racism is symbolically emphasized in her description. The stabbing wounds caused by racism are indeed the most serious pains she has endured. Angelou illustrates through Marguerite’s pain the pain felt by blacks in the racist South. Progressing in the novel, a white towel holds symbolic relevance as well. Due to the protagonist’s toothache, a journey is needed. Before leaving, Marguerite ties a white towel around her jaw, to “hide the pain caused by the cavity” (186). Covering not only her physical pain of the tooth, but also the pain she feels from racism, Marguerite enters white society hoping to remain unharmed. Ironically, the white towel against her dark skin serves as no tool in keeping her identity overlooked. By trying to hide her black self with a white towel, the young girl in turn exposes herself more to white society. The white towel symbolically ties together the need to be hidden and also the need to fit in, both of which are excruciatingly crucial for adequate survival in society. A final use of symbolism in this excerpt occurs during Marguerite’s quest across the bridge to get to the white side of town. As she crosses over the bridge, Marguerite claims, “On the other side of the bridge the ache seemed to lessen as if a white breeze blew off the white folks and cushioned everything in their neighborhood --- including my jaw” (187). Her lessening of pain symbolically represents the pain caused by racism. Within black society the burden is greater and causes a more provoking ache, while upon entering a white society the heavy load seems lighter and the pain less significant. Marguerite also notices that “the gravel road was smoother, the stones smaller”, emphasizing how indeed all outlooks seem more positive when the burden of racism is not apparent. Angelou’s symbolic representations, the cavity, the white towel, and the crossing of the bridge, epitomize the pain caused by racism. Topic Sentence w/theme Lead-in Quote Commentary So what? Clincher Lead-in Quote Commentary Lead-in Quote Commentary So what?

3 “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” Sample Body The setting of the story portray the theme of emptiness caused by moral degradation. The setting O’Connor creates throughout the story represents the emptiness that results from Shiftlet and the mother’s greedy actions. When Shiftlet first arrives, the setting is tranquil with a “sun which [appears] to be balancing itself on the peak of a small mountain” (O’Connor 1). Before the plot thickens with actions driven solely on self-interest, the setting remains peaceful like the balanced sun. The natural, beautiful setting is in conflict with Mrs. Crater and Mr. Shiftlet, who are greedy and morally corrupt. However, when Mrs. Crater begins to desire Shiftlet to marry her daughter in exchange for a car and a place to live, a selfish motive, the setting changes. The sky “[is] clear and open and surrounded by a pale blue sky” (O’Connor 7), as Shiftlet drives Lucynell on their honeymoon. The empty depiction of the sky Shiftlet drives into demonstrates the depression and lack of self-fulfillment he feels as a result of his greed. Shiftlet’s depression is a symbol of O’Connor’s theme of emptiness. Soon after Shiftlet abandons Lucynell at a restaurant stop, the air gets hotter and “deep in the sky a storm [is] preparing very slowly and without thunder as if meant to drain every drop of air from the earth before it broke” (O’Connor 8). The draining of air symbolizes the corruption of morals throughout the story and the impending doom of Shiftlet and Mrs. Crater. By describing changes in the sky as unscrupulous greed emerged, O’Connor depicts the consequential emptiness of moral degradation. Topic Sentence w/theme Lead-in Quote Commentary So what? Clincher Lead-in Quote Commentary So what? Commentary Quote Lead-in

4 “Learning to Drive” Body Paragraph In "Learning to Drive" different objects, such as the floor, the dismantled Statue of Liberty puzzle, and the cemetery, illustrate the way that people are able to overcome the various obstacles that they face during their lives. Affected by a devastating event such as cancer, a person often ends up battered by the emotional conflicts that accompany adversity. In the same way, the floor was scuffed and dented where the protagonist had stumbled with his crutches. Thus, the floor represents the scars people carry after they battle with crisis. Originally, the tile was in perfect condition. The protagonist says, "We have had the cleanest floors in the neighborhood for twenty-two years" (39). People can go through their lives with trivial problems—a money shortage, a broken leg—and therefore have completely spotless surfaces until they find themselves scarred by the difficulties they face, just as the floor was marked from the crutches, the result of the protagonist's struggle with cancer. In an attempt to heal these scars, people will try whatever they can to remove them. Elaine uses ammonia on the floor in an effort to clean the skid-marks and scratches. Just as in real life, the ammonia only makes the eyes of the people around the area water; it only adds to the pain of the situation. Although scars are inevitable when facing hurdles, people are still able accomplish their goals. REPEAT PROCESS (Lead-in – So what?) FOR TWO MORE SUPPORTING DETAILS The tile floor, jigsaw puzzle, and cemetery are all symbols used to display how people are able to overcome any obstacles they face with the right amount of optimism. Topic Sentence w/theme Lead-in Quote Commentary So what? Clincher


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