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Style Analysis A path for identifying tone
Please memorize the following sentence: Toiling alone during lunch, Fred frantically developed indoor plants, ones sitting in slippery, sharp pots.
This sentence will help you to memorize 15 rhetorical and stylistic devices which are as follows: tone attitude diction language figurative language figures of speech detail imagery point of view organization structure irony sentence structure syntax phrasing
TONE Tone is defined as the author’s attitude toward his work or his audience. Tone may also be a speaker’s attitude within a selection. Each passage you read will have at least two different but complementary tones. You will need to study lists of tone words to have a plethora of words to use in timed situations. One such list is being passed out, although many more exist!
TONE Your primary objective in any style analysis is to show how the author created the tones in the passage. Each of the following units will address a rhetorical device and its application to tone. Remember: You will always find at least two tones!
INTEGRATING QUOTATIONS When you analyze style, you will often need to quote from within the passage to illustrate. Practice EMBEDDING (or INCORPORATING, INTEGRATING) quotations so that they become a natural part of your own sentence.
INTEGRATING QUOTATIONS Here is an example of a poorly integrated quotation: The phrase, “the gloom hovering over them,” shows the ominous feeling of the scene. This is better: The scene with “the gloom hovering over them” was an eerie and dismal picture. If you change the form of a word, use brackets to show that you did so: As the “gloom [hovered] over them,” the reader felt a sense of ominous unrest.
LESSON ONE: DICTION, LANGUAGE, and FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Diction is defined as the important and individual words the author uses. Language, while it is grouped here with diction, is actually the body of diction used. (In “Casey at the Bat”, for example, the author uses words about baseball. Individually, they are considered diction; collectively, they are the language of baseball jargon.) Diction involves the positive, negative, or neutral connotations the words have. In order to assess diction, we must know the difference between CONNOTATION and DENOTATION.
DICTION, LANGUAGE, and FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE The DENOTATION of a word is its dictionary definition while the CONNOTATION is the emotional baggage that comes along with the word. Example: The word “plump” is a person who is overweight (by definition), but the feelings associated with the word define it as pleasantly fat. Once you have identified an author’s diction, you must ANALYZE it. This means that you write commentary about the word and the effect the word had on you as a reader, or in the passage as a whole. Some synonyms for COMMENTARY are ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION, and EXPLICATION.
DICTION, LANGUAGE, and FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Read the following sentence: John surveyed the class, congratulating himself for snatching the highest grade on the test without studying at all, unlike the other dolts in the class. Identify the diction you found in that sentence, and then consider possible tone words for the sentence. Possible tones include haughty, arrogant, conceited. These words belong to one “family” of tone.
DICTION, LANGUAGE, and FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE The next step is to write commentary for the diction you highlighted. Commentary #1: conveys the idea of someone looking around as if he were a king looking at lowly subjects Commentary #2: the boy sees himself on a kind of Mt. Olympus, sitting with other gods and looking down on lesser mortals.
ASSIGNMENT: Now it is time to practice. Read ‘The Rattler” and highlight diction choices as you read. Remember that diction is the important individual words the author uses. The next step is to create an introductory paragraph for this essay. Diction analysis is only a tool to achieve another goal – to identify tone and attitude. Remember to look for two different but complementary tones for each passage.
ASSIGNMENT: Read “The Rattler” and fill in the chart below about the two (or more) tones of the passage. Tone One:Tone Two: Diction that leads you to this tone:
To practice, look over “The Rattler” and do a quickwrite on two questions: 1) What feelings did the man have about killing the snake? 2) What feelings did you as a reader have about the man’s killing the snake? We might feel that we are sorry that the man killed the snake, that we understand the snake had to be killed.
The next step it to write the introduction paragraph. In this introduction, you should identify the two different but complementary tones, and establish a theme statement. Here is an example: The author’s techniques used in “The Rattler” convey not only a feeling of sadness and remorse but also a sense of the man’s acceptance of the snake’s impending death. A human being has confronted nature, and in order for him to survive, the snake must be killed. The reader feels sympathy for the man’s plight and a reluctant agreement with him for his decision.
Continue Writing Now it is time to write the second paragraph of the essay. In this paragraph, you will discuss one of the rhetorical devices found in the passage. This one will analyze only diction. This paragraph must begin with a topic sentence which uses the device which is to be studied. Here, that word is diction. Read the following example of a topic sentence on diction. The author’s diction heightens the power and force behind the snake as it responds to the man.
Continue Writing The next part of the paragraph follows a specific pattern. You will write one example sentence with three diction examples you have chosen. Then write two sentences of commentary. The commentary must echo the tones established in the introduction. This unit of writing – one example and two commentaries is called a “chunk”. You will need at least two chunks in each body paragraph. In the diction example sentences you will need at least three examples of diction from several parts of the passage. Read the example sentence below: Like a soldier, the snake lay “arrested,” waiting for the “unprovoked attack” after shaking his “little tocsin” at the man.
Commentary The next step is to write commentary (analysis or interpretation) for the three quotes you included in your example sentence. Here is a sample of commentary from the previous example sentence: –Commentary #1: feeling of adversary vs. adversary –Commentary #2: snake knows its power but holds back; doesn’t want to fight but signals that it will defend itself if necessary Commentary does not mean paraphrasing the quotation. It means thinking about the feeling behind the quotations and the reader’s response.
Now You Practice Read the sample introduction and diction paragraph. ASSIGNMENT: Read the essay by Frederick Douglass. Highlight the passage for diction. Then write an introductory paragraph and a paragraph on diction.
LESSON TWO: DETAIL AND IMAGERY Detail is defined as concrete or specific information that can be perceived through the five senses. Detail is literal – the facts of the selection. Detail and imagery are both used to describe concrete words and phrases. Details and imagery contrast with diction in that details do not by themselves have connotation while diction is purely emotional. Return to “The Rattler” passage and highlight in a different color all of the details you see. Please feel free to check these with me before you go on.
DETAIL AND IMAGERY The steps for completing this paper are very much like the diction paper. If this were an actual paper, you would not need to write another introduction. The first one will do. You would, however, need to write the next body paragraph. This one is about detail, so your topic sentence should reflect that change: The author’s detail supplies the reader with a well-defined picture of the actions of both the snake and the man.
DETAIL AND IMAGERY Just as with diction, the next part of the essay is an example sentence. This time, because of the length of the examples, you will need to incorporate only TWO. For example: The snake “merely turned a little to watch” the man as it waited to see if he would go “back to the ranch house, [get] a hoe, and [return].” The next step involves writing commentary. These commentary are about the example above: –Commentary #1: snake not afraid or hesitant; casual attitude –Commentary #2: snake’s awareness of its enormous power, moves slowly (as man does)
DETAIL AND IMAGERY Read the following paragraph on detail in “The Rattler”: The author adds to the effect of the passage by giving elaborate details about the actions of both the man and the snake. The snake “merely turned a little to watch” the man as it waited to see if he would go “back to the ranch house, [get] a hoe, and [return].” The snake is not afraid, hesitant, or easily unnerved, because it knows its own formidable power. It turns its head casually, glancing over to see what interesting but trivial intrusion has arrived. After the man has killed the reptile, he “does not cut the rattles off for a trophy,” but instead lets the snake “drop into the bush.” He does not want to take its life and feels no satisfaction in its death. The man’s respectful actions in response to the dignified presence of his opponent are worthy. We commiserate with him as he performs his distasteful and necessary task.
DETAIL AND IMAGERY Read the following example paragraph from a detail paragraph on “The Rattler. ASSIGNMENT: Read the following passage by Henry James and follow the directions on that page for writing an introductory paragraph and a paragraph on detail. Remember to follow the “chunk” format described earlier.
LESSON THREE: POINT OF VIEW Read “The Rattler” this time looking for ideas about the author’s point of view. Before you start the point of view paragraph, you will need a topic sentence for it: The first person point of view brings the reader into the scene instantly. To do the example sentence for point of view, you will need to include 2 or 3 short quotations from several parts of the passage as you write your sentence. Here’s an example: At the beginning of the story, the man says, “I stopped short”—his “first instinct” was to let the snake slither away, because he “never killed an animal” he didn’t have to.
POINT OF VIEW Here is an example of commentary based on the topic sentence above: –Commentary #1: sudden shock, reader takes a sharp breath with the narrator –Commentary #2: reader feels narrator freeze, then reluctance as narrator recognizes what may happen; comes from the use of first person, more personal and immediate as we are there in the desert with the narrator.
POINT OF VIEW The next step is to write commentary for the quotes you included in your example sentence. This commentary should echo the tones from the introduction. Before you begin, it is helpful to know what kinds of commentary to write. Here are some phrases that appear frequently on point of view analysis: –First person: Reader can feel same emotions as narrator, sense of immediacy, reader reacts in unison with narrator –Third person limited: Reader feels a sense of distance from others, and, in addition, is limited to one perspective; narrower view of the subject, may be biased in only one direction; distance may be good, may be the goal of the author –Third person omniscient: Reader feels more distant than with first person but also has a wider, more panoramic view of the subject; reader knows everything that an outside observer could know
POINT OF VIEW Read the following example paragraph from a point of view paragraph on “The Rattler.” ASSIGNMENT: Read the following passage by Gustave Flaubert. Write an introductory paragraph and a paragraph on the point of view of the passage.
LESSON FOUR: ORGANIZATION In analyzing organization, you must watch for a broader structure or framework in the piece of writing. Look for a larger pattern. The following is a list of things you might watch for: –the beginning and ending of a passage –a particular sequence that is important –a noticeable chronology –any prominent literary techniques –a focus or emphasis on any one part that makes it stand out
ORGANIZATION The process in studying organization is similar to others you have learned. Here are the steps: 1.Number the paragraphs in the passage. If there is only one paragraph, watch for logical divisions in it. 2.Read the passage and note any points of organization in the margins. Now go back to “The Rattler” passage. Read for the author’s organization, making notes in the margins as you read.
ORGANIZATION As you begin writing the organization paragraph, you will need a topic sentence. Here is a sample: The author’s organization helps the reader understand the man’s conflicting feelings. In the example sentence you won’t necessarily quote from the passage, although you may if you wish. Simply state your observations. Here is a sample: The author’s organization carries the reader through early evening in the desert as if it were a complete short story in a few paragraphs. It begins with the setting and foreshadowing in the exposition, and continues to a climax in paragraph 4, extends to a second climax in paragraph 5, and finishes with a short resolution.
ORGANIZATION To write the commentary, ask yourself two questions: –Why did the author use this organization? –How did it affect you as the reader or the tone of the passage? Here is an example of commentary for the example from “The Rattler” –Commentary #1: gives the feeling of development in one short page, traditional short story –Commentary #2:effect of second climax on reader - to frighten reader (and narrator) after lulling them into careless complacency.
The following paragraph is a sample organization paragraph from “The Rattler.” ASSIGNMENT: Read the following passage by Charles Dickens and follow the directions on that page for writing an introductory paragraph and a paragraph on organization. Remember to follow the “chunk” format described earlier.
LESSON FIVE: SYNTAX, SENTENCE STRUCTURE, PHRASING Syntax refers to the way words and phrases are arranged to form phrases and sentences. Like organization, identifying syntax can be difficult to do. Here is a list of items you might look for when analyzing for syntax: –specific patterns of phrases and sentences –divisions within a piece with different syntax for each –parallel structure –different sentence types –specific kinds of punctuation Of course, this list is only a partial one. There are many other patterns you might look for.
SYNTAX, SENTENCE STRUCTURE, PHRASING When you are analyzing syntax, follow these steps: –Number the sentences in the passage. This will aid your discussion of the syntax. –Mark observations about the syntax in the margins as you read. Read the passage by Frederick Douglass which was given to you previously. Make observations about the syntax as you read the passage. The attached pages may give you an insight into the kinds of things to look for.
SYNTAX, SENTENCE STRUCTURE, PHRASING The next step is to write a topic sentence for the syntax paragraph. Here is a sample: The author’s syntax reflects the speaker’s torturous feelings. The second step is to write an example sentence. You may quote if you wish, but it is not required. Read the following example: The dashes at the end of paragraph one set off information about Douglass’s escape in parallel clauses and finish the sentence in a rhythmic and skillful way.
SYNTAX, SENTENCE STRUCTURE, PHRASING Next, as usual, write commentary, observations about the author’s syntax. Ask yourself two questions: –Why did the author use this syntax? –What effect does it have on the reader or the tone? The following examples are commentary for the passage by Douglass. –syntax is controlled as he discusses his escape and even feeling threatened. –as long as expectations are clear in his mind and come to pass, syntax is under control
Read the attached sample paragraphs on the Douglass passage. ASSIGNMENT: Read the following passage by Charles Dickens and follow the directions on that page for writing an introductory paragraph and a paragraph on syntax. Remember to follow the “chunk” format described earlier.
FINAL ASSIGNMENT Review the unit to prepare for a final timed essay on a new passage.