Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Commentary - Style Analysis (Thank you Amina Raza Teacher's Assistant)

Style Analysis: Tone and Attitude

1.What does the word “tone” mean?( define in your own words, look it up in a dictionary, or ask a classmate).  Write your definition below:

2.What does the phrase “tone of voice” mean? (you should be able to define this on your own)>.Write your definition below :

3.List 5 words that could describe a person’s tone of voice. An example : Angry

Write your 5 words here :

Style Analysis : Tone and Attitude

Authors convey feelings through the pieces they write in the same way people convey feelings through tone of voice. Authors, though, must rely on the printed word and cannot use inflection volume, or gestures to make their point.

Here is an example of a sentence with an arrogant tone:

John surveyed his classmates, congratulating himself for snatching the highest grade without even studying at all, unlike all the other dolts in class.

Without specifically saying John was arrogant, the writer has conveyed this idea. “surveying”, “snatching” and “dolts” carry out this feeling.

Your next assignment is to choose one word from the tone/attitude list we created.

(Do not choose one of the words in the “arrogance” category). Write one sentence on any topic that by itself (without using your word) gives the feeling of the tone you chose.

Write your word here:

Write your sentence here:

6.Now write commentary for your sentence. What words do you include that conveyed the tone you wanted? How did they do this?

                                           Style Analysis

                                     Integrating Questions

When you analyze style, you will often quote from the passage to support the points you make. The best way to include quotations is by integrating them smoothly into your own sentences. This is also called embedding quotations or incorporating quotations.

1.     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 “the gloom hovering over them’ was an eerie and dismal picture.

2.     If you change the form of the word you quote, you must enclose that word in brackets to show your reader what you did.

Here is an example of brackets:

As the gloom (hovered) over them” the reader felt a sense of ominous unrest.

1.The words diction, language, and figurative language are terms that you will use interchangeably when you analyze an author’s style. There words refer to the concept of an author’s WORD CHOICE.

Word choice is probably the most powerful element of style for you to understand. If the directions in the prompt do not give you any specific terms to start your analysis, always begin with diction- you won’t be wrong. Many words in our language have strong connotations and authors learn to use them in purpose to elicit certain responses from the reader.

These 3 terms are also used when the areas to analyze include many metaphors, similies and other forms of figurative language. Watch for those as some common forms of word choice.

2.The word DENOTATION means the literal, dictionary definition of a word.

Example: the words ‘plump” and ‘obese” both literally mean a person who is overweight. This is the dictionary definition of both words. It is the shared meaning of these 2 synonyms.

3.     The word CONNOTATION means the implied or suggested meaning attached to a word, or the emotional “tag” that goes along with a word.

Example : the word ‘plump” has the connotation of being pleasantly fat, almost cutely overweight. Its connotation describes women mote often than men. It is this extra “emotional” feeling that shows how we use the word.

Connotation is important because it shows the differences between synonyms and suggests specific ways in which we use w word. You must understand connotations of the words you read and write in order to analyze style well.

4.     Here is an example of a sentence with strong connotative diction:

The boy surveyed the class, congratulating himself for snatching the highest grade on the test.

Two words are important here: surveyed and snatching. They are the words with the strongest connotations.

5.     Once you identify an author’s dictions you must analyze it. This means that you write commentary about the word or phrase and the effect that the word or phrase had on you. Synonyms for commentary are analysism interpretation and explication.

You must discuss the connotation of the word or phrase to do a good job of diction analysis. You comment on the reaction toy had to the word choice and what emotional response it brought out in you. Here is an example of diction analysis and commentary on the word surveyed :

Commentary #1: conveys the idea of someone looking around as if he were a king looking at lowly subjects.

Commentary#2: the boy seems himself on a kind of Mt.Olympus, sitting with other gods and looking down on lesser mortals.

This last point is especially good because the writer made an allusion to another bit of information- a reference to mythology.

6.     Now it is your turn to try some commentary for the other strong connotative word in the sample—snatching.(remember to write phrases of commentary, not full sentences.)



7.     So far, you have convered the general idea behind diction analysis. The next step is to practice spotting diction samples in an actual passage on the enxt two pages.

First, read the directions with your teachers to see what the essay is asking for. Circle or underline the key words in the direction.

Then read the passage with your teacher and circle or underline any examples of diction, language, or figurative language that have a strong connotative effect on you. As an example, several words are already underlined. Follow your teachers directions.


                                                  The Rattler

After sunset… I walked out into the desert.. light was thinning,  the scrub’s dry savory odors were sweet on the cooler air. In this, the first pleasant moment for a walk after long blazing house, I thought I was the only one thing abroad. Abruptly I stopped short.

The other lay rigid, as suddenly arrested, his body undulant; the head was not drawn back to strike, but was merely turned a little to watch what I would do. It was a rattlesnake- and knew it. I mean that where a six-foot blacksnake thick as my wrist , capable of long-range attack and armed with powerful fangs, will flee at sight of a man, the rattler felt no necessity of getting out of anybody’s path. He held his ground in calm watchfulness; he was not even rattling yet, much less was he toiled; he was waiting for me to show my intentions.

My first instinct was to let him go his way and I would go mine, and with this he would have been well content. I have never killed an animal and I was not obliged to kill; the sport in tasking life is a satisfaction I can’t feel. But I reflected that there were children, dogs, horses at the ranch, as well as men and women lightly shod; my duty, plainly, was to kill the snake. I went back to the ranch house, got a hoe and returned.

The rattler had not moved; he lay there like a live wire. But he saw the hoe. Now indeed his tail twitched the little tocsin sounded; he drew back his head and I raised my weapon. Quicker than I could strike, he shot into a dense bush and set up his rattling. He shook and shook his fair but furious signal, quite sportingly warning me that I had made an unprovoked attack, attempted to cake his life, and that if I persisted he would have no choice but to take mine if he could. I listened for a minute to this little song of death. It was not ugly, though it was ominous. It said that life was dear and would be dearly sold. And I reached into the paper-bag bush with my hoe and, hacking about, soon dragged him out of it with his back broken.

He struck passionately once more at the hoe but a moment later his neck was broken and he was soon dead. Technically that is; he was still stitching, and when I picked him up by the tail, come consequent jar, some mechanical reflex made his jaws gape and snap once more-proving that a dead snake may still bite. There was blood in his mouth and poison dripping from his fangs; it was a nasty sight, pitiful now that It was done.

I did not cute off the rattles for a trophy; I let him drop into the close green guardian-ship of the paper-bag bush. Then for a moment I could see him as I might have let him go, sinuous and self-respecting in departure over the twilit sands.

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, concepts you studied earlier. Now that you are working with an actual passage, you must extend your knowledge about  tone and attitude. Whenever you read a complex passage, look for different but complementary tones or attitudes. Passages that you will read in this unit will have two.

To practice, look over ‘The Rattler’. Do a quick write on two question:

1)    What feelings did the author have about the man’s killing the snake?

2)    What effect did this passage have on you as a reader?

Frequently readers say they are sorry the snake had to be killed. They can tell that the man did not want to kill it-he didn’t have his heart in it, even though he knew it was necessary. Sometimes students say the snake seemed human, full of power and dignity. They can sense a feeling of compassion from the man and one of calm waiting from the snake. You may have written something like this is the quick write you just did.

Here is a student sample of an introduction for “the rattler”:

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.

This introduction may seem strange if you use funnel introductions that begin generally and narrow down to your thesis. This introduction states the two tones in the first sentence and then elaborate on them for the rest of the paragraph. Now it’s time to turn to paragraph #2 of this essay. This will analyze only the diction in the “the rattler”. Other elements that the question asks for-detail, point of view, and organization—will come later.

Before you start the diction paragraph, you need a topic sentence for it. This sentence should give a focus for the paragraph and let your reader know with element of style you will be discussing.

Here is a sample topic sentence we will use for practice as we write this paragraph:

The author’s diction heightens the power and force behind the snake as it responds to the man.

12. the next part of the paragraph follows a specific pattern: you will write one

Example sentence with diction examples you’ve circled or underlined, and then two sentences of commentary. The commentary must echo the idea in the topic sentence. This unit of writing-one example and two commentaries- is called a ‘chunk’. You need at least two chunks in each body paragraph.

There is another point to remember in writing example sentences for diction: you should include three different short quotations from several parts of the passage as you write your sentence. Here’s an example:

Like a soldier, the snake lay “arrested”, waiting for the ‘unprovoked attack” after shaking his “little tocsin” at the man.

This quotation sentence integrates three separate short quotes taken from different parts of the passage. This shows your reader that you have understood the entire piece and are choosing quotations thoughtfully.

13. now look over the words and phrases you marked on your own copy of “The Rattler” and write a quotation sentence of your own. Remember to use three different quotes.

Write your sentence here:

14. the next step is to write commentary(analysis or interpretation) for the three quotes you included in your example sentence. This should echo the tones and attitudes from the introduction.

Here is an example based on the sentence from section 12:

Commentary#1: feeling of adversary vs. adversary

Commentary#2: snake knows its  power but holds back; doesn’t want to put up a fight but signals that it will defend itself if necessary.

Commentary does not mean paraphrasing the quotation sentence; it means thinking about the feeling behind the quotations and the reader’s response to these words and phrases. Within the two points, the commentary talks about all three quotations.

15. now look at your quotation sentence from section 13. Think of two points of commentary for your choices and write them below:



16. what you have just done is jotted down ideas for the first chunk of this paragraph on diction analysis. Each body paragraph must have at least two chunks to be fully developed; it may have three chunks if you have time and more to say, remember, too, to give a sense of closure to the last sentence in each body paragraph.

‘The Rattler’ sample introduction and diction paragraphs

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 this decision.

The author’s diction heightens the power and force behind the snake as it responds to the man. “arrested’ at first, the snake becomes a “live wire: as she shakes his ‘little tocsin” at the man. Unmoving at first, the snake plays a waiting game as adversary meets adversary across an imaginary line drawn in the desert. Then a feeling of electricity jolts the reader, heart beating faster from the noise of the warning that, like battle stations aboard a ship, calls all to readiness, yet it must lose; despite its attempts to hide in the ‘paper bag bush’ the snake knows its life has been ”dearly sold”, but it remains “sinuous and self respecting” ion the man’s mind. The hiding place is an illusion, and a costly one. The reader admires the valiant behavior of the snake’s last moments and the dignity which the man offers. All involved recognized the strength of both the man and the almost-human snake, but know that responsibility and duty to others makes the killing necessary.

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