It is one thing to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and misrepresenting the meanings; and it is another to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and actually be right about the meanings. Always be careful not to project onto a text meanings that have nothing to do with the overall scheme of a work.
When you take the time to examine the contexts within the immediate text, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself going beyond its boundaries. When you receive “Right” or “On the Right Path” from your professor, then this means that you have not wandered off the path and direction of your thesis.
There are cases in which you may be on the right path, but lack sufficient supporting evidence to determine your full understanding of the work. For example, in the first sample excerpt, the student maintains the path of her topic sentence. The student’s analysis represents a good understanding of the ideas housed within the author’s work.
On the other hand, although the student is “on the right path” in the second sample excerpt, she fails to provide answers for some of the implied questions. The student makes a connection between the fence Elisa creates for the flowers and the fence Henry creates for Elisa. However, she doesn’t provide enough substantial information to close the gaps in her analysis.
Let’s begin with the first excerpt.
First Sample Excerpt
The thought of the mass man being more clever only serves to keep him from using this capacity. He possesses the most exact and circumstantial ideas on everything in the universe; but he has lost all of the ability to listen and hear. Why should he? He has all of the answers. He knows everything. He understands everything. The only thing he does now is pass judgments and issue proclamations regarding his opinions and ideas to the contrary.
The student’s analysis reflects the sentiments outlined within the author’s work.
A professor uses this comment to highlight areas within your analysis that are in agreement with the ideas and perspectives of the author. The bolded sentence represents the student’s thoughtful and careful analysis about Gasset’s views of the mass-man.
Continue to develop an analysis that best reflects your understanding of the author’s work. Therefore, read the work in its entirety. Don’t let your analysis conflict with the author’s ideas.
In terms of the second sample excerpt, examine the questions. In just about every comment you read throughout this glossary, you will see that the student writer fails to analyze her essays fully, or at least parts of them. When questions remain, gaps exist. In other words, if there is a gap, this means that you could say much more in an area of your essay.
In the case of the comment “Right/On the Right Path,” the questions we use here represent methods to help the student bring clarity to the analysis. The student starts well, but needs a better finish. In providing answers for these questions, the student will learn how to develop the analysis further and offer insight necessary for understanding the work more fully.
It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa. It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. No one could get close or converse with Elisa.
1) What does the “fence” represent, figuratively?
2) We don’t just use fences for protection. We also use them to separate two things or people.
1) If Elisa protects her flowers in the same way as her husband protects her, then what does this signify?
2) Why are both Elisa and Henry motivated to protect?
Just remember that questions are not condemnatory assessments of your lack of attention to “analysis.”
Instead, questions represent critical thinking and provide an opportunity for you to elaborate further on the ideas you express within your analysis. In this instance, both the second sample excerpt and the questions that follow represent the continued development of the analysis.
For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Elaborate.”
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.