Task #2: Number

Number

“Number” falls under the Analysis Acronym (Revision) category.

Number the events in the story.  Within a single paragraph, make sure the events are chronologically presented in your paper.  Here’s an example from the student essay on “Chrysanthemums.”

Figure 75: Essay Excerpt Reference to Conclusion in “Chrysanthemums”

“They both leave and Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road. She tried not to look, but did anyway. She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by. She comments that their outing would be good tonight; Henry instantly noticed that she had changed again.  Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out. She immediately feels rejected and defeated” (Favors 4).

Before getting into a discussion, let’s number the actions of the student essay.

  1. They both leave.
  2. Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road.
  3. She tried not to look, but did anyway.
  4. She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by.
  5. She comments that their outing would be good tonight.
  6. Henry instantly noticed that she had changed again.
  7. Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out.
  8. The visitor throws out the plants.
  9. She immediately feels rejected and defeated.

Let’s bring in the context either to confirm that this order is correct or refute the order altogether.

Figure 76: Sample Passage from Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” (Conclusion)

 

“Elisa went into the house. She heard him drive to the gate and idle down his motor, and then she took a long time to put on her hat. She pulled it here and pressed it there. When Henry turned the motor off she slipped into her coat and went out.“The little roadster bounced along on the dirt road by the river, raising the birds and driving the rabbits into the brush. Two cranes flapped heavily over the willow-line and dropped into the river-bed.“Far ahead on the road Elisa saw a dark speck. She knew.“She tried not to look as they passed it, but her eyes would not obey. She whispered to herself sadly, ‘He might have thrown them off the road. That wouldn’t have been much trouble, not very much. But he kept the pot,’ she explained. ‘He had to keep the pot. That’s why he couldn’t get them off the road.’“The roadster turned a bend and she saw the caravan ahead. She swung full around toward her husband so she could not see the little covered wagon and the mismatched team as the car passed them.

“In a moment it was over. The thing was done. She did not look back.

“She said loudly, to be heard above the motor, ‘It will be good tonight, a good dinner.’

‘Now you’re changed again,’ Henry complained.

Let’s number the actions of the author’s narrative.

  1. They both leave.
  2. Elisa notices a dark speck far head on the road.
  3. Elisa tried not to look as they passed it, but she looked anyway.
  4. She saw the caravan ahead as the car passed them (the little covered wagon and the mismatched team).
  5. She said, “It will be good, tonight, a good dinner.”
  6. Henry complains that she has changed again.

Now let’s compare and contrast the student’s presentation of chronology in the essay and the author’s presentation of events.

Table 13: Outline of Character Actions in Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums

Actions Student’s Essay Author’s Narrative
 First Action 1.  They both leave. 1.  They both leave.
 Second Action 2.  Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road. 2.  Elisa notices a dark speck far ahead on the road.
 Third Action 3.  She tried not to look, but did anyway. 3.  Elisa tried not to look as they passed it, but she looked anyway.
 Fourth Action 4.  She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by. 4.  She saw the caravan ahead as the car passed them (the little covered wagon and the mismatched team).
 Fifth Action 5.  She comments that their outing would be good tonight. 5.  She said, “It will be good, tonight, a good dinner.”
 Sixth Action 6.  Henry instantly noticed that she had changed again. 6.  Henry complains that she has changed again.
 Seventh Action 7.  Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out.
 Eighth Action   8.  She immediately feels dejected and defeated.

Let’s approach the interpretation of this table carefully. Only those actions that clearly illustrate discrepancies or those events out of order in contrast to the author’s narrative are represented within Table 14.

Table 14: Outline of Discrepancies in Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums”

Actions Student’s Essay Author’s Narrative
 Second Action 2.  Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road. 2.  Elisa notices a dark speck far ahead on the road.
 
 Fourth Action 4.  She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by. 4.  She saw the caravan ahead as the car passed them (the little covered wagon and the mismatched team).
 
 Seventh Action 7.  Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out.

The order of events in the student’s essay is a complete mismatch to the order of events in the author’s narrative. Not only is the student’s essay filled with discrepancies but it also includes events that don’t even happen in the narrative.

The student’s assessment of these events also indicates that the student hasn’t thoroughly studied the dialogue and the narrator’s views. In other words, the student has worked primarily from memory. In writing the essay, the student did not consult the primary source to make sure to present the events chronologically. Observe the following from the student’s essay:

Discrepancy: The student essay reads that Elisa failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by.  However, there is nothing in the narrative itself to suggest that Elisa not telling Henry of the visitor represents a failure.

Discrepancy: The student essay reads that Elisa feels dejected and defeated. The quote actually reads, “She whispered to herself sadly, ‘He might have thrown them off the road.  That wouldn’t have been much trouble, not very much. But he kept the pot’ ” (Steinbeck 261).  Elisa feels sad.

Discrepancy: Elisa doesn’t notice the plants on the side of the road. She notices a dark speck.  The narrative doesn’t indicate if the dark speck is the plant.

Discrepancy: Elisa never sees the visitor as both Elisa and Henry pass the visitor on the road. Elisa sees the caravan as both Elisa and Henry pass them, the little covered wagon, and the mismatched team.

As you can see, it is important to develop an analysis that correlates with the events of the literary work. You must present information chronologically. This idea only applies to those areas of your paper where you recite specific events. You must ensure that the reader has a sound understanding of what comes first, second, and third.

To correct problems dealing with mismatching, follow The FAVORS Step-by-Step Process for Correcting Mismatched Chronology, which is a guide you can use during the revision process.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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