Squaring Your Analysis

The second part of The FAVORS Step-by-Step Squaring Process is “Squaring Your Analysis.” This squaring process is different from the previous process where you have to square the author’s argument within your analysis.

It is much easier to annotate the author’s text and identify the inconsistencies. However, it is much more difficult to examine your own writing, to examine your inconsistencies.

Today, as a teacher, I am better able to identify my own gaps, errors, inconsistencies, misrepresentations, and unvalidated assumptions, but I couldn’t as a student. Therefore, I will teach you how to recognize those places in your analysis where your ideas lack balance.

You have written your paper. You already know how to present both sides of a topic and how to square the author’s square. Now you must examine your paper for both balance and wording.

Before getting into the discussion, let’s bring forward a section from the student’s essay on Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums.”

Figure 82: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Squaring Your Analysis Exercise)

Elisa, inadvertently, let the visitor through the picket gate.  She ran to her flower bed gathering the necessary seeds for the pretend woman down the road.  She gives the visitor a complete description of how to plant the seeds and the daily activity that goes along with it.  After he tells Elisa that it’s not nice to see the stars and listen to the quiet without dinner, ashamed, she is forced to find something for the visitor to do.  The visitor’s manner changes and he becomes professional when Elisa brings him two old aluminum saucepans; “Good as new I can fix them. . . . His mouth grew sure and knowing” (Steinbeck 225).

The keyword in this paragraph is “inadvertently.”

The word “inadvertently” means in a careless manner; without intending to or realizing; not focusing the mind on the matter. I have highlighted the word by adding shading. If you are working from a hardcopy, use an actual highlighter on the text. Consider the following steps as you revise portions of your essays.

Step #1: Highlight. Highlight the keyword in the paragraph.

Step #2: Consult the dictionary. Don’t rely on your guess of what you think the word means. Get the exact definition of the word. The definition above comes directly from the dictionary, not from personal memory or interpretation.

Step #3: Test. Test the word against your summary, explanation, quote, or evaluation.  Test the word line-by-line. You may create a table or a handwritten outline. Continue to ask this question: Does Elisa inadvertently do this or that? Examine Table 20.

Table 20: Assessment of Student Essay Body Paragraph Sentences (“Chrysanthemums”) 

Questions  Student Essay Body Paragraph Sentences
Is Elisa doing this in a careless manner, without intending to? Elisa, inadvertently, let the visitor through the picket gate.
Is Elisa doing this in a careless manner, without intending to? She ran to her flower bed gathering the necessary seeds for the pretend woman down the road.
Is Elisa doing this in a careless manner, without intending to? She gives the visitor a complete description of how to plant the seeds and the daily activity that goes along with it.

Step #4: Locate. Locate the source of your summary or analysis. Go back to the main source, the immediate text itself. Highlight the text on your hardcopy. For this exercise, I will type the text so you can visualize Elisa’s personality.

Figure 83: Sample Passage from Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” (Squaring Your Analysis Exercise)

“While the man came through the picket gate Elisa ran excitedly along the geranium-bordered path to the back of the house.  And she returned carrying a big red flower pot.  The gloves were forgotten now.  She kneeled on the ground by the starting bed and dug up the sandy soil with her fingers and scooped it into the bright new flower pot.  Then she picked up the little pile of shoots she had prepared.  With her strong fingers she pressed them in the sand and tamped around them with her knuckles.  The man stood over her.  ‘I’ll tell you what to do,’ she said.  ‘You remember so you can tell the lady.’”

Step #5: Compare. Compare your essay with the source text.

  • Identify where your summary or analysis is similar to the ideas expressed within the source text.
  • Identify where your summary or analysis is different from the ideas expressed within the source text.
  • Remember that the source text is the primary authority, not your analysis.

Step #6: Square. You have various options. Each paper is different.

  • Revise and change the keyword so that it squares with the rest of the paragraph.  We have to assume that the content within the rest of the paragraph squares with the source text.
  • You may choose to change your summary or explanation or evaluation or other type of analysis so that it squares with the keyword. We have to assume here also that the content within the rest of the paragraph squares with the source text.
  • You may change your keyword so that it squares with the source text.
  • You may change your summary so that it squares with the source text.
  • You may change your keyword and summary so that they both square with the source text.

Step #6: Retest. You have various options. Each paper is different.

Retesting the Keyword: Once you have changed the keyword so that it squares with the rest of the paragraph, test the keyword against the paragraph. Make sure that if a keyword has parts that the rest of the ideas expressed within the paragraph match the meaning of the keyword.

Retesting the Summary/Analysis: Once you have changed the summary, explanation, evaluation, or other type of analysis, test the revised summary, explanation, evaluation, or other type of analysis against the keyword. Make sure that your revised summary, explanation, evaluation, or other type of analysis matches the keyword you have already.

  • Special Note: Remember that in this instance you have not changed the keyword; it is assumed that the keyword is fine, but that the analysis doesn’t support the keyword. Think about the student essay and how the student uses “inadvertently.” The ideas expressed within the rest of the paragraph do not match this word. The student would have to either change the keyword or change the analysis. In other words, look for areas within the narrative where Elisa inadvertently does something.

Retesting the Keyword Relationship with the Source Text: If you use a keyword that doesn’t apply to any of the ideas expressed within the source text, then you must change the keyword. Once you have researched another word, examine the meaning of the new word. Determine how many parts the new word has (i.e., different meanings). Once you are satisfied and have changed the word in your analysis, test the meaning of the new word against the main theme of the text. Locate an example to test that you think would best fit the keyword. The example could be a quote, a summary, or analysis. Make sure that the word fits.  Don’t try to make it fit.

Retesting the Summary: How you perceive the text is important to the reader.  Whatever you believe, the reader will believe. The same idea is true for what you don’t believe. Therefore, it is important to retest your summary. Locate the source of your summary. Reread the source for understanding. Once you have changed your summary, retest it against the source text.

  • Check to make sure that you have the right verb tenses in your summary.
  • Check to make sure that you have the right character or characters.
  • Check to make sure that you can validate the assumptions you make.
  • Check to make sure that you have the right context, time period, etc.
  • Think like a journalist. Don’t create a lie.

Retesting the Keyword and the Summary: In the case where both the keyword and the summary do not accurately convey the ideas expressed within the source text, throw both of them out. Start over. Rewrite. Once you have rewritten this portion of your essay, do the following:

  • Retest the keyword against the source text to make sure that you have the right meaning in mind.
  • Retest the summary against the source text to make sure that you have the right meaning in mind.
  • Make sure your new keyword matches your summary, in all parts.
  • Make sure your summary matches your keyword, in all parts.

Click here for “Squaring Your Introduction and Conclusion.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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