Archive for August 25th, 2011

Convoluted Sense

Remember the first Rubik’s cube. Remember how hard it was to put all of the colors together on each side. Now think about that puzzle you always brought out for company or family visits. A puzzle that had 100 pieces or more was always the hardest to put together, especially if one section of the puzzle represented a sky.

Now compare your analysis that is filled with convoluted language and tangled phrasing to a Rubik’s cube and a puzzle. When you write in such a way that even you can’t understand your writing, your reader loses all grip on the reality you are presenting within your paper and consequently loses interest.

Convoluted phrasing is the equivalent to marrying political rhetoric and philosophy and placing these two different ideas under one umbrella. Convoluted phrasing is similar to an unsolvable math problem, which is oxymoronic. The math problem is hard to understand and is so complicated that it is more encouraging to quit than to continue. In the same vein, a paper filled with convoluted sense is hard to untangle, because if you can’t remember how you first found the information, then you can’t untangle the data.  It is probable that you may have to start over.

The best method for preventing this from happening to you is to keep it simple. Once you can outline the simple, you can move to the next level of writing. Just know this: Sophisticated writing and well-fashioned rhetoric is not the same thing as convoluted and tangled phrasing. They are completely different.

People who write with sophistication know the value of words and understand the function of each element within a grammatical sentence. The writer who thinks and writes in language that is hard to comprehend just doesn’t understand the purpose of a sentence and grammar as a whole.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Well Written and Researched

Although this comment represents an affirmative reply, to understand it, follow the directions below. Do each one, even if you just create one sentence.

Exercise

  • Write out the following sentence below on the lines.  John is ugly and nasty.

__________________________________________________________________

  • Write down your telephone number.

__________________________________________________________________

  •  Write in to your apartment complex in order to complain about an ongoing problem that the company hasn’t fixed yet. Put today’s date at the top of the letter. For now, practice here. You only need one sentence or a few words.

Today’s Date:  _______________________________

Complaint

__________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  • Write off your vacuum cleaner. Go buy another one.

Explanation

1) When you wrote the first sentence John is ugly and nasty, did you deviate in any way? If you forgot the period at the end of the sentence, then you did not write exactly word for word what you saw on the page.

2) Did you write your telephone number? If you didn’t, you did not follow the directions and put action to the words.

3) Did you write out your complaint to your apartment complex? If you did not, then you just procrastinated.

4) Did you go out and buy a vacuum cleaner? If you did not, then good for you. If you did, then good for you. The result of either action would be fine for this discussion.

The purpose of this exercise was to show you your attitude. Think about the following:

  • In some cases, you found one activity probably stupid by saying aloud something such as the following: I’m not giving her my phone number. I don’t want anyone to know my number.
  • You found another activity probably as urgent: She was thinking just what I was thinking.  Yes, I do need to get that toilet fixed.
  • You found another activity as probably confusing: I don’t even know who John is.
  • Last, you found another activity as probably crazy of me to ask: I don’t have any money to buy a vacuum cleaner. I have a good vacuum cleaner and I don’t need another one.

You will undoubtedly experience many of these feelings when you approach the task of writing about a subject you have never encountered. You will feel that the subject is confusing, crazy, urgent, and probably stupid all at once. These are all of your attitudes; and you have a right to them. However, what makes a paper receive the comment “Well Written & Researched” from a professor is dependent upon the attitude of the writer developing the paper and what the finished product reveals about the writer’s attitude.

A professor knows 1) when you like the subject, 2) when you are confused by it, 3) when your attitude seeps through the page as your professor reads, 4) when you have only studied the subject for one or two days, 5) when you think that the subject is worth studying, 6) when you think that the subject is stupid and that nothing can be written about it, and 7) when you do the assignment out of mere obligation to a requirement versus do the assignment because the subject has sparked some interest.

A professor experiences what you experience as he or she reads your paper. The professor feels a multitude of emotions too. A professor doesn’t like to read a paper that demonstrates a student’s distaste of the subject or the task of writing. It doesn’t matter if you like the subject, if you hate it, if you think that it is all-around great! The only thing that matters is your genuine consideration of the subject and what you produce as a result.

With this in mind, examine the subject, in its varieties, multiplicities, changes, deviations, and effectiveness. Evaluate the subject in the same way that you would evaluate a person. Examine the subject to test its fitness, to understand its complexity, to mull over its connection to other subjects, to figure out its nature, and to pick apart at its belief systems. There is more to the task of writing than the mere feeling “I have to write this paper.”

Likewise, there is more to the task of revising than just checking for grammar. Analyze your own statements. As you revise your papers, ask yourself questions: Why do you use “have to” as if the task of writing and/or revising is burdensome? If you can answer this question, then ask more: Why am I in school? What is my purpose? Why do I need this class? All of these questions and more will help you to develop a subject. Place a title on it and you have the beginnings of a paper.

When your professor writes “Well Written & Researched,” it is more of a testament to your attitude about the subject matter versus a testament to your ability to write, research, and synthesize material. These are all of the things you are supposed to do. You can’t get extra credit for doing what you are supposed to do. Your attitude toward the task of writing and your professor’s attitude toward your paper, after reading it, will match if you have approached the task with the feeling of wanting to know more and more about your subject.

If you like your subject, it will show up in the final product. If you don’t like your subject, this will also show up in the final product. The comment “Well Written & Researched” is a testament to your ability not only to allow sufficient time to researching and writing, but also more importantly your ability to take a subject, even if you don’t like it, and present it well, with much passion, fervor, and potential.

The comment also refers to the presence of unbalanced views within the essay. For example, as you develop a revision plan, search for those areas of the essay that reflect personal bias. In addition, search for those areas where you use the bias of an author to form the greater part of your analysis. You must balance views. If you want to keep the author’s quote that reflects personal bias on the topic, then balance this view with another author’s quote.

If you have a personal bias, and you include an author with a personal bias, then you will develop a product that is one-sided. Your paper will appear actually unfinished, because you haven’t explored the topic fully. In this case, your paper will not reflect a fully written, well-researched piece of work. Keep all of these ideas in mind as you revise your papers and ensure that they fully meet the requirements of your professor and the essay prompt.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 87: Sample Instructions for “JIFFY” Corn Muffin Mix

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Well Done.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Affirmative Replies,” “W,” and “Conclusion” categories.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions. The sample is subject to U.S. copyright law and is only displayed here for educational purposes.

Figure 87: Sample Instructions for “JIFFY” Corn Muffin Mix

Yield 6-8 muffins depending on size

Ingredients

1 pkg. JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix (box)

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease muffin pans or use paper baking cups.

BLEND ingredients.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  (For maximum crown on muffins let batter rest for 3 or 4 minutes, restir before filling cups.)

FILL muffin cups ½ full.

BAKE 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source:  Chelsea Milling Company, www.jiffymix.com

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Well Done

This comment represents an affirmative reply. Most students who receive this comment typically write papers that are clearly distinguishable (i.e. in quality, effort, critical thinking) from the other students’ papers in the class, but this is a simplistic explanation.

To best illustrate what your professor means by this comment, I have provided an example on the subject of baking. Study the example and the explanation that follows. The sample is subject to U.S. copyright law and is only displayed here for educational purposes.

Figure 87: Sample Instructions for “JIFFY” Corn Muffin Mix

Yield 6-8 muffins depending on size

Ingredients

1 pkg. JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix (box)

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease muffin pans or use paper baking cups.

BLEND ingredients.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  (For maximum crown on muffins let batter rest for 3 or 4 minutes, restir before filling cups.)

FILL muffin cups ½ full.

BAKE 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source:  Chelsea Milling Company, www.jiffymix.com

To really understand this example, buy a JIFFY Corn Muffin box and follow the instructions on the box, which are the same above. According to JIFFY, all of the ingredients above are necessary for the mix to become corn muffins. If the egg was not necessary, for example, then other words such as “just add water” would be on the box. One ingredient not added during the mixing process will result in a product that is not completely done.

The batter must be baked at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. If the batter is cooked for only 12 minutes at 400 degrees, then the batter will not be completely done when you take it out of the oven. In other words, you will not have corn muffins. Remember what your mother used to say: Stick a fork in it and see if it is done. You know when a batter is done when you stick a fork into it and there isn’t wet batter on the fork. When it’s done, the mix will be dry. If any of these steps are not followed as instructed, then you will NOT have corn muffins for dinner.

Why offer “cooking corn muffins” as an example for this comment? This is the best illustration because it is important to follow instructions. This is the simplest way we can help you understand the value of instructions. Everything has a set of instructions. If you want to learn a certain computer program, you read the instructions. If you want to program your VCR, you read the instructions. If you want to play video games, you read the instructions on how to hook up the joystick and other controllers. If you want to bake a cake, ride a bike, do your taxes, drive a car, watch a movie, call someone on the phone, do anything on this earth for that matter, YOU READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! You cannot negotiate life without reading the instructions.

Likewise, you cannot write your papers without understanding first your professor’s instructions. If your professor instructs you to incorporate (BLEND) ten reference sources within your paper and you incorporate only eight, then your paper is not done. If your professor instructs you to double-space the paper, and you single-space it, then your paper is not done. If your professor instructs you that your paper must be at least 15 pages (FILL) and you have only 14 pages, then your paper is not done. Last, if you work (BAKE) on a paper that is supposed to be 15 pages for only a day, then your paper is not done. If you do anything other than what your professor instructs you to do, then your paper is not done.

In other words, all of the ingredients you do have cannot mix together to become the paper that the professor has instructed you to make. When you do exactly what the professor instructs you to do, how he or she wants you to do it, for the approximate amount of time he or she thinks it should take, then your paper is done. You have followed the instructions.

Now here comes the “but”! Just because the paper is done, doesn’t mean that it is complete. You can follow the instructions of your professor and mix all of the ingredients and still forget to add analysis. Of course, the instructions on the JIFFY box don’t use the word “analyze” in reference to watching the batter in the oven like a hawk. However, it does use the words “BAKE 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.” The muffins are complete at both the 15-20 minutes increment and at the stage of “golden brown.” In other words, if you choose to take the muffins out at 15 minutes or 20 minutes, you can do this without being penalized from the stove. You can also take the muffins out at “golden brown.” The difference between the two is that at “golden brown,” the muffins are well done!

You can follow the instructions of your professor and write a paper according to the way the professor wants it. You can mix all of the ingredients of thesis, topic sentences, examples, quotes, body paragraphs, conclusion, and anything else that your professor says to mix together and bake, and your paper will be done. However, if you add in analysis to make the paper “golden brown,” then your paper will be well done!

We know that you want to ask this next question, so we will ask it for you: Can we add to the instructions? No. Your professor expects you to do what he or she tells you to do. Don’t take away from the instructions. Don’t add to them. However, at the college level, it is a given that most of your papers will be in the form of analysis in the same way that it is a given that in order for the mix to become muffins they must be placed in the stove to cook. This is a given. If you don’t understand this, then you will not be successful at cooking muffins, let alone homemade biscuits.

Similarly, if you don’t understand that analysis is an important ingredient to your paper, then you will not be successful at finishing a paper, let alone revising it. Make sure that your papers are done. In other words, use the professor’s instructions as a pre-writing to-do list and as a post-writing checklist. Hold the professor’s instructions in one hand and your paper in another and go down each line of both lists to make sure that you have followed instructions, first, and to make sure that your paper is fully cooked (done), second.

Your mother tells you to take out the trash, but instead you wash the dishes. You say to your mother, “I did something extra. I did the dishes.” However, you did not do the first thing your mother told you to do. Just because you do something extra doesn’t mean you have done exactly what mom has told you to do. Follow the first instruction. Don’t substitute. Likewise, just because you add in an extra paragraph with nice and appropriate examples doesn’t mean you have done the job your professor has instructed you to do through the essay prompt. You were supposed to use 10 sources (bibliography), two tales from the Canterbury Tales, two characters from each tale, and two examples of things that “each character” does. Adding one character and an analysis of three tales is not following the first instructions of your professor.

Make sure the paper is done the way the professor wants it. With this in mind, you will garner a “well done” from your professor when you analyze the two tales, when you analyze the 10 sources you incorporate into the analysis, when you analyze each character from each of the two tales, and when you analyze the two example things that each character does. Don’t just analyze two paragraphs and leave the rest of the paper to plot summary.

Therefore, the best way to achieve a “Well Done” from your professor, in addition to the instructions above, is to develop a relationship with the characters you want to include in your paper. What do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? What makes you mad? What makes you happy? Why do you think that these characters are in the right roles within the story? Why do you think they would be better in another role within the story?

Now think about how the author presents them. What do you think is the author’s reason behind placing one character in one position and another character in another position? Do you think the author has been wise in his or her assessment of each character or do you think the author has been wise in presenting how another character thinks about the character you are discussing within your analysis?

Pick at the characters. Pick at the author. Think about the context, the time period, the language, the tone, and the larger implications. Revise your papers to make the professor remember your analysis as different from every other student. For extended explanations, see also the comments “Excellent Synthesis,” “Incomplete,” and “Nice/Nicely Done.”

For extended explanations, see also the comments “Excellent Synthesis,” “Incomplete,” and “Nice/Nicely Done!

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Table 25: Outline of Roles for the Thesis (The FAVORS Definition of Thesis Exercise)

Table 25 falls under the comment “Analysis” and “The FAVORS Step-by-Step Squaring Process.”

You may access the table by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #7: Integrate” into the search box.

You may click the link to access the full discussion.

Table 25: Outline of Roles for the Thesis (The FAVORS Definition of Thesis Exercise) 

Officer Role 
Captain of the Thesis Gives instructions to the lieutenant commander of body paragraphs
Lieutenant Commander of Body Paragraphs Gives instructions to the first lieutenant of topic sentences to develop topic sentences that will support the thesis
First Lieutenant of Topic Sentences Gives instructions to the second lieutenant of examples, descriptions, definitions, explanations, and evaluations to create supporting evidence for each topic sentence to support the thesis
Second Lieutenant of examples, descriptions, definitions, explanations, and evaluations Gives instructions to the other noncommissioned officers of supporting evidence to support the evidence
Other Noncommissioned Officers of supporting evidence Gives instructions to the petty officer of transition statements to end each body paragraph, prepare for the next body paragraph, and prepare to desist all activities
Petty Officer Gives instructions to the enlisted men of revision support to confirm and check the accuracy of each instruction that supports the thesis (order)
Enlisted Men of Revision Support Confirm and check for accuracy of each instruction that integrates and supports the thesis (order)

Murphy’s illustration of the command structure represents a way in which the initial order (the vision) trickles down the military command chain as individual mission objectives for different parts (people) of the whole group. Each person has an instruction (mission) from the initial vision objective and is responsible for his or her job, which is to achieve the mission successfully.

All throughout Murphy’s illustration, the order is integrated from one person and divided into different parts. Although the command order may be different for different groups who are a part of the same platoon, the order doesn’t represent a deviation from the initial vision objective.  The order is integrated at every level.

The same is true for the example table I have provided above. The thesis (order) starts with the student and is integrated within the body paragraphs, topic sentences, examples, explanations, evaluations, and other supporting evidence. In essence, no paragraph should deviate from the path the thesis has set. Whichever method the student chooses for the thesis, every subsequent paragraph must consistently adhere to the mission and objective of the thesis.

See The FAVORS Definition of Thesis (Task #7: Integrate) for more information.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 86: Sample Excerpt from James D. Murphy’s Business Text (Whole Form)

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #7: Integrate” into the search box. The sample is subject to U.S. copyright law and is only displayed here for educational purposes.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Figure 86: Sample Excerpt from James D. Murphy’s Business Text (Whole Form)

As a fighter pilot, I care very much about the overall objectives laid out by the general officers of the United States Air Force. . . . But I don’t operate in a generalized world.  My world is very specific.  I’m an F-15 air superiority fighter pilot.  I don’t drop bombs.  I don’t have a thirty-millimeter tank-killing gun like the A-10. . . . I do one thing well, and that’s provide air cover for ingressing bombers by taking out airborne threats.  I do not operate under the same rules as an F-117 Stealth pilot, or an F-16 pilot.  My mission objective is very specific, tied totally to my individual capability and my training.As such, it’s imperative that the mission I’m assigned is specific and precise, not vague or general.  Imagine if I went up in the air with only the following orders:  ‘Murphy, your objective is to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.  Good luck—let’s go kick some ass.’  It’s okay for Norman Schwarzkopf to say that; in fact, that’s what he’s supposed to say.

His job is to establish an overall objective for the troops, and to do it in such a way that all participants understand it and get behind it.  He probably doesn’t even know how I do what I do.  But he doesn’t need to know.  He simply needs to lay out a straightforward overall objective that can be divided into manageable parts that, when activated, will lead inexorably to the achievement of his objective.

How does this happen?  The military command structure underneath Schwarzkopf has to take his general vision and push it down through the ranks and into the cockpits, subs, and trenches—where it is presented not as a vision, but as a mission.  Directly underneath Schwarzkopf, the brigadier generals break the vision down into its individual parts—the Army does this, the Air Force does that, and so on.  Next, the commanding generals evaluate their individual assets and create an overall operations plan.  This called the frag, short for fragmentary order, the overall battle plan broken down into the relevant parts.  The bombers, fighters, and ground forces are all commanded to converge on a certain target at a certain time and in a certain sequence.

One level down, other officers convert the frag into even smaller parts.  The 1st Fighter Wing and its F-15s do this; the F-117 guys from Holliman do that.  The KC-10s will be waiting to give gas here, the A-10s will attack tanks there.

Yet another level down, wing commanders divide the frag again.  For example, they might decide that twelve F-15s will be responsible for providing air cover over a specific piece of ground, so that thirty-six bombers can come in under them and pound enemy targets that our ground troops will then secure.

With the group objective stated for the F-15s, the individual flight leaders, who might be young captains or lieutenants, will look at the airspace they need to sanitize and organize the F-15s with altitude blocks and lanes of responsibility so that we can absolutely, positively do our job—which is to make certain no one hops on the tails of the bombers.

At this point Schwarzkopf’s vision has become a mission for me, the individual pilot.  I don’t set my sights on something as personally unattainable as kicking Iraqis out of Kuwait, but I am ready to give my life to protect an important lane of airspace with my F-15.  I’m ready to give my life in the execution of a clear, measurable, attainable mission that supports the overall vision of my commander. . . .

How often do companies ask their employees to execute their jobs under the banner of a ‘mission statement’ or a generalized corporate goal?  A mission statement is fine, but like an overall objective, it isn’t specific enough to lead anybody anywhere.  Mission statements aren’t marching orders.  They sound good, they make sense, but they have zero effect until the organization breaks them down into finer and finer pieces, from rank to rank, presented clearly to each and every employee as a specific task with a measurable outcome that is his and his alone to perform. . . .

Like the Air Force, your company should use its command structure to filter a general vision down to the level of the individual employee.  And it shouldn’t be a great leap from the general vision to the individual missions, either.  There should be a logical, sequential breakdown of the vision, so that each group can responsibly accomplish its human-scale goals.

Source:  Business is Combat by James D. Murphy, pages 42-25

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Table 24: Sentence/Quote/Follow-Up Explanation Comparisons (Sampling Body Paragraph Exercise)

Table 24 falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the table by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #6: Sample” in the search box.

You may click the link to access the full discussion.

Table 24: Sentence/Quote/Follow-Up Explanation Comparisons (Sampling Body Paragraph Exercise)

 Prep Statement
Elisa questions the visitor as to whether or not he sleeps in the wagon; she tells him that it must be nice and wishes that women could do such things.  He replies that it isn’t the kind of place for a woman.
 Quote Elisa paid him for his time and replied, 1 “You might be surprised to have a rival . . . 2 I can sharpen scissors . . . 3 I can beat the dents . . . 4 I can show you what a woman might do” (Steinbeck 225).
 Follow-up explanation
Instead of say what a woman can do, she said 1 might.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 85: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Sampling Body Paragraph Exercise)

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #6: Sample” in the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Figure 85: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Sampling Body Paragraph Exercise)

Steinbeck presents Elisa as inquisitive and strong-minded when it comes to thoughts, but fails on her actions.  Elisa questions the visitor as to whether or not he sleeps in the wagon; she tells him that it must be nice and wishes that women could do such things.  He replies that it isn’t the kind of place for a woman.  On the defensive, she questions his knowledge on his stated opinion.  He responds in protest that he doesn’t know and hands over the saucepans hurriedly.  He didn’t want to argue with her.  Elisa paid him for his time and replied, “You might be surprised to have a rival . . . I can sharpen scissors . . . I can beat the dents . . . I can show you what a woman might do” (Steinbeck 225).  Instead of say what a woman can do, she said might.  The whole objective of the visitor was to get what he wanted and be on his way.  He never concerned himself with the chrysanthemums.  It was apparent, because when he gathered up his things to leave, he had forgotten about the chrysanthemums; and Elisa failed to notice.  She was so preoccupied with the compliments made to her about her flowers she played into his deception.  As he left, she mumbled aloud, “That’s a bright direction.  There’s a glowing there” (Steinbeck 226).

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Table 23: Thesis-Body Paragraph Comparisons (Yanking Theses Exercise)

Table 23 falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the table by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #5: Yank” in the search box.

You may click the link to access the full discussion.

Table 23: Thesis-Body Paragraph Comparisons (Yanking Theses Exercise)

 Thesis 1 She is presented as weak in that her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums; Steinbeck focuses on how they provide insight into Elisa and how she relates to them, religiously. 2 He implies that even though she fits a weak character, there are places in the narrative at the beginning that suggest some strong points and her longing towards the end. 3 There are a number of inferences that Steinbeck clearly illustrates how she is presented as weak and should therefore be discussed.
 1st Body Paragraph The narrative starts out with Elisa working in her flower garden. She looks down across the yard and sees Henry, her husband, talking to two businessmen; they are making a proposition to Henry for his thirty heads of three-year old steers. Elisa takes several glances at the men as they smoke cigarettes and talk; her “face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water . . . her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat pulled down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets . . .” (Steinbeck 220). Steinbeck clearly shows Elisa’s habitual activity; it is implied that she even wears the exact same thing everyday.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 84: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Yanking Supporting Evidence Exercise)

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #5: Yank” in the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Figure 84: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Yanking Supporting Evidence Exercise) 

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where.  There is an anxiousness in Elisa.  Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221).  Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed.  She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice.  “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).  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.  At the sound of his voice is when she can start.  Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity.  Henry never included her in any of his business.  She was best seen and not heard.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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