Archive for category N

No Caps

Oftentimes your teacher will write “no caps” in the margins to instruct you that the words you have capitalized do not fall under the rules of grammar. Below is a sample excerpt where the student capitalizes a certain group of nouns. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

War also deals with strategy and tactics; Ideologists, Theorists, and Historians embrace the concept of peace through a decisive war.

Figure 40: Essay Excerpt from The Nature and Purpose of War

The words in bold do not represent proper nouns. Only begin the names of specific people, places, and things with a capital letter. Refer to your grammar handbook for more information on capitalization techniques and rules.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not Clear

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

When something is not clear, it represents confusion to the reader. The thing may be an idea, point, discussion, or any related essay part. In this sense, the thing lacks definition, boundaries, and a clearly definable path.

Think about a window that you haven’t cleaned for a long time. There is dirt, dust, and dried rain on the window. If you look out of the window, from any direction, you would say, “Oh, it’s cloudy today. It looks like it’s going to rain.”  However, when you walk outside, it is actually sunny. There is no essence of rain, because it actually rained two weeks ago. What you see on the window from inside the home are remains of what happened some time ago. You just haven’t cleaned the window in a while. You are confused about the reality of the day because of the haziness and dirt on the window.

When your professor examines (looks through the window) a point you are making in your paper, and that point doesn’t provide clear, verifiable information, all the professor sees is haziness.  You haven’t cleaned the point, or removed irrelevant information. The point lacks the definition necessary to be useful to the rest of the sentences. The point is confusing. For example, the professor thinks that a point you make is in reference to one thing, but, in fact, the point actually represents something else entirely different.

The best solution to making a point clearer is to remove all of the haziness. Clean it up by removing irrelevant information. In addition, leave no room for ambiguity, for your professor or for any reader to interpret two meanings evoked from your point.  Never let your reader think that there is more to a point than what you have already presented as is on the page. If there’s actually more to the point, then make it your objective to include the necessary, relevant information.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Nice/Nicely Done

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

“Nice” and “Nicely Done” are affirmative replies.

For example, a professor may use “Nice” to refer to a specific paragraph or idea you express within your paper or to point out that your analysis is a reflection of connected ideas. The same professor may write “Nicely done” after reading the entire paper; typically, you will see the affirmation at the end on the last page or sometimes on the first page near the top left corner. The choice of location is subject to the professor’s discretion. These are general definitions of these comments. On another level, professors may use the comments for one of two reasons: 1) to highlight those areas of your analysis that are pleasing to the eye or 2) to call attention to the skill you have in terms of presenting information on the page.

In terms of the first reason, a paper filled with gaps, illogical structure, mismatched chronology, unsupported thesis, and irrelevant quotes is not a paper that is pleasing to the eye. When we use the word “eye,” we are referring to sight in terms of the physical sense and vision in terms of the word discernment. The thesis represents your vision for the paper, how you view the topic. The examples and evidence you use must support this vision. The structure you adopt must serve to present the vision clearly.

Therefore, when you construct a paper in the beginning with a vision, but fail to follow through with the vision to the very end, then your professor will accuse you of not understanding the direction in which you want to take your paper. In other words, you don’t understand how to present, support, and evaluate the topic using the thesis as a guide. On the other hand, when you properly construct a paper that includes a definable thesis (vision), supported claims, logical analysis, and balanced view, you have created a product that is pleasing to the eye. Under these conditions, the comment “Nice” means “delightful read.”

In terms of the second reason, developing an analysis requires great skill. The ability to position the right quote in order to support a topic sentence is characteristic of a student who understands both the purpose of incorporating quotes and the purpose of the author. Understanding the purpose of the author means understanding his thesis, or what he believes. You can’t incorporate a quote into your analysis unless you understand the views of the author.

For example, if you want to use a literary critic within the analysis of your essay, you must review his purpose for evaluating the literary work. Once you locate the critic’s thesis, then you must also search the text to find topic sentences he uses to support his claims. Remember that the author of a literary work is not in the business of appealing you, but the literary critic’s objective is to persuade you that his claim or thesis may be applicable to the author’s work. Once you locate the topic sentences, you must also review the critic’s examples, which are the tools he uses to support his claims even further.

Your task after this is to develop a one-page outline of the critic’s views. Once you finish with the critic, go back to the literary work, which is actually the basis of your paper. Review the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion of the work. What is the main theme of the work? In other words, the work is about what? Who is the main character? What are the main relationships of the story? What are the main events?

From this information, the next task is to develop a brief outline and include reference numbers to the text. When you can answer these questions, you have developed a good understanding of the work. Now you must bring together your 1) prep statements, 2) the quote you want to use from the literary work, 3) follow-up statements where you evaluate the quote, 4) the literary critic’s view about the quote and/or particular event in the story you highlight, and a 5) follow-up analysis of all these elements. The sixth element is 6) skill.

Using skill to combine all of these elements requires attention to detail, patience, and an ability to discern the best method for presenting information accurately, cohesively, and logically. Details are important. Giving attention to them is equally important. A detail consists of specific information about a particular thing, person, place, or idea. A detail is a noun. Within each quote you use there is present detail, a piece of information specific to the context of the quote.

For example, through the literary work, the author provides ample details about characters, relationships, and contexts. In addition, the literary critic uses the medium of criticism to highlight details about the author’s work; the critic focuses on a key aspect that he feels is a problem with the literary work and analyzes it using one or more schools of literary thought such as “Cultural Studies,” “Marxism,” “Postmodernism,” and/or “Reader-response Criticism.” Moreover, as students you use your prep statements and analysis to offer details concerning the author’s work.

Therefore, aligning the details is an ability you need, because including specific information about the literary work brings focus to your essay. Aligning the details requires patience, because you must ensure that the detail in your prep statement corresponds appropriately to the author’s detail. Once you have finished incorporating the quote, you must then evaluate it and provide the same detail again. In other words, you can’t begin focusing on one detail with your prep statement, incorporating a quote to support your claim, and then evaluating it with another detail. During the process of incorporating and evaluating the quote, you must stay on the path of your prep statement in the same way that every sentence within your body paragraph must stay on the path of the main topic sentence.

You will have to exercise additional patience when incorporating a literary critic’s view about the author’s work. What this means is, if you want to use any quote from that critic’s work as supporting evidence within your essay, then you will have to locate the detail suitable for proving your case. Aligning the details becomes even more important here, because now you have the details from your prep statement, from the author’s work, and also the literary critic’s view to bring together for the purpose of presenting the information on the page accurately, cohesively, and logically.

Discerning how to present information under these conditions is important, because each element of your paper must fit into a whole. This is what arranging elements cohesively means. When you align the details, you fulfill the accuracy requirement, by default. However, when you align the details, you still need to ensure that what you present on the page is cohesive and logical. This is where the revision process comes in, because before you can move on to another section of your paper, you may have to rearrange information. You want each element of a body paragraph to serve a purpose whether the purpose is to inform, persuade, and/or support.

For example, if you are using a quote within a body paragraph, it is likely that you are using the quote as supporting evidence from the literary work. However, when you use a prep statement before the quote, it is likely that you are using that statement to persuade the reader. That’s why before you can rearrange information, you must understand the purpose of each sentence you use. This will help you to rearrange the information so that it is cohesive. When you arrange elements cohesively, you arrange them under one central idea, theme, example, detail, viewpoint, and/or literary thought. In our example, when we align the details of our sentences within the body paragraph, we are in fact arranging elements cohesively. Each element falls under a particular, central detail. This simplifies the revision process, because when you revise this group of sentences, you will do so with the central detail in mind.

Once you have arranged the elements cohesively, then you must perform one last step, which requires you to revise for logic. Revising for logic includes first examining the sentences for keywords. If you use keywords such as “inference,” “allude,” “denote,” or “connote,” then you must ensure that the sentences you include within your paper actually reflect the definitions of these words.

For example, according to a standard dictionary, the term “inference” means the process of deriving logical consequences from a set of assumed premises. In simple terms, there is a higher certainty that the conclusions we draw actually derive from the premises we assume in the beginning. With this in mind, the term is interchangeable with “deductive argument,” which basically means that we have all that we need to reach a conclusion from what is present in the premises.

Therefore, when using “infer,” “we can infer,” “it is inferred,” “we can deduce,” or “the argument infers,” make certain that the conclusions you draw derive from the initial statements (premises) you make just before the conclusion.

The best method for revising sentences that don’t appear logical on the page is to start with the conclusion and then work your way backward. After this check to be certain that what you say in the conclusion is present in the few statements that precede it. Under all of these conditions, “Nice” refers to how skillfully (delightfully) you present the information on the page. However, “Nicely Done” refers to how logically you present the information in terms of both cohesiveness and accuracy.

For an extended explanation of deductive reasoning, see also the comment “Logic and Articulation.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not Sure What You Mean Here

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

When you receive the comment “Not sure what you mean here,” in reference to a point you make within your paper, this means that you haven’t considered your audience. “Not sure what you mean” has the same effect as “I am not sure what you mean. I am not sure what you want me to understand.”

As a student, the primary audience of your paper is always your professor.  The primary audience also includes your classroom peers. Any other person reading your paper represents your secondary audience.

When writing and developing the content for your essays, you must keep the audience in mind at all times. Although an author doesn’t write with the reader in mind, the student, on the other hand, must write specifically for the audience. As students, you must provide an explanation of your points, especially when you include examples to prove your points.

In some cases, you can get away with not explaining every point; in a five-page paper, you do not need to explain every point. However, if your professor requires peer group activity where you switch papers, you will get the question from your fellow classmate, “What do you mean here?”

Students ask this type of question when they see that you haven’t explained a point or provided an explanation for an example. “What do you mean here?”, “Not sure what you mean,” and “I am not sure what you mean” all signify that the person doesn’t understand what you are trying to convey within your essay.

Explaining the “what” is important. You may say (write) many things in your paper, but the many things don’t have any sort of connection between them. In other words, the one thing you say can mean anything. The last thing you say can mean something entirely different; but as we continue to read your paper we don’t know that there is actually a difference between the things you are discussing.

In the following sample excerpt, the student writer doesn’t define how she will use a particular term in her paper and she also doesn’t provide the meaning of the term within the context of her paper. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

To go against someone’s will is to take away that person’s choice and option.  There is a natural, inherent instinct to will.  Free choice involves free will to do whatever it is one wants to do without permission to do so. It really doesn’t matter what the other person thinks.  But what does matter is when one’s will is manipulated and picked out of a lineup, so to speak, as a target. Then that person has to deal with defending his or her will to the manipulator.  Adonis is determined to scorn love, but Venus has something else in mind.  And in the end, Venus doesn’t keep (physically) what she wills for herself.  But between the both of them, love still demands its own will.

Figure 34: Essay Excerpt on Venus and the Will of Love, “Venus and Adonis,” William Shakespeare

Problems

Student applies “personification” to a term and doesn’t define how she will use the term.

Critique

1) Is “free choice” the same thing as “free will”?

2) How is the will manipulated? Can a will be manipulated? Or can a person be manipulated?

3) Is Adonis’ determination to scorn love his free choice or his free will?

4) What does Venus have in mind? What does she do?

5) Love is not a person. It can’t demand.

Revision Considerations

The best way to correct areas of your paper that require more meaning is to continue to define terms, relationships, characters, and contexts. Define how a term links relationships between characters. If you are using the term to connect characters, then provide context for the term.

For example, if you are using “free will” as a definition for “free choice,” then add this as a statement within your analysis. After this, describe how you will use the term to connect characters or contexts. Consider the following scenario:

Literary Work A offers insight about Female Character A, who is jealous of Female Character B. Both characters exercise “free will” for the purpose of obtaining what they desire. Free will is defined as the right of an individual to choice. When the female characters “choose” to pursue Male Character A, they demonstrate free will. Choosing to pursue this male character is not the only time they exercise free will. In several areas of the work, specifically within references to major story events, they choose to exercise free will, which through their actions brings many secondary characters together. One example includes Event A where both female characters sponsor a party for the social elite. The female characters exercise free will as they demonstrate their jealousy in front of society by arguing over Male Character A. In essence, the exercise of free will between characters within the literary text represents a method major characters use as a premeditated choice for pursuing and obtaining what they desire.

This scenario is simple, but I think you get the point. At the beginning of a body paragraph, define how you will use a particular term and define how you will use that term to describe the relationship between characters.

Adopting the practice of defining what you mean by a particular term and/or concept will ensure that you define even the simplest of terms and provide the meaning necessary for ushering your reader throughout the analysis of your paper.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not Persuasive

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

Authors begin the task of writing with one of two motivations: either their purpose is 1) to inform or 2) to persuade. For example, think about “inform” in the same way that you might think about the roles of a newspaper or the television news. The writers of the urban section inform you about yesterday’s events–what happened last night, who died, and who killed who. On the other hand, the person on the television screen informs you of what happened “yesterday”; but also informs you about events that will take place “today.”

The main purpose of both the newspaper writer and news reporter is not to persuade you. Each individual may persuade you in some cases by making statements along the lines of “It is going to rain, so you might want to bring an umbrella.” However, both hardly say something to the effect of “It is going to rain. Bring an umbrella.” In other words, both the reporter and the newscaster don’t use directives to command your obedience.

When a writer constructs an argument, he or she establishes a goal to persuade the reader about a particular subject matter. This writer approaches the task with the belief that what he or she presents to you, as the reader, is true as he or she sees it; and that you must follow-up the read with some action. For example, a person who tells you about a party on 16th street is just informing you about the party and its location. However, a person who tells you about the location and says, “You must go. They will have food and drinks. And you can see John,” this person is persuading you. This person is saying that if you don’t go, you will miss out on something great. The effectiveness of this person’s persuasion is based upon your willingness to yield and the fact that you do yield.

The same line of thought applies to how you present the information of different authors within your paper, especially information about their claims, beliefs, and the recurring themes within the literary works. If you merely outline an author’s ideas, then you are informing the reader about what the author thinks concerning the subject matter you are exploring. However, if you outline each author’s ideas and point out where their arguments lack credibility, then you are persuading the readers about the author and the ideas each expresses within the context of their work. In essence, you are persuading the reader when you write that Author A is missing more elements than Author B; and when you persuade you also prove.

You inform the reader that Author A is missing elements by including in-text evidence within your analysis. This persuades the reader because the information is verifiable. The reader is willing to yield when he reads your assessment of Author A. In addition, when you provide the in-text evidence, the reader is willing to continue to yield. The reader has yielded completely when he or she returns to the text, reads it, retrieves the evidence you reference within your paper, and agrees with your statement about Author A. On the other hand, when you leave out important textual evidence and fill your paper with assumptions, then you have not persuaded the reader because your paper is missing these elements. In essence, because you lack verifiable information, a reader doesn’t yield to your point of view.

Developing a persuasive argument is no easy task, because there are factors that influence how you persuade the reader. The most important method for ensuring that you develop a persuasive argument is to validate all of your claims. You must “back up” whatever you believe in your paper. If you write, “The author believes all dogs are nice,” then you must include evidence of the author’s belief. The evidence you provide can’t center on this type of statement: “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face.” Nowhere in the author’s work is this belief.

Therefore, before you submit the final draft of your paper, check your assumptions. Revise any statement that doesn’t supply textual evidence. Add a quote or another qualifying statement. Permanently remove any statement for which you can’t provide proof.

For more related information, see also the comments “An interesting idea, but it doesn’t work in every example.” and “Proof?

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not Entirely

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

The sample excerpt below represents a whooping generalization.

Figure 33: Essay Excerpt on Shylock’s Conversion, The Merchant of Venice

Shylock’s conversion from Jew to Christian at the end of the play is not entirely of his own inclination. The sentiment of the play suggests a critical view of the Jewish religion and that the Christian faith is altogether merciful and compromising. Shylock is forced to conform to the judgment of Portia, or better yet, Christian law. In leaving his own faith, Shylock experiences a loss spiritually as well as financially. Other characters also experience different conversions related to Shylock’s.

As students, we oftentimes begin the task of writing by using a summary to get us started. This is a method we use to help us understand what is going on “overall” in the work; but where we go wrong is when we mingle the general with specific. The bolded sentences within Figure 33 illustrate this case of mixing general ideas with context-specific actions.

The play is not symbolic of a critical view of one religion in comparison to another. Within the play, there may be characters who criticize the Jewish religion and who may believe that followers of the Christian faith are more longsuffering, but the play itself doesn’t suggest this. The attitude of the characters suggests this.

It is a funny thing, the word. Just one word can change the meaning of a sentence; and the choice of a certain construction of a sentence can also change the meaning dramatically. For example, it is not the sentiment of the play that suggests a critical view (discriminating) toward one religion in support of another. It is the sentiment of the characters who favor one religion over another.

Therefore, don’t allow a general view to supplant a specific point you want to make.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not a Theme In

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

Within the English canon, professors and scholars have established what constitutes as a prominent theme (or themes) within a work. Themes such as jealousy and envy are typically prevalent in Shakespearean plays. Themes such as honor and loyalty are prevalent in medieval works that include the character King Arthur.

Themes that point to issues with social marginality, racial divide, separation, and alienation are ones that are appropriate for African American literature and other culture texts. This is the canon. The canon not only includes a list of authoritative works but also the themes embedded within these works.

Every student wants to be original and incorporate a different and contemporary theme into a paper. Students project on the immediate text ideas and themes that are nowhere present within the actual work. When your professor says this (your theme) is not a theme in this (canonical text), he or she is saying to you that you have misread the text. You are not looking at the immediate text as it is presented to you, which represents all its ideas and notions illustrated by the author. You have included a theme that is not a part of the original canon.

Think about the seller of a car. Typically, the car dealership or the owner will write “As is” on a car, which tells you that you are getting the car as it is presented to you with all of its errors and potential mishaps. You can’t say to the car owner paint the car red and then I will buy it. You have to take the car as you see it presently.

The same line of thought applies to developing analysis from the immediate text. Within the body of your paper, you can’t project a theme on a text that is not already part of the canon. However, you can in the extended discussion/conclusion of your paper examine the underlying ideas and potential assumptions of a theme. In this section of your paper, you may wish to examine the ideas you have expressed by applying a theme that is not in the canon.

Only in the conclusion section can you carry out this task. Just remember you can’t apply the theme from an African-American text to a medieval text because “culture” (and “cultural”) is primarily a twentieth century term. Good food for thought.

For an extended explanation, see also the comments “An interesting idea, but it doesn’t work in every example.” and “Examine Evidence from the Text.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not Clearly Expressed

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

There are some people in the world who love to give presentations; these people tend to be very articulate. They pronounce every word, every syllable; and they enunciate difficult words.  As they speak, they express each word clearly and distinctly. Sometimes a person from this group speaks so well that an observer can easily read the person’s lips and receive the information this way also.

With this example in mind, a writer who clearly expresses a point within a work is similar to a speaker of a presentation who is articulate in speech. A writer who irons out all of the details, removing all wrinkles and anything that can provide a hindrance for the reader, is one who is articulate in written speech.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Explain/Explain This.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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No/No, Not Exactly; Maybe; Perhaps; Negative Sign (-)

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

These are all negative replies.

When you receive any one of these comments on your paper, it means that you are functioning solely on assumptions. Professors are more prone to give you credit for an idea if you support it with in-text evidence. If you suggest that a character has not been very nice to the other characters within the work, then add a quote illustrating this point.

Any quote that demonstrates a character’s tone or attitude or even perception represents evidence.  The following sample excerpt represents assumptions about the witches’ attitude and treatment toward Macbeth.

Sample Excerpt

And since the Sisters shape Macbeth’s destiny, their act seems hostile, because both Macbeth and his wife are terribly destroyed (Rosenberg 20).  But their act seems hostile from the very beginning when the witches refuse to answer Macbeth’s questions regarding the prophecy (Wills 45). They take Macbeth’s life into their own hands, so to speak, but never give him a reason for doing so.  History suggests that [b]attlefields were magnets for witches—for the same reason that shipwrecks were, or gallows, or prostitutes’ lairs.  They were all good places for collecting the most vital ingredient for witches’ work—dead body parts, and especially dead bodies outside consecrated ground.  (Wills 38) So their presence on the battlefield when they first issue the prophecy is called “necromancy” (Wills 39) and this is used in Act Four, “. . . which helps delude Macbeth . . .” (Wills 42) into believing that his fate is secure.  The witches never tell Macbeth about the consequences.  Instead, they take his passion of ambition and turn it around to fit what they want accomplished. And they do this by first setting Macbeth’s ambition free to make it seem that destiny is on his side.

Figure 28: Essay Excerpt on the Sisters and Macbeth, Macbeth

Margin Comment

Well, no, not exactly was the actual comment the professor wrote within the margins of this paragraph.

Questions

1) Do the Sisters shape Macbeth’s destiny?

2) Do the Sisters contribute to the destruction of Macbeth and his wife?

3) Why does the act of the witches seem hostile? Where is the in-text evidence?

Assessments

The first cited quote is not an example of the witches taking Macbeth’s life into their own hands.

Macbeth doesn’t need the witches to delude him. He deludes himself. He is determined to do what he wants. It is not the job of the witches to tell Macbeth about the consequences.

Explanation

The keywords in the quote are “ingredient” and “dead bodies.” The witches do not equate a live person as an ingredient. Macbeth takes his own ambition and turns it around to fit what he wants to accomplish. It is difficult to keep facts straight and examine the implications of a text when you project something onto a character that is not quite present. Don’t project assumptions. If the thing you are discussing is not actually happening in the text, don’t use it. Here is a universal phrase, mostly discipline-specific to refer to English: If you have doubt, throw it out.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Not a Clear Distinction

Essay Section: Thesis

A play represents the best example of people functioning differently in different roles. A character in prose (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, short story) is also no different. Each character within a work serves a function. There is always present a protagonist and an antagonist. There are other supporting characters in different roles that fulfill different relationships to the main characters. The important thing to remember is that if we don’t know who says what, then we won’t know how to approach the writing and/or revision process of the paper. Let’s read the following excerpt.

Sample Excerpt

The reader reveals the confusion felt by Lockwood’s statement of Heathcliff, because his perception doesn’t ring accurate to what has already been said.  First, Lockwood speculates about the surrounding and the character of Heathcliff, but in another breath he “knows” Heathchliff.  This doesn’t necessarily say that Lockwood is contradicting himself.  But it does suggest “that the narrator cannot be neutral” and that the narrator is “openly uncertain” about the information he filters from the story to us (Marsh 10).  The information presented to the reader is thin and remains to be full through vague distances within the novel.  And Lockwood basically “. . . projects his own character onto Heathcliff” (Marsh 14).  But Lockwood isn’t the only narrator the reader cannot rely on.  Where Lockwood projects, Nelly Dean interferes with the story.

Figure 22: Essay Excerpt on Heathcliff and Lockwood, Wuthering Heights

Questions

1) Is the reader a character in the story?

2) Does “his” refer to the “reader” or to “Heathcliff”?

3) About what “surroundings” does Lockwood speculate?

4) What is the difference between “to speculate” and “to know”?

5) How can the information be both thin and full?

6) What are the vague distances within the novel?

7) How does Lockwood project his own character? What are his beliefs and what does he project?

The reader is not a character in a work. The author never writes with you as the reader in mind.  He or she writes to get whatever that is inside out in the open and onto the page. The words on the page represent the warrings of an author’s mind, his beliefs and the contemplation of the best way to present his beliefs without showing too much vulnerability.

In the excerpt, every sentence before both sets of bolded lines is not clear in distinction in terms of logic, i.e., what happens first, second, and third, and so on; it is not clear “who” does what to whom. The sentences bolded before the quote and after it do not represent clear distinctions, because the reader lacks comprehension of the ideas expressed within the text.

If the reader doesn’t comprehend the text and/or doesn’t understand its message, this lack of understanding will show up in the writing. A professor can always tell the difference between a student who has read the text, in its entirety, and one who has only skimmed a few pages; or one who has begun reading and has stopped midway without reading all the way to the end. If you read the whole text, you will know the relationship and dialogue between characters.

Since I am the student writer of this excerpt, I have a confession to make. I did not completely read the text for this paper. I read just enough to get an idea of who the characters were, what their relationships were to each other, and how I might start the paper. I stopped midway in the reading of the class text. I did not find it important enough to continue reading.  Instead, I just wanted to hurry up and finish. I had no patience for the class or the discipline.–Regina Y. Favors

In essence, when you don’t take the time to get a good understanding of your purpose (i.e. read the text fully in order to write the paper), you will not be able to make clear distinctions within your paper. If you only read the first five chapters, anything that you write about after these chapters will represent mere assumptions about the text as a whole.

With this in mind, read the whole text. Get to know the characters, their feelings, motivations, attitudes, belief systems, and their relations to other characters in the text. Then you will know how to paint a clearer and distinctive picture.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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