READING GUIDE: MEMORY AND MEMOIR
1. Before you begin each assigned essay, read about the author’s life (biography). In particular, note literary biography. On our Learning Web, I have a website link for each author we study. 2. Note the titles. What expectations do the titles create? Once you have finished reading each essay, reconsider each title. 3. As you read, note the author’s intertwining of some of the elements of memoir: narration, description (especially appeals to the five senses), emotion (tone), and reflective commentary. Note any use of dialog.
Langston Hughes’ “Salvation” (from The Big Sea, 1940)
1. Who is Langston Hughes (1902-1967)? Note his biography on the Learning Web. 2. In Hughes’ essay “Salvation,” do you find more narration or description? Which one of these strategies is the primary strategy that structures the essay? 3. What is the point of view of this essay? How old was Hughes when he wrote this essay? How old was he when the event occurred? What is the age of his speaking voice in the essay? How do you know? (Note exclamation marks and purposeful overuse of the word “and.”) 4. What is Hughes’ thesis?
5. Where is the setting(s)? What descriptive details does Hughes use to sketch in the setting? 6. Note allusions to religious hymns. “The Ninety-Nine and Nine” and “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” are old evangelical hymns sung in church. 7. Examine Hughes imagery (appeals to the five senses). What are some of Hughes’ specific images? 8. Note how Hughes sustains the imagery in paragraph 13.
9. Who are the minor characters? How does Hughes describe each one? 10. Note Hughes’ use of short simple sentences for effect. Note his use of sentence fragments. 11. Note Hughes’ use of the one sentence paragraph for dramatic effect. 12. Note Hughes’ use of dialog. What makes his dialog effective? 13. What conflict(s) do you find in this essay? Are Hughes’ conflicts...
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