The Rattler Essay

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Literary Terms to Know

Literary Term | Words that mean the same or can be used in conjunction with the term.| Style Analysis| Author’s use of styleAuthor’s use of languageAuthor’s use of rhetorical strategies| Tone| Mood, Attitude|

Diction| Word Choice, Language, Figurative Language,Figures of Speech| Detail| Imagery|
Point of View| Narrator, Perspective|
Organization| Narrative Structure: chronological order, cause and effect, order of importance, flash-forward, flashback, problem-solution| Syntax| Sentence Structure|

Please Note: Diction, detail, point of view, organization and syntax are all devices that the author uses to make the tone of the story evident to the reader. Your commentary should consistently link your evidence to the tone of the story.

Read "The Rattler.” Then do a quick write on these two questions:

1. What feelings did the author have about the man's killing the snake?

2. What effect did this passage have on you as the reader?  
 
 

Frequently students say they are sorry the snake had to be killed. They can tell that the man did not want to kill it—he didn't have his heart in it, even though he knew it was necessary. Sometimes students say the snake seemed human, full of power and dignity. They sense a feeling of compassion from the man and one of calm waiting from the snake. You may have written something like this in the quick write you just did. Here is a student sample of an introduction for "The Rattler": The author's techniques used in "The Rattler" convey not only a feeling of sadness and remorse but also a sense of the man's acceptance of the snake's impending death. A human being has confronted nature, and in order for him to survive, the snake muse be killed. The reader feels sympathy for the man's plight and a reluctance agreement with him for his decision.   |  

This introduction may seem strange if you are used to writing funnel introductions that begin generally and narrow down to your thesis. This introduction states the two tones in the first sentence and then elaborates on them for the rest of the paragraph. Now it's time to turn to paragraph #2 of this essay. This will analyze only the diction in "The Rattler.” Other elements that the question asks for—detail, point of view, and organization- -will come later.

Diction:
Before you start the diction paragraph, you need a topic sentence for it. This sentence should give a focus for the paragraph and let your reader know which element of style you will be discussing. Here is a sample topic sentence we will use for practice as we write this paragraph: The author's diction heightens the power and force behind the snake as it responds to the man. | The next part of the paragraph follows a specific pattern: you will write one example sentence with diction examples you've circled or underlined, and then two sentences of commentary. The commentary must echo the idea in the topic sentence. This unit of writing—one example and two commentaries—is called a “chunk.” You need at least two chunks in each body paragraph. There is another point to remember in writing example sentences for diction: you should include three different short quotations from several parts of the passage as you write your sentence. Here's an example: Like a soldier, the snake lay “arrested,” waiting for the "unprovoked attack” after shaking his “little tocsin" at the man.   |   This quotation sentence integrates three separate short quotes taken from different parts of the passage. This shows your reader that you have understood the entire piece and are choosing quotations thoughtfully. Now look over the words or phrases you marked on your own copy of "The Rattler” and write a quotation sentence of your own. Remember to use three different short quotations. 3.

 
The next step is to write commentary (analysis or interpretation) for the three quotations you have included...
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