In “A Stranger in Strange Lands” McCarthy relates the classes Dave attended to a foreign country with a language that had to be learned in order to succeed. Dave struggled in his poetry class because he failed to learn the “foreign” language of the class. In this academic discourse, Dave had to learn to analyze and write essays that will, “make [him] say something quite specific about the meaning of a poem (your thesis) and demonstrate how far [he has] progressed in recognizing and dealing with the devices a poet uses to expresses his insights” (242). Because this was unlike what he had to do in his Freshmen Composition or Biology class, this approach was foreign to him. He was use to summarizing and proving his textual coherence but now he was more focused on new ways of thinking and writing for that class. His grades in the poetry class never improved. The social aspects as well as his coherence influenced his writing. Dave had a connection to the writing his both of his other classes but not to poetry. He thought that none of the poetry related except for the similar literary devices. He also felt that he was an outsider on the discipline while his instructor wasn’t. He would spend hours writing the essay to fulfill the required Manner and Quality just to have his errors pointed out without any explanation as to why they were wrong. Dave felt that, “In Poetry, more or less each poem is different, so it’s not taught to you. You just have to figure it out from that poem itself and hope Dr. Forson likes it” (251). This hindered Dave’s chance of succeeding in the class. Because he saw that his writing was failing he could’ve asked to meet with the professor privately to discuss what he was doing wrong. The professor also could’ve had more guideline lectures and helped the students by pointing out some details in the poem that would’ve benefited their writing.
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