“The Okefenokee Swamp”
These two passages were both written to describe the Okefenokee Swamp; however, the two pictures portrayed by the authors are very different. The first passage, through its didactic use of syntax, unemotional tone, and consistent diction, gives a view of the Okefenokee Swamp that is tame and pleasant. The second passage, in contrast, creates a wild and savage picture of the same swamp by using varied syntax, dark tone, and wandering diction.
The first passage is dry and informational. It could have been lifted straight from a textbook. The syntax is conventional and generally follows the same archetype. The following sentence from Passage 1 is an example of this archetype: “The swamp is partially drained southward into the Atlantic by the Suwannee and St. Mary’s rivers.” All of the description is concrete, with little to no personal conjecture. Beyond that, there is little description, creating a rather unemotional and factual tone. The diction is also rather plain. Only the occasional challenging word or bit of jargon is presented in this passage. However, these deviations are typically followed or preceded by a definition or explanation. For example, “… small islands (called hummocks)…” illustrates the jargon defined directly. This methodical and technical exemplification of the Okefenokee Swamp makes it seem like a calm, pleasant place that a person might visit on their day off for a picnic.
The second passage, in contrast to the first, creates a wild and exotic hell that overflows with mystery and dark appeal. The syntax patterns change with almost every sentence. No two sentences start with the same word, and the sentence structures are varied. Long and intense descriptive phrases festoon Passage 2, such as in the opening sentence: “Vast and primeval, unfathomable, unconquerable, bastion of cotton mouth, rattlesnake, and leech, mother of vegetation, father of mosquito, soul of silt…” These long and meandering phrases of imagery...
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