• Grendel- chapters 5-6

    Posted by Dawn Dooley on 7/17/2012
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  • The Killer Angels- chapters 2-4 of Mon, June 29, 1863

    Posted by Dawn Dooley on 7/11/2012
    Happy Middle of the Summer!
    I hope you are taking a second to appreciate the loveliness of summer because it is flying by!  Here we are almost halfway through July!  Now I haven't been great with the blog posting, but I have been consistently reading.  Currently, I'm halfway though The Killer Angels, and I finished Grendel and Things Fall Apart (which is a very quick read!)  That leaves Brave New World, The Bluest Eye, and The Awakening.  I had to lend my copy of The Glass Castle to Mrs. Atcheson because she is going to be your English II Pre-AP teacher!  She's also an American history teacher, so she'll have a lot of interesting information about the Civil War for TKA.
    Today I am going to focus on Monday, June 29, 1863- chapters 2-4:
    I think the difficulty for some readers with this book is the switched perspectives.  Every chapter begins with a new soldier's perspective, and it's up to us as readers to sort out who is who.  I found the foreward at the beginning very helpful when I needed a reminder about the character.  I find that I flip back to that section often.
    Chapter 2, p. 55:
    "He walked slowly out into the sunlight.  He thought: But the truth is much more than that.  Truth is too personal.  Don't know if I can express it.  He paused in the heat.  Strange thing.  You would die for it without further question, but you had a hard time talking about it.  He shook his head.  I'll wave no more flags for home.  No tears for Mother.  Nobody ever died for apple pie."
    Rhetorical Devices:
    effective fragments:  "Strange thing." "Don't know if I can express it." "No tears for Mother."
    metonymy: apple pie/flags/Mother for country/patriotism
    indirect characterization
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
    First- yes, I used an entire paragraph instead of one sentence.  Yes, you can do that too.  No, you don't have to.
    As English teachers we constantly harp on you about fragments and run-ons, BUT in some cases the fragment can be used effectively and with purpose.  Shaara is a master of that as you might have noticed while reading this book.  He frequently uses fragments to reveal the inner workings of a character's mind.  Here the perspective is from Colonel Chamberlain who is a Northern soldier.  In the foreward we're told that he was a professor of rhetoric and religion before the war, but he desired to be a soldier and so took a sabbatical (which is university speak for taking an extended break away from the classroom usually to pursue outside research that will result in publication) and signed up for the war.  He's also from Maine, which is different from the rest of New England.  Maine is incredibly beautiful but can be an incredibly harsh environment.  The people there tend to be reserved and very independent.  Why are these details important?  Because they shape the character and how he thinks and acts and reacts.  Since he's a professor, we know he's intelligent, but even more than that, he's somebody who thinks and thinks deeply about the world, the situation, and the consequences of these actions.  He's also seen great losses in his regiment and has his little brother at his side. 
    In this chapter he is being ordered to march his men as well as some angry prisoners who are also Mainers to the next battle site.  The prisoners are refusing to move, but Chamberlain does not want to shoot men from his own home state.  He begins dealing with the situation by listening the men's grievances, and afterwards he thinks about how to address their concerns.  In this passage Chamberlain's inner conflicts are revealed.  The author's use of fragments emphasizes that these are thoughts that are complex and tangled.  He has seen violence and bloodshed, and now he wants to protect the few men that have survived in his regiment.  Apple pie, Mother, and flags are commonly used symbols for the United States and patriotism, so here they are renaming the ideals of the country.  He's lost that innocence of the new soldier when he says "I'll wave no more flags for home. No tears for Mother.  Nobody ever died for apple pie."  He realizes that he's fighting for people, not ideals.
    Chapter 3, p. 75:
    "He could remember if he had to, duty of a good officer; he could fish in the memory for the names and pull them up out of the darkness, after a while, but though he was kind to young lieutenants he had learned a long time ago it was not wise to get to know them."
    Rhetorical Device:
    periodic sentence
     idiom- "fish in the memory for the names and pull them up out of the darkness"
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
     Our speaker here is Major General John Buford and he is a calvary soldier with a great deal of experience.  He reveals the old soldier's dilemma of befriending young men.  What is that dilemma?  Why "was {it} not wise to get to know them"?  Because the vast majority would die in battle and he would be forced to grieve while also leading the rest of the troops. 
    A periodic sentence is a sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of the sentence, after all introductory elements- or near the period!  This is an example because the main idea of the sentence is that "he had learned a long time ago it was not wise to get to know them."  Before he tells this cynical statement though, he leads to it with his positive qualities- that he is dutiful officer who can remember names and he is kind to young men, but he knows not to get to know them personally.  How does he know this?  Probably through personal experience.  We can infer here as readers that he is a man who has seen a great deal of loss.
    So try to identify a periodic, loose (opposite of periodic), or even a balanced sentence, but think about WHY the author used that particular form.
    Chapter 4, p. 85:
    "He gazed out into the black.  The stars were obscured.  It was the blindness that bothered him."
    Rhetorical Device:
    implied metaphor
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
    Throughout the novel the stars serve as a symbol for hope and perseverance.  This quote is from Longstreet's perspectives, and it foreshadows the devastating losses that are about to occur during the course of the battle.  Longstreet was the general against the invasion of the North because it felt that was going against the goals of the Confederacy which was to obtain indepedence.  This quote reveals Longstreet's inner turmoil over the battle and the intense foreboding he has going into it.
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  • Grendel- chapters 3 & 4

    Posted by Dawn Dooley on 5/31/2012
    Bonjour AP!
    We are continuing with the analysis of Grendel today.  What a strange book!  It doesn't exactly tell the events in a straightforward way, does it?  I find myself needing to go back and reread some passages and think about what is happening.  Grendel, the character, is a bit of a strange bird as well.  He's violent and cruel as well as sensitive and vulnerable.  He's angry at Hrothgar for being ambitious and a liar, but he respects him for the legend he's created around himself.  Talk about juxtaposition!  Grendel represents the conflict inside of ourselves- he's a more exaggerated version, a "monster" who literally eats people but is also fascinated with watching their day-to-day lives.  As people we can also be cruel and loving.  Anyway, just some thoughts I'm having on this story.  Onto the dialectical journal . . .
    Chapter 3, p. 32:
    "Then Hrothgar and his neighbors loaded like ants on a long march, pushed foot by foot and day by day around the marshes and over the moors and through the woods, pressing flat rocks into the soft ground and grass, and packing smaller stones around the rocks' sides, until, from my watch on the wall of the cliff, Hrothgar's whole realm was like a wobbly, lopsided wheel with spokes of stone."
    Rhetorical Devices:
    similes- "Hrothgar and his neighbors loaded like ants on a long march", "Hrothgar's whole realm was like a wobbly, lopsided wheel with spokes of stone."
    repetition- "pushed foot by foot and day by day"
    polysyndeton- "around the marshes and over the moors and through the woods"
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
     We must remember as readers- who is our speaker?  where is this perspective coming from?  Throughout this novel, it always from Grendel's perspective, so he shapes how we as readers view this world.  And this is how Grendel views Hrothgar and his people- as ants.  They are tiny and insignificant in theory, but they are also determined and united in how they go about changing their world.  Grendel is observing these changes, and he observes that they don't happen easily.  They take a lot of hard work and sheer will power to reshape the environment, but the people unite together to do it.  The use of repetition in "foot by foot and day by day" demonstrates the length and time of work.  The use of polysyndeton in the phrase "around the marshes AND over the moors AND through the woods" stretches the feeling of the kingdom's expansion.  Now the phrase "Hrothgar's whole realm was like a wobbly, lopsided wheel with spokes of stone"- what is Grendel saying about the appearance- and by extension- the nature of Hrothgar's realm?  Is it stable? - no, it's wobbly- is it evenly made? - no, it's lopsided- and with spokes of stone (we have alliteration and assonance here, btw)- what does "spokes of stone" sound like?  It's harsh and sharp.  It sounds painful.  Grendel's statement here reveals that thought the people have worked long and hard to create this town, it's not a pretty, idyllic landscape.  It's a jagged and unforgiving landscape- just like its people, just like Grendel himself.
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  • The Killer Angels- foreward- ch.1

    Posted by Dawn Dooley on 5/29/2012
    Greetings to the Pre-AP English II Students,
    This summer you will be reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.  I've started this summer reading blog to demonstrate how to approach the dialectical journal which is your culminating assignment.  The dialectical journal can seem like an impossible, tedious task when you begin, but if you work on it while you read and it will be a LOT easier!
    In two years you will be taking AP language and composition; the difference between AP lang and AP literature and composition is that AP lang is focused on nonfiction.  For that reason I selected the above pieces.  TGC is a memoir, and TKA is historical fiction but extraordinarily well-researched.  Now many of you may shudder when you hear the words "nonfiction", but I think you will be surprised at how engaging and accessible these books are.  During class we will read fiction pieces, but we will always come back to nonfiction when we study for the test.  Your reward for enduring this will be that your AP test will test you out of College Writing 101 which can be a quite a grind!  (So I heard, I tested out with AP ;)
    Since I have read TGC twice, I've decided to begin with The Killer Angels which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.  Why does that matter?  The Pulitzer Prize is the top award for literature in the United States and has a longstanding tradition of picking work that stands the test of time.  The Killer Angels had been recommended to me throughout the years by people whose opinion I respect, but I never had the opportunity to readit.  When I was thinking of books to select, I remembered it and because of its base in historical events, I thought it would be an interesting selection. 
    I picked it up with some trepidation.  I have never been a huge fan of war novels, but I was immediately sucked into the foreward and the brief character descriptions he gives to each of the major players.  I appreciated the minute eye for detail that gave life to each of these men on both sides of the conflict.
    Before we begin the dialectical journal aspect, I would recommend you read the first entry of the Grendel post to see more about how to write dialectical journal.  A reminder that you need to only pick one quote and one device per chapter, but I would include the foreward with that count which is 25 entries for TKA. 
    The Glass Castle has a different issue with its chapter count in that it doesn't count the chapters; however, there are breaks for new entries. The breaks are really frequent though, so I think a quote for every twenty pages is a good amount.  That will add up to 14-15 entries for 288 pages.
    In total, 40 entries.
    Back to The Killer Angels:
    The Killer Angels
    Foreward, page 18:
    "It is an army of remarkable unity, fighting for disunion."
    Rhetorical Device:
    *juxtaposition- unity/disunion
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
    The phrase is describing the Confederate army as they invade the North into Pennsylvania.  The author juxtaposes the army's singular reasoning for fighting with their overall objective which is division from the North.  This army is firmly united in their belief in their cause which makes them an imposing force for their enemy, the Union army.
    **juxtaposition is a great device to use when analyzing literature because it's easy to identify and analyze and sounds GREAT in essays.  The AP readers (these are the people who grade your test essays) always like to seeing analysis of juxtaposition in the rhetorical analysis essay)**
    Chapter 1- The Spy, page 36:
    "He had not argued since leaving home, but the invasion did not sit right in his craw; the whole scheme lay edgewise and raspy in his brain, and treading here on alien ground, he felt a cold wind blowing, a distant alarm."
    Rhetorical Device:
    dialect-"did not sit right in his craw"
    imagery- "the whole scheme lay edgewise and raspy in his brain"
    metaphor- "he felt a cold wind blowing, a distant alarm"
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning:
    This passage is from the point of view of General Longstreet who is Robert E. Lee's right-hand-man.  Longstreet, as mentioned in the foreward, did not agree with the invasion of the North, but once the decision was made, he did not argue and followed orders.  The idiomatic phrase "did not sit right his craw" characterizes Longstreet as a Southern farm boy and reveals his deep inner turmoil regarding the wisdom of the Northern invasion by the Confederate army. The words "edgewise" and "raspy" are sharp words, so this imagery reinforces the pain and uncertainty the decision causes him.  The metaphor of the "cold wind blowing, a distant alarm" foreshadows the violence and bloodshed that will soon be occurring.   Longstreet is a man who is intuitive to underlying universal forces and listens to his inner voice.
    I'm not going to analyze it, but I love the phrase  "the spy puffing exuberant blue smoke like a happy furnace."  That's just a cute image of this happy little man who feels so fulfilled in his duties and content with himself.  I loved that little actor-spy; I thought he was adorable.  I'm really enjoying this book- I hope you are too!  I know this stormy weather can be a downer for summer, but it'll be hot soon enough.  This is great reading weather so take advantage!  :)
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  • Grendel- dialectical journal: ch. 1 & 2

    Posted by Dawn Dooley on 5/27/2012
    Hello to my new AP students!
    This blog will be for both the AP and Pre-AP students and is designed to help you with the summer reading and the dialectical journal.  I will be reading the summer reading novels along with you and creating my own dialectical journal.  I hope that by reading my thoughts about the book, you can understand the difference between real literary analysis and mere fluff designed to take up space on a page.  Trust me, the AP readers can tell the difference! 
    Not that every thought I have is brilliant or the only correct way to interpret the text, but there is a definite way that I want to write your journal and a definite way I don't want you to write it.  I've always found the best way to teach an idea is to start by demonstrating exactly what I want you to do. 
    Unfortunately due to the nature of writing,  once I've selected the quote for interpretation, I would want you to pick a different one.  But what if you're not reading this blog?  Then you have no IDEA what I've selected.  Therefore, as long as what YOU write about the quote is different than what I've written, we should be fine.
    The ultimate goal of AP summer reading and the dialectical journals is that you stretch yourself as a critical reader and writer.  It's important that you really try and analyze the text.  My former AP students had to do a dialectical journal when we read The Scarlet Letter and though they didn't enjoy it, the majoritiy of them specifically mentioned that assignment when I asked what helped them most with the AP test.  And that's what I'm trying to do here.  The AP test is a huge opportunity for you to gain college credit and hours, and the cost of the AP test is miniscule versus the cost of the actual college course.  Approach this seriously and methodically, and it will help you in the future when you need it most!
    The novels I will be reading this summer are Grendel, Things Fall Apart, The Bluest Eye, The Glass Castle, and The Killer Angels.  If I have time, I'll also read The Awakening, Brave New World, and Beowulf, but there's other stuff I want to read this summer as well.  I like fun reading too! 
    Now when I write my dialectical journal, I'm going to select three to five devices to discuss.  You only need to select one!  I'm doing more because I want you to see how many you can find outside of alliteration, simile, metaphor, and imagery.  All of these are legitimate devices, but you can only use them each twice.   Grendel by itself has twelve chapters; Beowulf has forty-three.  Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, you'll need to select one quote from each one of those chapters, and yes, you can say that I'm mean.  But I'll say it's good for you, and you don't have as much to read- so deal with it.  Remember to use your rhetorical device list that I gave you and also have attached on the summer reading page.  No excuses!
    Okay, so let's begin.  I'm going to start with the novel, Grendel by John Gardner written in 1971. 
    Why did I select this book?  First, when I was surveying other AP literature teachers and seeing what they had assigned, Grendel, along with Things Fall Apart and The Awakening, was one of the most frequently assigned novels.  Second, it had a fantasy element I thought some of you would appreciate, and you're going to have to read Beowulf at some point so why not get a head start on it?  Third, I had never read it!  When I found it at Recycled Books in Denton (or as many of you call it the Opera House or the purple building cattycornered from the courthouse), I was surprised at its length- or lack thereof.  Coming in at a scant 152 pages, I was taken aback by its brevity, but when I looked at the back, there was review that equaled it with Lord of the Flies, Cat's Cradle, and The Catcher in the Rye which are also short, but amazing in content.  Beowulf is also not very long but important in terms of its impact on Western literature.  I read Beowulf in high school and I remember liking it overall.  Grendel is the story told from the "monster's" perspective and turns the myth and what we know about it upside down. 
    So here we go-
    First- book titles should be underlined when handwritten and italicized when typed- EVERY TIME.  Make a practice of that beginning NOW!
    Second- "the author creates an image" is NOT an answer.  What kind of image did the author create? 
    Third- "the author creates a good/interesting/amazing/wonderful/fabulous- do you get the idea?- image" is also NOT an answer.
    Grendel- Chapter one, page 4-
    "I lie there, resting in the steaming grass, the old lake hissing and gurgling behind me, whispering patterns of words my sanity resists."
    Rhetorical Devices-
    imagery- "steaming grass", "the old lake hissing and gurgling", "whispering patterns"
    onomatopaeia- "hissing", "gurgling", "whispering"
    personification-"whispering patterns of words my sanity resists."
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meanng-
    Grendel is racing through the night, just beginning his journey to pillage Hrothgar's banquet hall.  As winter turns to spring, Grendel leaves the underground lair where he lives with his mother because his soul is thirsting for vengeance.  Traveling through the lair to aboveground is a difficult journey through firesnakes and water, so once he reaches to top, he stops to rest on the grass.  This is the first time he's been above ground in months, so the sights and sounds of the night are both inspiring and overwhelming for him.  He lies in "steaming grass" as the night comes alive by "hissing", "gurgling", and "whispering" which are examples of sound imagery and onomatopaeia. Grendel will soon be on a path towards violence and destruction, and his fragile state of mind is reflected in the lake's "whispering patterns of words [his] sanity resists" which is an example of personification.  As Grendel experiences his last moment of reflection before he sets off towards this dangerous path, the night overcomes his senses with a feeling of inevitability towards this bloody course of action.
    Grendel- Chapter two, page 14-
    "Thing after thing tried, cynical and cruel, to foist itself off as my mother's shape- a black rock balanced at the edge of a cliff, a dead tree casting a long-armed shadow, a running stag, a cave entrance- each thing trying to detach itself, left itself out of the general meaningless scramble of objects falling back, melting to the blank, infuriating clutter of not-my-mother."
    Rhetorical Devices-
    alliteration- "thing after thing tried . . ." "cynical and cruel"
    asyndeton (which is when the writer lists without using conjunctions)- " a black rock balanced at the edge of a cliff, a dead tree casting a long-armed shadow, a running stag, a cave entrance"
    personification-  "a dead tree casting a long-armed shadow", "each thing trying to detach itself"
    Rhetorical Purpose/Underlying Meaning-
    At this point in the story, Grendel relates to the audience a story about a terrible accident in his youth which changed his understanding about the point of existence.  While he was out hunting one day, his foot became trapped in the crevice between two trees.  Grendel waited desperately for his mother to come and rescue him as he cried out piteously for hours and hours, but she didn't appear.  The use of alliteration in the phrase "cynical and cruel"- both words that represent emotional hardness- reinforce the engulfing sense of abandonment he is feeling.  Thus he begins to see everything around him as a substitute for his absent mother.  The use of asyndeton creates a frantic feeling that the environment surrounding him is deceiving him at every turn, and that the rock, the tree, the stag, and the cave have come alive to conspire against him into believing his mother is coming to save him from this dangerous plight.
    Ok, that's all for now- stay tuned for the next chapters! :)
    Enjoy your summer- I am!!
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