Writing Assignment #1: Close Reading Discussion Board – Writing Assignment #1 Group 2From XLIST FA2022 ENG203 H080-H0872828 unread replies.2828 replies.
This assignment aims for you to explore in detail how dialogue works as a form of characterizationand a means to create conflict in fiction. Dialogue are examples of quoted speech (e.g., “Who is it you got in there with you, old Horse Face?”). As Dr. Jordan explains in her lecture on “Petrified Man,” most of the story consists of dialogue. You will write a 500-600 word post that performs a close reading of a section of dialogue in the story. The total length of the dialogue you discuss should not exceed 50 words. Please follow the steps below and remember to edit your post before submitting it.
- Choose one passage from “Petrified Man” that consists mostly or entirely of dialogue. Do notchoose a passage featured in the lecture’s discussion of dialogue (e.g., “Who is it you got in there with you, old Horse Face?”). Keep in mind that the dialogue you quote does not count toward the 500-word minimum. Your selected dialogue may feature the words of one or more characters.
- Interpret what this piece of dialogue reveals about the character speaking and/or about the conflict driving the story. In other words, analyze how the dialogue contributes to the story’s characterization and/or to its depiction of conflict. In some cases, you may also comment on what the dialogue reveals about the interlocutor (i.e., the person being spoken to). Consider this example, which includes an interpretation of both the speaker and the interlocutor:
As Dr. Jordan’s lecture argues, when Leota asks, “Who is it you got in there with you, old Horse Face?”, the story portrays her as a nasty and gossipy woman. Moreover, the fact that Thelma does not comment on the way Leota has insulted Thelma’s customer (Mrs. Hutchinson) suggests that Thelma condones the insult. Indeed, it’s likely that both women have used the insult before. Calling Mrs. Hutchinson “Horse Face” exemplifies the malice—and the cattiness—among women, which is a key aspect of the story’s conflict. From a broader perspective, the women’s back-biting and cruel behavior raises important questions about why they act this way. What explanations does the story offer in this regard?
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As the foregoing example demonstrates, a successful assignment will show in detail how a character’s own words contribute to the story’s characterization of them. If you decide to focus on how the dialogue reveals conflict in the story, then your analysis will delve into more detail about how a character’s quoted speech contributes to the tensions driving the story forward.
Questions to consider:
- What specific information do readers learn from the dialogue?
- (How) does dialogue characterize and generate conflict in ways that narrative might not? ”Narrative” refers to the non-dialogue parts of the story—that is, any part of the story as told by the third-person narrator, who says, for example, “There was a pause. The women stared at each other in the mirror” (23).
- If signal phrases appear in your selected dialogue, what do they add to it? (Signal phrases are short phrases that introduce, or sometimes follow, a quotation, such as he said, she blurted, etc.)
- What is the significance of having characters speak with an accent? For example, we see Leota speak with an accent when she says, “Well, now, honey, I just want you to know—I habm’t told any of my ladies and I ain’t goin’ to tell ’em” (25). Habm’t is not Standard English but rather a way for Welty to signal that Leota speaks with a Southern accent. Consider how a reader who is not from the U.S. South might interpret Leota’s character. How might this reader react to her accent?
- How does the dialogue between Leota and Mrs. Fletcher characterize Mrs. Pike? Remember that Mrs. Pike is a key character who nevertheless appears only in these other characters’ conversations, never ‘in person.’
- When does Welty have characters repeat one another’s words, and to what effect? See for example page 25, where the word “Well!” appears three times in a row (as does the exclamation point).
- What is the significance of certain characters using catchwords—that is, words that stand out for their use by one character but not others. For example, Leota uses “honey” quite often, but Mrs. Fletcher never does.
- Consider how the characters address one another. Leota calls Mrs. Fletcher “honey” and “Mrs. Fletcher,” but Mrs. Fletcher calls Leota by her first name. What is the significance of the names characters use for other characters?
- What are the implications of using dialogue as a form of characterization and/or a means to create conflict?
FORMAT & REQUIREMENTS
1) Quote from the story: Your post must begin by quoting your chosen section of dialogue from “Petrified Man.” Please remember: the length of your quotation does not count toward your word count. Place the quote at the top of your post—before you begin your discussion and analysis. Remember, too, that the total length of the dialogue you discuss should not exceed 50 words.
2) Discuss and analyze: You must then analyze the passage of dialogue. Your analysis must explain how the dialogue contributes either to the story’s characterization and/or to its depiction of conflict. If you focus on character, then explain how the character’s quoted speech produces a specific impression of them—that is, how it helps you understand their personality. If you focus on conflict, then explain in detail what the nature of the conflict is and how the quoted speech reveals the conflict underway. Your analysis must be 500 – 600 words. Your analysis must clearly and directly reference material from one of this week’s lecture videos.
Your post should be well thought out and relatively free of grammatical errors. You should compose your post in Microsoft Word, Google docs, or another word processing program so that you can draft, edit, polish, and spellcheck your post before loading it on Canvas. When you have finished editing and finalizing your post, you should cut and paste it from your word processing program into the text box in Writing Assignment #1. You will not be able to edit or delete that post, so make sure your post is the version you want to submit before you do so.
3) Comment: After you submit your post, you must comment substantively on at least three of your classmates’ posts. Each comment should be a minimum of 50 words, and you must go far beyond saying “Great job!” or “I disagree.” Instead, you might indicate if your classmate’s post taught you something, or made you think about the topic at hand in a new way. If you think a classmate’s post is strong, explain why you think it’s strong. If you agree or disagree with a classmate, explain why you agree or disagree. You also might want to indicate how your classmate’s post relates to your own. Do you have a similar or different approach to the text and/or to the topic?