UIUC Focusing on The Passage

directions to follow for the attached story:

1. 150-300 words

2. focus on one of the “Discussion Readings” for the upcoming Thursday night session, ONE of the four “discussion reading” short stories (Wolff, Alexie, Lahiri, Goodman).

3. focus on one specific passage in that story, and identify the particular passage you’ll focus on (for example, you could say “I’m focusing on the passage where they are in the diner in “Powder”). Just orient us so we know and can go look at that passage ourselves in relation to your comment if we don’t automatically remember it. Note: if you’re writing about Wolff’s “Powder,” pick something other than the first three paragraphs, since we already discussed those in class on Thursday

4. include comment/analysis of that passage: as with our class discussion the other night, you might try different things: based on details in the passage, explore what it shows, what’s getting revealed in this passage, maybe a tentative idea about what the character is like or their relationship to another character; or what some action or comment by a character reveals about their attitude toward something or someone else in the story. With that, you might then suggest it’s possible significance in the story, how it connects to some larger meaning you think the story may be trying to express. In class we were looking at three paragraphs of “Powder” and some of you thought there was a notable tone of detachment from the narrator’s father, as in the almost clinical use of language describing the father’s decisions, which at times might slip into sarcasm, mocking the father; and we also explored the character of the father as someone who takes risks (sneaking the narrator into the nightclub, taking not just one but several extra runs after they were supposed to head home for Christmas), maybe without much regard for how these are experienced by the narrator, maybe even to the father’s own determinant.

5. (optional) raise a question you can’t figure out about the passage; something about it that falls outside your emerging view of what it’s saying, some detail that doesn’t quite fit, even after you’ve thought it through, even after you’ve looked up a word (like “criminy” in “Powder”)

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