The Book Thief Dialectical Journal Assignment
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1. In your notebook, complete a dialectical journal** (two-column notes) in which you discuss your author’s language and style. (See “Ideas for Analyzing Text.”) 2. Meet the required number (15) of concrete details in your journal notes. * See the page labeled “How to Choose Quotations…” for these requirements. *Dialectic: “The art or practice of arriving at the truth by using conversation involving question and answer.” *Dialectical Journal: A written conversation with yourself about a piece of literature. Format:
1. Label the left side of each journal page “CD – Concrete Details” and label the right side of each journal page “CM – Commentary.” 2. The left “CD” side is where you record examples and page numbers: quotations, direct quotes, evidence, support, images, etc. from the book. *Always accompany CD with page numbers, cited in proper MLA format! 3. The right “CM” side is where you record corresponding analysis: reactions, ideas, opinions, comments, inferences, insights, questions, etc. from your head. What is it about the writing that stands out and makes the work distinctive? The important part is that you, the reader, are reading something and then responding with analysis. Have a conversation with the text and with yourself.
*Dialectical Journal Student Sample:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
and page number
“…what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men” (Fitzgerald 7). I found this sentence thought provoking and an interesting use of imagery. By using strong visual imagery, Fitzgerald allowed multiple interpretations of this sentence. “Foul dust” could possibly relate to laziness since that is the reason why dust exists: a lack of motivation to clean and tidy a room or place. Dust also suggests an idea of aged existence. “In the wake of his dreams” could allude to the funeral, which is possibly a harbinger for a death in the story of a main character. “Abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men” is a strong sentence to say “I don’t care.” The use of “abortive” could also relate to the sudden and unexpected death of a character. 2. SETTING
“My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn and the consoling proximity of millionaires – all for eighty dollars a month” (Fitzgerald 10). Nick Carraway, a man from a prominent family, will not shame his family by living a “bad” life; he must make friends with the rich and become popular, which is the great American Dream. Under normal circumstances, one would not buy a house that is an eye-sore, but the proximity to the affluent aids the decision. Pride is also present in the American Dream, and Nick can say that he lives with millionaires. In addition, Nick is new to New York, and living by millionaires is a great start to becoming a well-known man. The usage of the dash was very effective and emphasized the “privileges” Nick has compared to others. However, this urge to become popular with an upper class is destructive, for there is no limit to how popular one can be, so the hopes and dreams of people searching for an easy life can only be hopes and dreams. 3. CONFLICT
“amazement, shading into dismay; a shallow horror sensation that cold spring of personal fear swiftly deepened” (Capote 76). This detail vividly depicts what happens when a person goes into shock. The whole town felt this way, and that is why this shows a turning point in the entire town’s attitude towards everything. Families become paranoid, disturbed, and fearful
NOTE: Citing the source requires that you put the author’s last name and the page number of the quote in parenthesis. The end punctuation goes on the outside.
Ideas for Analyzing Text: You can use any of the following prompts to guide your analysis in the dialectical journal. However, you must have passages that address the following in your entries:
Ch 1: Setting Ch 6: Pacing elements (flashback
Ch 2: Imagery Ch. 7: Conflict (internal and external)
Ch 3: CharacterizationCh. 8: Allusion (think Arthurian quest)
Ch 4: Symbolism Ch. 9: Irony
Ch 5: Archetypal American hero
Consider how the personality of a specific character (or the author in a nonfiction text) is established within a specific passage or stanza. Consider the use of dialogue, foils (a character by his or her contrast who serves to accentuate another character’s distinctive qualities or characteristics), or actions Setting is often a pivotal factor in the development of characters. Consider commenting on the details of the setting and how it furthers the plot or enhances the experiences of the character or author. Discuss how some of the characters or situations fit into the typical archetypal categories (generally the model from which something is developed or made). What are the key characteristics of the speaker or narrator? Consider the struggles evident in the text. What conflict occurs?
Discuss the central conflict in the novel. Internal conflict occurs within a character’s mind or emotions. External conflict occurs when a character struggles against an outside force such as nature, society, or another human.
Consider commenting on a notable literary technique in the text. What is the impact of the technique on the overall work?
Irony: a contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality. Satire: satire uses irony, wit, and sarcasm to expose humanity’s vices and foibles, giving the push for change or reform through ridicule. Symbolism: something that, although it is of interest in its own right, stands for or suggests something larger and more complex—often an idea or a range of interrelated ideas, attitudes, and practices. Allusions: an indirect reference to a person, event, statement, or theme found in literature, the arts, history, mythology, religion or popular culture.
Consider commenting on imagery (especially predominant or recurring images). Imagery: creates or represents a sensory experience through any of the five senses: sight, touch, hear, smell, and taste The use of figures of speech to express abstract ideas in a vivid and innovative way Simile: a comparison of two unlike things using like or as Metaphor: associates two unlike things without like or as
Personification: human characteristics applied to anything non-human such as an abstract idea, a physical force, an inanimate object, or a living organism Metonymy: one thing is represented by another that it is commonly associated with it (i.e.: “monarch” is referred to as the “crown” because crowns sit on the heads of kings) Synecdoche: a part of something is used to represent the whole or occasionally the whole is used to represent a part (i.e.: to refer to a “boat” as a “sail” or “car” as “wheels”) 1
Consider the author’s development of theme in the text.
Examine the author’s philosophical stances upon the human condition. Relate specific circumstances of the characters to the author’s perceptions of the human condition. 2
Consider the effect of any unusual organizational or rhetorical strategies in the work. Multiple narrators
Pacing elements: for example flashback (interrupts the present action of a narrative text to depict some earlier event—often an event that occurred before the opening scene of the work—via reverie, remembrance, dreaming, or some other mechanism) Unusual punctuation or use of italics
Repetition of words, phrases
Rhetorical questions: a question not expecting an answer, or one to which the answer is more or less self-evident used primarily for stylistic effect
Antithesis: a rhetorical device in which two ideas are directly opposed and presented in a grammatically parallel way (i.e.: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”) Parallelism: used to accentuate or emphasize ideas or images by using grammatically similar constructions. Words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and even longer structural units may be consciously organized into parallel constructions, creating a sense of balance that can be meaningful and revealing. Chiasmus: a rhetorical device in which certain words, sounds, concepts, or syntactic structures are reversed or repeated in reverse order (i.e.: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”) Paradox: a statement that seems self-contradictory or nonsensical on the surface but that, upon closer examination, may be seen to contain an underlying truth and used to grab the reader’s attention to direct to a specific point or image that provokes the reader to see something in a new way (i.e.: “One more such victory and we are lost