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Transcript of Textual Analysis
The Textual Analysis NAB is based on an extract from a short story, novel or play, or perhaps on a whole short poem.
You have to read the text carefully, and then answer questions on how it is written the techniques the writer uses and the effects he or she creates.
Your Textual Analysis skills will also be useful in the Close Reading NAB and final Close Reading exam, where some questions will be marked with an A to show they are testing these skills.
The Textual Analysis NAB also overlaps with your study of literature. When you study a literature text you are really analysing it.
Writers choose every single word very carefully. They use a number of language techniques.
These techniques are also sometimes called the features of the text, or aspects of the text.
You will look carefully at the writers:
word choice: the words the writer deliberately uses
structure: the way the writer builds up sentences, or paragraphs, or the whole text
imagery: for example simile, metaphor and personification,onomatopoeia in which the writer describes something by comparing it to something else, giving you a vivid image or picture in your mind
and a number of other techniques.
Imagery is the term we use whenever a writer creates a picture in language.
If the words a writer uses immediately create a picture in your mind, then youve just encountered an image.
Some imagery techniques have particular names. Three of these are simile, metaphor and personification.
When a word sounds like what it is describing, we call this onomatopoeia.
Words like thud, bang, splash, yawn and howl are all examples of this technique.
Most onomatopoeic words are to do with either sound or movement.
Onomatopoeia is used to make the writing sound more vivid.
An example of onomatopoeia in the poem is:
slithering with a dull clatter
Look at the quotation above. Which is the onomatopoeic word? In what way does that words sound suggest its meaning?
When letters or sounds are repeated at the beginnings of words we call this alliteration For example:Steve seldom smiled on Sundays.Silently the spider spun its silken strands.
Alliteration makes you notice the words more and draws your attention to what the writer is saying.
Look at the line below from the poem.
A cup capsizes along the formica
What effect does the alliteration in this line have? Why do you think the writer began his poem this way?
Of course all words that a writer uses are chosen in some way.
But when we talk about word choice as a technique we mean that certain words are very carefully and deliberately chosen to obtain particular effects.
Often Textual Analysis or Close Reading questions ask you to examine sentence structure.
First, you will only be asked about the structure of a sentence if the examiners think there is something noticeable or unusual about it, so you can start by asking yourself these questions:
Length: Is the sentence noticeably short or long? What effect does this length have?
Sentence type: Does the sentence make a statement?Shes a good girl.
Is the sentence in the form of a question?Is she a good girl?
Is it an exclamation?Good girl!
Does it give a command or instruction?Be a good girl for your granny.
Is the sentence in the form of a list? What effect does the sentence type have?
Word order: Have the words been placed in an unusual order? What effect does this have?
Grammar: Would the sentence make sense on its own, out of context?
Is it a minor sentence, one without a verb?She was a really good girl. Sometimes. Not always.(Minor sentences, while not grammatically perfect, can often make a big impact. Writers can use them to add drama or emphasis.)
What effect does the grammar of the sentence have?
Finally, ask yourself:
Is there anything else unusual about the way the sentence is written?
Punctuation is part of sentence structure since it is used to shape sentences and to organise the words within them. To be able to answer punctuation questions, you need to know what common punctuation marks are used for:
When do we use commas ?, When do we use dashes ?- When do we use Inverted commas ? to separate items in a list.to introduce a quote.to introduce direct speech.to make the reader pause at certain times in a sentence.to give extra information in a sentence.to make the reader take a pause.to mark out a word or phrase from the rest of the sentence (Maths is great not.)to show the words actually spokento show that we are talking about the title of a book or film or poem, etc.to show that we are quoting someone else and these are not the writers own words.
When do we use semi colons ?
;When do we use colons ?
: When do we use ellipsis ?When do we use capital letters ? to join two (or more) related ideas.to separate items in a list when there are commas in the sentence already.to join several sentences into one very long one.to introduce a list.to introduce a quote.to give more information about an idea.to punctuate a play.Dots used to tail of a sentence.To show gaps in a piece of writing.at the beginning of a sentence.for names.To emphasise a word.for the beginning of a section of direct speech.for titles of books, newspapers, films, etc.for acronyms (like BBC or STV or CSI)
You will often be asked why the ending of a text is suitable. This might involve looking at the last line(s) of a poem, or the last sentence or paragraph of a prose text. Endings can be suitable in a number of ways. For example:
the ending may sum up what the writer has been saying the ending may emphasis a point made in the text the ending may be humorous the ending may give the reader something to think about the ending may refer neatly back to something found earlier in the text.
We are going to look at the ending of the poem in two ways.1 Read the whole of the last verse. In what ways is this a suitable ending to the poem? You answer should be a paragraph and you should use some quotations from that verse to justify what you say.2 Focus on the final line. In what way is this a suitable ending to the poem?
In War Photographer, Duffy succeeds in portraying the conflicts and tensions which are an inherent part of any war photographers life. Where she excels, is in exposing the terrible dilemma of the job: between carrying out an undeniably worthy job and maintaining a sense of compassion towards the relentless suffering you are confronted with. Through her skilful use of language, the poet not only tugs at the readers heartstrings, but dares them to confront their own attitudes towards suffering. This is a vitally relevant question in a world which is currently plagued by civil war and conflicts, conveyed through the medium of the de-sensitising media. The poems ambiguity prompts two key questions: with whom do we ourselves sympathise the photographer? The editor? The newspaper readers? And more importantly perhaps, with whom do we identify?