Close Reading Style Imitation Cannery Row

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Your first Vignette (as a part of your first Major Writing Assignment: Vignettes) will function as an introduction to your hometown (or a smaller neighborhood/region of your hometown) in the style of the opening chapter of Cannery Row. Therefore, before you start to imitate that opening chapter, we should probably spend a little bit of time close reading it, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. This assignment has THREE steps; you must complete them all.

First, reread the opening paragraph of Cannery Row on page 1. Close read the paragraph in an effort to understand the many messages that Steinbeck is sending about Cannery Row. This paragraph is very tricky, full of cryptic, metaphorical language, and it may take a couple of very intense readings before you start to decipher some of the connections.

Second, in an effort to decode the passage and, in preparation for your imitation, read and take notes on the following questions; post answers to all questions in this assignment:

  1. Note the many contradictions or oxymorons that Steinbeck is setting up in his first paragraph of Cannery Row. For example, Cannery Row is both a “poem” and a “stink.” He also mentions that it is home to both “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,” as well as “[s]aints and angels and martyrs and holy men.” What message is Steinbeck sending about Cannery Row through these contradictions?
  2. How does John Steinbeck use wood, metal, and garbage imagery to send a message about Cannery Row? What is that message?
  3. Pay close attention to that opening sentence: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Remembering that there are no wrong answers (as long as you’re using evidence from the text to back yourself up), interpret what sort of message this sentence is sending about Cannery Row. Think about not only the meanings of the words, but how they relate to one another.
  4. Read closely, taking notes for all stylistic hallmarks discussed in the Close Reading PowerPoint: Diction and Vocabulary, Punctuation and Sentence Structure, and Descriptive Style.

Third, write one or two paragraphs pulling this all together and post them in this (separate Discussion). In preparation for your Style Memo, write a complete analysis of AT LEAST the first sentence and potentially the entire paragraph. It’s up to you — the content isn’t as important as is that you practice choosing and integrating quotations, analyzing them, and crafting 1 to 2 paragraphs organized around a main CLAIM about the style/effect of the passage or section of the passage you choose. Read this handout to help! And don’t forget, this student’s good (but not perfect!) close reading of Karen Russell can serve as a guide to what I mean about well-crafted paragraph organized around claims, using quotations, and analyzing those quotations.

Critique at least 2 peer paragraph/s within 48 hours, paying attention to quote integration, the level of specificity in their analysis, and the cohesion and organization of their paragraphs.