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Comparing Texts Transcript

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So, how do you write a literary analysis comparing two works through a central topic? In this lesson, we're going to be comparing a poem and a short story that have similar topics. We just identified the similarities and differences between two images, our photo of the night sky and our Vincent van Gogh painting. You'll remember we had the same topic, the night sky, but

00:00:30we saw them represented in two different ways, our photograph and our painting. We're going to give it a shot with some literary works. First we need to gather information about our writing assignment. Gathering information is a key ingredient in the pre-writing recipe.

Section 3

00:00:02TEACHER: You'll be working on literary analysis. Literary analysis is the study of particular elements of a text for the purpose of understanding the meaning of the text as a whole. In other words, what do the small part of the text add to the one big piece. This comparative literary analysis requires you to state a thesis based on your interpretation of the text.

00:00:27You'll be required to show that you understand both of the texts, not just one. You'll also support your thesis by exploring the central theme of both texts, and you'll use technical vocabulary including terms for a literary devices. You'll do this as you consider the ways that two authors develop similar themes. Using essential topics to compare works, we first need

00:00:55to know what the topic is. The topic refers to the subject of a piece of writing. We'll need to take four steps as we explore the prewriting process. First, we need to read both texts to determine what each text is saying about the topic, just like we explored those two images to see how two different artists approach the night sky.

00:01:23Next, we'll need to establish how the two texts are thematically similar. What's the point of comparison here? What do these two texts have in common? Third, we'll need to use textual evidence to support our comparison. We'll be reaching into the text to support what the topic has in common.

00:01:46Then, we'll synthesize our evidence into a thesis statement. We'll state what the common theme is between our two texts.

Section 5

00:00:02TEACHER: Now it's time to read our two texts and explore how they address the theme of American identity. Remember we're looking for clues about American identity. This is the beginning of the first text. We'll start by identifying the genre, the title of the text and the author. Looking at the text, I can tell that the genre is a poem. But it seems to be written as a letter.

00:00:32I can tell that from the "Dear Sirs." The title of the poem is, "In Response to Executive Order 9066." And it's by Dwight Okita. I know that Executive Order 9006 was issued by the US government. And it detained Japanese Americans. Follow along as I read. "Dear Sirs, of course I'll come.

00:01:02I've packed my galoshes and three packets of tomato seeds. Denise calls them love apples. My father says where we're going they won't grow. I'm a fourteen-year-old girl with bad spelling and a messy room. If it helps any, I will tell you I have always felt funny using chopsticks and my favorite food is hot dogs." So what does this poem begin to tell us

00:01:33about American identity? Since the speaker is agreeing to go and I know that Executive Order 9066 was about detaining Japanese Americans, I can infer that, "Of course I'll come" tells us that our speaker was a Japanese American. In addition, I know that this Japanese American speaker is a girl, because she tells me. She says, "I'm a fourteen-year-old girl." She

00:02:08also tells us that she feels funny using chopsticks like she doesn't like them. That's kind of weird, because we usually associate chopsticks with being something familiar to the Japanese culture. She tells us that her favorite food is hot dogs, which is a pretty typical American food. Here we see something interesting about the

00:02:33speaker's American identity. Although her culture may be Japanese American, we see many ways in which she associates herself with American culture. I can see here that American identity seems to have more to do with your experience, rather than it has to do with where your family came from. Now finish reading the passage on your own and identify details that relate to the topic of American identity.

Section 8

00:00:03TEACHER: Don't let your awesome ideas about Dwight Okita's poem get too far away from you just yet, as we start looking at our second text. Our second text is a short story entitled, "Mericans," by Sandra Cisneros. Just like our goal with Okita's poem was to determine a theme about American identity, we'll be attempting to determine a theme about American identity in Sandra

00:00:28Cisneros' short story. Let's take a look. "We're waiting for the awful grandmother, who was inside dropping pesos into la alfrenda box before the altar to La Divina Providencia. Lighting votive candles and genuflecting, Blessing herself and kissing her thumb. Running a crystal rosary between her fingers.

00:00:53Mumbling, mumbling, mumbling." "There are so many prayers and promises and thanks-be-to-God to be given in the name of the husband and the sons and the only daughter who never attended mass. It doesn't matter. Like La Virgen de Guadalupe, the awful grandmother intercedes on their behalf." Previewing the title tells me that this short story has

00:01:19something to do with American identity. "Mericans" sounds almost like Americans, but it sounds a lot like Mexicans also. In fact, it's a letter off from each. Did you notice? Maybe she's blending the two cultures like our photo of the men in the parade wearing Mexican clothing and holding American flags.

00:01:43I think we have a good clue here about American identity. I can pick up a few other clues, based on details that Cisneros has in her short story. The grandmother here uses pesos. I know that pesos are a Mexican form of currency. Additionally, the narrator here uses Spanish phrases like la ofrenda. The final clue here is La Virgen de Guadalupe, or Our

00:02:20Lady of Guadalupe. I know that's the patron saint of Mexico in the Roman Catholic tradition. The short story seems to be about differences between the speaker and her grandmother. The narrator doesn't seem to like her grandmother very much, does she? She calls her awful twice.

00:02:42Did you notice?



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