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Analysis of Annie Dillards Living Like a Weasel


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WRTG 2010 Essay One Textual Interpretation / Close Reading Although we are all familiar with the essay form, we may not be comfortable analyzing essays as arguments. However, essays, like all forms of writing, implicitly or explicitly take a stand, make an argument. To grow as critical readers – and thinkers – we must be able to analyze and make our own interpretations of what a given piece of writing is trying to teach us, to persuade us. For this reason, your first essay in WRTG 2010 asks you to develop an interpretation of one of the following essays: * Benjamin Franklin’s “Arriving at Perfection” * Annie Dillard’s “Living Like Weasels” - Zora Neale Hurston’s “Colored Like Me” As DiYanni explains in the Introduction to 50 Great Essays, an interpretation is not a summary; in fact, interpreting what an essay means can only happen once the reader has not only an accurate grasp of the content but has also gone further to observe details, connect those details, and make inferences about the author’s argument based on those details. Your interpretation, then, will not be a summary of your selected essay; instead, it will be your argument as to a primary meaning and persuasive purpose of the essay. As with any piece of writing, an essay can have multiple interpretations; thus, your interpretation should be arguable, debatable, forcing you to support it with enough analysis of the text to reveal to your own readers the validity of your interpretation. You should move beyond simply “what” the author is saying to “how.” Why, for example, does Dillard choose the weasel as our model wild animal? Or how do Franklin’s charts further develop his argument? As all of your essays in WRTG 2010, your essay will need a clear focus (a

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