Blog 2.3 - Goodman Brown


Interrogating the Text

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     As you study written and oral communication, you will realize all good stories have a backstory.

     In terms of literature, this is called sub-text.  For the sake of AP Language, subtext requires you to understand life a little more globally: you have to know where ideas originate.  To do that, you have to read.  As you read, you will see repeated themes pop-up -- called archetypes; in some cases, an author introduces an idea and it becomes like a meme, a cliche every seems to understand.  But some -- like the psychologists Freud and Jung -- say archetypes spring from our collective understanding of the universe.  Reading American Literature shows how this happens.

     For instance, as you read the story Young Goodman Brown, notice the layers of American history: Salem, Woods, Faith.  Notice the progression: home, woods, frenzy.  Everything about the story tells the American Story.  In the end, you are not sure what happened, and that may just be the point.  Therefore, for this blog entry, you have to do the dreadful thing all students hate: tell me what the author was thinking

         "Aw, Mr. Thomas, you whine”:

  • It's just a story
  • Why does it have to have a hidden meaning? 


     If you whine -- and 50% of you will -- you miss the point.  I didn't say "What is the hidden meaning?"  I asked "What was the author thinking?" If you think this is an irrelevent questions, consider this: You get home this afternoon and one of your parents says to you "Can you please tell me why you did this to me?"  What's the first thing you are going to do, explain?  Nope, you're going to say, "What are you talking about?"

     In other words, it's a conversation you have all the time, only this time it's with a book.  

     Read the story, and in the box below, write a 250-word, 1st person discourse (as if you are talking to the author), that starts with "I hear what you're saying …"  As you write, ask questions of the text -- for example: "Why did you choose the woods?" -- and reply to the author's answer.











© Jeff Thomas 2011 - aplanguage@me.com