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English 11
1
Literary Barricades
Sometimes when we read, we come upon sentences that are real bears to get through. They are
loooooong, have more internal punctuation than we are used to dealing with in our own writing, and the words
- oy! - the words. But the strong reader in us insists that we have to make sense of these barricade sentences if
we are to fully comprehend and enjoy the writing.
Literary Work (title and author)____________________________________________________
STEP 1: As you read, number each paragraph and then start barricading the sentence.
STEP 2: Chunk the sentence by its parts, as guided by its punctuation. (Punctuation is your friend!
Embrace it.) Next, determine the core components of the sentence and paraphrase its basic meaning. Finally,
after figuring out what the author’s saying, break down what the author is doing. Explain the author's purpose
for creating this barricade. Why does he/she want you to slow down and take notice? How does he/she create
a syntax (sentence structure) that mirrors the sentence content?
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Paraphrase
During a dark quiet day
in the Fall
when the clouds hung
down above us
I had been riding alone
on horseback
through a lonely place
and found myself by
myself
as the darkness of the
evening increased
I came upon a dreary
house
EXAMPLE: Sentence #1 of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"
Write sentence the way you think it might sound if the author read it to you.
 During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year,
 when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens,
 I had been passing alone,
 on horseback,
 through a singularly dreary tract of country;
 and at length found myself,
 as the shades of the evening drew on ,
 within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
Core components (Important/Essential Part of Sentence): ". . . at length [I] found myself . . . within view of
the melancholy House of Usher."
Paraphrase (What the author is saying): The lone speaker, at the end of a dreary fall day, approaches a house
which he finds dreary.
Author's Structure (What is the author doing—Why is he writing this sentence in this way? What is he trying
to get across?): Using dark and oppressive diction in consecutive phrases, Poe introduces readers to his dark,
end-of-the-road and end-of-existence setting. Just as the story itself builds toward its punch, so does this
"lengthy" introductory sentence; Poe makes readers peer around each phrase and clause of the sentence like the
narrator peers around bends and bushes before he gets to the soulless house enveloping the full darkness of not
only the house but its existence.
Questions to ask yourself when analyzing for what an author is saying and what an author is doing…
What is the author SAYING?
What is the author DOING?
What is this section about?
The author is giving an example of…so that…
What is the author saying?
What is the content?
What did I lean from this paragraph?
What information is being presented?
The author is interpreting data…so that…
The author is sharing an anecdote…so that…
The author is summarizing research…so that…
The author is reflecting on a process…so that…
The author is contrasting one idea to another…so that…
The author is listing data…so that…
The author is using (literary device/rhetorical strategy) so that…
English 11
2
Sentence # 1
Paraphrase
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Write sentence the way you think it might sound if the author read it to you.
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Core components: _________________________________________________________________________________
Paraphrase (what is author saying?): ___________________________________________________________________
Author's Structure (what is author doing?) : ______________________________________________________________
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Sentence # 2
Write sentence the way you think it might sound if the author read it to you.
Paraphrase
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Core components: _________________________________________________________________________
Paraphrase (what is author saying?): ___________________________________________________________
Author's Structure (what is author doing?) : _____________________________________________________
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