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Diction September 17 Consider: As I watched, the son broke weakly through, brightened the rich red of the fawns, and kindled their white spots. - E.B. White, “Twins,” Poems and Sketches of E.B. White Discuss: 1. What kind of flame does kindled imply? How does this verb suit the purpose of the sentence? 2. Would the sentence be strengthened or weakened by changing the sun broke weakly through to the sun burst through? Explain the effect this change would have on the use of the verb kindled. Apply: Brainstorm with the class a list of action verbs that demonstrate the effects of sunlight. Answers: 1. Kindled implies the beginning of a fire, a glowing of easily ignited material used to start a fire. The purpose of the sentence is to capture a moment, a scene of fawns and early morning. The word kindled suits the purpose of the sentence because it aptly expresses the glow of the fawns’ white patches and, as with fire, the newness of the fawns. 2. Students could argue convincingly that the change either strengthens or weakens the sentence. If they argue that the change strengthens the sentence, they should emphasize that the verb burst connotes the excitement and violent action of a new beginning, a birth. If they argue it weakens the sentence, they should emphasize the newness of the fawns that corresponds to the newness of the sun’s actions: kindling. In any case, with the change, the verb kindled would no longer suit the purpose of this sentence. A sun that bursts through the clouds does not kindled. The verb burst suggests strong, decisive action not the gentle action kindling. It may ignite, enflame, scorch, or singe – not kindle. The word must always suit the purpose.