Higher Close Reading Sentence Structure It’s Not Hard!




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Higher Close Reading

Sentence Structure

It’s Not Hard!

  • Identify the feature

  • Comment on the effect of the feature

  • Remember, it is analysis, so it is more than just the meaning



There are 5 Main Possibilities

  • Punctuation and lists

  • Length of sentence

  • Use of climax or anti-climax

  • Repetition

  • Word order

Memorise them and use them to check against the sentences you have been asked to examine

Punctuation

  • Punctuation is designed to aid your understanding.

  • It is crucial to be able to name the punctuation mark and understand what its function is.

  • It is not enough to be able to identify the feature – you have to comment on its impact on the text you are reading



Let’s see what you know

Show how the punctuation of the sentence beginning ‘These included:’ is particularly helpful in following the argument at this stage. (6A)

The panel divided into two teams. One offered a number of alternatives. These included: a ‘Landscape of Thorns’ – a square mile of randomly-spaced 80ft basalt spikes which just out the ground at different angles; ‘Menacing Earthworks’ – giant mounds surrounding a 200ft map of the world displaying all the planet’s nuclear waste dumps; a ‘Black Hole’ – a huge slab of black concrete that absorbs so much solar heat that is impossible to approach.

Answer

  • The punctuation helps to sort out the various solutions one of the teams suggested.

  • The colon after ‘included’ shows there are several solutions coming up.

  • The semi-colons divide up the three solutions ( the spikes, the mounds and the slab) so that you can see each solution in isolation. They also create the list implied by the colon.

  • The inverted commas give you the name of each solution as in ‘Black Hole’

  • the dash after each of the names introduced and explanation of each of the names – a huge slab of black concrete.



Example 2

Show how the punctuation clarifies the argument (2A)

Some argue that the ultimate result of global warming will be a paradoxical but even more catastrophic development: global cooling.

Example 3

  • Show how the punctuation clarifies the argument (2A)

  • Governments may stop finger pointing and instead join hands; industries may slash short term profit to permit long term survival



Example 4

Show how the punctuation helps your understanding. (2A)

Campaigners for drastic cuts in emissions fear that talk of ‘adapting’ rather than ‘mitigating’ will ease political pressures on the big polluters such as the US and Japan.

Lists

  • Numbers of items separated by punctuation (usually commas or semi-colons) form lists

  • Recognising a list will get you 0

  • You must comment on its function and impact.



How do deal with a ’list’ question

  • Identify the list

  • Say what effect the list has on the reader

  • The effect will often be created by the cumulative nature, or the monotony, or the shape of the list.



Example 1

  • Comment on the structure and effect of this sentence. (2A)

  • The Scottish race has been variously and plentifully accused of being dour, mean, venal, sly, narrow, slothful, sluttish, dirty, immoderately drunk, embarrassingly sentimental, masterfully hypocritical, and a blueprint for disaster when eleven of them are together on a football field.



Answer

  • The sentence consists of long list of faults of the Scots. It makes their faults seem endless, as if there were no hope of redeeming features.



Example 2

Show how the writer uses the sentence structure to enlist your sympathy for Mohammed Ali. (2A)

What overwhelms you about this man from such a violent trade are the goodness, sincerity and generosity that have survived a lifetime of controversy, racial hatred, fundamental religious conversion, criminal financial exploitation, marital upheavals, revilement by many of his own nation and, eventually, the collapse of his own body.

Answer

  • There are two lists here. Here is an answer for the second longer list

  • The list of all the adversities that Mohammed Ali had to face impresses on you what a mountain of difficulties there were piled up against him, so that you sympathise with his situation.



Sentence length

  • Easy to spot; hard to comment on

  • Generally what you will notice is a short sentence

  • Normally Higher passages have sentences of some length and complexity so the short sentence (simple or minor) stands out.

  • Remember it’s not that it is short or long but what its impact is you are being asked for.



Example 1

  • Show how the sentence structure emphasises the impact of the destruction of his bat. (2A)

I used that bat the entire summer and a magical season it was. I was the best hitter in the neighbourhood. Once, I won a game in the last at-bat with a home run, and the boys just crowded round me as I were a spectacle to behold, as if I were, for one small moment, in this insignificant part of the world, playing this meaningless game, their majestic, golden prince.

But the bat broke. Some kid used it without my permission. He hit a foul ball and the bat split, the barrel flying away, the splintered handle still in the kid’s hands.

Answer

  • The short sentence ‘But the bat broke.’ is a dramatic sentence which puts and end to the glory that has been built up surrounding the bat in the previous paragraph. It marks a sudden event which takes the reader by surprise. Its position as a link sentence at the beginning of the paragraph stresses the contrast between the triumph of the previous paragraph and the disaster of the next paragraph.



Example 2

  • But then, like the cavalry regrouping, they set off once more, ground their way back up to speed, beat a path through the final verse and ended again. Simon’s final flourish sounding a little more sheepish this time. After that they were gone. And no encores.

  • Show how the sentence structure emphasises the failings of the band.



Example 3

The Scottish race has been variously and plentifully accused of being dour, mean, venal, sly, narrow, slothful, sluttish, dirty, immoderately drunk, embarrassingly sentimental, masterfully hypocritical, and a blueprint for disaster when eleven of them are together on a football field.

Comment on the structure and effect of this sentence.



Climax and Anti-climax

  • Sometimes easy to identify, especially if in a list of three things or in a long sentence. Bur what if it is more subtle? For example:

  • We are not going to be identified as a ‘growing social problem’, as the social commentators would have us labelled, but as a thriving, gossiping and defiant sisterhood.

How does the sentence structure emphasise her positive point of view? (2A)

Answer

Clues for climax
  • There is list

  • There is a build up

  • The negative ideas are at the beginning

  • The ideas become more positive

Anti-climax would reverse 2 and 4

Repetition

  • Repetition of sentence structure ie word order or parts of speech or patterns

  • Repetition of words or expressions

  • Repetition of sounds

(Remember it is the impact of the repetition not just identification of it that gets marks.)


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