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The Excerpt Commentary

Describes how the things happen, not what happens.


How does the writer manipulate the reader?
Appreciation of the writers choice (Looks at all literary stuff they use)
o This is what they are doing
o Identify what they are doing
Be specific, explain 3 related aspects of passage: Key Features, Effect, Implication

Step 1
Read the passage carefully at least 2 times.
o Once for understanding, second for annotation
o Establish limitations to what you know. Do not assume too much.
Step 2
Who is speaking?
o Narrator or character? (Persona = person speaking in the poem [if ambiguous,

use gender of poet])


o Provide a description of either
To Whom?
o Audience of character
o Description and treatment by speaker
What? Why?
o Situation and purpose
Where? Why?
o Situation and purpose
How?
o Tone, style, diction
o Identify the words they use, how they use it
Patterns?
o Structure, form, repetition
Tension?
o Identify the tension
o Contrasts, conflicts, ironies
o Is this tension ever released?
So What?
o Dominant effect of all the above; the implication, the importance
o Why is it relevant?
o Demonstrate the appreciation for the authors choice

Step 3

Examine the Guiding Questions


-

They will most likely address:


o Content
o Stylistic features
- Use these to help anchor your analysis
Step 4
Ask the so what question for each answer you came up with above. If you find a
particular repetition in your answers to this question, that is your dominant effect and
should be the focus of your commentary.

Step 5: The Implications of Dominant Effect


Again, ask the so what question, this time about your dominant effect. In other words,
I have just decided that 3 particular techniques are being used in this excerpt creating a
particular effect. How does that effect inform a reading of the text as a whole?

Step 6: Composing the Commentary


Use steps 4 and 5 to create your assertion. Use relevant details to support your
argument. Dont include detail without relating it to your thesis and that details specific
detail. There is no one formula to follow in shaping your commentary: let your thesis and
passage decide.

Thesis
Create a unique thesis that cannot be used for other books.
Do not be too general and be specific to book(s) or passage at hand.
Create an argument.

Hello Day Worldwide


Consider the Nature of the Guiding Questions

Attitude poets response this is tone. This may serve as the basis of your
commentary how is this attitude created?
o There is a rather obvious disapproval of Hello Day there should be,
o
o

rather a commitment to knowing and being known


The author/persona does not disagree with the sentiment, and to the
momentary flash of a hello day, no more
The tone of disapproval is created through the poets use of
Diction
Of what could have been (10)
In the 1st stanza, there seems to be a question posed. What is

the alternative?
Shutters (44) keeping people from soul light (46)
2nd stanza: the perspective of our village
they becomes our apparent contrast
neighbour, greet, home, village, reconciled
Figurative Language
They the town associated with similes Contrapted/like a

toothpaste smile, Limp/like their cold fingers-shake


Our the village associated with metaphors: The grief-

joy mixturetakes a lifetime to drink


This demonstrates a difference between simply saying hello

and connecting with another human being (the point of the


poet going back to the central assertion)
It is much more difficult to understand a metaphor than to
get a smile. Is this a possible point? Look at 43-51. Metaphors
take a negative tone. Why?
3rd stanza: unbarring demolition abolition the implication
is that these barriers already exist (but the diction implies
that effort is required to break down these divisions). There
seems to be a progression, also, concerning the permanence of
these barriers (windows/gates fences/walls border
points/entry permits)
These ideas contribute to how those of the town will react to
the suggestions of the poet (also dealing with diction):
o Contrapted a binding agreement
o Limp: without feeling of emotion
Structural Components

Stanzas 1 & 2: The tension is established town/village


1st stanza: hello negative qualities described
2nd stanza: the complexity of hello is demonstrated through

anaphora:
o and did not greet and ask how he is and how is home
The repetition of Of also links the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stanzas

which also ties into the central assertion: they vs us; day
vs commitment
The last lines:
and we
we follow in their train
Lacks period, becoming like the town, warning,
Patterns of language: this is diction. Always a good place to start when looking at

the tone of the author or persona.


Metaphor and simile this is figurative language. How the tone is conveyed

through poetic devices?


Structure this might be a good way of bringing it all together. How does the
structure of the poet reflect everything that youve already discussed?

Central Tension
The Hello is presented as the main focus of the poet so lets start there.

1st line: their town


o offensive
o audacity
o unsolicited
o provocative
o gesture
o token
th
11 line: our village

Commentary Outline

1/

2/