I remember the first time I heard the phrase “close read.” I was a sophomore in high school, and the extent of my English class experience had been memorizing plot facts, characters, and setting. I could identify the “setting,” the “climax,” and, if I was feeling fancy, the denouement of the story, but that was it. As I found out soon enough, however, memorizing the basic facts is not enough. What’s really exciting is the presentation of those facts, and that is where close reading (i.e. analysis) comes in.
Here, in the first installment of my writing series, I’ll share how I approach analyzing a shorter passage. I’ve seen pages upon pages of analysis written on a few paragraphs of text. There is always something to write about, and chances are, if your teacher has assigned this particular piece, there is sufficient material to work with.