One thing that I do particularly well in this first blog post is provide good examples to back up my first interpretation of the quote. Also, I examine how a particular quote could not only apply to the text but also to the external world (the quote is about how too many people think that “being happy” is not intellectual). Basically, the quote has two very different possibilities that I explore. Though exploring two paths that a quote can talk is certainly good for brainstorming, it can cause one to ultimately not focus enough thought into both. In essence, my post would have been better if I stuck with just one possible interpretation of the quote. One of my interpretations of the quote was based far more in the text – my examples were entirely lifted from the story and comments regarding them remained quite grounded in the narrative. My other interpretation – that Le Guin’s comment about happiness is a call to action for the reader to go be happy – was a bit of a stretch. Though all works of fiction are trying to convey some kind of message to the reader, such a message is undoubted subtle. Any message that seems too on-the-nose could easily compromise the work.
One way I could have improved my post would be to not include the second interpretation of the quote and focus all my attention to the initial one. In order to expand upon my primary interpretation I could have looked at Le Guin’s diction more closely (“rather” and “trouble”) and considered how this affects the text (for example, these words seem to understate the magnitude of the issue Le Guin is getting at). Also, I could have looked at “textual context” of the quote I examined. As the tip sheet points out, the location of the quote within the story is something worthy of examination – looking at the text that surrounds the particular quote I examined could shed new light onto its meaning.
Why do we close read? It changes a narrative from a simple story to a greater message. It makes stories relevant to our lives by giving them greater meaning. Close reading gives one a greater appreciation of literature because he or she can better understand how a good writer can use language to create something with a literal and figurative meaning. Also, close reading forces one to think critically. One must exert effort into pulling out the meaning from words. Such an activity makes one a smarter individual. In essence, close reading gives one a better understanding of not just a story, but perhaps the world at large.