Revised Essay Paragraph

Revised with a focus on clarity and concision: Attempted to reduce unnecessary flourishes in favor of directness while also including a clearer quotation.

“kitchenette buildings” opening stanza establishes a muted, disconnected environment for its speakers through the manipulation of visual imagery, syntactical units, and sound devices. Beginning in the speaker’s self-description, “We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan/Grayed in, and gray.” (Brooks 1-2), the poem’s descriptive diction favors muted vagaries. By repeating “gray” in two forms—once as a verb and once as an adjective—the poem creates a sense of monotonous repetition by refusing to diversify its descriptors. Additionally, the opening sentence manipulates syntax and line breaks to balance the completeness of the thought expressed in the first line with the anticipation of the sentence’s conclusion. This evokes in the reader a sense of anticipation parallel to that felt by the speakers day by day, as well as the inevitable disappointment experienced at the eventual arrival of the languid “Grayed in, and gray” (2). This cliffhanger pattern continues through the second line, until the neat syntactical conclusion of the stanza, which seals the introductory lines as a single conceptual unit. Another grammatical device, the quotations, creates both a syntactical and rhythmic pattern to establish a sense of isolation and disconnect: “Like ‘rent,’ ‘feeding a wife,’ ‘satisfying a man.’” (3). Putting both abstract and concrete concepts like “Dream”, and “rent” in quotations—while actively contrasting the two concepts—allows a level of abstraction from them both that distances the speaker from their experience (2-3). Simultaneously, the cluttered punctuation forces the reader to read carefully, at a plod evocative of the speaker’s trudge through life. Meanwhile, the concept of “Dream”, brought to prominence by its capitalization, suffers a greater degree of isolation created by the use of consonance within the second line. Beginning with the repetition of “gray” at the start of line two, and complemented by the consonance on “g” in “giddy” and “strong” (2), the harsh fricative builds a sonic wall on either side of the dream. This invokes the larger sandwich pattern of poem, and the sandwiching of people within restrictive containers—say, kitchenette apartments.


2 thoughts on “Revised Essay Paragraph

  1. Hi Celine,

    I think that starting with a close reading in order to illuminate an idea that your paper wants to explore is a very sophisticated and effective technique.

    However, I think that you perhaps go too deeply into this close reading for an introduction. A lot of these details belong in a body paragraph. I know that it is a difficult balance to achieve between specificity and concision. One way to think about it would be to focus this opening close reading on parts of the first stanza that are more emblematic of the way the poem works as a whole. The last third or so of your paragraph, and the last sentence in particular, achieves that level of generalizability.

    If you were to try revising this, I would suggest that you move any discussion of details that don’t organically build to your thesis – that the poem generates a sense of isolation and restrictive containers on a formal as well as a thematic level – to a body paragraph, where you have more room to explore the more specific details that you examine here.

    tl;dr: starting with a close reading is a good move, but the close reading should take us right to the main point. The close reading should demonstrate how the opening stanza becomes emblematic of the poem’s main thematic concerns.

    Let me know if you have questions


    • Hi Professor Hunt.

      This is a body paragraph–If you recall, in our one-on-one meeting, we discussed my options for editing another paragraph rather than the opening, since my opening was gone over in class. I specifically chose this paragraph to apply the edit we discussed regarding the insertion of a longer quote before analyzing parts of that quote.


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