Monday, February 3, 2014

There's a fine line

I feel there is a pretty fine line between efficiently close-reading a text and beating down a text into a giant pool of nothing. Close-readings are always valuable, especially to slower readers like myself, because when a group of individuals have any type of discussion, there are always going to be different perspectives on any given point. It's helpful to gain insight to these other perspectives because one person's take on a certain scenario in the novel can change a solid portion of your own understanding of the novel. For the most part, I walk away from close readings feeling more solidified with the novel than I did while reading it on my own. However, there comes a point, which I think Rayna could have been alluding to, when close readings become an overly open forum to discuss minor details at major length. In Huck Finn, it is perfectly reasonable to discuss the use of the word "nigger" and why the word appears exactly where it appears. But there are plenty of other word choices that were most likely meaningless to Twain when he was writing the novel. It seems that sometimes when we are told to close-read a section, we search for every minute detail in the passage to have some sort of significance. When that is the case, I think close readings become a blunder because we force circles to fit into squares. Personally, close reading Huck Finn has helped me move away from just viewing the text as a war on racism, and more as an uncivilized journey of an outcast child maturing into his own character without the walls of civilization holding him in. So I think close reading is very helpful until it gets to go overboard.

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