by Mary Oliver
A closer look so we can really
“see the cow” during the AP
We are looking at RHETORIC!
That means you’re analyzing the “how”
Many of you struggled with this piece, not
because you didn’t understand it, but
because you forgot that we are looking at
what a writer DOES NOT what a writer
MEANS. Yes, we need to figure out
purpose, but in this case the purpose was
given to you. Your job was to talk about
the author’s style – so let’s see what you
can do when we take a second look at this
Who wrote this piece? (I know but
when some of you call her Mary and
others call her a him...I get concerned)
What is this piece? (yes, once again
you must call it what it is and not a
story, article, or editorial)
Create a rhetorical triangle for this
piece. No, you won’t be able to fill in all
the pieces of the puzzle but what you do
know you MUST address somewhere in
You MUST take time to read and
understand the prompt
What does the prompt ask you to do?
Write it word for word!
As you are reading you are looking at
the author’s STYLE so keep that in mind.
If you don’t know what STYLE entails
then you didn’t (AP) answer the prompt.
The Great Horned Owl
What does Oliver think about the Great Horned
Owl? Remember that her view is complex so she
probably has mixed feelings. How do you know this?
Cite evidence (that means words (diction) and
quotes) that convey this.
If you say she “loves” the owl you must back it
up with evidence from the text. That means
you pull diction, imagery, figurative language,
etc. If you only find one word that proves she
“loves” the owl you’d better re-think your
Quotes must be
followed with explanation!
Now that you have “evidence” from the
text as well as a claim – write some good
Example – If you said that Oliver is
frightened of the owl and you have pulled
words that convey that, explain WHY
Oliver would use them? What type of
imagery is she trying to create? for what
purpose? How does this help to convey
her complex view of nature?
A rose is a rose…
What does she think about the field of
roses? How do you know this? Cite
evidence that conveys this.
Put it all together
Now add meaningful commentary.
How might her complex view of nature be
presented with these two seemingly
This is her style!
Shifts help you to look at style too!
Where are the shifts in this piece? What
is their purpose? Remember...shifts do
not always occur just because there is a
Looking at the number of shifts in this
piece, how could you write about
author’s style using the shifts to guide
your analysis? Explain.
Style = Rhetorical Strategies
Rhetorical strategies are EVERYTHING the
author uses to convey his/her purpose. They
include (but are not limited to) diction, syntax,
imagery, 90/90 terms, detail, symbols,
figurative language, etc…
What rhetorical strategies do you see used in
this piece? You must find at least 4
Give concrete examples (quotes) to support
what you claim.
Why does Oliver use these “strategies”? How
do they help to convey her complex response to
Now let’s look at
some other “style” choices
Why does Oliver start off her piece
talking about many different owls?
(some of you did not read this piece
closely, since you wrote that she
“imagined the Great Horned Owl on her
Why does Oliver use dashes?
How might the use of dashes
add to her style?
How would you talk about the “style” of
the following sentence?
“I’m struck, I’m taken, I’m conquered,
I’m washed into it, as though it was a
Let’s look at syntax.
What do you notice about Oliver’s use of
punctuation? Do you notice rhetorical
questions, excessive commas, short
sentences, long sentences, italics…what
else do you see?
How do these strategies help to convey
Be specific! Sound like you know what
you are talking about.
When we talk about imagery we are
talking about the 5 senses. Be more
detailed in your exploration of those
senses. Don’t just say “the author uses
imagery” say “the author uses auditory
imagery” and then follow up with