Authors Purpose - DOC by maclaren1

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									Author’s Purpose
       You arrive at school one day and find that a note has been dropped through the
vents of your locker.

          Dear Marjorie,
                       Please forgive me for what I said last night. You have beautiful hair, and I
       love your new haircut. I meant to say it was “pert” or “radically chic” or something like
       that, but I couldn’t think of the right words. “Dorky” just kind of popped out of my mouth.
       You know I think you’re beautiful. I haven’t been able to sleep all night thinking that I hurt
       your feelings. I’d do anything to patch things up.

                                                 Love, Erwin

       P.S. Hope this is the right locker. I’m so tired they all look the same.

Before you toss the note (who is Marjorie, anyway?), you consider Erwin’s message. His
tone is sincere. His attitude is concerned but positive. He obviously likes Marjorie and is
set on getting her back. Just when you’re ready to stuff the note into another locker, a sad-
looking girl with radically chic hair walks by. You hand her the note and say, “This is for

The Writer Behind the Writing
Everything ever written was written by a person (except for computer poetry and some
things accidentally typed by chimps). To understand a piece of writing, a reader
frequently must understand some things about the person who wrote it. T do this, a reader
must be able to spot clues about this mysterious someone, this “author” person behind the

In the case of the above note, you can judge that Erwin is a sincere, if inept, guy What if
he had written the following?

       Dear Marjorie,
                 When are you going to forgive me for last night? So what if I said your
       new haircut looked dorky? I didn’t mean it. The way you treated me really ticked
       me off. I couldn’t even sleep last night. I mean, you know I’d never say anything
       to hurt you. Unless I really really tired, like now. (Just Kidding)

If you had read this note, you’d be doing Marjorie a favor to toss it in the nearest trash can.
This Erwin could only be the evil twin of the one who wrote the first note. He’s obviously
an insincere, self-centered jerk.

The author’s fingerprints
An author leaves his or her fingerprints all over a pieced of writing. Several writers might
be given the same assignment and each, miraculously, will produce something different.
This will happen no matter how simple the subject may seem.

You can uncover how an author feels about a topic by examining the choices he or she has
made in creating the work. Sometimes these verbal fingerprints are left behind
intentionally, and sometimes they are not. Finding these fingerprints and interpreting them
is a large part of the pleasure of reading.

 Tip 1: Notice whether an author’s tone is positive, negative, or neutral.
Tone reveals the emotions that an author brings to a subject.

      A positive tone conveys good feelings about the topic. It might show happiness,
       pride, delight, enthusiasm, humor, love, romance, joy, or a number of other positive
       emotions The tone might be extremely positive or only slightly positive, depending
       upon the words the author chooses.
      A negative tone communicates bad feelings a out the topic. It might show sadness,
       anger, cynicism, bitterness, weariness, hate, disgust, or a number of other negative
      A neutral tone is neither positive nor negative. If an author has no opinion (or
       doesn’t want to show one), he or she will avoid choosing words that express any
       sort of feeling at all. Words used to describe this tone include fair, straightforward,
       neutral, impartial, detached, and noncommittal.

All three of the following paragraphs describe the same experience, but each is written by a
different author. Read each passage and answer the questions that follow.

                                       Passage 1
               I just saw this awesome new movie, Space Heroes! It’s about this cool kid
       named Freddy who finds out that he’s really an alien from Altair. An amazing
       starship, with brilliant red and green lights flashing, shoots out of the sky like a
       falling star and zips him back to his home planet, where he meets his handsome
       older brother, Zendar. Zendar flies a futuristic starfighter in a battle with some
       creepy green creatures. Needless to say, Freddy and Zendar save the galaxy, and
       Freddy falls in love with a beautiful alien girl called Mella. The special effects
       blew my mind, and the acting was great!

                                       Passage 2
               In the new film Space Heroes, a boy named Freddy discovers he is not from
       Earth. A spaceship from his home world arrives and takes Freddy back to Altair.
       There, Freddy meets his brother, Zendar, who enlists him in a conflict with a rival
       alien race An Altairian girl, Mella, serves as a love interest.

                                      Passage 3
               Hollywood has coughed up another chunk of garbage Space Heroes, which
       should have been called Space Zeroes, is a dull, formulaic exercise in special effects
       substituting for story. The main character, a blank-faced child named Freddy, turns
       out to be an alien. We can tell because a clunky spaceship decorated in holiday
       lights appears out of nowhere and drags the kid to another planet. No one on Earth
       seems to notice this For some reason, Freddy’s “hunky” brother Zendar needs a
       fifteen-year-old kid with no experience to help him defend the planet Altair from
       some unconvincing green rubber bad guys. And because every lousy science-
       fiction movie needs a romantic subplot, there’s a girl character named Mella who
       looks cute and gets rescued a lot. Unfortunately, no one saved her from being in
       this movie.

              1. What is the tone of Passage 1?
                   a. Neutral
                   b. Very positive
                   c. Slightly positive
                   d. Slightly negative

              2. What is the tone of Passage 2?
                   a. Positive
                   b. Neutral
                   c. Slightly
                   d. Very negative

              3. What is the tone of Passage 3?
                   a. Neutral
                   b. Slightly positive
                   c. Slightly negative
                   d. Very negative

Underline words in Passage 3 that support your answer to Number 3.

 Tip 2: Use tone as a hint about the author’s attitude.
 Attitude and toneare closely related. The author’s tone can hint at his or her attitude
      toward - approval or disapproval of – the subjects dealt with in the passage.
              4. Which word or phrase best describes the author’s attitude toward the
                 movie in Passage 1?
                   a. Slightly bored
                   b. Somewhat opposed
                   c. Somewhat approving
                   d. Very approving
              5. What is the author’s attitude toward the movie in Passage 3?
                   a. Curious
                   b. Hesitant
                   c. Critical:
                   d. Undecided

Tip 3:Pay close attention to the mood the author creates.
Mood is the general atmosphere the author creates. You can also think of mood as the
feeling the writing leaves with you. Moods can be cheerful, spooky, suspicious, serious,
and so on.

              6. Which word best describes the mood the author creates in Passage 1?
                   a. Exciting
                   b. Joking
                   c. Serious
                   d. Frightening

Tip 4: Put tone, attitude, and mood together to determine the author’s purpose.

The tone, mood, and attitude, along with the main idea, will help you determine the
author’s purpose, or reason for writing. Authors have many different purposes for
picking up their pens, but most fall into one of the following categories:

      Writing to inform – Sometimes authors simply want to share information without
       offering their opinions. They may explain, describe, give facts, or otherwise inform
       you about a topic. If there are two sides to an issue, the author presents both sides
       and lets readers draw their own conclusions Examples include the news stories on
       the front page of your daily newspaper and nonfiction articles in magazines.
      Writing to entertain – The author may seek to amuse you with a funny story or
       essay, or grighten you with a scary tale. This type of writing is usually in the form
       of a short story, a novel, a humorous essay, a play, or a poem.
      Writing to teach – By now you are very familiar with writing that is designed to
       teach or instruct. School texts and workbooks are prime examples. Others include
       “how-to” books and magazines, recipes, and instructions.
      Writing to persuade – Sometimes authors want to persuade you to come around to
       their way of thinking. They might criticize something they don’t like, warn of an
       impending danger, or encourage you to take some action. In general, they are
       trying to convince you of something. Editorials, letters to the editor, and movie,
       book, and music reviews are examples of persuasive writing.
      Writing to express – An author may simply want to pour out his or her thoughts
       and feelings onto paper. Journal entries are one example of this type of writing.
               7. What is the author’s purpose for writing Passage 2?
                    a. To persuade readers to go see a certain movie
                    b. To inform readers of basic details about a movie
                    c. To convince readers that a movie won’t be any good
                    d. To entertain readers with a story about a space alien
Good Job or Bad?
       One of the things you get to decide as a reader is whether the author has done a
good job. Does the author seem to know the subject well? What if everyone shared that
opinion? The following tips will help you practice evaluating and author’s work.

Tip 5: Consider the author’s background and biases.

        Everything people produce, from pieces of writing to paintings and songs, is
affected by the world around them. The works of Shakespeare, for example, reflect the
attitudes and beliefs of 16th century England, not merely in the language used, but in the
characters’ motivations and behaviors. When you are considering an author’s choices, bear
in mind where and when the author wrote the piece and the audience for whom he or she
was writing.

        The author might also give some information about himself or herself. Or you
might know something about the author’s background from other things you’ve read,
heard, or seen. This information often has something to do with the position an author
takes on a certain issue. The author’s background may help you determine whether he or
she is biased toward or against a subject – whether he or she has a prejudice, a tendency to
see the subject from only one viewpoint. Consider all of these factors when you’re trying
to decide the author’s purpose.

Directions: Read the following passage. It will help you better understand the tips in this

                             The Pocahontas Myth
                                By Chief Roy Crazy Horse

               In 1995, Roy Disney decided to release an animated movie about a
         Powhatan woman known as “Pocahontas.” In answer to a complaint by the
         Powhatan Nation, he claims the film is “responsible, accurate, and respectful.”
               We of the Powhatan Nation disagree. The film distorts history beyond
         recognition. Our offers to assist Disney with cultural and historical accuracy were
         rejected. Our efforts urging him to reconsider his misguided mission were
               “Pocahontas” was a nickname, meaning “the naughty one” or “spoiled
         child”. Her real name was Matoaka. The legend is that she saved a heroic John
         Smith from being clubbed to death by her father in 1607 – she would have been
         about 10 or 11 at the time. The truth is that Smith’s fellow colonists described
         him as an abrasive, ambitious, self-promoting mercenary soldier.
       Of all of Powhatan’s children, only “Pocahontas” is known, primarily
because she became the hero of Euro-Americans as the “good Indian”, one who
saved the life of a white man. Not only is the “good Indian / bad Indian” theme
inevitably given new life by Disney, but the history as recorded by the English
themselves, is badly falsified in the name of “entertainment.”
       Yet in an account Smith wrote after his winter stay with Powhatan’s people,
he never mentioned such an incident. In fact, the starving adventurer reported he
had been kept comfortable and treated in a friendly fashion as an honored guest of
Powhatan and Powhatan’s brothers. Most scholars think the “Pocahontas
incident” would have been highly unlikely, especially since it was part of a longer
account used as justification to wage war on Powhatan’s Nation.
       Euro-Americans must ask themselves why it has been so important to
elevate Smith’s fibbing to status as a national myth worthy of being recycled
again by Disney. Disney even improves upon it by changing Pocahontas from a
little girl into a young woman.
       The true Pocahontas story has a sad ending. In 1612, at the age of 17,
Pocahontas was treacherously taken prisoner by the English while she was on a
social visit, and was held hostage at Jamestown for over a year.
       During her captivity, a 28-year-old
widower named John Rolfe took a “special              What happens in the movie?
interest” in the attractive young prisoner. As a
condition of her release, she agreed to marry         Disney’s cartoon version of the
Rolfe, whom the world can thank for                   Pocahontas story features a young
commercializing tobacco. Thus, in April               Powhatan woman who is clearly
1614, Matoaka, also known as “Pocahontas”,            “of marrying age.” She falls in
daughter of Chief Powhatan, became                    love with the virtuous,
“Rebecca Rolfe.” The descendants of                   individualistic hero John Smith,
Pocahontas and John Rolfe were known as the           founder of the Jamestown
“Red Rolfes”                                          settlement. Their romance
       Two years later, in the spring of 1616,        blossoms in private while the two
Rolfe took her to England where the Virginia          races engage in ugly warfare.
Company of London used her in their                   After she saves Smith’s life, he
propaganda campaign to support the colony.            invites her to come with him to
She was wined and dined and taken to                  England. She declines out of
theaters. It was recorded that on one occasion        loyalty to her people and her land
when she encountered John Smith (who was              There is no indication that she
also in London at the time), she was so furious       ever goes to Europe or sees Smith
with him that she turned her back to him, hid         again. John Rolfe, the man who
her face, and went off by herself for several         will become her husband, is not a
hours. Later, in a second                             character in the movie. There is
encounter, she called him a liar and showed           no foreshadowing of the eventual
him the door.                                         destiny of the Powhatan Nation.
       Rolfe, his young wife, and their son set
off for Virginia in March of 1617, but “Rebecca” had to be taken off the ship at
Gravesend. She died there on March 21, 1617, at the age of 21. She was buried
at Gravesend, but the grave was destroyed in a reconstruction of the church. It
was only after her death and her fame in London society that Smith found it
convenient to invent the yarn that she had rescued him.
       History tells the rest. Chief Powhatan died the following spring of 1618.
The people of Smith and Rolfe turned upon the people who had shared their
resources with them and had shown them friendship. During Pocahontas’s
         generation, Powhatan’s people were decimated and dispersed 1, and their lands
         were taken over. A clear pattern had been set which would soon spread across the
         American continent.
               It is unfortunate that of this sad story, which Euro-Americans should find
         embarrassing, Disney makes “entertainment” and perpetuates a dishonest and
         self-serving myth at the expense of the Powhatan Nation.
         1 decimated and dispersed: reduced drastically in number and scattered.

                 8. What does the author reveal about his personal history?
                      a. He has never enjoyed Disney’s animated movies
                      b. He is a member of Matoaka’s nation, the Powhatans
                      c. He has not actually seen Disney’s movie Pocahontas
                      d. He lives in the Rankokus Indian Reservation in New Jersey.

                 9. How does the author’s personal history affect his attitude about this
                       a. It causes him to dislike any Disney movie without seeing it.
                       b. It limits his audience to other Rankokus Reservation residents
                       c. It means his complaints about the film are not based on facts
                       d. It makes him more concerned about the accuracy of the story

 Tip 6: Decide whether the argument is adequate, accurate, and appropriate.
You can think of this as the “Triple A” test. As you’re reading, ask yourself, Is the
information given by the author adequate, accurate, and appropriate?

      Adequate – Does the author give enough evidence to support his or her ideas? If a
       writer says, “Senator Buckworth doesn’t care about our national parks,” the writer
       should back up that statement with plenty of evidence. Buckworth’s vote on one
       bill would not be enough. What is the senator’s record over time?

      Accurate – Does the author give you reason to trust the facts he or she presents?
       Of course, when you read non fiction writing, you might e reading about a topic you
       don’t know everything about. But you can still get a good feeling for whether the
       author knows what he or she is talking about. Does the author cite reliable sources?
       Can the facts be checked? For example, if an author says that Buckworth wants to
       get rid of the national parks, ask yourself, Has the senator actually voted against
       the parks or spoken of this desire?

      Appropriate – Does the author’s information apply to the topic? In other words,
       does the evidence the author gives tell something important about the topic, or does
       it make you say, “So what?” For example, a writer might say, “Senator Buckworth
       represents a mostly urban state, so she has no reason to care about the national
       parks.” Maybe the senator does represent an urban state, but what does that have to
       do with her position on the parks?
           10. What evidence does Chief Roy Crazy Horse give in “The Pocahontas
               Myth” to support the claim that John Smith invented the story of his
               rescue? Is his evidence adequate, accurate, and appropriate?





















Other Things to Look For
       The following tips present a few additional factors to consider when analyzing and
evaluating an author’s work.

Tip 7: Know the difference between facts and opinions.

Authors may use whatever reasons they wish to persuade you that they are right. They
don’t have to stick to simple fact statements; they can appeal to your heart as well as your
mind. But you, as a reader, should base your conclusions mainly on logic. One way to do
this is to decide whether the author’s statements are facts or opinions.

Facts can be checked in other sources to find out whether they are accurate. Opinions tell
someone’s feelings or views about a topic See the box below for more characteristics of
facts and opinions.

     Fact or Opinion?

     Here are a few ways to tell the difference between facts and opinions:
         A statement of fact can be checked for accuracy. You can look it up in a
            reference book or some other source.
         A statement of opinion cannot be checked. Any number of people can
            have different opinions about the same thing.
         Opinion statements often use words that mean different things to
            different people. Opinion statements often use adjectives such as
            beautiful, ugly, frightening, pleasant, expensive, or friendly. They may use
            nouns such as superstar or verbs such as improve or thrill. An outfit that’s
            “cool” to you may be a “nightmare” to your parents.
         Fact statements use words that have pretty much the same meaning
            for everyone, such as round, glass, blue, European, wooden, mammal, or
        In general, facts say, “Check it out”. Opinions say “Just take my word for it.”

Practice Activity
Directions: Write “F” for Fact or “O” for Opinion in front of each statement.

________ 11. Georgia is often called “The Empire State” or “The Peach State”

________ 12. Georgia is the 24th biggest state and covers 59,441 square miles of land.

________ 13. Now, that’s a lot of land!

________ 14. James Earl Carter Jr., the 39th president of the United States, was born in
Georgia on October 1, 1924.

________ 15. Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace is the first prequel to the Star
Wars series.

________ 16. The Phantom Menace is okay, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Revenge of the

________ 17. George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars series, named his ranch after one of
his characters, Luke Skywalker.

________ 18. An 855-foot-long rock wall was built at the top of Fort Mountain.

________ 19. The rock wall is the most interesting part of Fort Mountain State Park.

________ 20. Wee Bee Shoes is having a sale on Corkenstock sandals this week.

________ 21. Corkenstock sandals are the most comfortable shoes on the market today.

Tip 8: Look for an author’s purpose in informational writing and look for a theme in
literary works.

In Lesson 1, you learned that literary works (fiction) have a theme, You learned that a
theme is sometimes universal, meaning it applies to all people everywhere, and that ist is a
general statement. “Growing up is difficult” is an example of a theme. “Money is the root
of all evil” might also be a theme. Themes are almost always implied, meaning they are
not stated in a passage.

Informational writing might explain or persuade You will most often be asked to
determine the author’s purpose for informational passages, since the main purpose of most
literature is to entertain. Informational writing doesn’t generally have a theme.

Summing Up
When answering questions about an author’s purpose and
influences, remember the following tips:

 Notice whether an author’s tone is positive, negative, or
 Use tone as a hint about the author’s attitude.
 Pay close attention to the mood the author creates.
 Put tone, attitude, and mood together to determine the
  author’s purpose
 Consider the author’s background and biases.
 Decide whether the argument is adequate, accurate, and
 Know the difference between facts and opinions.
 Look for an author’s purpose in informational writing
  and look for a theme in

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