Close Reading of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

 Paper details Your first graded assignment will be a close reading of the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison. A close reading refers to both an interpretive process of analyzing the language and structure of a text and an essay whose analysis depends on this process. For this type of essay you will need to analyze very carefully the textual evidence in order to construct and support your argument. Exploring the theme of Community in Morrison’s “Beloved,” avoid talking about the topic in general terms, which often leads to interpretive summary. Exploring the angle of Community instead helps you to analyze the larger topic or question specifically. The analytical angle, also called motif, lens, or window, leads you to a series or pattern of similar scenes, a discrete realm of evidence, which you can then closely analyze. Note that a motif or pattern automatically limits your evidence. You can think of the text as music with recurrent motifs or as an architectural structure in which specific details are repeated and used in variation; or you could view the process of gathering textual evidence (“data”) as looking for a clue like a detective. Like helpful clues in a crime case or a good mystery, the textual evidence will help you to answer, revise, and generate questions. Your analytical work with these “data” will ultimately enable you to transform your topic into a precise thesis, a main insight or idea about your topic. In order to perform this kind of analysis you will need to select rich passages, scenes, sentences, or even words that enable you to analyze the language of the text as a whole. It involves a careful reading and re-reading (or rescanning) of the narrative. A close reading requires that you work thoroughly with the text’s language, its details, and nuances. You will need to explain how and why the text says what it does and not restate what it says.