What do they mean by specific reference to a piece of literature?My teacher wants me to write in a journal about this piece of literature and one of things I am have to have in it is specific...

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It is customary in writing to always provide supporting details for any general statements that you make. Then, to back up these supporting details, the writer cites from sources, or gives examples, or provides statistics, etc. 

In the case of writing an essay about a particular work of literature, the student writes a thesis, which contains a general statement about the work with two or three opinions of judgments, about the work.  Each of these opinions are contained in separate topic sentences.

The topic sentence expresses the student's judgment of some element of the work of literature.  Then, the student supports this judgment with some particular details from a section, or a chapter (if the work is a novel).  To verify the correctness of these specific details, the student should cite a passage that supports the idea expressed in the details.

For instance, if the student writes that the major conflict between the daughter and her father is in the differences of their experiences in life, and he/she supports this topic sentence with details of how the father and daughter disagree, he/she then must provide "a specific reference" by citing lines or a passage, directly quoted from Grace Paley's story.

e.g.  One of the disagreements between the daughter and her father is in their opinion regarding how much detail should be given to the description of the girl's family:

'Forget that one, Pa, what have I left out now?  In this one?'

'Her looks, for instance'

'Oh.  Quite handsome, I think.  Yes.'...

'With you, it's all a joke,' he said.  'What about the boy's father?  Why didn't ou mention him? .....

These quotes are specific references to the work of literature that is being discussed.


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