Can you paraphrase the following quote? "'Watch! Out there!' exclaimed the general, pointing into the night. Rainsford's eyes saw only blackness, and then, as the general pressed a button, far out...

Can you paraphrase the following quote?

"'Watch! Out there!' exclaimed the general, pointing into the night. Rainsford's eyes saw only blackness, and then, as the general pressed a button, far out to sea Rainsford saw the flash of lights. The general chuckled. 'They indicate a channel,' he said, 'where there's none: giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut.'"

Asked on by limhoff

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The secret to paraphrasing well is to capture the essence of the quote without going into detail and producing a paraphrase that is the same length or much longer than the original. To do this it is important to identify what the essential or most important sections of the quote are and what can be safely ignored in the paraphrase. In the quote linked to this question, what is clearly important is General Zaroff's strategy to catch sailors on his island through the false lights and also the joy and cunning he demonstrates. His complete lack of compassion is also evident through the line that comes straight after this quote, where he demonstrates to Rainsford what he can do to a nut:

He dropped a walnut on the hardwood floor and brought his heel grinding down on it.

The quote therefore demonstrates Zaroff's savagery and lack of compassion towards fellow humans, and this is the essence that would need to be captured into a paraphrase. An example might be something like:

Zaroff explains to Rainsford how he has used lights to make sailors believe there is a safe channel, whereas in fact there is only danger, ensuring there are shipwrecks and a supply of sailors for his hunting of humans.

Such a quote therefore captures the key parts of the quote whilst also summarising the overall content.

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