I have been asked to, specifically, "Examine the diction of 'Death of a Pig' by E. B. White. Are there any word choices made that particularly enhance the mood or reveal the narrator's attitude?"...

I have been asked to, specifically, "Examine the diction of 'Death of a Pig' by E. B. White. Are there any word choices made that particularly enhance the mood or reveal the narrator's attitude?" How should I begin to answer this question? Should I begin by saying, "The author's diction in this story is...etc? Or am I totally off?

This question is pertaining to "Death of a Pig" from Essays of  E. B. White.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Introductions and conclusions are normally the most difficult parts of an essay for many students. One solution in terms of writing process is to avoid letting the struggle to figure out a good introduction get in the way of your completing the easier parts of the essay. Just write a few words as a sort of "placeholder" introduction, and then move on the to body of the essay. Once you have finished the rest of the essay, it's fairly easy to write your real introduction that points the reader forward to your main ideas.

Your next strategy is to break down the components of the essay analytically. In other words, rather than going page by page, as you would in a summary, you need to group major features of White's diction into categories. For example, you might choose:

  • Parenthetical comments
  • Colloquial language
  • Allusions to other works
  • Using word choice to evoke detailed imagery
  • Active vs. passive voice

Once you've chosen these (or other) categories, and found a few examples of each, you can go back to working on your introduction. With this information in mind, you would then be able to start off by stating "Several aspects of White's diction contribute to the effectiveness of his essay-writing style." In your conclusion, you might discuss how you can apply your analysis of White's use of diction to your own writing to help you become a better writer by using some of White's techniques. 

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