Image by Caleb Roenigk
I have learned many new aspects about writing in AP Language and Composition. I think the most important concept about writing that I learned is using S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. elements, which is speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, and tone. It is very useful to me because it allows me to analyze pieces of writing and it helps me organize my essay structure. Using S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. as a tool helped expand my knowledge of writing because it taught me how to focus on important strategies in writing.
One assignment that I did not do well on this year was the persuasive essay. I had trouble using the S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. elements in this essay because I did not know how to make my sentences seem more convincing. My paragraph structure was very unorganized and my evidence were not strong enough to support my claim. I also did not like the prompt. The prompt was about if school should start later and I just was not into it. I tried to appeal to Logos by explaining how starting school later would not change a thing, but it ended up sounding too repetitive. If I could write this essay again, I would have tried a lot harder to organize my paragraphs and focus on supporting my claims with better evidence and more insightful explanations. What I learned from this assignment was that I should have stuck with one thesis and explain it with evidence instead of trying to jump around on other theses.
One assignment that I did very well on this year was the descriptive essay. The prompt was that I had to describe someone close to me with one word and then evaluate by having examples of why that person is described as that word. I described my mom as passionate by describing how she is passionate about making pho. I did not know how descriptive I had to be until Mr. Ziebarth showed my class an example of a good descriptive essay. So for my essay I did as much as I can to make it sound very descriptive. I described every object and action with vivid imagery. This assignment helped me grow as a writer because it taught me that using descriptive imagery helps readers visualize the setting and plot.
¨Grapes of Wrath¨ by John Steinbeck, image by Bob Familiar
I think the assignments that had the biggest impact on my learning was the practice style analysis paragraphs that we wrote in preparation for the AP exam. A good example of the style analysis paragraph that we had to write was the rhetorical analysis of Grapes of Wrath. In this essay we had to find rhetorical strategies that the author used to tell the audience about the purpose of the book. This is where all the S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. elements helped me a lot with writing the style analysis essay. Another acronym that was very useful for the S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. elements was S.C.O.U.T., which stands for specific, comparison, organization, unusual, and theme. In the Grapes of Wrath essay, I wrote about how the author uses diction to reveal the tone. My essay was not as good as I thought it would be because I was not specific enough on my explanations. Although I did not do too bad, I still could have done better analyzing the rhetorical strategies. Even though I am not very good at using style analysis, I thought using S.O.A.P.S.T.O.N.E. and S.C.O.U.T. elements was very helpful to me and significantly improved my writing. I learned how to identify diction and syntax, use Aristotelian appeals such as logos, pathos, and ethos, make comparisons, identify the theme. I had never even heard about diction and syntax before I took the class.
Image by jaynesreign on deviantart.com
My question about the Catcher in the Rye is ¨How does the way Holden Caulfield talk reflect him, his life, and his relationships?¨
I think the way Holden talks reflects himself by making him an unreliable narrator. To sound like an unreliable narrator, Holden says one thing while he means something else. For example, in chapter 17, Holden tells Sally Hayes how he wants to run away with her and get married and have new life together. But at the end of the chapter on page 134 he says, ¨If you want to know the truth I don´t even know why I started all that stuff with her. I mean about going away somewhere, to Massachusetts and Vermont and all. I probably wouldn´t´ve taken her even if she´d wanted to go with me. She wouldn´t have been anybody to go with. The terrible part though, is that I meant it when I asked her.¨
The way Holden talks reflects his life by making his life sound very depressing and lonely. For example in chapter 25, Holden feels depressed when he sees the words ¨F*** you¨ written on the walls of his sister Phoebe´s room. On page 201 he says, ¨that made me even more depressed. I hardly even had the guts to rub it off the wall with my hand, if you want to know the truth.¨ Holden feels as if his life is very depressing because he is going through the transition phase from teenager to adult.
I think the way Holden communicates with people has a really big effect on his relationships and on his life by making him very hard to talk to. For example, in chapter 17, when Holden goes on a date with Sally Hayes, Holden is constantly jumping subjects when he is talking to her. Holden first talks about how he hates phonies and then jumps on to talking about horses. On page 131 Sally is cut off by Holden when she says ¨I don´t even know what you´re talking about, you jump from one-¨. This shows that Holden is extremely hard to talk to because he always changes the subject and rabbles on about something else. Another example of how Holden is difficult to talk to is when he talks to his old friend Carl Luce. Carl Luce advises Holden to go see his father, a psychoanalyst, for help. On page 148 he tells him, ¨For one thing, he´d help you to recognize the patterns of your mind. Your mind runs in-¨. This further shows that Holden´s thoughts make him talk about a lot of different things that do not make any sense.
I had lots of fun learning how to become a better writer in AP Lang and I have no regrets taking this class. I learned so many things that I need to improve on and I still have much to learn. I felt like I tried really hard in this class, but I also feel like I could´ve tried harder. What I really enjoyed about this class was the time I get to spend with my friends, the funny jokes from Mr. Ziebarth, and all the ideas I get to share on the internet with blog posts. I always thought blog posts were useless in English but now I understand that blog posts are very important for sharing ideas and reading them. Overall, I was very satisfied to take this class and I hope next generations of students who take this class feel the same.