Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Best Refuge For Insomniacs

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Krista Landriault

Mrs. Lenti

ENG 4UL-01

live paper help



10 October 00

Analysis of “The Best Refuge For Insomniacs”

Lance Morrow’s essay “The Best Refuge For Insomniacs” explores the bare subject of reading. The author uses a structured organization of ideas with a serious and affectionate tone to produce a formal piece of writing; but personalizes it with a functional language style, first person point of view and an implied thesis. The author’s first purpose is to convince the reader of the comfort books can bring during troubling times, and his second purpose is to persuade the reader to find his or her own list of favorite books. Morrow achieves his twofold purpose through the use of emphasis and coherence.

The essayist uses emphasis to stress his bare subject and his purpose announcement of the thesis, principal idea, repetition of the main idea, and the use of intensified style. To begin, Morrow announces his thesis in a clear but implied manner “The calm and clarity of Cather’s prose stabilized the woman and helped her through the time.” In other words the calmness of reading prose supports troubled people. Thus, reading helps one through difficult times in life.

In addition to the thesis, Morrow employs a principal idea at the beginning and the end of his essay reading helps. He writes, “helped her through the time,” at the beginning of the essay and he includes “helps the mind through the black hours,” at the end of the essay. This principal idea is used to highlight how people use reading for solace. Therefore, through adding emphasis to his ideas Morrow powerfully conveys the message that reading helps individuals through hard times.

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Furthermore, Morrow utilizes repetition of the main idea to stress that reading helps one through difficult times. One repetition of this main idea is used to emphasize the value of reading as companionship “the books you keep for the middle of the night serve a deeply personal purpose, one of companionship.” Another repetition of the main idea is used to establish reading’s function of stabilization to a chaotic mind “Reading restores to the mind a stabilization of linear prose. . . .” Finally, a last repetition of the main idea is used to accentuate the security people find in reading books “I found shelter in books in the middle of the night.” Hence, repetition of the main idea emphasizes that reading helps the mind through hard times.

A final method that Morrow uses to achieve emphasis is intensified style. For example, a metaphor is employed to compare the news to a knife, “The global electronic collective, the knife of the news. . . .” In this quotation, the news (like other media) inflicts pain and discomfort on a troubled mind in contrast to reading that offers solace and refuge to a troubled mind. An additional metaphor is utilized to compare television to a microwave, “The medium is a microwave it makes reality taste wrong.” In this quotation, the microwave transforms food to be eaten in the same way that television transforms the mind because it does not support reality. A final example is a simile used to measure the alikeness between music and ice water, “music like bright ice water. . . .” In this quotation the author compares the coldness and awareness an individual obtains by encountering bright ice water to music which delivers the same attributes, as does reading. In summary, intensified style brings out the point the author is trying to make in a clear, strong manner.

In short, Lance Morrow has used four different methods to achieve emphasis � by announcing his thesis that reading stabilizes troubled minds, by placing the principal idea of help at the beginning and at the end of the essay, by repeating the main idea of reading, and by using intensified style devices like metaphors and similes. As well, Morrow uses coherence to relate

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the parts of the essay in a way that is clear to the reader transitions, parallel structure, echoing, and organization of ideas.

One way in which Morrow establishes coherence is through the use of transitions. For example, he uses a time transition, “Years ago,” to set up a personal example of when he turned to a history book to help him recover from surgery “Years ago, recovering from a heart operation, I read Shelby Foote’s three-volume history of the American Civil War. . . .” In another example Morrow writes, “In Vietnam the soldiers said, ‘he is a man you can walk down the road with.’” This place transition, “In Vietnam,” sets up the metaphor of companionship and its application to books. Finally, Morrow uses an example transition phrase, “for example,” to set up an example of how Mozart’s music brings the same effect as reading to a troubled mind “Mozart, for example music like bright ice water, or say, the memory of the serene Palladian lines of Jefferson’s Monticello.” In brief, Morrow uses time, place, and example transitions to establish coherence between ideas.

Coherence is further achieved through the use of parallel structure. One parallel structure is found in paragraph five “I mean the kind of reading one does to keep sane, to touch other intelligences, to absorb a little grace.” These parallel infinitive verb phrases qualify the kind of reading needed to help one through the night reading which provides sanity, intelligences, grace. In the same paragraph, Morrow uses parallel dependent clauses “In Vietnam the soldiers said, ‘He is a man you can walk down the road with,’” and “Every reader knows there are certain books you can go down the road with.” These parallel phrases reveal how books can be trusted and serve the role of companionship. As well, parallel structure is used in paragraph eleven “Wallace Stevens for his strange visual clarities, Robert Frost for his sly moral clarities, Walt Whitman for his spaciousness and energy.” These prepositional phrases offer stabilizing qualities that reading encompasses. In short, to further achieve coherence, Morrow uses parallel infinitive verb phrases, parallel dependent clauses, and parallel prepositional phrases.

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Finally coherence is achieved through echoing. For example, Morrow echoes the word “medium” “The medium is a microwave. . .”; “Dreams are not an electronic medium”; and “The medium destroys sequence.” This use of echoing draws attention to the medium of television with its subversion of reality in a discomforting manner. Another example is when the subject of war is echoed “In Vietnam the soldiers. . .”; “War (and television) shatters”; and “history of the American Civil War.” The idea of war brings an awareness of how, like television, war destroys the stability of the mind and sets it up for needing comfort. Lastly, Morrow echoes night and darkness “ in the morning. . .”; “the books you keep for the middle of the night”; “got through a tragic time by reading Dickens to each other every night; and “helps the mind through the black hours.” The author’s use of echoing shows how people use reading for comfort in the long hours of the night when they are lonely and uncomfortable. To summarize, Morrow echoes the words “medium”, “war”, and “night,” to emphasize how these discomforts bring chaos to the mind.

Overall, this essay is organized from general to specific to connect the ideas in a coherent manner. Morrow begins his essay with the announcement of the general thesis, “The calm and clarity of . . . stabilized . . . and helped [] through the time.” The medium of television is introduced as a counter-idea as it subverts reality in a discomforting manner and as a setup for the medium of reading. At this point in the essay, Morrow establishes his rationale � specific reasons to support the choice of reading as a source of comfort in difficult times “to keep sane, to tough other intelligences, to absorb a little grace” for companionship. Examples and allusions to specific texts are given to support these reasons. In the end, Morrow encourages the reader to find his/her own texts or even a different medium to help one through times of distress in life.

In summary, Lance Morrow has used four different methods to achieve coherence � by using transitions to connect his ideas, by using parallel structure to demonstrate how reading

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offers companionship, by echoing words to emphasize his ideas, and by organizing his ideas in a well formatted way.

In conclusion, Lance Morrow’s essay “The Best Refuge for Insomniacs,” is written to convince the reader of the comfort of prose that reading offers during difficult times, and to persuade the reader to find his or her own list of books. By using techniques of emphasis and coherence Morrow effectively explains the benefits that reading provides an individual.



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