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a strategy for understanding an author s message theme in a poem n.
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TPCASTT

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TPCASTT

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  1. A Strategy for Understanding an Author’s Message (THEME) in a Poem TPCASTT

  2. WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,     We people on the pavement looked at him:  He was a gentleman from sole to crown,     Clean favored, and imperially slim.     And he was always quietly arrayed,       5  And he was always human when he talked;  But still he fluttered pulses when he said,     "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.     And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,     And admirably schooled in every grace:  10 In fine, we thought that he was everything     To make us wish that we were in his place.     So on we worked, and waited for the light,     And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;  And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,  15 Went home and put a bullet through his head.    Read this poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson…

  3. Richard Cory WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,     We people on the pavement looked at him:  He was a gentleman from sole to crown,     Clean favored, and imperially slim. • This title emphasizes that the poem is about “Richard Cory.” What is it about him that we should know? T: Title

  4. WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,     We people on the pavement looked at him:  He was a gentleman from sole to crown,     Clean favored, and imperially slim. • When you paraphrase, you re-think and re-word the passages to make sure you know what the author is saying literally. • Here the author is describing how Richard Cory is considered gentlemanly and clean. P: Paraphrase

  5. And he was always quietly arrayed,         5 And he was always human when he talked;  But still he fluttered pulses when he said,     "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked. • When paraphrasing, now is the time to look up all words you don’t know. • Vocab: arrayed – to dress or decorate in splendid attire • RC doesn’t seem loud or like he wants to draw attention to himself. Still, people are affected by his presence when he speaks to them. P: Paraphrase

  6. And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,     And admirably schooled in every grace:  10 In fine, we thought that he was everything     To make us wish that we were in his place • Vocab: grace – a pleasing appearance or effect • RC is wealthy and has all the social manners learned from the best schools. People want to be him. P: Paraphrase

  7. So on we worked, and waited for the light,     And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;  And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,  15 Went home and put a bullet through his head. • The people in town work hard and wait for their chance to be favored as RC has been favored. • Then, on a calm night, RC kills himself. P: Paraphrase

  8. First, find interesting word choices , symbols, figurative language, allusions, etc.that may have more than one meaning or lead us to another level of understanding that the word alone wouldn’t lead us to. What emotional ideas do these words have? Are some positive and others negative? Words with meanings that can be related to another idea: Grace, imperially, light, bread, crown, king all have connotations of royalty and even religion. Why are these words used with RC? Why do the townspeople curse the “bread” (religious connotation)? C: Connotations

  9. Think about how the speaker (not necessarily the author) FEELS about the subject/topic. The speaker feels like one of the townspeople who look up to Richard Cory and wants what RC has. The speaker feels bitter that he was not blessed with the same good looks, money, charm that RC has. Why did the author make the speaker one of the townspeople? Why doesn’t the speaker seem surprised or say about what happened to RC? A: Attitude

  10. Shift usually occurs between stanzas towards the end of a poem. Look for it anywhere in the poem, though Think about a change in any of the following: STRUCTURE of poem (syllable count, verse length, rhyme scheme) PERSPECTIVE POINT OF VIEW SETTING TOPIC/SUBJECT And then think about what happens after that shift or what the author exposes to us after and during the shift. In this poem, the shift occurs at the beginning of stanza four when the speaker talks about the bitterness of the townspeople rather than the glory of RC. Shift in subject Why does the author have to tell us how the townspeople feel and then surprise us with RC’s tragedy? S: Shift

  11. Title (again) but this time on a Figurative Level? Sometimes you can find puns in the title as well as allusions. This might also be a good time to review the AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY for clues to why he or she would title a work a particular way. http://www.earobinson.com/pages/HisLife.html E.A. (as Edwin called himself) was in love with a woman (Emma) who married his brother Herman. After losing a business, Herman sank into alcoholism and died. Emma said that “Richard Cory” is about Herman. Was EA like one of the bitter townspeople feeling his brother had it all? Did he regret his bitterness? Is that why he wrote this poem? T: Title (again)

  12. Theme is the message the author gives in a work. It is NOT a direct reference to something in the literature but a global undestanding or idea. Theme is the connection of all parts of TPCAST—looking at connections between connotations, speaker’s attitude, what is the big idea in the shift, how the title re-enforces other ideas To understand the message, you might try the following: Topic: Topic Extended: (what about the topic-phrase) Topic and how author feels about it: Topic: Pain and emptiness Topic Extended: how people cope with pain and emptiness How author feels: All people feel pain and emptiness; even those whose lives seem fulfilled need a connectedness to others to feel complete. T: Theme

  13. Use the theme as your thesis statement of your essay • Use specific references from the poem (word choices, details—names, events, places) to discuss any of the TPCASTT items as they relate to your theme (for example, write a paragraph about the speaker’s ATTITUDE that will support the theme) • Cite from the poem and explain how the citation develops attitude, connotation, shift, etc So, I have the theme, now what do I do????