Some Questions for Active Reading
- After you have finished reading a work, go back and re-read the first
unit (paragraph or scene) of the work.† What does this first unit accomplish
in setting up the work and in setting up the readerís expectations of the
work?† What are the key terms in the first unit?† How would the work be
different if the first unit had been different?
- What are the key character relationships in the work?† How do you know
that they are key?† What scene or scenes focus our attention on any
one of these relationships?† Re-read one of those key scenes.† What does
that scene ask us to think about one or more of the characters?† How does
that scene get us to think that way (choice of language, plot elements,
- What are the key images and/or symbols in the work?† What do we think
of them when we first encounter them?† Do their meanings change?† If so,
how, and to what effect?†† How would the work be different if the key images
and/or symbols were different?
- What is the theme (the most important overall subject) of the work?† How
is that theme explored?† Is that exploration adequate to the theme?† Is
it prejudiced?† How might it have been explored differently?
- After you have finished reading the work and after you have made an attempt
to write down notes toward answering at least three of the above questions,
including writing down page references, re-read the last unit (paragraph
or scene) of the work.† What does this last unit accomplish in pulling together
the readerís response to the work?† What does it ask us to think about once
we stop reading?† How does it make that impulse powerful for us?† How would
the work have been different had the last unit been different?
Copyright © 2004 Eric S. Rabkin