Ways of Reading and Jane Tompkins
In the book, Ways of Reading, the authors Bartholomae and Petrosky outline what they describe as a "strong reader". They characterize the attributes that collectively contribute to this title and then talk about the relations between a strong reader and a strong writer. The perspectives that Bartholomae and Petrosky discuss on ideas and textual analysis are very interesting and in point of fact remind me of the thought process of which I use when analyzing a reading.
" Strong readers often read critically, weighing, for example, an author claims and interpretations against evidence-evidence provided by the author in the text, evidence drawn from other sources, or the evidence that is assumed to be part of a reader's own knowledge and experience."(p.12)
The easy way to read a text is to observe the general plot and to formulate ideas about the text through a first reading. A strong reader cannot only observe a reading; they can analyze the text and formulate an opinion through not only their own perspective and opinion, but through utilizing their own ideas as well as those of the authors and societies'. Reading Jane Tompkins's Indians, we find that the "strong reader" description is quickly applicable.
In Tompkins's essay, the reader is fed the façade that Tompkins's is writing on the relations between the Puritans first entering this country and the Native Americans already residing there. Her introduction to this paper is a personal reflection of a memory she has retained since her childhood. The reason for writing this essay she explains, is to prepare for a course she was to be teaching. The essay appears to be that of exceptional quality. Not only does she analyze the sources of which she has looked for understanding, she begins to discuss the bias in which every reading is coated. Her essay quickly turns into an analysis of the bias facts issued by authors and it's effect on the final product. By the time Tompkins's has to conclude her essay, the essay has progressed into something that has nothing to do with Native American's relations; instead the initial subject has become a catalyst for her conclusion.
" I didn't know what the facts were. All I had, or could have, was a series of different perspectives, and so nothing that would count as an authoritative source on which moral judgments could be based. But, as I have just show, I did judge, and that is because, as I now think, I did have some facts."(p.686)
As shown in the passage above, the argument that Tompkins's is having with herself is generalized. The story behind this quote could be anything, Tompkins has utilized a story about "Indians" as it helped her structure her argument a little more efficiently. Also, reading the passage above, we see that Jane Tompkins has contradicted herself, this is another technique she uses to exemplify her idea, and she will clarify this contradiction later in the conclusion.
" The awareness...