Situation ā in the sequel, near the end of the story
Retrospective narrative ā giving the events which have
happened between the time of the second situation
and that of the third.
89. Different forms of Theme-model V. As
each of the situations must be followed by a dif -
f erent kind of narrative, Theme-model V. may take
any of the three following forms. In a given case
that form should be chosen which is best adapted
to the material.
Chapter I. (According to Theme-model II.)
Chapter II. (According to Theme-model III.)
Chapter III. (According to Theme-model IV.)
Chapter I. (According to Theme-model III.)
Chapter II. (According to Theme-model II.)
Chapter III. (According to Theme-model IV.)
Chapter I. (According to Theme-model IV.)
Chapter II. (According to Theme-model II.)
Chapter III. (According to Theme-model III.)
Whatever combination of the three kinds of
retrospective narrative is made, all must be used in
the one theme.
I40 Composition and Rhetoric
I. The selection which is to furnish material for
our next theme is Hawthorne's The Great Carbuncle,
Read it merely for the story, and write in complete
sentences the outline of the action ; that is, mention
the incidents that advance the story in the order in
which Hawthorne presents them. Tell only what
people did. Leave out incidents that merely throw
light on character or give background.
II. Answer the following questions :
How many characters are there ? What are their
names ? Describe briefly each character. What is
the scene of the story ? Who discovered the Great
Carbuncle? What becomes of each of the charac-
ters? What did each intend to do with the stone?
90. Theme-model V. in Reproduction. Follow-
ing is a plan for the reproduction of The Great Car-
buncle according to Theme-model V. :
Chapter I. (Use Theme-model II.)
Situation ā Find material in paragraphs i, 2, and 4. Use
Make Matthew and his wife A of the model, and
group the other characters as B.
Transition ā providing an occasion for the telling of the
previous history of each of the adventurers.
Retrospective narrative in dialogue ā Find material in
paragraphs 3, 5-22.
Select two or three of the minor characters, and
let them through conversation tell :
1. How they came to hear of the Great Car-
2. Who they are and how they look (through
elaboration in the dialogue).
3. What each intends doing with the stone.
Retrospective Narrative 141
4. Group the others and let one of the charac-
ters tell in monologue their appearance and aims.
Conclusion ā returning to Situation I. and pointing for-
ward to Chapter II.
The story of Matthew and his wife should be
gpiven prominence in this theme by introducing
these two characters into both the situation and
the retrospective narrative in eacU chapter. The
adventures and fortunes of the other characters
should be made subsidiary by having these char-
acters appear in the retrospective narrative each
time and in the first situation, but not in the second
or third situations.
Chapter II. (Use Theme-model III.)
Situation ā Find material in paragraphs 32-37. The
finding of the Great Carbuncle. Situation-type I.
Transition ā by the device of question.
Retrospective narrative by the author ā Find material
in paragraphs 24-31.
Conclusion ā returning to Situation II. and pointing for-
ward to Chapter III.
Chapter III. (Use Theme-model IV.)
Situation ā Find material in paragraph 53. Matthew
and Hannah in their home. Situation-type I.
Retrospective narrative in vision ā Let Matthew review
in thought (i) his own and his wife's fortunes since
they found the Great Carbuncle. Find material in
paragraphs 48-50. (2) The ultimate fate of the two
or three minor characters who were especially men-
tioned in the first retrospective narrative. Find
material in paragraphs 51-52.
Conclusion ā returning to Situation III. and giving us a
sense of completeness in regard to the whole story.
142 Composition and Rhetoric
I. Reproduce The Great Carbuncle according to
II. Write and give orally a reproduction of Roger
Malvin's Burial^ as the theme is outlined in Appen-
dix II., section 5.
91. Theme-model V. and the Description of
Pictures. The pictures facing pages 62, 78, and 106
will serve as a basis for a theme on the life of Joan
of Arc, to be written in the form of three situations
(suggested by the pictures), each followed by a dif-
ferent kind of retrospective narrative, as in Theme-
Before writing, consult the encyclopedia. Let
the first situation represent Joan as listening to
the heavenly voices, and the first retrospective nar-
rative give her history up to the time of the fiirst
appearance of the vision. Let the second situation
represent her as the victorious leader of the army,
and the retrospective narrative in the second chap-
ter of the theme give the history of events since
the time of the first situation. The third situation
should represent the death of Joan, and the retro-
spective narrative of this part give the incidents
which happened between the second and third situ-
92. Theme-model V. in Subjects from Life and
History. Only a few subjects are here suggested
to be treated according to Theme-model V., because
the student may select any of those given in section
44, upon which he has not already written. Others
of the same nature may be chosen.
Retrospective Narrative 143
I. Write a theme upon the following subject :
Antigone was a noble Greek maiden devoted to her
father and brothers. When her father blinded himself
and was obliged to leave Thebes, Antigone accompa-
nied him and remained with him till his death. One of
her brothers was slain by the other in battle. The king
forbade any one to bury this brother, but Antigone
defied this prohibition, and was in consequence confined
by the king in a vault underground, where she killed
This is a mere skeleton of the story. You must
invent the material you need for the different situa-
tions and the retrospective narrative.
Take as the point for your first situation, Antigone
and her father leaving Thebes; for the second, the
king announcing that Antigone's brother is to remain
unburied ; the third, Antigone dead in the vault.
II. Write on the quest of some object similar
to the Great Carbuncle.
Use as points for the three situations ā the starting
out, the finding of the object, and a scene in the sub-
sequent life of the finder. Keep the leading character in
the situations as well as in the retrospective narrative.
Use as material for the first retrospective narrative,
the circumstances which led to the quest, the identity
and aims of the seekers ; for the second, the circum-
stances which led to the finding of the object ; for the
third, the subsequent fate of the characters.
III. Tell the story of a mystery according to
the following plan :
Situation ā The mysterious event which forms the
motive of this story has just happened.
144 Composition and Rlietoric
Retrospective narrative ā the history of the persons con-
cerned to the time of the first situation.
Situation ā A person is apprehended who is suspected
of doing the deed.
Retrospective narrative ā the history of the circum-
stances which point to the connection of this person
with the mystery.
Situation ā A second person is apprehended and it is
proved that he, and not the first person suspected, is
guilty. The action may have been that of a natural
force, as in Sardou's The Black Pearly or of an animal,
as in Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue^ in which
case the third situation deals with the discovery of
the agent of the action, whatever it may be.
Retrospective narrative ā the history of the circum-
stances which led to the discovery of the real culprit
or agent of the mysterious action.
Part 1 1.
THE DESCRIPTIVE PARAGRAPH
In the study of description which follows, we
shall concern ourselves primarily with the descrip-
tive paragraph rather than with the descriptive
theme, because the basis of our work in the first year
is to be the study of narration, the telling of stories
ā from the simplest tale, that is purely narrative,
up to the complex form of the drama, in which
narration is embellished by means of the four other
kinds of discourse; namely, description, exposition,
argument, and persuasion. We are interested in
description, therefore, mainly as a subsidiary form,
used as a means of adorning narration, and thus
making real and interesting the persons and places
involved in the action. For the enrichment of a
narrative, the descriptive paragraph and not the
descriptive theme is used.
93. The Relation Between Narration and De-
scription. If we study the English novel historically
we shall find that the early novelists massed their
description, giving us sometimes two or three pages
of it at once. These extended descriptions interrupt
146 Composition and Rhetoric
the story, which is our main interest, and become
very tiresome. Later writers, realizing how prone
we are to skip the descriptive passages when massed
in this way, have broken up this element into shorter
paragraphs, or even into sentences, and have scat-
tered it throughout the book, so that it no longer
retards the action. The novel is becoming more like
the play in this respect. We should be very impa-
tient of an actor who recited two or three pages of
pure description while we were anxious to learn
what was to happen to the hero, and we are not less
intolerant of the writer when he delays the narra-
tive too long in order to give us complete pictures
of the persons and places whose story he is telling.
Description, whether in the short story, the novel,
or the play, should enrich but not impede the action.
A narrative should flow on like a river, but, like the
river also, it should be embellished. The surface
of the river is made beautiful and various by its
waves, by the sunlight which plays upon it, by the
graceful steamers and smaller boats which glide so
smoothly over its surface. Its banks, too, are inter-
esting to us because of the trees which overhang the
water, and the flowers which grow upon its green
borders but do not interrupt its flow. In like man-
ner the various descriptive-motives we shall study
in this chapter are used to vivify and beautify a
94. Meaning of the Term Description. Descrip-
tion is the portrayal in words of the qualities or
features of anything so as to produce a picture or
conception of it in the mind of a reader or hearer.
The Descriptive Paragraph 147
We have seen how the various types of narration
rise out of general narrative forms which we natu-
rally use in conveying to each other in conversation
accounts of happenings in the world of action.
Besides the mere series of events, which is all that
pure story contains, we have in our thoughts pic-
tures of places, men, and objects that we some-
times wish to transfer to the minds of our fellows,
either for their pleasure or for the practical ends of
everyday life. It is impossible for the larger num-
ber of us, in our short lives and with the limitations
which our individual circumstances impose upon us,
to know at first hand many phases of life, many lands,
or classes of men. We must, therefore, depend upon
conversation or books for a knowledge of places,
persons, and things we cannot know at first hand,
if we are to avoid becoming intellectually narrow.
Thus we see that description in both conversation
and books grows out of the social need of conveying
to or receiving from others pictures of life outside
of our own range of experience ; and because men
described persons and objects in conversation be-
fore they did in books we shall first study descrip-
tion in its colloquial form.
95. Colloquial Description. We have all listened
to conversations similar to the following.
Two men are talking over an old acquaintance
whom one of them has recently met :
" You say you saw Ballard when you were in Detroit
last. Has he changed much since he came west ? "
" Oh, yes, you would scarcely know him, poor fellow.
His figure is badly bent, and his hair almost white. He
has grown portly, too, and his step has lost the elasticity
148 Composition and Rhetoric
it had when he used to skate with your sister on the old
mill-pond. But there is the same kindly expression
about his mouth, and his eyes light up at a good story
just as they always did." [This is description of per-
"I presume he still lives in the old homestead on
" No, he has bought a new place across the river, ā
a fine place, too. He has about an acre of ground, all
set out with as handsome shrubbery as you would wish
to see. His greenhouse is one of the best I have ever
visited. One very odd thing about the place, however, is
the crude rustic fence that surrounds the entire grounds.
It must be six feet high. The architecture of the house,
too, seems to me a little eccentric. Some portions of it
are in the Colonial style and others suggest a French
chateau." [This is place-description.]
" How does he manage to spend his time since he
gave up his law practice ?"
" He has a farm of three hundred acres about two
miles out, which he intends leaving to the city for a
park when he is through with it. He drives out there
every day, and oversees the improvements that are
being made. One of his fads is collecting old china,
furniture, and other curios; he has built a kind of
museum for these treasures on his farm. Then he is
very much interested in the charities of the city, takes
an active part in all movements for public improve-
ment, is a member of the library board, a school trustee,
and serves on all kinds of committees." [This is descrip-
tion of mode of life.]
"Did you have any opportunity to talk over old
times with him ? "
"Yes, I had a long talk with him, but his conversa-
tion, you know, was alwdys very commonplace. He
has never read much and often lacks words as well as
original ideas. His voice is even more harsh and inex-
pressive than when he was younger, and he has never
overcome his irritating habit of skipping from subject
to subject like a butterfly. In fact, one's nerves are
painfully racked by a half-hour's conversation with
him." [This is description of a conversation.]
The Descriptive Paragraph 149
"Yet he has turned out very well for the unprom-
ising youth we used to know. Do you remember how
timid he was as a lad ? "
"Yes, he would turn pale at the sight of a gun.
When we boys wanted him to go along we always hid
the gun down the road a piece, knowing of course that
he would be ashamed to turn back when he saw it.
He was better at reciting verses or playing on the
harmonica than at climbing back fences or breaking
windows. He could strike a tremendous blow with his
fist, however, when we made him angry." [This is
This imaginary conversation might be continued
by adding description of the mood, at particular
times, of the person described, or of an occasion in .
which he may have had a part, and so on. Enough,
however, has been given to show some of the
descriptive topics or motives which we frequently
use in conversation. Let us now find examples of
these various motives in literature.
96. Outline of the Description-motives. The
description-motives outlined below are those which
occur most commonly in literature and in everyday
life. We shall study each of these motives in a
typical paragraph. In sections 99-120 will be found
a model for each type, with analysis and discussion
of its uses.
Description of place. ā Motive I.
Description of personal appearance. ā Motive II.
Description of character. ā Motive III.
Description of mode of life. ā Motive IV.
1. Of an individual.
2. Of a community.
Description of an occasion or assemblage. ā Mo-
150 Composition and Rlutoric
Description of a conversation, oration, book, etc
ā Motive VI.
Description of mood, feeling, or sentiment. ā Mo-
Description of climate.-^ Motive VIII.
Description of music or a sound. ā Motive IX.
Description of audible thought. ā Motive X.
' The ten paragraph-models, which embody the de-
scription-motives enumerated above, lay stress upon
the principles of unity and emphasis which will be
explained in the next two sections.
These description-motives are massed together
ā¢ in sections 99-120 for the following reasons:
1. To show the similarity between them in para-
2. To show the dissimilarity in the material used
97. The Law of Emphasis in Description. The
law of emphasis, as applied to the paragraph, is that
important sentences should have important places.
The important places in a paragraph are the begin-
ning and the end. The sentence of most conse-
quence in a paragraph is that which gives the gist
of the whole. In each example of the description-
motives which make up this chapter, both the first
and the last sentences give the gist of the whole.
98. The Law of Unity in Description. The
word unity, as applied to a description, means one-
ness of effect. It is secured by excluding from a
picture details that strike us as out of harmony with
the general impression that the object we are de-
scribing makes upon us. In the following extract
The Descriptive Paragraph 151
the word iron is the keynote or fundamental quality
of the object described :
And Charlemagne appeared ; ā a Man of Iron !
His helmet was of iron, and his gloves
Of iron, and his breastplate and his greaves
And tassets were of iron, and his shield.
In his left hand he held an iron spear,
In his right hand his sword invincible.
The horse he rode on had the strength of iron.
And color of iron. All who went before him,
Beside him and behind him, his whole host,
Were armed with iron, and their hearts within them
Were stronger than the armor that they wore.
The fields and all the roads were filled with iron.
And points of iron glistened in the sun
And shed a terror through the city streets.
ā Henry W. Longfellow^ Charlemagne,
A description which produces upon the hearer
singleness of impression has unity. The word which
characterizes this impression expresses the funda-
mental quality of the description.
99. Description of Place.ā Motive I. Unity of
effect is secured by assigning to the picture pre-
sented in the following quotation a fundamental
quality or characteristic which pervades the whole.
" The village was falling asleep on both sides of the
roady tranquil as a child. You only heard, from time
to time, the crowing of some cock, waked too soon.
From the great woods hard by came long breaths that
passed like caresses over the roofs. The meadows,
with their black shadows, put on a mysterious and
secluded majesty, while all the running waters that
gashed forth into the darkness seemed to be the cool
and rhythmic breathing of the sleeping country. At
moments, the mill-wheel, fast asleep, seemed to be
152 Composition and Rhetoric
dreaming, like those old watchdogs that bark while
snoring. It creaked, it talked all by itself, lulled by
the falls of the Morelle, whose sheet of water gave
forth the sustained and musical note of an organ-pipe.
Never had more widespread peace fallen over a happier
corner of the earths
ā Emile Zola, The Attack on the Mill.
Analysis of the Model
1. Paragraph structure.
a. The first sentence states briefly and definitely the
fundamental quality of the picture. Such a sentence is
called a Topic Sentence. This fundamental quality gives
unity to the paragraph, **The village vf2J& falling asleep.''
b. The other sentences enforce this quality. Note the
words which express or suggest sleep.
c. The last sentence summarizes; that is, gives the gen-
eral impression which the description is meant to convey :
** Never had more widespread peace fallen over a happier
world." Such a sentence is called a Summarizing Sen-
2. The material used to develop the fundamental quality
consists of :
Items of the landscape ; of buildings, etc.
In the above model the wind and the water are the items
emphasized and are, therefore, put in the main statements. The
other items are subordinated by being mentioned in phrases and
clauses. Prove this statement by a study of the description.
3. Devices used in the handling of the material.
By the term devices used in the handling of material we mean
devices used for mentioning, with special vividness, certain details
that enter into the picture. Many of these devices are what we
call figures of speech, which are unusual modes of expression
for the sake of gjreater emphasis, clearness, or beauty. In this
description of the village we find two of these devices ā personi-
fication and simile, both of which are explained in the next section.
Caution. ā // is important that the student remember
the meaning of the term devices used in the handling
OF THE MATERIAL, for we shall use it again and again
in our work in Description and Exposition.
The Descriptive Paragraph 153
100. Devices for the Vivifying of Details.ā Fig-
ures OF Speech in Description. We shall notice
the various kinds of figures of speech incidentally
as they occur in connection with particular models
in our work on Description and Exposition. They
are the most eflfective devices for mentioning the
items of a picture, as they give strength and beauty
as well as variety to a description. The special fig-
ures which need explanation here are the two found
in the model just given ā personification and simile.
1. Personification. When we speak of inanimate
objects or abstract ideas as if they were living per-
sons, we are using personification.
"Ah, Fear ! ah, frantic Fear !
I see ā I see thee near.
I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye."
" For winter came : the wind was his whip."
" Echo answered in her sleep
From hollow fields."
" Twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad,"
" Sport that wrinkled care derides.
And Laughter holding both his sides."
" The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze."
Suggestion. ā Find examples of personification in the example
of place-description quoted in section 99.
2. Simile. When we state that one object is
like another in some one particular, we are using a
simile. It should be remembered that two objects
154 Composition and Rhetoric
thus compared must differ from each other in most
of their characteristics. The pleasure derived from
the use of this figure is due to the surprise we
experience upon perceiving some point of likeness
between things essentially dissimilar.
" The women sang
Between the rougher voices of the men,
Like linnets in the pauses of the wind."
"And still I wore her picture by my heart,
And one dark tress ; and all around them both
Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their
" I saw my father's face
Grow long and troubled like a rising moon."
" But all was quiet : from the bastion'd walls
Like threaded spiders, one by one, we dropt."
" There sat along the forms, like morning doves
That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch,
A patient range of pupils."
Suggestion. ā Find two similes in the example of Motive I.
(Description of place, Ā§99.)
General Directions for Description
In writing a description upon Motive I., or any of
the other motives that follow in this chapter, observe
the rules given below :
1. First determine the fundamental quality you
intend to assign to your picture.
2. Then consult the dictionary for a list of syn-
onyms for the word which expresses the fundamental
quality you have decided upon. Keep this list of words