He put his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, and then he would see who was who" (36). With Huck's use of the phrase "Pretty soon," after he narrowly escapes a knife in the back, the reader is led to wonder what happened in this gap of time.
Pap's desire to "Rest a minute" gives the reader a chance to "rest a minute" and recap the events that have just transpired, though the reader continues to dread Pap's awakening to "see who was who." But the reader is ever mindful of Huck's distance from his experience by telling it in the past tense.
I can’t give you an exact formula for a perfect paper, but over the course of this post and its upcoming follow-up I’m going to walk you through the process I’ve used to get consistently high grades on my essays.
Today, I hope to alleviate some of your confusion and anxiety.
Before I can explain what close reading is, we need to choose a text to work with (a “text” is a term English majors use to refer to written work they’re analyzing).
I’m using an English paper here as my example since that’s the topic I have the most experience with, but with a bit of adaptation you could apply this method to most other humanities essays you’d have to write."He chased me round and round the place, with a clasp-knife, calling me the angel of death and saying he would kill me and I couldn't come for him no more.I begged, and told him I was only Huck, but he laughed such a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed, and kept on chasing me up.Though an adult might have deciphered the truth a little quicker through past experiences encountering artificial fruit; nonetheless, without observing such fruit before, Huck is able to distinguish. A quote from it even appeared in one of my favorite Arthur episodes.Pap hallucinates Huck as an "angel of death," and in a sense his retrospective narrator self is a spiritual presence in the scene between his younger self and Pap.On a table in the middle of the room was a kind of a lovely crockery basket that had apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it which was much redder and yellower and prettier than real ones is, but they warn't real, because you could see where pieces had got chipped off and showed the white chalk or whatever it was, underneath. Another was "Friendship's Offering," full of beautiful stuff and poetry; but I didn't read the poetry.This might also explain why he relates in a matter-of-fact way the story of his father trying to kill him.Though Huck is describing the chase in a rapid, vivid play-by-play, which the reader gets a sense of from the frequent temporal clues, his nonchalance adds a disturbing tone to the scene, as if Pap's terrible abuse of him has always been commonplace.Of course, that kind of understanding is the ultimate goal.To begin, it’s helpful just to read through the poem normally and try to understand what the author is describing.