THE TASTE OF WATERMELON – BORDEN DEAL TEXT ANALYSIS • Taking the text apart and analysing how the features (language / characterisation / setting / themes / plot / narrative structure / symbols) are used by the writer to create meanings • Looking at the context • The personal connections that you (the reader) can make. • Your appreciation of the writer’s craft. • Analysing the protagonists’ inner journey (how we would characterise the protagonists’ inner journey in these short snapshots of their lives? ) CONCEPT OF GENRE Genre: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterised by a particular style, form, or content (MerriamWebster) Genre • Romance / Mystery / Tragedy / Comedy / Western / Coming of age Literary Composition • Memoir / Poem / Novel / Play / Short Story COMING OF AGE – WHAT IS IT? THE COMING OF AGE CHARACTERISTICS IN OUR STORY THE COMING OF AGE CHARACTERISTICS IN OUR STORY • Money, class and socioeconomic status • Mentors and positive/negative role models: the narrator (son) and his father, Mr. Wills and his wife / Mr. Wills and Willadean / the narrator and his mother • Cultural background and expectations • Love and sexuality/gender norms • Family (separation or bonding): there is a strong father/son relationship in the story. OUR NARRATOR: HIS COMING OF AGE • The narrator is reminiscing a specific fragment of his adolescent life. • He is sharing this particular moment because it is one that is linked to the moment when he comes of age. • He has started moving from boyhood/adolescence into adulthood (coming of age) • This is shown by the realisation that he needs to face his challenges and apologise to Mr Wills (big change – moment of realisation) • The coming of age theme emphasises the character’s need to weigh right from wrong. • The boy learns from his mistakes • He feels guilty and cannot live with his conscience • He decides to tell the truth / to face the consequences of his actions. RITES OF PASSAGE OUR NARRATOR: RITES OF PASSAGE • The story, ‘The taste of Watermelon’ relates to the ‘rites of passage’ theme in that it presents a character who is involved in moving, or trying to move, from one significant stage of life to the next—he is making a passage—in this case from childhood, or adolescence, to maturity. • The story explores what it takes to make this move and how he seems to make it successfully. • It is not about ceremonies or rituals, but instead about an experience that is so powerfully transformative that it moves the protagonist from one stage of life to another. • Faced with certain kinds of experiences one may grow in subtle or obvious ways, or one may shatter—and sometimes one becomes mired in a mental, spiritual, emotional, or intellectual paralysis. • The author undergoes a unique type of initiation we’ll never undergo; yet it feels like a common, universal experience. OUR NARRATOR: RITES OF PASSAGE • The author is transformed from a defiant and hedonistic boy to a mature and responsible individual. • He perceives the gravity of his actions and understands why Mr. Wills guarded his melons fiercely. • He feels upset over the meanness of his action even though it has brought him closer to his friends. • A certain maturity of thought has set in as the result of an incident which shakes him to the core, at the end of which the author emerges a better and more sensitive human being. • The author realizes that there is a difference amongst people and situations even though they may appear to be similar. Stealing melons from another farm would have been a quip to laugh over and brag to his friends. Yet to steal Mr. Wills’ prized watermelon somehow overstepped the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. OUR NARRATOR: RITES OF PASSAGE • The author feels remorseful when he sees the extent to which Mr. Wills is upset. • He is terribly scared and yet he apologizes to him and even promises to help him sow the seeds the following season. • He has transformed from being a prankster stealing melons to Mr. Will’s son who has agreed to aid a man with a ‘big farm’. • The author’s action also brings about a significant change in Mr. Wills who realizes that he was as much to blame for the destruction as the author was. DISSECTING THE TITLE • The taste of watermelon is used literally and figuratively (metaphorically) in the story. • The centre of the narrative is about the different “flavours” that Mr. Wills seed melon can represent / symbolise / taste (figuratively). For the narrator, the watermelon tastes a lot of different things: • Literally, the watermelon was sweet, juicy. Figuratively, the taste of the watermelon symbolises: • Bonding with the new bunch / acceptance • Defiance towards Mr. Wills “supposed” excessive display of power / lack of consderation for his wife / daughter • Fear, excitement, being reckless • It tastes like a challenge / like proving himself DISSECTING THE TITLE STYLE / TECHNIQUES • ‘The Taste of Watermelon’ has been written is semi autobiographical in form. • The narrative voice is that of the author as a young adolescent, implying perhaps that the author has written about a certain aspect of his life. • The author writes in the First Person using pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘we’. This technique helps the reader to live the story through the narrator’s eyes. • The reader feels a part of the story as he directly experiences the narrator’s thoughts and emotions. For instance when the author says, ‘I couldn’t bear anymore’, one realizes his remorseful state. OTHER TECHNIQUES Colloquial Language: is the way you speak to friends or family members without giving any thought to what you are saying, as opposed to formal, spoken or written language. It is not bad or vulgar language. • The author uses colloquial language to create the mood and flavour of a typical southern village where farming was the predominant occupation. • This aids the reader to understand the social and cultural context of the characters. • For instance, colloquial expressions such as ‘By golly, you did it!’ or ‘bust’ instead of break bring out the flavour of America. Mr. Wills talks like an Amercian farmer when he says, ‘I do wish I had me a boy like that’.