Example Journal Entries - Hutchinson-page

Example Journal Entries: Memoir/Biography
The following examples are taken from pages 106-107 of Half Broke Horses by
Jeannette Walls, a "true-life novel" about her grandmother.
LEFT SIDE (passage identification)
RIGHT SIDE (response/analysis)
Topic D: use of effective details
and metaphor
Pages 106-107
Not only was Helen used and abused
by "Mr. Wonderful" in Hollywood, but
here she is also made to feel worthless
by two more men – the priest and Lily's
boss, Mr. MacIntosh. It seems like
Jeannette Walls really wants us to notice
the double standard in Red Lake during
the 1920s, where a pregnant woman was
a "fallen" woman who was treated nearly
like a leper. The priest, Father Cavanaugh,
is described as a "gaunt, humorless man
whose scowl could peel the paint off a
barn." This is severe diction for a man
who is supposed to bring comfort and
support to his flock! It's also an apt
metaphor, since this is a small town where
lots of farmers live. The first thing Father
Cavanaugh does after noticing Helen is
pregnant, when she has fainted in church,
is look at her finger to see if she is married.
And after she confesses, he tells her that
her soul is in "mortal danger," and that the
"only place for her in this world" is a home
for wayward women. This heartless scorn
of a poor woman who is in trouble shows
us how unforgiving some could be in a small
town during this time period. Her own loving
sister was not allowed to take care of her,
which gave her no place to go.
This passage tells of the unwanted
pregnancy of Lily's sister Helen, by
the man who had promised to marry
her. Lily tries to help Helen and is
also shamed by the members of the
small town where she is a teacher.
In the passage, Walls describes
both the priest of Red Lake and the
school principal, Mr. MacIntosh, as
being men who are very judgmental
of Helen for her condition, seeming
to blame her alone for getting
Here is another example of a journal entry for the same passage. YOU MAY NOT
Topic B: Real-time scene
Pages 106-107
This passage describes the town's
reaction to the pregnancy of Helen,
Lily's younger sister, who had gone to
California to try and make it in show
business but who was instead used
by a man who promised to marry her
and ditched her when she got pregnant.
This passage is the crisis moment of
the section about Helen, leading to
the following scene – the climax
where Lily returns home from school
to find Helen has committed suicide.
The scene where Mr. MacIntosh comes
to tell Lily that she needs to make her
sister move out is very dramatic, and
Walls probably included it to build
suspense for the horrible scene that is to
come on the next page. Her description
of Mr. MacIntosh, wearing his fedora and
being nervous, shows that he is very
business-like on this visit and uncomfortable with his mission. However, he is
clearly determined to force his case on
Lily and not give her any chance to defend
Helen. Walls heightens the drama in the
scene by having Lily remember previous
times when she has felt unwanted, and
how ironically she was not judged by the
townspeople for racing horses or drinking
whiskey. They only judge her for showing
compassion for her poor sister. The scene
ends with a moment that fills the reader with
dread: Helen has heard the whole
conversation. She's sitting on the bed
smoking a cigarette. You just know at this
point that things are not going to end well
for Helen. This short paragraph foreshadows
the climax on the next page, where she
realizes she is out of options and hangs
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