Part One: Identifying a writer’s voice
The writer I’ve chosen to analyze is Dave Eggers, from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Some techniques or conventions: dialogue, sarcasm, stream of consciousness style of writing, hyperbole, aggressive and frustrated tone, use of double-dash, long sentences, and detail in physical character descriptions.
Part Two: Memoir
As a kid, I always followed the cool kids around—I’d laugh at the same things as them, play the same games as them, and be mean to the same kids as them. In fifth grade, at lunch, I sat in a dreary classroom with all the other snotty kids and yelled and laughed like they did. All of the cool kids used to pick on the mousy boy in class, the one who sat in front of me with blond hair. This day, I decided I’d join in and stick my foot out so he’d trip and everyone would laugh—I did get a great laugh. But the mousy boy didn’t think it was so funny, so he yelled for the lunch lady, an older woman across the room with a mole on her left cheek, and she walked through the aisles towards me and stared me down. Everyone stopped laughing and stared straight ahead and I was left to deny the whole thing by myself. She looked at me, disapproving, like I was the only one who’d done anything wrong in the history of fifth grade classrooms. I wasn’t, but her stare worked—I was scared and ashamed and guilty—and so I said sorry to the mousy boy I tripped. He pouted, and so did I, and it was the end of the world because I was allowed to play outside after eating my lukewarm pasta from my faulty thermos. It sucked, it really did, and the lunch lady was cruel—I was just having fun. I felt guilty, sure, but instead of gaining approval from the cool kids, the mole lady didn’t like me anymore.
Part Three: detail
I was eating lukewarm pasta out of my purple thermos in the lunchroom. It was last night’s leftovers, bland of color and taste. It was mushy and dry and made a snapping sound as I unstuck it from the walls of the thermos. Everyone else either had one of those hot lunches the school provided, which were deemed “cool”, or something their moms had made that morning. I was jealous, not only of their lunches but of how cool everyone seemed to me. I’d always tried to fit in and mimic the cool kids. This day, in fifth grade, I decided to join in on picking on a boy that sat in front of me. I looked up from my bland pasta, stuck out my foot, the boy tripped, and all the kids laughed. I laughed too until I saw the teacher walk through the aisles and stare me down. I denied what I’d so obviously done without success. All I could feel was anger towards the teacher—and the kids who denied finding it funny—but I know I was just distracting myself from the fact that I’d actually done something mean and hurtful.
Part Four: location
The classroom where I ate lunch in fifth grade wore patches of light blue chipping paint. It was cold and looked dreary any season but Summer. The grey tiles were torn apart and the blinds on the windows were originally white, now a dirty cream. The classroom was set up in rows of beige desks with navy blue chairs. I sat near the back, quickly eating my lunch so I could play outside. One day at lunch, I decided to join in with the cool kids and pick on a boy who sat in front of me. He was always picked on and the pranks played on him generally caused a lot of laughter. As he walked through the aisles of desks, I stuck out my foot and made him trip. The whole room of snotty kids laughed, until a teacher was called over. Everyone stopped laughing, and I was reprimanded.
Part Six: cultural or ethnic heritage
I always tried to fit in with the cool kids at school—I’d laugh at the things they laughed at, played the same games as them, and be mean to the same kids as them. Essentially, I was a copycat trying to get anyone and everyone to like me. One day during lunch, I decided to pick on a mousy kid who sat in front of me. He was always being picked on by the cool kids and the pranks they played on him always got a good laugh. All the kids who picked on him were considered muy chistoso. I stuck out my foot from under my desk and tripped him. Everyone laughed, until a teacher came over and told me I couldn’t play outside after I ate my lunch. At first I felt angry towards the teacher and the kids who’d stopped laughing. I’ve always been stubborn, or testaruda, as my mom says. When I finally accepted that I’d done something wrong, I felt embarrassed and sad and guilty.