Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dialectical Journal Entry Example

Here is an example of a dialectical journal entry for hyperbole:

Quote from Catcher in the Rye:

“You never saw anyone nod as much in your life as old Spencer did” (Salinger 9).

Mrs. Rogers’ Commentary on this quote:

From the beginning, we can tell that Holden is uncomfortable inside the Spencers’ home. He knows that he has been expelled from his high-end private school, and this teacher has asked to see him before he leaves. His over-emphasis on Spencer’s nodding probably serves two functions. First, it highlights the contrast between what Holden views as Spencer’s senility or dementia and his own young, lucid mind. Holden believes he sees everything clearly rather than just “getting a kick out of” a blanket. Sometimes we exaggerate someone’s shortcomings (like incessant nodding) because we feel sure that they are judging us for our own errors or weaknesses. If we judge them back, we don’t have to feel bad about ourselves. Holden knows he is to blame for his expulsion, but it is easier to make fun of Spencer’s nodding than to accept his own shame.

Remember that when you write commentary on a quote for your dialectical journal entries, your goal is to find the hidden messages about Holden or the overall meaning of a scene or interaction. What you do not want to do is include a personal story as a weak connection with the quote.

If you need me to explain any part of this example more fully or if you have a question about another type of example or the general annotating, please feel free to comment!

Mrs. Rogers


  1. Thank you for giving an example and it did help to give me an idea about what I'm supposed to do. But I'm still a bit confused about how I'm supposed to expound on one sentence the way you did in the example.
    What needs to be put in a dialectical journal entry in order for it to be acceptable?
    I'm sorry if my question is a bit confusing but I've never kept a dialectical journal before so all of this is bit over my head.

  2. It's no problem; I'm used to confusing questions.

    The main point of a dialectical journal is to dialogue (or have a conversation with) the text. It is your chance to suggest what you think the quote might be saying. Just like if you were in a conversation with a person, you might say to him, "What I think you're saying is..." to clarify or ensure understanding. Remember that your quote does not necessarily need to be only one sentence if you have trouble writing deeply about only one sentence. I don't expect your commentary to be quite as lengthy as mine. Four to eight good sentences should do the trick. I would rather you struggle for a deep or meaningful or questionable idea and be wrong or overstretched than for you to be brief and superficial. No interpretation or understanding of a text is wrong as long as you can support it with the text.

    Mrs. Rogers

  3. I don't understand about annotation. Are we supposed to mark in the book using literary terms?

    Ex: When we find a example of the word do we put the literary term beside ?

    Is that what you mean by a annotation?

  4. can you give an example of symbol for the dialectical journals from the book cathcer in the rye or from another book?