1) The word ivory would ring in the air for a while?and on we went again into the silence,
along empty reaches, round the still bends, between the high walls of our winding way,
reverberating in hollow claps the ponderous beat of the stern-wheel. Trees, trees, millions
of trees, massive, immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against
the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the
floor of a lofty portico. It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not
altogether depressing, that feeling. After all, if you were small, the grimy beetle crawled
on?which was just what you wanted it to do.
2) But there was the fact facing me?the fact dazzling, to be seen, like the foam on the
depths of the sea, like a ripple on an unfathomable enigma, a mystery greater?when I
thought of it?than the curious, inexplicable note of desperate grief in this savage
clamour that had swept by us on the river-bank, behind the blind whiteness of the fog.
Focus your close reading around the use of imagery, figurative
language, and/or symbolism. Begin, however by contextualizing the excerpt and then by
precisely summarizing it, quoting key words or phrases. Questions to consider: Who is the
speaker? What does the speaker know? What is the speaker trying to express? What mood or tone
is evoked?and how? What sense or senses are at work? What words stand out and are drawn to
each other, and why? Which things are literal, and which things are non-literal (figurative)?
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