Expository Text, Literary Text, and Interpretation

Now, before you’ll be determining your interpretation of a text, let’s first refresh our minds on what expository or literary text is.

Well, expository writing or text is something that’s informing, explaining, or describing. It’s will usually be pretty cut-and-dry. You’ll see no plot.

It is basically just there to explain things to you; to tell you how something is done or to give instructions.

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An example would be a science research paper, or baking instructions if you want to bake a cake.


Question 1 of 2

Mini-test: Interpretation of Expository or Literary Text


1. To interpret expository text, you need to ..


Question 1 of 2

Question 2 of 2

2. To interpret literary text, you need to …


Question 2 of 2


Next Lesson: Direct and Indirect Objects 

The transcript is provided for your convenience.

Things like that are expository text. Now, what you need to do here is first outline all the basic elements of your expository paper followed by an evaluation of their effectiveness. Here, this is how you will give your text interpretation.

Once you’ve outlined the basic facets or elements of that research paper or that recipe, then it’s time for the evaluation of their effectiveness.

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Have you learned what you’re supposed to learn from this research paper? Can you now bake your cake, if you follow the directions? Pretty cut-and-dry, right?

A literary text is somewhat different. A literary work will be your narrative, your essay, your fiction work. These texts will come with a plot. Here, you’ll have to go through more things. And because you’ll need to do so much more when dealing with a literary work, you’ll want to be focusing on just one single aspect for coming up with your interpretation.

You wouldn’t want to try and cover every single element since that would be far too much. That wouldn’t really let you put all your personal interpretations on the many different aspects of that literary work.

Now, there are several aspects that you could choose from for the topic of your story. The major characters or major events in the story, the setting or structure, the point of view, the use of specific language, or the tone. Any of these aspects would work. Just pick one and focus on that and what’s next will be explained here.

An interpretation of a literary text should both be describing the text and also be elaborating upon it.

Now, let’s say that we would choose major characters. Then, you’d be describing what is in the text and be elaborating upon it. Here, I’ve put that right into a few simple steps for you.

So, for describing the text, you’d introduce the text’s major characters. So, in your interpretation, you’d be describing those major characters. How do they look? What attitudes do they have? How did the author describe the characters in this text?

Next, you’d explain in what way the author has portrayed them. Are the characters, for example, liked by any other character(s)? Are they supposed to be a hero or a villain? Are they perhaps just your everyday Joe? Now, how is the author portraying these characters?

Then, discuss what was the purpose of the author. Why was the author portraying the characters this way? What is it that the author wanted to get across to his readers? Well, since this is your interpretation, there will be several, possibly quite, different answers. There’s not just one correct answer since no one knows exactly what the purpose of the author was. You’re merely giving your own interpretation; it’s what you think that the author was meaning.

So here, you’ll be describing everything that was put in the book by the author about the characters. Next, you’re going to be elaborating upon what it is that the author meant by explaining what you think it is what the author tried to tell, about the author’s theme, what the author’s purpose was as he or she showed the characters in a particular light.

So with expository text, when you’re interpreting that text, you need to remember that you should just outline the text’s basic elements and then evaluate the effectiveness of the elements. Could you now bake the cake? Have you learned the things you were supposed to learn from that research paper?

When dealing with literary works, you’d just want to be focusing on one element out of the many different things you may have focused on in that literary text. Pick one aspect, just one, and then start describing that one aspect from the literary text. Focus on what it is that the author actually says, and start elaborating upon that. Then you’ll be giving your opinion on that. Describe what you think is what the author is meaning.

What’s interesting here is that, as it is an interpretation, everybody will react a little different. Not all students will be picking the same aspect or element for their focal point and not everyone will be elaborating upon it in the same way. Now, because an author writes for many different readers when he or she created this literary work, it’s okay for you to come up with a unique interpretation.

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