Comprehensive analysis of literary and rhetorical strategies

The language arts and discussion questions at the end of each chapter serve as the foundation for understanding the figurative language, style, strategies, genres, etc., in the book. The language arts questions are designed for students to develop a “close reading” strategy. The concept of close reading is a researched proven and Common Core Standards recommended tool in which students are encouraged to examine the text in a way that assures comprehension and analysis. The questions are designed to compel the student to identify, analyze, and respond to the writing style and themes of the author.


1. (Standards RI 5, 6; CC 6) Describe the voice that Marsalis establishes in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1. How does voice affect the reader’s reaction to the topic of jazz? Give specific examples.

Marsalis immediately establishes a personable, welcoming voice. Yet, he also establishes credibility. By starting out with the voice of a child (“stumbling” into rooms where children weren’t allowed), he provides something that the reader can relate to. He calls his father “daddy,” and discusses how the adults “brought candy to the kids.” This familiar diction and narrative style reflect Marsalis’s innocent, childlike approach and appreciation of jazz — associating sweet memories with the music. These memories include interaction with jazz greats, which also serves to establish a voice of authority. This voice of appreciation and authority transcends the book.

2. (Standard ELA 6) What role does jargon play in the conversation among jazz musicians? Describe the communication among the musicians.

Marsalis says the jazzmen had “their own language, calling one another ‘cats,’ calling jobs ‘gigs,’ and instruments ‘axes,’ peppering their conversations with all types of colorful, pungent words and unapologetic truisms.” This sentence shows both the informal and formal style of Marsalis while relating how jargon established a personal connection among the jazzmen.

Have you observed the use of jargon among other professionals? Describe it.

3. (Standards RI 4; ELA 5) Which two things are being compared when Marsalis uses the metaphor, “master a moment of soul”?

Master is compared to a communicator and moment of soul is compared to a universal truth. Marsalis uses the metaphor to express that when someone can articulate a deep, universal truth about life, he or she has the ability to control something in the human spirit.