Avoid “The Reader”



It is about time that the mysterious “reader” whom many of you seem intent on discussing in your papers gets what is coming to him. It is presumptuous to assume what “the reader” would say about any text. Although it springs from an admirable habit of avoiding the first person, there are better ways to express oneself and what is happening in a text, rather than referring to “the reader”. (Usually stronger verbs do the trick, and sometimes it is as simple as just erasing the phrase without adding anything to replace it).

For example, instead of saying The reader sympathizes with Piggy in the first chapter, say, Golding creates a sympathy for Piggy, or maybe, The first chapter establishes Piggy as a pathetic character.

Look at the following passage, and rewrite it after you put “the reader” where he belongs … six feet under.

In the story of “Young Goodman Brown,” many unresolved points are used to hint to the reader what is going on, but the story does not display the whole picture. Things may “seem” to be doing the supernatural but Hawthorne never explains the events clearly enough to let the reader know for a fact what is going on. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne always describes the things that are out of the ordinary so vaguely that the reader can never grasp truly what the scene is doing.

(Rewrite the sentences , making any stylistic changes you deem necessary)


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