A synthesis between texts can be achieved regardless of the sources used, so long as you, the author or synthesizer, analyze clear themes from the text and develop a framework for how these themes speak to an original idea. That term “original” is particularly important here because your audience wants to see how you connect texts/ themes that few others have.
Today, we’ll read two short stories “Monstro” and “How to Date a Brown Girl (a White Girl, a Black Girl, or a Halfie)” by Junot Diaz and synthesize themes for the stories to see how they connect with the author’s writing style.
After reading each story it is important to organize your thoughts about patterns or themes you see in each one. The best way to start is to engage in large-scale or global issues/ themes.
Question: What are some major Global themes that are present in both stories?
|Global Themes||“Monstro”||“How to Date a Brown Girl”|
|Point of View (P.O.V)||First person narration by a young Dominican American male||Tricky, second person narration, but also by a young Dominican American male|
|A Quest (Dating)||Narrator obsessed with a girl. Tries to woe her||Narrator obsessed with a number of girls. Hooks up|
|Socio-Economic Class||Takes place in D.R and Haiti, with a number of references to poverty||Takes place in U.S. with multiple references to how poor the narrator and family are|
|Cross Cultures||Narrator changes tone and separates different ethnic groups (D.R., Haitians, and U.S.)||Narrator changes his dating approach based on the ethnic background of the girl|
After finding some solid global connections it is now time to shift gears and look for specific connections in both texts. We’ll call these selections Local, because they are small-scale and more narrowly tied to the author’s writing style.
Question: What are some significant local themes present in both stories?
|Local Themes||“Monstro”||“How to Date a Brown Girl”|
|Word Choice (Code Switching)||The narrator code switches between English and Spanish||The narrator also code switches between English and Spanish|
|Word Choice Objectifies Females||Narrator sees Mysty as an object to possess, chase, and win||Narrator sees all girls as an objects to possess, chase, and win|
|Voice||Informal language, often humorous and engaging||Voice also uses Informal language, often humorous and engaging, but does so as instructions|
|Narrator is Multi-Dimensional||The author takes time to introduce us to the character’s thoughts, hopes, and desires. We see that the narrator wants more than just sex (adventure, escape, etc.)||Also see that author takes time to introduce us to the character’s thoughts, hopes, and desires. We see that the narrator wants more than just sex (adventure, escape, etc.)|
Apply a Critical Approach
After developing global and local connections you, the synthesizer, still need to adopt a critical approach to use as a lens. Doing so will help you focus on connecting themes you’ve established in order to tie those connections to the writing style of the author.
We know that “How to Date a Brown Girl” is a work satire, and is also a work of Realism, while “Monstro” is a work on Magical Realism.
Question: Can you use a single Critical Approach to connect both stories?
|Historical Approach||Using Diaz’s background, you could develop a critical approach to his writing style based upon ethnic and cultural evidence from both texts and tie it to his life|
|Psychological Approach||Looking at the narrators both stories and examining shared characteristics noted in the Global and Local categories related to their thoughts, hopes, and desires could be a useful lens in understanding how the author creates relatable, multi-dimensional characters|
|Deconstructionist Approach||The author plays with the genre in both stories. A list of instructions in “How to Date a Brown Girl” and a zombie outbreak story as a political tool to highlight the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Using the deconstructionist lens you could argue that Diaz reshapes these genres for his own use|
Making Connections Matter “So What?”
After developing global and local connections and selecting a clear critical approach as your theme you, the synthesizer, still need to develop why and how these connections matter to the author’s writing style. Otherwise, your academic audience will be left saying “so what.”
Use this Synthesis Connection Chart to develop Global and Local connections between your two selected texts.