Assuming Causes and Predicting Effects Help
Introduction to Causes
Have you ever regretted just "telling it like it is"? Many times, you can't come right out and say what you'd like, but like writers, you can get your ideas across through implication or inference.
This lesson focuses on two specific types of implication: reading between the lines to determine cause and reading between the lines to predict effects.
In case you need a reminder: A cause is the person or thing that makes something happen or produces an effect. An effect is the change that occurs as a result of some action or cause. Cause tells us why something happened; effect tells us what happened after a cause (or series of causes).
Determining Implied Causes
In order to see how to determine causes that are implied rather than stated, look at the following brief fictional passage. Read the passage carefully and actively. After you make your observations, see if you can use the writer's clues to determine why the characters are fighting.
Anne sat with her feet up on the couch, drinking a soda. She heard footsteps by the front door. Brenda was right on time, as usual. Never a minute early or late—for her, everything was very exact.
Anne placed her feet on the floor, reached for the remote, and turned off the television. She knew Brenda would demand her complete attention. She knew Brenda would hang up her coat in the closet by the door (third hanger from the left) and then head to the kitchen for her daily inspection (exactly seven steps). She knew this because they had been roommates for six months. Taking a deep breath, she thought about what she would say to Brenda. She waited and watched from her spot on the couch.
A moment later, Brenda stepped into the kitchen and surveyed the scene. Anne watched her expression, watched her eyes focus on the sink, and watched her face harden when she saw the dishes piled high. Pointing to the dishes, Brenda said disappointedly, "I don't believe what I'm seeing. I thought we agreed to share the responsibilities. I thought it was your turn to clean the kitchen this week?"
"I haven't gotten to them yet," Anne replied. "I've been really busy. Relax. I've got all night." She walked into the kitchen and added her empty glass to the top of the pile.
Brenda fumed. "You know I'm having company tonight! Somehow I thought you would have done your share in the kitchen. If we want to remain roommates, things have to change. "
The phone rang, and Anne darted to answer it. Brenda said in the background, "Tell them to call back; we need to settle this now. I told you I'm having company soon."
Anne ignored Brenda's comment and continued to engage in conversation with a good friend of hers. "Did I ever tell you about the time when …"
Look carefully at the dialogue between these two characters. What do they say to each other? How is it said? What other clues from the author can you find in this passage to help you understand the cause of their conflict? List your observations.
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