Text Analysis Art for Heart’s Sake
The author of the extract under analysis is an American sculptor, cartoonist and writer Reuben Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970). Rube Goldberg began practicing his art skills at the age of four when he traced illustrations from the humorous book History of the United States. After graduating from the University of California in 1904 he worked as a cartoonist for a number of newspapers and magazines. Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons he created depicting complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect way.
Among his best works are Is There a Doctor in the House? (1929), Rube Goldberg’s Guide to Europe (1954) and I Made My Bed (1960). The text under analysis is a short story Art for heart’s sake. The title of the story reveals its subject matter, but it is only when we have read the whole story we shall understand what underlies this title. The story is told from the point of view of the author. From the point of view of presentation the text is a 3rd person narration with dialogues of the characters. Since the text under consideration presents a story it belongs to belles-lettres style, emotive prose substyle.
The character drawing is of a mixture type because the author both describes his characters directly through words and through their actions, attitudes to other personages. The author managed to depict all his characters with genuine skills. Koppel, doctor Caswell, Swain and Ellsworth were described mostly through their behaviour, speech and dialogues. The first character who was introduced to the reader was the male nurse Koppel. He was the helper of doctor Caswell to treat the old man. The author described how hard it was. He used gradation to reveal the male nurse’s despair (He won’t take his pineapple juice.
He doesn’t want me to read to him. He hates the radio. He doesn’t like anything! ). Koppel couldn’t do a thing with the old man. The nurse even tried to prevent him from exhibiting the Trees Dressed in White as the old man could become a laughing-stock. Anxious and uneasy Koppel sets off calm and gentle Doctor Caswell. He is a professional and thinks a lot about his patients (He had done some constructive thinking since his last visit. Making proposition to the old man he took his stethoscope ready in case the abruptness of the suggestion proved too much for the patient’s heart.
In spite of rude and vigorous Ellsworth’s answers like Rot and Bosh Caswell managed to persuade him to take up art with his professional calm). He understood Ellsworth was no ordinary case. The doctor preferred not to interfere when Ellsworth decided to exhibit his painting at the gallery. Doctor Caswell was the only man who managed with a supreme effort to congratulate the old man on the First Prize while Swain and Koppel uttered a series of inarticulate gurgles. One mistake the doctor made is he thought it safe to allow Ellsworth to visit museums and galleries. The next character is Frank Swain.
He is a 18 year-old promising student. Like Caswell, Swain was also patient. The author used such a simile (there was a drawing on the table which had a slight resemblance to the vase) to outline the Swain’s reaction (Not bad, sir. It’s a bit lopsided). Swain is professional too. As his visits grew more frequent he brought a box of water-colors and some tubes of oils. He was not indifferent to Ellsworth and worried about the picture Trees Dressed in White. He was forced to sneak into the Gallery and see the picture with his own eyes. The most inconsistent character is Collis P.
Ellsworth. He behaved like a child with the nurse. The author used many slang words (rot, bosh, by gum, poppycock) to display the old man’s attitude to Koppel, Swain and Doctor, to emphasize such traits of his character as arrogance, confidence, whimsicality. The old man is rude, scornful but also clever and cunning. The author emphasizes the old man behaves like a child (he replied Nope on the male nurse suggestion many times. He colored the open spaces blue like a child playing with a picture book. He proudly displayed the variegated smears of paint on his heavy silk dressing gown.
He requested someone to read his envelope because his eyes were tired from painting. It was done specially to archive strong effect). When the old man’s diagnosis was described the author used zeugma for the irony (All his purchases of recent years had to be liquidated at a great sacrifice both to his health and his pocketbook). Originally the old man was not sure whether to take up art. He looked appraisingly at Swain and drew the scrawls expecting the Swain’s criticism (the wrinkles deepened at the corners of the old man’s eyes as he asked elfishly what he thought of it).
In some time he asked Swain to come three times a week. It tells about his progress in painting. The author used synecdoche (I want to ask you something before old pineapple juice comes back). It reveals the old man’s attitude to the male nurse. Asyndeton is used in the old man’s question: “I was thinking could you spare the time to come twice a week or perhaps three times? ” Ellsworth displayed his insatiable curiosity about the galleries but in fact being a person who couldn’t help buying anything he formed an artful plan in his brain.
Ellsworth organized everything beforehand. The fact that Koppel, Swain and the doctor were in the room when the envelope was brought was not a chance. He anticipated this result (He was unusually cheerful during the exhibition). He proved them that art is nothing and everything can be bought for money. All treatment and the good work, that the doctor has accomplished, were spoilt. Ellsworth managed to wind everybody round his finger. The idea of this text is that everything can be bought for money.
Value of art will vanish if everyone foists their god-awful smudges as an eternal work of art. The text has a simple plot. The setting of events is mostly realistic. In the exposition the action centers around Collis P. Ellsworth, an old gentleman whose obsessional idea is buying unnecessary things. In this part the author uses repetitions and anaphora (“He won’t take…He doesn’t want…He hates…He doesn’t like”). The development is presented in the chain of events: doctor Caswell suggests him taking up art and he invites a student Frank Swain to teach him.
The old man wants to exhibit his picture “Trees Dressed in White” in a famous gallery. Here oxymoron is used (Upon this distinguished group Ellsworth was going to foist his Trees Dressed in White). The climax is reached when the picture is accepted for the Lathrop show. The author used epithets (a god-awful smudge; a loud, raucous splash on the wall) and simile (which resembled a gob of salad dressing thrown violently up against the side of a house) to give a real appraisal of the painting and show the absurd accepting this picture to the gallery.
The author used epithet (a lifetime dream of every mature artist was a Lathrop prize) and inversion (upon this distinguished group Ellsworth was going to foist his painting) to emphasize the importance of this exhibition, its scale and prestigious. The tension is still kept when we learn that this picture wins the first prize. Then, in the denouement we learn that the old man had bought this gallery. The form of speech of the text under analysis is equally direct and indirect. The prevailing forms of utterance are narration and dialogue.
The text is told in mixture type of speech. The types of speech have peculiarities at each language level. On the phonological level in the written type of speech full forms of modal and auxiliary verbs are presented: he had done some, he would dwell on, he would not allow, he could not bear. Although contracted forms of the spoken type prevail: it’s good, I can’t do, He won’t take, he doesn’t want, how’d you like, I didn’t expect, art’s nothing etc. On the morphological level both types of speech are presented. Let us proceed with the analysis of the tense-forms.
The prevailing tense-form used in the story is the Past Indefinite. It denotes the past action and a succession of past actions: As the weeks went by Swain’s visits grew more frequent. I bought the Lathrop Gallery last month. “Would” expresses past repeated actions and routine: He would dwell on the rich variety of color in a bowl of fruit. He would not allow his valet to send it to the cleaner’s. The Present Indefinite tense is used in the spoken type to denote actions and states continuing at the moment of speaking, habitual actions: He doesn’t want me to read to him. He hates radio.
I’m not an artist yet. The Present Continuous expresses a continuous action going on at the moment of speaking: you will have to look at what you’re drawing, sir. The present perfect tense is used to denote the action preceding the moment of speaking: I’ve thought of that too. all the good work we’ve accomplished. The First Landscape Prize of $1,ooo has been awarded to Collis P. Ellsworth for his painting. The Past Continuous tense denotes a continuous action in progress at a certain moment in the past: The treatment was working perfectly. An idea was forming in his head.
Going to is used to express an intention: He was going to exhibit it in the Summer show at the Lathrop Gallery! Several examples of Past Perfect denote an action of which both the beginning and the end precede some moment of time in the past: He had done some constructive thinking since his last visit. He had suffered his last heart attack after his disastrous purchase of that jerkwater railroad out in Iowa. There is also one example of the Past Perfect Continuous tense which is used to denote past action of certain duration which had visible results in the past: He wanted to show the doctor how hard he’d been working.
The Future Indefinite denotes a prediction It’ll be fun or a decision made at the moment of speaking: But, but – well, now, you’ll have to admit that art is much more satisfying than business. As to the nouns both proper (the Atlantic Art Institute, Iowa, the Metropolitan etc) and common ones are used, as countable and uncountable (material nouns: juice, chalk, paper, salad dressing and abstract nouns: information, calm, health, poppycock, terror, news). There are some examples of use of partitives in the text: a piece of crayon, a box of water-colors, tubes of oil, smears of paint, a bowl of fruit, a gob of salad.
Among the articles the nominative meaning is present: a chair, an elevator, a house, a drawing etc. Nevertheless, the specifying meaning prevails: the five dollars, the art student, the painting the exhibit etc – the reader knows or can work out which particular thing the author means. There are plenty of examples of the use of the indefinite article with a descriptive attribute: a great sacrifice, a promising student, a palsied hand, an insatiable curiosity, a god-awful smudge, a supreme effort.
The classifying meaning: a student, a special messenger. The numeric meaning: five dollars a visit, twice a week. The infinitives present in the text are used in different functions: • Koppel heard the front door and was glad to leave the room – an object • I can’t do a thing with him/He had to be kept from buying things/had to be liquidated at a great sacrifice – a part of a compound verbal modal predicate • How’d you like to take up art? – an object that’s if I’m foolish enough to start – an AM of result and consequence • I can get a student from one of the art schools to come here once a week and show you – a part of a compound verbal modal predicate; an objective with the infinitive construction • Ran an elevator at night to pay tuition – an AM of purpose • If you want to draw you will have to look at what you’re drawing, sir – an object; a part of a compound verbal modal predicate • I want to ask you smth – an object I was thinking could you spare the time to come twice a week – a part of a compound verbal modal predicate; an attribute •
When Doctor Caswell called Ellsworth would talk about the graceful lines of the andirons/he would dwell n the rich variety of color in a bowl of fruit/ He would not allow his valet to send it to the cleaner’s – a part of a compound verbal aspect predicate • He wanted to show the doctor how hard he’d been working – an object • No more trips downtown to become involved in purchases – an attribute • The doctor thought it safe to allow Ellsworth to visit – an object; an objective with the infinitive construction • When the late spring sun began to cloak the fields and gardens with color – a part of a compound verbal aspect predicate • He was going to exhibit it in the Summer show/ was going to foist/We’ve got to stop him/We can’t interfere with him now/ where it could not excite any noticeable comment/He could not bear to hear (an object) what they had to say/you’ll have to admit – a part of a compound verbal modal predicate • It gives the Lathrop Gallery pleasure to announce – an attribute There are some gerunds in the text: ? He had done some constructive thinking since his last visit – a direct object ? But he had to be kept from buying things – a prepositional object ? But, Caswell, how do I start playing with the chalk – a part of a compound verbal aspect predicate ? We can’t interfere with him now and take a chance of spoiling all the good work – an attribute ? During the course of the exhibition the old man kept on taking his lessons – a part of a compound verbal aspect predicate ?
My eyes are tired from painting – a prepositional object In the text we can find the following examples of Participle I: o He added a few lines with a palsied hand and colored the open spaces blue like a child playing with a picture book – an attribute o As two giggling students stopped before the strange anomaly Swain fled in terror – an attribute o During the course of the exhibition the old man kept on taking his lessons, seldom mentioning his entry in the exhibit – an AM of time o Doctor Caswell, exercising his professional self-control with a supreme effort, said – an AM of manner Participle II can be found in these sentences: said the doctor, relieved that disaster had been averted – an attribute – No more trips downtown to become involved in purchases – – which resembled a gob of salad dressing thrown violently up against the side of a house – an attribute In the story we can find many examples of the Imperative Mood: Here, take your pineapple juice. Listen, young man. There are two complex sentences with subordinate clauses of condition (first conditional): If you want to draw you will have to look at what you’re drawing, sir. If the papers get hold of this, Mister Ellsworth will become a laughing-stock. On the syntactic level both written and spoken types of speech are present.
At the point of the spoken type the story is characterized by the use of many short and elliptical sentences (Ran an elevator at night to pay tuition. Such foolishness. Poppycock). In the written type compound, complex and composite sentences are used. They prevail in narrations. On the lexical level neutral words prevail, though many slang and colloquial words are used (by the old man): scrawl, bosh, poppy-cock, jerkwater, rot, gob. Also there are some bookish words – constructive, abruptness, purchase, proposition, variegated. We can see medical terms- patient, doctor, nurse, heart attack, stethoscope and a lot of art terms -oils, water-colors, canvas, chalk, crayon, colour, painting, exhibit, show, gallery, painter, artist.