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The Punctuation and Logic of Compound Main Clauses 
Lassie, Come Home, by Eric Knight 
Analysis Key

1. {For a second} a flash {of vigor} flowed {over her}, | and her tail lifted a 

little [NuA] higher [#1] [Adv. (result) to "lifted" so that she looked almost gay (PA)]. |

The ", and" connects something that happened to Lassie to the second main clause (which states the results).
2. Lassie did [DO what any dog will do]: | she braced herself (DO) {for

the tug} and lowered her head (DO). |

Following the colon, the clause states more specifically what any dog will do. Note how close the second main clause is to being an appositive to the preceding subordinate clause.
3. Lassie scratched {at places} {in the fence} [Adj. to "places" where her

instinct told her (IO) [DO there might be a path (PN) {to safety}]], | 

but Hynes had reinforced them (DO) all. |

The first main clause sets up expectations that Lassie will get away. The ", but" introduces why those expectations may not be fulfilled.
4. Isn't there a law (PN) or something (PN) | -- [Adv. (condition) to "can

claim" if you go {to the pound}], you can claim a dog (DO)? |

The dash introduces the specific statement of the "law."
5. *You* Look at it shiver [#2] | -- it isn't dead (PA). |
In this case, the dash introduces a conclusion based on the meaning of the first main clause.
6. Her tired legs drove {with the beat}, | her forefeet pumped steadily. |
Technically this is a comma-splice (two main clauses joined only by a comma). The comma connects two statements on what Lassie's bodily parts are doing. Does the technical omission of "and" increase the pace of the sentence and thereby reinforce the "drove" and "pumped"?
7. [Adv. (place) to "had" Where Lassie's coat faded {to delicate sable}], this curious

dog had ugly splashes (DO) {of black}; | and [Adv. (place) to "had" where 

Lassie's apron was a billowing expanse (PN)  {of white}], this dog had muddy

puddles (DO) {of off-color, blue-merle mixture}. |

The semicolon separates two points of difference between Lassie and "this dog." Imagine a comma here and you may be able to better see the effectiveness of the semicolon's implications of "same and different." A comma plus "and" would not completely close the main clause, and thus it would lead some readers to see the following "where" clause as chunking back to the first "had." The semicolon closes the clause and suggests that a similar (but different) statement is about to be made.
     Suggestion: Point out the parallel "where" clauses, and ask students to rewrite the sentence and destroy the parallel construction. For example, "Lassie's coat had faded to delicate sable, but this curious dog had ugly splashes of black; and where Lassie's apron was a billowing expanse of white, this dog had muddy puddles of off-color, blue-merle mixture." In this version, there are three main clauses, but still only two points of difference. 
8. Dogs cannot do this (DO); | they must wait blindly [Adv. (time) to "must

wait" until the circumstance faces them (DO)] and then do their best (DO) 

to meet it [#3]. |

The semicolon emphasizes the difference between what dogs cannot and can do.
9. Oh [Inj], she was starved (PA) [#4] and bony (PA), | but somehow she

reminded me (IO) {of Bonnie}. |

The ", but" suggests the difference between the negative characteristics presented in the first main clause and the positive implications of the second main clause. [If you have not read the work, Bonnie was the speaker's beloved collie.]

Notes
1. Although "higher" can be described as an adverb here, many people will, with equal validity, see it as a predicate adjective that describes "tail." This explanation assumes a palimpsest pattern with "lifted" written over "was."
2. "It" is the subject of the infinitive (verbal) "shiver." If we consider "look at" as the finite verb, then the infinitive phrase functions as the direct object. Alternatively, we can describe "look" as the finite verb and "at it shiver" as a prepositional phrase. In this view, the infinitive functions as the object of the preposition.
3. "It" is the direct object of the infinitive "to meet." Most people will probably see the infinitive phrase as adverbial to "do" -- (Do why?)  I would not argue, however, with people who see the infinitive acting as an adjective to "their best."
4. "Was starved" could be described as a passive verb, but the sense here is clearly on Lassie's physical state, and not on the actions that led to it.