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The Opening Paragraph of
The Declaration of Independence
Rare is the textbook
that enables students to analyze a sentence such as this one. There are
five subordinate clauses in one main one. One of the things that fascinates
me is the fact that it all hinges on the main S/V, "respect . . . requires.
. . ." "Respect" is something that we appear to be losing; "requires" implies
a sense of duty, and perhaps we are losing much of that as well. The syntactic
analysis, in other words, can lead to some interesting, and I would suggest,
important discussions of meaning. I would love to know what eighth graders
think of the phrase "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
If you use this passage with students, you may need to explain what some of the terms refer to. My students often do not realize that "one people" refers to the American colonists, and that "another" refers to the people of England. Similarly, many students do not understand that "powers of the earth" basically means nations; that "station" means political position. Finally, "impel" is not a word that most students appear to know the meaning of.
Explanations of the words that are not explained through KISS Level Three
The word "bands" is the direct object of the infinitive "to dissolve," and "station" is the direct object of the infinitive "to assume." The two infinitive phrases, joined by "and," function as delayed subjects to the preceding "it."
Suggestion for an Additional Assignment -- Sentence De-Combining
When we deal with sentences such as this one, my students often complain, "Why couldn't they have written it in shorter sentences?" It is an interesting question. You might want to ask your students to rewrite the paragraph, dividing the single main clause into several shorter sentences without losing any of the meaning. Then have the students share and discuss their "revisions."