A Dog of Flanders
by Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ram?e)
Some members of the KISS list have noted that
they like the exercises based on literature, and some members have noted
that they would also like to see exercises based on longer texts. In this
case, I think I got carried away. In looking for suitable material, I happened
to read Ouida's A Dog of Flanders. It's a sad story, and an excellent
example of the "Sentamentalist" movement in literary history.
Ouida's style, with its heavy use of compound
main clauses and some fairly deep embedding of subordinate clauses, makes
it appropriate for ninth grade in the KISS curriculum framework. The exercises
below are those most important for KISS Levels Three and Four (Clauses
and Verbals). In making the exercises for each category, I have placed
the simpler examples in the earlier exercises. Thus, for example, teachers
working with seventh graders might want to have the students read and discuss
the novella and then use only the first couple exercises on compound
main clauses, adverbial clauses, etc. On the other hand, if the work is
used with ninth graders, teachers should probably skip the earlier exercises
in a category and use only the later ones.
My primary objective thus far has been to
get analytical exercises on the site -- before anything else, students
should be able to identify constructions in a wide range of contexts and
variations. Only then will they really understand comments about style,
errors, etc. Over the months that it has taken me to develop these exercises,
however, I began to realize that there is more than enough here, and that
it might be a good idea to include some sentence manipulation exercises,
such as the "MC to SC" exercises under "Compound Main Clauses." In looking
at the subordinate clause exercises, however, I realized that the groups
I had formed do not work well for such things as subordinate clause to
main clause manipulation. Thus I interrupted this project once again in
order to develop a few such exercises. See: A Study in the Manipulation
of Clauses (Based on "Pericles" in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare,
by E. Nesbit.) [Grade 8, Dec. 1]
I considered posting the entire text on this
site, but I was surprised to find many electronic copies already available
on the web. Even better, Dover Publications has an inexpensive "Children's
Thrift Classics" edition.
|KISS Level Three -- Clauses
Ouida loved compound sentences. In sorting
the sentences in the novella, I found very few that consist of just adjectival
subordinate clauses within a single main clause. Thus many of the sentences
in these exercises consist of compounded main clauses with one or sometimes
two adjectival clauses in them.
Exercise # 2 includes "than" plus two sentences,
one with "so" and one with "for," used as subordinate conjunctions. The
sentences in Exercises 5 and 6 are longer those in Exercise # 4, but #
4 is probably the more difficult exercise. The second sentence in Exercise
#6 contains five adverbial clauses in one main clause.
I have also noted the logical relationships
implied by these clauses, so, if you want, you can also use them as an
exercise in syntax and logic. See: "The
Logic of Subordinate Clauses."
Exercise # 1, a single sentence, includes
adverbial clauses, second level embedding, and an unusual semicolon, but
it was the only example that I noted of a clauses that function subjects
or as predicate nouns. It is also an excellent example of the inadequacies
of traditional instruction.
Exercise # 2 is a real brain-buster.
In it two of the sentences function as objects of the preposition "save,"
which is relatively rare. In Exercise # 3, three of the sentences
can also be explained in terms of clauses used as interjections.
# 4 consists of a noun clause used as an appositive, which is also
In most cases, these are sentences that have more
than one type of subordinate clause in them. Some of these exercises are
difficult and presume that students have been studying clauses, perhaps
since seventh grade. Exercise #4, however, is a single
90-word sentence that contains only two subordinate clauses (in four main
clauses). It should thus be both relatively easy and interesting, because
of its length, for many students. Exercise # 5, on the other hand,
is a single 114-word sentence with only two subordinate clauses in five
main clauses, and it does not have the complex infinitive construction
that is in Exercise # 4. The single sentence in Exercise # 6 is
back down to 90 words, but it has four subordinate clauses in five main
clauses. (Ouida certainly loved to compound main clauses.)
All of these exercises include subordinate
clauses within subordinate clauses, some more, some less. Exercise #
11 is probably the best for students working at the end of KISS Level
Three. It includes two KISS Level Four infinitive constructions, but they
should not serious affect the students' ability to explain the clause structure.
The second sentence in Exercise # 2
is 80 words long, has a very interesting clause structure, and only one
verbal to distract students working at KISS Level Three. The first sentence
in Exercise # 4 is relatively easy and has eight compounded finite
verbs in a subordinate clause. Have fun with the 100 word sentence in Exercise
# 5, especially with the subordinate clauses in the second main clause.
(I think I got the number of closing brackets at the end right.) Exercise
# 7 is an interesting passage, but it includes only one second-level
embedding of a clause. Exercise # 9 is somewhat interesting, and
not particularly difficult. It contains a third-level embedding in a second-level
clause that can be explained as the object of a preposition. Exercise
# 10 raises some interesting questions for which there may be no "right"
Because most delayed subjects consist of infinitives
or subordinate clauses, delayed subjects are considered a KISS Level Five
construction. However, students who have been working within the KISS framework
for several years will have seen some of them. Ouida uses a fair number
of subordinate clauses as delayed subjects (See the next set of exercises.),
so this exercise probably belongs here.
The sentences in Exercise #1 are shorter, but many of them are
on the edges of the concepts and can be explained in other ways. Exercise
# 2 consists of two sentences with a good example of a delayed sentence
and of a delayed subject. Exercise # 3 is a 108-word sentence that
includes two clauses that function as delayed subjects within the same
Remember that the KISS explanation as interjections
is a suggested alternative to the traditional explanation that would label
these subordinate clauses as direct objects. Exercise # 4 presents some
interesting complications. Exercise # 5 may be the most persuasive for
the KISS view.
Punctuation -- Bending
|KISS Level Four -- Verbals
The gerunds in the first four sentences function
as objects of prepositions. Those in the fifth sentence can be explained
either as predicate nouns or as subjects, depending on how you want to
explain "there." To look for gerunds that function as subjects or direct
objects, I did a quick electronic search of the text for words ending
in "-ing." I may have missed something, but I did not find any such gerunds.
|Some KISS Level Five Constructions
Some students will already have been studying
these constructions so I have included a few exercises on them from this