Reader's & Writer's Notebook: Text Connections

Entry Date: September 5, 2017
Focus: Moby Dick

I'd just finished reading  some more of Moby Dick and had put the book down and moved on to something else when I realized I could make a "text to self" connection to the novel. Here's the passage that I connected to:  “Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have become transfigured into some subtler form” (Melville 248). 

 At this point in the novel, Ishmael and the crew of the Pequod have been at sea for man weeks. After isolating himself from his crew for much of the voyage up to this point, Ahab calls the crew together to announce that his main goal is to hunt an d kill Moby Dick. This seems to bother Starbuck the most. The main goal should be to hunt whales and return to Nantucket with as much whale oil as possible. Their goal is not supposed to be the pursuit one specific whale. Ishmael and the others all seem to be under Ahab’s spell. They’re not as worried as Starbuck. This passage is referring to Ahab and maybe also to the crew (except Starbuck) who all seem to be a little insane (mad) at this point.

 I can make a text to self connection to this passage because it reminds me of my grandmother. When she began to experience dementia (a mental illness), we would sometimes think she was “mad” or insane but then she would say or do something that made us believe she wasn’t. Her madness was difficult to pin down. It was “quiet and quick like a cunning and feline thing”.

 This text connection helps me understand that perhaps a difficult time is on the horizon for the crew and for Ahab as they deal with Ahab’s madness. If Ahab’s madness is similar to my grandmother’s, then I know that it will be difficult for the crew to know for sure that Ahab is insane until he becomes so mentally ill that something must be done.


Here are three types of text connections:

Text to World

This is a connection you can make between the text and the world. Text to world connections most often reference significant moments in history, current events, or sports etc.

Text to World connections help a reader place a text in a context. For example, A Farewell to Arms  by Hemingway is set in Italy during the first world war. Understanding something about war and WWI and Italy can help a reader interpret  A Farewell to Arms in an in-depth manner.

Text to Self

 This is a connection you can make between the text and your own personal experiences.

As John Kieran once said, " I am a part of all I have read." This is true. When a reader begins a book, she/he doesn't forget all of her/his life experiences. These experiences influence a reader's interpretation of a book - positively and negatively. For this reason, readers must be aware of this connection and its influence.                       

Text to Text 

This is a connection you can make between the text and another book, short story, poem, song, work of art or film. A "text to text" connection can also be made between one part of the book to another part of the of the same book.

Text to Text connections help a reader compare one "text" to another. In doing so, the reader can use the connection to help him/her develop an in-depth understanding of the text. These connections can also help the reader predict the direction of the text, or alter his/her reading strategy.  

What are text connections?

A text connection indicates the reasons why you selected a passage and it reveals the depth of your critical thinking. A well-chosen text connection can help you develop a unique insightful understanding of the literary work. It is a key element of your Reader's & Writer's Notebook.





Sample Text Connection Response


What's the purpose of a text connection?

Whether consciously or sub-consciously,  all readers make connections to literary works as they read. As a reader, when I make the effort to actively explore these connections and their meaning/significance, I then have the opportunity to develop insights and deepen my understanding of a text. 

I can use these connections as the foundation for research, essay responses and much more.