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Analyzing at it's Core–Looking at three text

Updated on June 9, 2011

Critical Analysis and writing in general is an art that is being lost. People today watch commercials, see advertisements read books without truly looking for the semiotics that is involved in the text. There are a few people that truly question what something is trying to say and question what the hidden meaning is. Analyzing or looking at the semiotics of an item can easily become a passion of young writers, after all some people do this on a daily basis and never realize it. Semiotics is thestudy of signs and symbols and how they work to express a deeper meaning. Semiotics can be divided further into three sub-categories, pragmatics, semantics, and syntactic. When analyzing a text one must take a deeper look at every detail given in a text, everything has a purpose.


The first is an advertisement made for Altoids cinnamon could be considered culturally bias and in a market today may even damage the gross sells. The advertisement features what would appear to be a Middle Eastern man holding a can of the new Altoids. The man is performing a ritual that is meant to show strength and courage. The actually ritual involves walking on hot coals with no expression, where in the advertisement, the coals are replaced with the cinnamon Altoids and the man is imitating that they are too hot for him to walk on. The reason that the gross sells might be affected negatively from this advertisement is the belief that if a Middle Eastern man eats them, “then why would we eat them, he is probably a terrorist?” which leads to the idea that this is an older advertisement. The words “Altoids Cinnamon” appear in bold red letters to give the cinnamon effect that was established by Big Red gum, because in fact cinnamon is more of an auburn color, but auburn doesn’t indicate passion like the color red does. The most important section of the advertisement is in the final phrase. “THE CURIOUSLY STRONG MINTS” which leads to the idea that they are new, the cinnamon flavor is so apparent that it can be questioned “how are they so strong?” and finally if you like regular Altoids mints then be curious enough to try Altoids cinnamon.


This advertisement is for Boutique Guitar Exchange, which is a musical instrument shop. Just the word boutique gives you the idea of a small specialty shop that only business is through small time advertisement and word of mouth. A kind of shop that is typically found behind a super store, the kind of specialty shop that people pass because the idea of quality was lost long ago. The advertisement is printed in a style to give the idea of an old style concert posting. The stance of the man on the front is imitating a 1980’s rocker, showing passion and desire, stretched out playing to the gods. The poster reads “Remember when guitar heroes played guitars?” which is both realistic and humorous at the same time. The company is using the rise in gaming technology to insult those that play it and advertise that they sell real instruments, in one poster. By this statement they are saying don’t mimic old heroes, be one yourself.

The Colonel

By Carolyn Forché

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
May 1978

Source: The Country Between Us (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1981)

“The Colonel” by Carolyn Forché is a very descriptive, confirming story. This is evident that the subject is confirming a story by stating “What you have heard is true.” The story continues to talk about a family that seems to be relative to a 1970’s family. Everything seems typical until the line “There were daily papers, pet dogs, and a pistol on the cushion beside him.” which gives the impression of a military man, or a man that is comfortable around guns. I believe the story is very close to the United States and Mexico border. The cop show being in English and then the commercial being in Spanish shows a battle of political advertising in the area. The colonel seems to be some kind of political trouble which is evident with “There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, and dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves.” This line seems to indicate that the subject is from a different place then the colonel. The line of “Something for your poetry, no? He said.” Seems to exercise the idea that the colonel could be Hispanic, most people that are fluent in English would follow a statement with No.

It is apparent that the colonel is not a good man, but he is wealthy, and he doesn’t believe in the rules of a Nation.


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