The two texts used for our comparative analysis are “Piggybook” by Anthony Browne and “Guinea Pigs”. Both texts are extremely different in terms of their genre, language, content and grammar. Piggybook is a fictional text whereas Guinea Pigs is an information report and purely non-fictional.
Piggybook is a short fictional story about a family, their daily mundane routine and behaviour. There are four everyday human characters in it, a setting, a problem and a resolution. It has all the elements which are present in any fictional story.
The author Anthony Browne has used very simple descriptive language to describe the characters and events that are happening. It also has images which reinforce the verbal text and make the story very clear. There are dialogues in the story, but mainly used by male characters. The only female character in the story is Mrs. Piggott, who is a silent character and we don’t see any instance throughout the story when she actually speaks or utters even a single word. The other three male characters not only have a voice in the story, but also a very strong demanding speech. So the four characters are the participants who form the noun group.
Throughout the story we see a lot of action taking place. For instance Mrs. Piggott “washed the dishes”, “vacuumed the carpets”, “went to work”, “did the ironing”, etc. Even the male characters show a lot of action, such as Mr. Piggott “went off to his very important job”, “opened the envelope", boys “went off to their very important school”, etc. But we see that everything Mrs. Piggott does is more productive than what the male characters do. Ironically the male characters are more dominant in the story, whereas Mrs. Piggott is shown to be very passive and a quiet hard worker. The use of verb group or processes by the author brings out the contrast very clearly and shows the various actions moving along in the text.
The family is shown busy in their daily routine and the setting is their “nice house” with a “nice garden”. The repetitive use of the adjective “nice” emphasizes the beauty of the setting. It is a domestic world setting which includes scenes of daily life and routine. However there is also a world of fantasy involved when the images of the male characters are shown as pigs. The image of Mr. Piggott with his two sons standing in front of their house also suggests that the setting of where they live is beautiful. Mrs. Piggott is shown busy doing household chores and even going to work. The list of chores given by the author tells the readers about how hard working she is, and at the same time we don’t hear anything from her. But the note that she left for her husband and sons, says a lot about her feelings. The author therefore doesn’t give Mrs. Piggott any words or dialogue, but through her note reveals all her inner feelings. Her note says “You are pigs” which is suggestive of a lot of anger and frustration built up inside her. Therefore the author uses very strong words in the note through which the readers can sense the innermost feelings of Mrs. Piggott.
The images used in the story are semi-realistic ones and reinforce meaning in the verbal text. The colors are bright and there’s a direct gaze in portraying the male characters, but a dull color and indirect gaze is used to show Mrs. Piggott. In the beginning her image doesn’t show any expression but in the end we see her smiling happy face, which engages the readers. There is more focus on the males and the female is back grounded. The images are placed in the center so they do not take up too much space.
Overall the text clearly brings out the indifferent, cold and demanding nature of all the three male characters. And through their behaviour towards Mrs. Piggott, the description of her duties and responsibilities and her note we understand the character of Mrs. Piggott and her feelings. The orientation is the beginning of the text where the setting and the characters are introduced. The complication in the story is when Mrs. Piggott leaves the house all of a sudden one day. And the resolution or the solution to the problem is in the end when she returns home and stays back after a lot of pleading from her family. But things change after that as everybody helps in the household work now and not only that, but they all enjoy cooking together.
The use of adjectives and verbs like “old girl” and demanded in the beginning of the story show how much unpleasantness there must have been in the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Piggott. But the author uses verbs and adjectives like “enjoyed” and “happy” in the end, which suggest a happy ending of the story. So the resolution in the story is a positive one.
In the orientation of the story we see Mrs. Piggott as the doer, in the complication part we see all the three male characters as doers, and in the resolution all the four characters are the doers. There is a shift of responsibilities and roles from the female to the male characters and how work is shared in the end for the comfort of all.
The second text that we read is an information report about guinea pigs. It’s absolutely different from the above piece of text and a totally different genre. The text relates to the scientific world. There is no fantasy in it and is simply realistic. The guinea pigs text is a specialized scientific information report. An everyday world is built in the text, and the text unfolds in stages of identification of the animal, its description and then information about its upkeep.
The text opens with the scientific name of the animal and which part of the world they come from originally. There is a description of how guinea pigs have become “exotic pets” in many countries. A detailed description is given about how tall they grow, what they feed on, and what is their life span. The author informs the readers about the behaviour and nature of the animals also by using descriptive adjectives like “friendly”, “blossom into contented creatures”, “love to talk”, “chatty” and “inquisitive”. The verbal text is very precise, crisp and at the same time detailed and provides a lot of information in one go. It is a very engaging and informative text and ends with a positive evaluation.
The participants are living, non-human, particular and concrete, which is expressed through noun groups and adjectives. Mainly relating processes are used in orientation which evaluates the behaviour phase. As far as details of time, place and manner are concerned, all the information is very generalized.
The narrator has a passive voice in the text and focusses on the topic of guinea pigs. The marked theme is that of the animal, its breeding, diet and behaviour. Each category is described vividly with verb groups, and adjectives. The appropriate use of these language tools provides a clear and informative description of the animal. Details are also provided through dependent clauses.
The orientation in this text is the classification of the animal as “Cavia porcellus”. The description is the physiology of guinea pigs and their diet and behaviour.
There is only one image used in the text which is a low resolution photograph of a specimen with labels of different parts of the body. This builds the scientific world and is more appropriate for teaching students about the animal. There is no setting as such as there are no other pets or people cuddling the guinea pig. There is no direct gaze from the guinea pig and it’s not in relationship with the surrounding. There is no background so all the focus is on the structure of the animal, which gives the readers a clear understanding of its body parts.
The comparative analysis between the two texts is that it has participants but the first text has human participants and the second has a non-human participant. The story has four participants, whereas the report has only one guinea pig as the participant.
Both texts use a number of verbs, nouns and adjectives to describe the characters, provide information and give a sense of what is happening to the readers. Simple present tense is used in report whereas simple present and simple past tenses are used in the story.
Both the texts use images to provide clarity to the readers. The story has a clear setting and background in the images, whereas the report has no background. The images of the story have a direct gaze mostly and express a lot of details. But in the report the image is non-expressive and more informative because of the labels.
Both the texts end with a positive note and clarity to the readers. The story culminates with a happy ending and the report also ends happily about the nature of the guinea pigs.
In the story the characters and circumstances speak actively along with the narrator, whereas in the report it’s a passive narrator’s voice. The readers are however able to relate to the text in the report through descriptions and details.
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