If you can read and assimilate a single paragraph, you have then developed your power to read and assimilate an entire book. And if you can follow and appreciate a single poem, you will have acquired the skill to comprehend other poems. In addition, if you can understand a single speech by a dramatic character--any speech--you can go on to do the same for the entire play.
--Writing About Literature, Roberts pg. 53
Roberts makes some pretty high claims in this introduction to chapter 2. I'm not saying that I don't believe him--I'm just saying that I think he should have mentioned just how much work is required to master these skills. And anyway, I'm not sure that I entirely agree with his statement. I've done my fair share of analyzing poetry, and I can honestly say from experience that it never gets any easier for me. And, sometimes, the point of a specific poem completely escapes me. The problem is this: every writer is different. Some metaphors are more obvious than others, and in some cases, you will get stumped.
Having said that, I think that this chapter will be very helpful in trying to get "unstumped," so to speak. The "Raise Questions to Discover Ideas" sections of this chapter were probably my favorite part, because sometimes when I'm reading, I do get stuck--to the point where I can't even think of new questions to raise. Or, I'll just ask the really basic ones, too lazy to dig deeper. I'm not saying that I don't go in depth in my essays, but sometimes you just get tired of analyzing the same piece of literature for an extended period of time.
Anyway, apart from these questions, the sample essays will be very useful in the upcoming months as we begin to write our own research-fueled literary response essays. I just hope (against hope and my own better judgement) that Roberts ends up being right about everything he said in his introduction, because I sadly doubt that analyzing a paragraph is the same as analyzing an entire book...but maybe that's just me. Maybe my peers think otherwise.