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"The Inheritance of Tools" by Scott Russell Sanders

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Madison Paoletti

on 31 October 2014

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Transcript of "The Inheritance of Tools" by Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1945
Went to school in Ohio
Author of 20 books and essays
This essay appeared in
The Paradise of Bombs
Intro into discussion
simple and strong vocabulary
-“I never had to assault my handsome wall, because the gerbils eventually came out to nibble at a dish of popcorn” (143).

uses carpentry terms
- "Even if you are butting two pieces of wood together inside a cabinet,...you must take pains to ensure that the ends are square and the studs are plumb" (143).

uses sayings that his dad used
- "'If you're going to cut a piece of wood,'my father insisted, 'you owe it to the tree to cut it straight'" (142).
Author's Perspective and Tone
Sanders refers to himself.

He tells stories about times with his dad, with his wife, and with his kids.

Sanders does not refer to the audience.

He was very close to his father and the tools that were passed down from generation to generation.



Structure of the essay
parts are organized from flashbacks to present scenarios
helps purpose because it adds information and back stories - emotionally invested
no conventional thesis - implied
"The Inheritance of Tools"
by Scott Russell Sanders

Created by:
Giovanna Fortuna - Structure,Language,Syntax
Rebecca Gieleghem - Tone, Vocabulary,Syntax
Madison Paoletti - Perspective, Imagery, Syntax

"The hammer had belonged to him, and to his father before him, and to his father before him. The three of us have used it to build houses, and barns, and chicken coops, to upholster chairs and crack walnuts, to make doll furniture and bookshelves and jewelry boxes"(140).
"'Looks like you got ahold of some of those rubber nails,' he would tell me. 'Here, let me see if I can find you some stiff ones.' And he would rummage in a drawer until he came up with a fistful of more cooperative nails. 'Look at the head,' He would tell me. 'Don't look at your hands, don't look at the hammer. Just look at the head of that nail and pretty soon you'll learn to hit it square'"(141).
In this essay he uses sight, sound, and smell.

"No matter how weathered and gray the board, no matter how warped and cracked, inside there was this smell waiting, as of something freshly baked" (142).
the passing down
of sentimental
the influence of family figures
family connections
active voice as well as action verbs
-"whittling", "hammering"
-"While he worked in the garage cutting dovetail joints for a drawer..."(141).

uses adjectives and adverbs in his writing,such as "pockmarked" and "quietly"
Jargon and Colloquial Language
draw knife
rounded head
miter boxes
radial-arm saw
no colloquial language is used in this piece
Sanders uses many similes.
"Oiled and sharp, as my father would have kept them, they gleamed at me like teeth" (145).
"The head is scratched and pockmarked, like an old plowshare that has been working rocky fields, and it gives off the sort of dull sheen you see on fast creek water in the shade" (140).
Includes details about his father's death
He arranges the details like building a wall
The Hammer
The hammer is sentimental because it has been passed down from generation to generation
"He would pull a nail from the pouch at his waist, bring the hammer down, and a moment later the
of the blow would reach my ears" (140).
"The hammer had belonged to him, and to his father before him" (140).
"The tools in my workbench are a double inheritance, for each hammer and level and saw is wrapped in a cloud of knowing" (144).
The Wall
Represents Sanders' life
"She stopped crying and gazed at me.'You'd really tear it apart? Just for my gerbils? The wall?'" (143).
"But for several hours I studied the tongue-and-groove skin I had nailed up on the day of my father's death, considering where to begin prying. There were no gaps in that wall, no crooked joints" (143).
The Scar On His Thumb
Represents his father and the pain he felt when he died
"It took the better part of a year for the scar to disappear, and every time I noticed it I thought of my father" (139).
Sentence Structure
Simple: 32%
Compound: 28%
Complex: 28%
Compound-Complex: 12%
25 sentences
"Early this morning , on his way into the kitchen of my brother's trailer, maybe going for a glass of water, so early that no one else was awake, he slumped down on the linoleum and his heart quit" (143).
He likes to use commas and run on sentences. Sanders' writing style is simple because he gets to the point.
On page 140,Sander writes mostly loose sentences.

Shortest Sentence: 9 words
Longest Sentence: 46 words
Average: 25 words

Loose sentence


her Sunday dress for the wedding, with a fringe of lace tacked on around the hem in honor of the occasion" (140).
Periodic Sentence
"Instead of yelling from the kitchen door,
I ran
to the barn and climbed two rungs up the ladder" (140).
Sanders does not use rhetorical questions or fragments

He uses lots of detail

Parallel Construction
revolves around building
(done by all)
Everyone has that sentimental item that they hope gets passed down to their kids and their kid’s kids. The most common items are wedding dresses, jewelry, and cars. What some people do not realize is that, although heirlooms are nice to pass down, sometimes the simpler objects mean the most. Passing down a simple recipe or a book can keep a tradition alive. Just like Scott Sanders' narrative, “The Inheritance of Tools,” Sanders receives the tools after his father’s unexpected death, just as his father received the tools from his father. Every time he uses the tools, he is reminded of his father’s words or a specific memory of their relationship. Tools might be simple and meaningless to others, but to Sander’s the tools are the only connection he has to his father.
Full transcript