Recognizing Implications of Ideas in a Reading Passage

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How can recognizing implications in a reading passage help active readers? And how can readers recognize implications? In this lesson we'll look at how to recognize implications and the link between implications, inferences, and predictions in reading.

Active Reading

Rasheed is an ok reader, but sometimes he struggles to understand the implications of what he's reading. That is, he struggles to figure out how smaller parts of a piece can relate to the big picture of the piece.

Active reading involves constructing meaning from the words on the page. There are many tools and skills to help readers be actively engaged in the process of reading. One of the tools that readers can use while reading involves recognizing implications, or connections and suggestions about what's going on.

To help Rasheed with recognizing implications of the ideas in a reading passage, let's look closer at how implications can influence predictions and inferences while reading.

Predictions & Inferences

Rasheed is reading a mystery novel. He keeps noticing that there are certain small things that are described in the book, but he's not sure how they relate to the rest of the book. For example, does he really need to know that one of the characters carries a flashlight with her everywhere she goes?

There's a rule that writers know, that's usually attributed to the playwright Anton Checkov. The rule goes that if there's a gun on the wall in the first act, it must go off by the third act. Basically, this means that if something is described in a piece of writing, it should have some relevance to the overall story.

Of course, not every writer follows this rule, but many do, and Rasheed could benefit from remembering it as he reads. If writers include only important information, then the implications of what is happening or what is described in one part of a piece relate to what will happen later on.

Look at Rasheed's book: there's a character who is always described as having a flashlight on her. What are the implications of this? Well, it depends. It could be a clue. If, for example, the victim was murdered with a flashlight or killed someplace really dark, the flashlight could be a hint that this is the killer. In this way, Rasheed can view the implications as a type of prediction of what will happen later.

But what if the victim in Rasheed's mystery novel was murdered with a gun in a well-lit room? In that case, what's the point of the flashlight?

In addition to predictions, implications can also be recognized as a tool for making inferences, or figuring out what the writer isn't directly saying in a passage. For example, maybe the flashlight is in the book because the writer is trying to tell the readers something about that character. Maybe she's someone who is always prepared, or maybe she's a worrywart who carries the flashlight around because she always thinks the worst is going to happen.

The point here is that the implications of a character's words and action can hint at something larger. Perhaps it's that the character is a certain way, or that he or she will do a certain thing later. Perhaps what they do and say relate to the theme of the book. For example, maybe one of the themes in the book that Rasheed is reading has to do with light and darkness, and the flashlight is a way of bringing that theme out.

Recognizing Implications

So, how can Rasheed tell what's going on with the flashlight? In other words, how can Rasheed recognize implications?

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