Continue working with SIPS by reading the next passage from the play below.

Narrator’s Voice: At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 P.M. on Maple Street.

[At this moment one of the little boys, Tommy, looks up to listen to a sound of a tremendous screeching roar from overhead. A flash of light plays on both their faces and then it moves down the street past lawns and porches and rooftops and then disappears. Various people leave their porches and stop what they’re doing to stare up at the sky. Steve Brand, the man who’s been polishing his car, now stands there transfixed, staring upwards. He looks at Don Martin, his neighbor from across the street.]

Steve What was that? A meteor?

Don [Nods] That’s what it looked like. I didn’t hear any crash, though, did you?

Steve [Shakes his head] Nope. I didn’t hear anything except a roar.

A photograph of a strange bright light in the daytime sky.

Source: Bright Light, rgilmanhunt, Flickr

You now will practice the third letter of SIPS: P for Paraphrase. When you paraphrase, you restate a passage, but you do so using your own words. A paraphrase can be longer and more specific than a summary because a paraphrase focuses on all the ideas of passage, not just the main ideas.

Below are two possible paraphrases for the passage above. The first one is not a strong paraphrase, while the second one is an effective paraphrase. Click on the Think Alouds to see why the second one is better than the first.

1. Tommy hears a screeching roar overhead. People leave the porches to stop and look at the sky. A bright light moves across their faces, down the street, across the lawns and porches and rooftops before it disappears. Steve Brand stops polishing his car, stares upward then looks at Don Martin, his neighbor who’s across the street. Steve asks if it was a meteor. Don responds by saying it looked like that, but he didn’t hear a crash. It is exactly 6:43 P.M. on Maple Street.

a though bubble

2. The stage directions from The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street describe an overwhelmingly loud noise that occurs in the evening on Maple Street. This incredible boom catches the attention of the little boys causing them to look up. A bright light moves across their faces and then travels down the street shining on lawns, porches, and rooftops before it vanishes. Neighbors stop their activities, leave their porches, and look up searching to identify the source of the sound and the light. Two neighbors, Steve and Don, gape at the sky and exchange questions asking each other if it was a meteor they just experienced.

a though bubble

Now you understand the differences between a summary and a paraphrase, and you know how to make an inference. In the next part of the play, all the machines suddenly quit working, including the lawn mower and the car. But suddenly, a car starts again all by itself. Read the passage below.

[And now, just as suddenly as the engine started, it stops and there’s a long silence that is gradually intruded upon by the frightened murmuring of the people.]

Goodman I don’t understand. I swear . . . I don’t understand. What’s happening?

Don Maybe you better tell us. Nothing’s working on this street. Nothing. No lights, no power, no radio. [And then meaningfully.] Nothing except one car—yours!

[The people pick this up and now their murmuring becomes a loud chant filling the air with accusations and demands for action. Two of the men pass Don and head toward Goodman who backs away, backing into his car and now at bay.]

Goodman Wait a minute now. You keep your distance—all of you. So I’ve got a car that starts by itself—well, that’s a freak thing, I admit it. But does that make me some kind of criminal or something? I don’t know why the car works—it just does!

[This stops the crowd momentarily, and now Goodman, still backing away, goes toward his front porch. He goes up the steps and then stops to stand facing the mob.]

A photograph of a man standing with his back against the wall. He is screaming like he is terrified of something.

Source: 15/365 – Migraine, Andres Por, Flickr

With this passage, you will practice the final letter of SIPS: S for Synthesize. To synthesize means to combine elements and parts to form a coherent whole. By synthesizing while you read, you are better able to understand the play. The author puts these events in this order to develop suspense and to make the reader anticipate the outcome.

You can review the events by asking who, what, where, and why. Then, you can synthesize that information to help understand what makes the neighbors jump to conclusions.

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Try it using your notes. Think about each of events below and make logical connections by answering who, what, where, and why. Then, write a summary that synthesizes this information. When you are finished, check your understanding to see sample responses.

Evening comes on a weekend afternoon in a peaceful, small town. → Friendly neighbors visit while children laugh and play. → Suddenly, a meteor-like light travels overhead accompanied by a deafening noise. → All the machines quit working until Goodman’s car starts again on its own. → The frightened neighbors turn into a suspicious mob approaching Goodman.

Check Your Understanding
Sample Response

Summary: Without knowing what caused the unusual events on Maple Street, the neighbors jump to the conclusion that their friend Goodman is evil because his car starts on its own. They begin to act like a mob and confront him.

In synthesizing the dialogue and stage directions, you discover that the characters transform from peaceful and friendly to angry and suspicious, helping you to better understand the drama.