In order to gain a sophisticated understanding of the power of persuasion, a method for critically examining nonfiction texts and films is necessary. SOAPStone is a strategy that helps identify and isolate various components of nonfiction, helping students deepen their critical analysis.
What is the piece of nonfiction about? Try to distill your answer to one sentence or phrase.
What was happening in the community/society/world that created a “need” for this piece? What was going on when this piece was written/published? To help isolate some of the less obvious occasions (and therefore lead you confidently to the PURPOSE step) consider the publishing date, political climate, and season in which the piece was made public.
Who is the expected audience for this piece? Look at the diction and rhetoric used, the context in which the piece was published, the subject matter, etc. Remember, there are usually MANY answers to this, so don’t force yourself to narrow it down to less than three or so.
What is the author’s/speaker’s intent? Are there several? Note whether they are subtle or overt. This is one of the most important steps, for you cannot accurately understand the speaker’s position until you know why s/he is saying what s/he is saying!
Who created this piece? What details or biases do we discover as we read the piece?
If the author was reading the piece aloud, what would s/he sound like? What brought you to this conclusion?