Originally Posted by Nancy Fulda
C.S. Lewis has a great quote somewhere about how people are always reading meanings into his work that he never intended.
My favorite is Gwendolyn Brooks on a questionable analysis of her poem "We Real Cool".
She actually muses about the varied meaning that people find in her words, particularly that people (with dirty minds) apparently like to read the word "Jazz" as being a sexual reference (I don't see it, but my 8th graders often do... on their own, mind you). Listen to the audio at the link for her take.
My problem always is with the idea that there's a "right" answer to interpretations*. Sure, there are "defensible" answers and "indefensible" answers. Yours need to be in the first category for credit. But, if you can defend an interpretation that is different for mine, great!
And, no, we don't analyze every word to death. But, for example, the landlady's reference to Eve and the Apple in Flowers for Algernon
is a very powerful allusion and neglecting to discuss it would be a shame.
* Although, sometimes, I wish there were such clear-cut answers. I am often jealous of math teachers.