Definition of Inference

Inference is a literary device used commonly in literature, and in daily life, where logical deductions are made based on premises assumed to be true. Another definition of inference suggests that it is rational but non-logical, which means that, through the observation of facts presented in a particular pattern, one ultimately sees different or new interpretations and perspectives.

Symbols and anomalies are very important during its use. Inferences are not so much used for coming to conclusions, but to open up new ways of inquiry. When inference is studied from this aspect, it is further divided into two types: inductive and deductive inference.

Examples of Inference in Literature

Example #1: The Great Gatsby (By F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the gardener saw Wilson’s body a little way off in the grass, and the holocaust was complete.”

The above excerpt is one of the examples of inference from literature. After reading this line from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a reader who is smart enough to make a quick inference will simultaneously understand that Gatsby’s life has ended.

The most significant part of this sentence is that the protagonist in the novel, Mr. Gatsby, has been murdered. Nevertheless, the circumstances surrounding his demise can be all the more interesting if looked at closely. Among the factors that contributed to his death, the most dominant one is his rebuttal to let go of the past.

Earlier the day Gatsby was killed, there was a part where he stopped his servant from emptying the pool, even though the air was cold because he felt that summer was not over yet. Looking at this particular part more profoundly incites us to make an association between Gatsby’s denial of the end of summer, and his denial of the dissolution of his relation with Daisy. So, we could say that if Gatsby had made peace with the current circumstances, and had moved on, he might not have gotten himself killed.

Example #2: The Pirate Solution, Big Bang Theory (By Staff Writers)

Sheldon Cooper: “I took another look at the board, and I realized you were right.”

Raj Koothrappali: “So you were wrong.”

Sheldon Cooper: “I’m not saying that.”

Raj Koothrappali: “That’s the only logical inference.”

Sheldon Cooper: “I’m still not saying it.”

Inference examples are also found in TV series. The above dialogue from the popular TV series Big Bang Theory, in the 2009 episode The Pirate Solution, is the best example that could be presented here. You can easily understand Raj’s inference that, because Sheldon admitted that Raj’s opinion was right, Sheldon was actually wrong.

Function of Inference

The function of inference is important, not only in literature, but in daily life to make sense of things people say and do. The skills inference teaches us are not only required to make out the underlying meanings of phrases and arguments, but also to perceive the implicit concealed meanings that enhance the overall quality of communication.

It is also used to draw one’s own conclusions from a script. Inference plays a central role in understanding texts by translating in one’s mind the effects of the usage of particular words. It also makes us see the literary value of a text by highlighting its strengths. Moreover, inference has a great deal of significance in enhancing the learning abilities of students academically and otherwise.

The ability to make inferences helps students develop an understanding of the author’s perspective by grasping the subtle underlying meanings in a text. Without inference, people usually end up translating a text word by word, missing out on the associations a writer is trying to make. Such a lacking approach keeps us from comprehending the “whole picture” of a piece of writing.

The delight a reader feels while going through a text is because of the inferences he makes along the way. People who are better at inferring generally have much more fun while reading than those who do not. The reason is that they understand the script better because they are able to see things that are not too obvious, which is why they follow a story or text better and enjoy it all the more. Besides, understanding the text better helps them draw information from their existing knowledge, and relate to the characters more deeply.

In learning the processes of inference, people generally come to find that in places reading a text independently makes it incomplete. There are certain concepts and feelings that we understand better when we associate them with our own experiences. It also aids in learning concepts like themes, characters, and figurative language. When this process is repeated consciously and systematically, it becomes a skill that helps us fill the gaps in understanding a script.