Diction - San Juan

Report
Characterization in Chapters 5-9 of
Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times
Dorian K., Shilpa N., Niagara P., Danica W.
Thesis
James Thurber, in his novel My Life and Hard Times, creates a
strong image of his characters’ physical and mental states, using
rhetorical devices such as metaphors, alliteration, hyperboles, and
diction. This characterization contributes to the plot by providing
insight to the chaos and adding to the lighthearted tone of the
novel.
Chapter 5
More Alarms at Night
James
● Hyperbole
o “I grew slightly alarmed...I began to feel the necessity
of human contact” (43)
 panicked
● Metaphor
o “alarming tangle of thought and fancy had gone far
enough” (43)
 fearful
http://www.nwkniterati.com/movabletype/archives/M
ossyCottage/mess.jpg
Roy
● Metaphor
o “certain gleam in his eyes” (41)
 devious
● Diction
o “he was (or rather, as we found out long afterward,
pretended to be) astonished and bewildered (42)
 devious
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Father
● Onomatopoeia
o “father grumbling for a long time” (42)
 irritated
● Diction
o “‘I did not have a nightmare...slowly and
firmly...old-fashioned, “side-slit”
nightgown which looked rather odd on
his tall, spare figure” (42)
 stubborn
o “smiling in a faint, strained way” (44)
 nervous
http://images.
sodahead.co
m/polls/0013
10597/istock
photo_11670
59_stubborn_
man_answer
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Father (continued)
● Diction (continued)
o “in readiness to spring out of bed
on the far side” (44)
 fearful
● Metaphor
o “he finally woke up with a glaze of
dream and apprehension in his
eyes” (43)
 confused
http://s3.amazonaws.com/thumbnails.illustration
source.com/huge.3.16388.JPG
Mother
● Diction
o “an occasional monosyllable doubt from mother” (42)
 frustrated
o “Mother would not let the rest of us discuss the affair next
morning at breakfast” (45)
 irritated
http://merikno
wledge.com/w
pcontent/uploa
ds/2014/04/11
04344-ClipartFuriousYellowEmoticonSmiley-FaceTurning-RedWith-SteamAnd-AngerRoyalty-FreeVectorIllustration.pn
Chapter 6
A Sequence of Servants
Dora Gedd
Diction
● “...among the immortals…” (pg. 46)
o Describes how she was memorable
● “...she wore a mass of jewelry…” (pg.
46)
o Describes the large amount of
jewelry she was wearing and gives
a strong image to the reader of her
appearance
http://poisontreepoetics.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/10/got-diction.jpg
Dora Gedd (Continued)
Alliteration
● “She kept shouting something
from Shakespeare after the
shooting…” (pg. 46)
o Describes her frantic state
and helps the reader
imagine what she acted
like during the event
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/th
umb/2/2a/Hw-shakespeare.png/250px-Hwshakespeare.png
Gertie Straub
Diction
● “...big, genial, and ruddy…” (pg. 47)
o Adds to the imagery used by the
author to demonstrate her large
size
● “...bumping into and knocking over
furniture…” (pg. 47)
o Continues to add to the imagery
used to describe her large size
Juanemma Kramer
Diction
● “....thin, nervous maid who
lived in constant dread of being
hypnotized…” (pg. 47)
o Imagery used to describe her
appearance
● “...floundered out…” (pg. 47)
o Describes her actions
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/MontreGou
sset001.jpg
Juanemma Kramer (Cont.)
Onomatopoeia
● “...buzzing or
whirring…” (pg. 47)
o Describes the sounds
that caused the chaos
of hypnosis
http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/comic-elementscollection-including-onomatopoeia-sound-effects-alltext-originally-created-all-them-not-32045520.jpg
Belle Giddin
Understatement
● The author describes how Belle
burns her finger in order to see
whether the pain-killer she bought at
a tent show was any good. Thurber
says that “It was only fair.” (pg. 49)
o Mocks Belle’s decision and
understates the seriousness of the
situation
http://www.stayatstovedad.com/.a/6a00e555
03a4a38834015435dcfb09970c-pi
Vashti
Rhyme
● “...might fight it out some
night…” (pg. 49)
o Adds to the humor and
imagery of the situation
that could occur between
the men due to the
conflict over Vashti
http://shortbaldandlanky.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/letsmakearhym
e_littlemissmuffet_nusery_rhyme.png
Vashti (Cont.)
Diction
● “...threw her over for a yellow
gal…” (pg. 50)
o Word choice describes the
actions taken by Charley
and his decision from
Vashti’s deceit
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons
/thumb/7/7f/Speech_bubble.svg/300pxSpeech_bubble.svg.png
Mrs. Doody
Diction
● “...huge, middle-aged
woman with a religious
taint…” (pg. 50)
o Adds to appearance of
the character and
insight into her values
http://www.emoaf.org/Golden_Cross.jpg
Mrs. Doody (Cont.)
Simile
● “...went out of our house
like a comet…” (pg. 50)
o Adds to reader’s
understanding of the
Thurber family’s issues
with the woman
Mrs. Robertson
Diction:
● “...a fat and mumbly old Negro
woman…” (pg. 50)
o Describes her appearance
with strong imagery words
● “...flubbering up...bounced…”
(pg. 52)
o Describes her large size and
how she carried herself
http://www.crosstrainingsoftball.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/02/DiscussionForum.jpg
Mrs. Robertson (Cont.)
Hyperbole
● “...who might have been sixty
and who might have been a
hundred…” (pg. 50)
o Describes her age and the
type of appearance she has
in a humorous and unique
way
http://b68389.medialib.glogster.com/media/b892
1a650b0cb9aa1375817e8095bd0a77e50942ce
e9a78f0326105f9019cf82/hyperbole-04.png
Mrs. Robertson (Cont.)
Metaphor
● “It seems that she was a jewel.”
(pg. 52)
o Describes Thurber’s mother’s
like for Mrs. Robertson
Alliteration
● “Dey is a death watch downstairs!”
(pg. 52)
o Emphasizes the woman’s
accent and method of speaking
http://generic.pixmac.com/4/royalty-free-photosisolated-aquamarine-jewel-12122335.jpg
Mrs. Robertson (Cont.)
Assonance
● “...Spanish fandango on a
banjo.” (pg. 52)
o Describes her talent and
adds to the reader’s
understanding of her
personality
http://narrabeenmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Banjolessons-in-Narrabeen.jpg
Chapter 7
The Dog that Bit People
Thurber’s Dogs
Alliteration
● Jeannie: “a Scotch terrier...who
had just had six puppies in the
clothes closet of a fourth floor
apartment in New York”
(Thurber 54)
o Adds to the rhythm of the
sentence and adds emphasis
on the strange nature of the
situation.
http://static.gotpetsonline.com/picturesgallery/dog-pictures-breeders-puppiesrescue/scottish-terrier-pictures-breederspuppies-rescue/pictures/scottish-terrier-
Thurber’s Dogs (cont.)
Personification
● “...during a walk she had insisted on
taking” (Thurber 54)
○ Thurber’s use of personification adds
human elements to his pets (part of the
family)
○ Demonstration of Thurber’s keen
attention to even the most trivial events.
http://www.pedigree.co.nz/breeds/images/scottish_terr.jpg
Thurber’s Dogs (cont.)
Diction
● “...prize-winning French poodle, a great big
black poodle—none of your little, untroublesome
white miniatures...” (Thurber 54)
o Thurber demonstrates pride through this
particular diction; contrasts the greatness and
power of the poodle with the meekness of
smaller dogs
http://www.petsplace.co.za/French%20poodle%20with
%20continental%20cut.jpg
Muggs
Alliteration
● “The airedale was the worst of all my
dogs...A big, burly, choleric dog...” (Thurber
55).
o “Big, burly”: emphasis on Muggs’
roughness and foreshadows the conflicts
to be brought about by this personality.
● “...with a great growling and scratching of
claws...” (Thurber 60).
http://www.coolestdognames.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/10/airedale_terrier.jpg
Muggs (cont.)
Diction
● “...he always acted as if he thought I
wasn’t one of the family” (Thurber 55).
o Direct and plain choice of words in
Muggs’ attitude towards Thurber
foreshadows the conflict between
Thurber and Muggs later on.
http://www.pinterest.com/meemimi/airedales-maizie-mae-minen-theirs/
Muggs (cont.)
Diction
● “Muggs was afraid of only one
thing, an electrical storm”
(Thurber 62).
o Syntax used to add emphasis to
the only weakness that
detracted from Muggs’ bravery.
http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/naturaldisasters/lightning1.htm
Muggs (cont.)
Hyperbole
● “Thunder and lightning frightened him out of his
senses” (Thurber 62).
o An exaggeration that heightens the
understanding of Muggs’ fear.
Simile
● “Muggs came wandering into the room like
Hamlet following his father’s ghost” (Thurber 62).
o Belief in the existence of what is unseen
http://frankzumbach.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/hamle
t-act-1-scene-1/
Thurber’s Mother
Diction
● “She said the signs of his horoscope showed
he couldn’t be trusted — but she sent him a
box of candy that Christmas” (Thurber 56).
o Superstitious; eccentric; kind-hearted
● “...some such inscription as “Flights of angels
sing thee to thy rest” (Thurber 63).
o Special bond between Muggs and
Thurber’s mother
o “She was forever defending him”
(Thurber 56).
http://www.freeonlineastrologer.com/images/horoscopesigns2.gif
Chapter 8
University Days
Thurber
Anaphora
● “I didn’t like the swimming
pool, I didn’t like swimming,
and I didn’t like the
swimming
instructor...”(Thurber 68).
o Used for emphasis on
Thurber’s dislike
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a1/Olympian_Swimming_
pool,_Varna.jpg
Thurber (cont.)
● “The uniform which, when new, had
made me look like an interurban
railway conductor, now that it had
become faded and too tight made me
look like Bert Williams in his bellboy
act” (Thurber 72-73)
o Similes used for imagery in
demonstrating the humorous
change throughout his years of
military drills.
http://p2.laimg.com/286/9121/1815327_1_l.jpg
Botany Professor
Diction
● “He would begin patiently
enough...but he would always end up
in a fury, claiming that I could too
see through a microscope but just
pretended that I couldn’t” (Thurber
64).
o Demonstration of the frustration
of the professor
http://www.vectors4all.net/preview/mi
croscope-clip-art.jpg
Botany Professor (cont.)
Similes
● “The professor had come back from vacation
brown as a berry, bright-eyed, and eager to
explain cell-structure again to his classes”
(Thurber 65).
● “He was beginning to quiver all over, like
Lionel Barrymore, and he genuinely wished to
hold onto his temper” (Thurber 65)
o Add a humorous description of the
professor’s demeanor and physical
appearance.
Bolenciecwcz
Diction
● “He was a tackle on the football
team....while he was not dumber
than an ox he was not any
smarter” (Thurber 67).
● “No light came into the big
tackle’s eyes” (Thurber 67).
o Used to highlight the football
player’s lack of intelligence.
http://images.clipartpanda.com/football
-clip-art-RiGELRMiL.png
Bolenciecwcz (cont.)
Diction
● “Bolenciecwcz had the look of a man
being led into a trap” (Thurber 67).
● “Bolenciecwcz was staring at the
floor now, trying to think, his great
brow furrowed, his huge hands
rubbing together, his face red”
(Thurber 68).
o Clueless; effort in trying to
identify a simplistic answer.
Mr. Bassum
● “...The economics professor, a thin, timid man named
Bassum” (Thurber 67)
Onomatopoeia
● “‘Choo-choo-choo,’ he said, in a low voice, and turned
instantly scarlet” (Thurber 67).
o His use of onomatopoeia demonstrates helpfulness;
“[turning] instantly scarlet” emphasizes timid nature.
● “Ding, dong, ding, dong...Chuffa, chuffa, chuffa” (Thurber
68).
http://www.smarttinc.com/email/NL-0114/sheldon.jpg
General Littlefield
Theriomorphism
● “‘You startled him!’ barked
General Littlefield, looking at me
severely” (Thurber 73).
Diction
● Use of the words ‘shouted,’
‘snapped,’ and ‘barked’
o These elements display the
General’s cold, abrupt
commanding nature.
Chapter 9
Draft Board Nights
Grandfather
Chiasmus
● “...‘He watched while I
slept...so now I'm
watchin' while he
sleeps’…” (page 76)
o demonstrates
fairness in
Grandfather’s
actions
http://www.watershedassociates.com/fairness-at-negotiating-table
Grandfather (cont.)
Metaphor
● “...he approached it as he
might have approached a wild
colt…” (page 76)
o continued use of the
comparison between the
electric and a colt shows
stubborn refusal to accept
changing technologies
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/171910910747966095/
Grandfather (cont.)
Alliteration
● “...We followed a
tortuous trail…” (page
78)
o illustrates the
importance of
Grandfather to
Thurber and his family
http://www.louisvilleco.gov/Portals/0/Parks%20&%20Recreation/W
alnut%20Trail%20100306.JPG
Jake
Hyperbole
● “...Jake hadn't been able to
sleep at night for twenty-eight
years…” (page 75)
o enforces the idea that Jake is
the “perfect person” for
watching over Grandfather
http://images.clipartpanda.com/cot-clipart-bed-20clipart-bedclipartcolored-bed-clip-art---vector-clip-art-online-royalty-freeefq4mxqt.png
Jake (cont.)
Alliteration
● “...perfect person…”
(page 75)
o used to clearly
describe the
suitability of this
character for his
purpose
http://www.careerealism.com/perfect-person-job/
Grandmother
Diction
● “...She had become,
surprisingly enough, quite
skilful…” (page 76)
o demonstrates that
Grandmother typically was
not good at adapting to the
use of new technology
http://yourdailyshakespeare.com/shakespeareon-confusion-law-terrorism-and-twerroristexperts/equalities/confusion
The Military
Diction
● “...‘You’re absolutely
nothing to me’…” (page 80)
o shows that the military is
rude and cursory in
drafting
http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/dat
a/992/1-4e.gif
The Military (cont.)
Hyperbole
● “...ninth or tenth time I
was called…” (page 80)
o illustrates the
redundancy of having
Thurber attend the
drafts
http://nyobetabeat.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/screenshot-2012-11-01-at-10-14-39-am.png?w=501
Doctor Ridgeway
Diction
● “...Ridgeway gave him a
haughty, indignant look…”
(page 81)
o shows Dr. Ridgeway’s
incredulity at being
expected to do something
that was done by another
department
http://dict.space.4goo.net/dict?q=haughty
Byron Landis
Diction
● “...tall, unexpected young
man…” (page 81)
o shows that he seemed unfit
for his job
http://datepraywait.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/goof
y-guy1.jpg
The Narrator (Thurber)
Diction
● “...I was assigned, or
rather drifted…” (page
80)
o shows indifference
in regards to the
draft
http://www.sportdiver.com/article/news/diving-docjellyfish-stings
Narrator (cont.)
Onomatopoeia
● “...then say "mi, mi, mi,
mi,"...” (page 81)
o used to emphasize
the inexperience
Thurber had in the
field
http://www.distrimed.com/product_info.php?products_id=5690
Works Cited
● Thurber, James. My Life and Hard Times. New York:
Harper & Bros., 1933. Print.

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