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 http:/ /fc04. devia ntart. net/fs 7/i/20 05/2 42/5/ e/Bla ck_a nd_w hite_ eye_ stock _by_ Swor dexp ert_s tock.j pg 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 _4_xlarge.jpe g 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.