How Rhetorical Devices Enhance Characterization in

How Rhetorical Devices Enhance
Characterization in Chapters 5-9
Abigail Fuad
Catarina Olmstead
Everett Wu
Naomi Fuad
James Thurber transports readers into his teen
and young adult years in chapters 5-9,
introducing us to both old and new characters.
His anecdotal style enhances each character;
and through his use of rhetorical devices,
Thurber is able to enhance distinctive
personality traits and reflect upon his own
opinion of the person.
Ch. 5: More Alarms at Night
Mother: the peacekeeper
Father: supposedly calm/collected,
contrasted in chapter
James Thurber: crazy
Roy (also Buck): the teenage prankster
Herman: the lost bystander
Ch. 5: More Alarms at Night
Ch. 5: More Alarms at Night
“ brother was the last person in the world to give way to delirium.” (pg 41)
“...thousands and millions and hundreds of thousands of millions of times…”(pg 43)
[Thurber laying awake at night]
“...terra cotta, Walla-Walla, bill of lading, vice versa, hoity-toity, Pall Mall, Bodley Head,
Heink…” (pg 43) [Thurber trying to think of the name Perth Amboy]
“While he hastily pulled his clothes--I remember he left his socks off and put his shoes
on his barefeet--father began to name…” (pg 44)
“...which I understand now--but didn’t then--was meant to humor me.” (pg 44)
Ch 5: More Alarms at Night
“...vexed…” (pg 41) [irritated, annoyed]
“...nettled…” (pg 42) [irritated, provoked]
“...aberrancy…” (pg 43) [deviating from the
ordinary, abnormal]
Ch. 5 More Alarms at Night
Caesura (continuation)
“‘Jersey City, Atlantic City, Elizabeth, Paterson, Passaic, Trenton, Jersey City, Trenton,
Paterson--’” (pg 44) [Father giving Thurber cities]
“...stood in front of a bureau mirror, brushing his hair with a pair of military brushes; it
always seemed to calm father to brush his hair.(pg 42) [Father calming himself
after “Buck” scared him]
“...unruly, becomes monstrously tousled and snarled at night…” [Thurber’s state when
waking his father up]
“‘Wha’s it?’” (pg 44)[Thurber’s father’s response to the waking]
Ch. 6: A Sequence of Servants
Alliteration-”They were (in addition to Juanita) Juanemma,
Juanhalen, and Juangrace” (page 47)
Hyperbole - “I remember clearly ten or twelve of them. (we had
about a hundred and sixty-two, all told, but a few of them
were memorable” (page 46)
Anaphora- “Heah eh come! Heah he come! (page 50) [Vashti]
“Doah go up dere, doah go up there” (page 50)
Simile - “She was in and out of our house like a comet” (page 50)
[Belle Giddin]
Oxymoron - “unholy priest” (page 47) [ Juanemma and her
different periods of being hypnotized]
Caesura- “ All the time she was with u, quietly and efficently
attending to her work, until the night we had Carson Blair and
F. R. Gardiner to dinner - both men of importance to my
father's ambitions” (page 53) [Edda and her episode]
Dora Gedd- The memorable servant: a quiet mousy girl, who
threw the house into an uproar
Juanemma Krammer- The Favorite: Her fears were very apparent
as well as her mom’s love for the name Juanita. One of the
most quirky characters presented in the chapter
Belle Giddin - The passing one: She burnt her finger one night to
try and test if painkillers that she bought worked or not
Vashti- The Negress: She was always able to find things that
mother had lost, she claimed that her stepfather desired for
her. However, she did not have a stepfather and Charley left
her for another women
Mrs. Doddy- The fast one: She chased father around the home
on the second day and was dismissed after that
Mrs. Robertson - The Slave: She was a slave in the South and she
constantly feared that something was going to happen to her.
Edda Millmoss - The one who is forgotten: She is mentioned last
and for only a paragraph. She claims father done her out of
her rights for land
Ch. 7: The Dog That Bit People
James Thurber
Uncle Horatio
Ch. 7: The Dog That Bit People
Ch. 7: The Dog That Bit People
● “...big, burly, choleric dog” [pg 55]
● “he always acted as if he thought I wasn’t one of the
family” [pg 55]
● “He was sorry immediately... He was always sorry” [pg 55]
● “Muggs could read him like a book” [pg 56]
● “...but that he didn’t hold a grudge” [pg 56]
● “Muggs wavered on past him...grumbling to himself...” [pg
Ch. 7: The Dog That Bit People
● “Muggs -- he acted poisoned once in a while -- and
old...” [pg 56]
● “...Muggs emerged from under a davenport where he
had been quietly hiding all the time, and bit her again.
Mother examined the bite and told Mrs. Deitweiler that it
was only a bruise. “He just bumped into you” [pg 60]
Ch. 7: The Dog That Bit People
● “Muggs came wandering in like Hamlet following his
father’s ghost” [pg 62]
● “He gave me more trouble than all the other fifty-four or
-five put together...” (Thurber)[pg 54]
● “...he wasn’t afraid of any dog that ever lived...” (Uncle
Horatio) [pg 60]
Diction [Uncle Horatio]
● “...splutteringly indignant...” [pg 60]
Ch 8: University Days
James Thurber
Botany Professor
Professor Bassum (Economics)
Ch. 8: University Days
Ch. 8: University Days [Botany Prof.]
● “The professor had come back from vacation brown as
a berry” [pg 65]
● “He cut off abruptly for he was beginning to quiver all
over, like Lionel Barrymore...”
● “...the professor said to me, grimly, ‘with every
adjustment of the microscope known to man.’” [pg 65]
Ch. 8: University Days [Botany Prof.]
● “‘In twenty-two years of botany, I --’” [pg 65]
● “...a smile on his lips and his eyebrows high in hope...”
[pg 65]
● “‘you didn’t, you didn’t, you *fefrft!’” [pg 65]
Ch. 8: University Days
● “...he was not dumber than an ox...” [pg 67]
● “No light came into the big tackle’s eyes.” [pg 67]
● “Bolenciecwcz had the look of a man who is being led
into a trap.” [pg 67]
Ch. 8: University Days
“‘Choo-choo-choo,’ [Mr. Bassum] said” [pg 67]
“‘Toot, toot, toooooooooot!’” [pg 68]
“‘Ding, dong, ding, dong,’” [pg 68]
“‘ChufEa. chuffa, chufiz chuffa.’” (Mr. Bassum) [pg 68]
● “...his great brow furrowed, his huge hands rubbing
together, his face red.” [pg 68]
Ch. 8: University Days
● “‘M’father sent me’” [pg 68]
● “‘I git an ‘lowance’” [pg 68]
Ch. 8: University Days [Thurber]
● “The uniform which... had made me look like an
interurban railway conductor...” [pg 71]
● “...made me look like Bert Williams in his bellboy act.”
[pg 73]
● “I didn’t like the swimming pool, I didn’t like swimming,
and I didn’t like the swimming instructor...” [pg 68]
Ch. 9: Board Nights: Grandfather
Thurber speaks of him in a fond way, despite of
all the crazy and negative things the
Grandfather is described to do.
The character created is that of an
uncontrollable family member who is loved
despite his strange behavior and sometimes
unpredictable personality.
Rhetorical Devices In Draft Board Nights
“A famous old horseman, he approached it as he
might have approached a wild colt… He always
leaped into it quickly, as it it might pull out
from under him…” pg.76
Draws connection from the grandfather to his
past, and the way he approaches everything in
his life.
Rhetorical Devices cont.
“Pulling too savagely on the guiding-bar- to
teach the electric a lesson- was what took him
around in a circle… He had the notion that if
you didn’t hold her, she would throw you.”
“...he never got it out of his head that when he
took the driver’s seat the machine flattened
its ears on him, so to speak.” pg.78
Dr. Ridgeway/Doctors
As the only doctor fully described in the chapter,
he represents doctors in a negative light, as
slightly incompetent and unpleasant, which
corresponds with the way authority figures
are portrayed in the rest of the novel.
Dr. Ridgeway
● Represents the draft board as a whole and
the rest of the doctors
● Humorous that doctors that determine if
people are fit for war seem incompetent
● Characterization is achieved through
Thurber’s style of digression and anecdotes
Byron Landis
The manager of an amusement park, a character
that comes out of the blue.
“...the manager of which was a tall, unexpected
young man named Byron Landis.” pg.81
Thurber uses anecdotes to describe Byron’s
behavior and attitude towards the world.

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