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Thesis In chapters 5-9 of My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber employs a variety of rhetorical devices to exaggerate seemingly insignificant conflicts.

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Presentation on theme: "Thesis In chapters 5-9 of My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber employs a variety of rhetorical devices to exaggerate seemingly insignificant conflicts."— Presentation transcript:

0 Conflict within My Life & Hard Times (Ch. 5-9)
By Jero R., Ryan C., Axel C. & Vivian Y. September 9, 2014

1 Thesis In chapters 5-9 of My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber employs a variety of rhetorical devices to exaggerate seemingly insignificant conflicts with authority figures and his family into larger affairs, to make humor of otherwise melancholy events during his life.

2 What is conflict? Tension between ideas, characters, or places.
There is internal and external conflict. Relates to other literary elements to communicate an idea.

3 Alliteration Chapter 7: “a big burly choleric dog” (55)
Chapter 8: “The professor had come back from vacation brown as a berry, bright-eyed, and eager...” (65) - -8: Alliteration creates smooth mocking effect, ridicule professor, and contrasts idea of a serious and respected authority

4 Anaphora Chapter 8: “had to spend several hours a week… looking through a microscope at plant cells, and I could never see through a microscope. I never once saw a cell through a microscope” (64) repetition of through a microscope represents formal ordered process of using a microscope, later complete inability to use scope creates humor

5 Anaphora (cont.) Chapter 9: “I couldn't get into the army on account of my sight, just as grandfather couldn't get in on account of his age.” (73) Chapter 9: “I didn’t want to, but I was afraid that he would think I was afraid…” (83) In chapter 9 the main external conflict summed up directly in this first quote. We see how simple and even trivial the event is, in contrast to the way he ends up describing this conflict in this chapter.

6 Caesura Chapter 5: “...smiling in a faint, strained way which I understand now—but didn’t then—was meant to humor me” (44). Chapter 6: “She kept shouting something from Shakespeare after the shooting—I forget just what—and pursued the gentleman downstairs from her attic room” (46). Builds tension and allows conflict to flow unimpeded.

7 Caesura (cont.) Chapter 7: “My mother had never liked the Congressman—she said the signs of his horoscope showed he couldn't be trusted (he was Saturn with the moon in Virgo)” (56) Chapter 9: “Pulling too savagely on the guiding-bar—to teach the electric a lesson—was what took him around in a circle. “ (76) Chapter 9- The grandfather’s inability to handle the electric is symbolic of him being unable to handle the present day. He continues to live in the past; and this conflict the grandfather has with this time period is referred back to in several places.

8 Diction Chapter 5: “He was a tall, mildly nervous, peaceable gentleman...” (43). Chapter 8: “vivid, restless clockwork of sharply defined plant cells” (65) Embellishes characters and helps define their role within various conflicts. 8: further establishes rigidity of the situation in biology class, leads to more humor when THurber can only see milk. Conflict between this order and the chaos that Thurber sees.

9 Diction (cont.) Chapter 8: “...keeping his eyes on them narrowly before he let go with the swatter” (73). Using war-like description, but General is only killing flies. Conflict of general and flies is as mundane as can be, described in detail like a war, irony that general is only killing flies, humor

10 Emblem Chapter 9: “I was awakened by the sound of bells ringing and whistles blowing.” (84) Although there are several symbols that can be related to the war, the bell symbolizes peace after all the chaos he has described, It also marks the end of a period of his life.

11 Hyperbole Chapter 5: “If you have ever lain awake at night and repeated one word over and over, thousands of millions and hundreds of thousands of millions of times, you know the disturbing mental state you can get into.” (43) Accentuates conflict, making a big event out of a small occurrence for emphasis.

12 Hyperbole (cont.) Chapter 7: “He gave me more trouble than all the other 54 or 55 put together.” (54) Chapter 9: “It is the reason that I shout in my sleep, refuse to ride the elevated, keep jerking the emergency brake in cars other people are driving, have the sensation of flying like a bird when I first lie down, and in certain months can’t keep anything on my stomach.” (83) Chapter 9-Clearly another reference to WWI, but at the same time it is also an internal conflict that is caused by such a “traumatic” trip, as well as the overall chaos in his life

13 Onomatopoeia Chapter 8: “‘Choo-choo-choo’” (67), “Ding, dong, ding, dong… Chuffa chuffa, chuffa chuffa” (68) Chapter 9: “But it was too late to get out; we had begun to climb, clickety-clockety…” (83) 8: Reduction of professor to childlike noises Thurber presents teacher as bumbling fool, conflict between Thurber and professors Chapter 9- Sets up the suspense and shows internal conflict (apprehensions) that he feels while riding the roller coaster.

14 Personification Chapter 7: “...my mother’s Uncle Horatio was spluterringly indignant when he found out that we fed the dog on a table because we were afraid to put his plate on the floor.” (60)

15 Simile Chapter 6: “Mrs. Doody, a huge middle-aged women with a religious taint, came into and went out of our house like a comet.” (50) Chapter 8: “for while he [Bolenciecwcz] was not dumber than an ox he was not any smarter” (67) Used as a preface to conflict, similar role to diction. Characterizes Bolenciecwcz, who is helped by professor. Relation to professor further humiliates professor and undermines his authority, professor supports unintelligent student instead instead of advocating academic thought

16 Simile (cont.) Chapter 8: “that [journalism] would be very much like falling back full-length on a kit of carpenter’s tools” (70) Small anecdote turned into large story for humor Newspaper should be authoritative source of news, written by blundering fool

17 Syntax Chapter 5: “I began to suspect that one might lose one’s mind over some trivial mental tic as a futile search for terra firma Piggly Wiggly Gongonzola Prester John Arc De Triomphe Holy Moses Lares and Penates” (43). As conflict occurs, syntax changes from longer prose to short, choppy, sentences.

18 Understatement Chapter 7: “Mother examined the bite and told Mrs. Detweiler that it was only a bruise. ‘He just bumped you.’” (60)

19 Imagery Chapter 7: “Muggs went up the backstairs and down the front-stairs and had me cornered in the living room. I managed to get up onto the mantelpiece above the fireplace, but it gave way and came down with a tremendous crash throwing a large marble clock, several vases, and myself heavily to the floor.” (58)

20 Thank you for listening!
Questions?

21 Work Cited Thurber, James. My Life and Hard Times. New York: Perennial
Classics, Print.


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