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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.

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Presentation on theme: "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."— Presentation transcript:

0 Characterization in Chapters 5-9 of Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times
Dorian K., Shilpa N., Niagara P., Danica W.

1 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.

2 Chapter 5 More Alarms at Night

3 James Hyperbole “I grew slightly alarmed...I began to feel the necessity of human contact” (43) panicked Metaphor “alarming tangle of thought and fancy had gone far enough” (43) fearful

4 Roy Metaphor “certain gleam in his eyes” (41) devious Diction
“he was (or rather, as we found out long afterward, pretended to be) astonished and bewildered (42)

5 Father Onomatopoeia “father grumbling for a long time” (42) irritated
Diction “‘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 “smiling in a faint, strained way” (44) nervous

6 Father (continued) Diction (continued)
“in readiness to spring out of bed on the far side” (44) fearful Metaphor “he finally woke up with a glaze of dream and apprehension in his eyes” (43) confused

7 Mother Diction “an occasional monosyllable doubt from mother” (42)
frustrated “Mother would not let the rest of us discuss the affair next morning at breakfast” (45) irritated

8 Chapter 6 A Sequence of Servants

9 Dora Gedd Diction “...among the immortals…” (pg. 46)
Describes how she was memorable “...she wore a mass of jewelry…” (pg. 46) Describes the large amount of jewelry she was wearing and gives a strong image to the reader of her appearance

10 Dora Gedd (Continued) Alliteration
“She kept shouting something from Shakespeare after the shooting…” (pg. 46) Describes her frantic state and helps the reader imagine what she acted like during the event

11 Gertie Straub Diction “...big, genial, and ruddy…” (pg. 47)
Adds to the imagery used by the author to demonstrate her large size “...bumping into and knocking over furniture…” (pg. 47) Continues to add to the imagery used to describe her large size

12 Juanemma Kramer Diction
“....thin, nervous maid who lived in constant dread of being hypnotized…” (pg. 47) Imagery used to describe her appearance “...floundered out…” (pg. 47) Describes her actions

13 Juanemma Kramer (Cont.)
Onomatopoeia “...buzzing or whirring…” (pg. 47) Describes the sounds that caused the chaos of hypnosis

14 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) Mocks Belle’s decision and understates the seriousness of the situation

15 Vashti Rhyme “...might fight it out some night…” (pg. 49)
Adds to the humor and imagery of the situation that could occur between the men due to the conflict over Vashti

16 Vashti (Cont.) Diction “...threw her over for a yellow gal…” (pg. 50)
Word choice describes the actions taken by Charley and his decision from Vashti’s deceit

17 Mrs. Doody Diction “...huge, middle-aged woman with a religious taint…” (pg. 50) Adds to appearance of the character and insight into her values

18 Mrs. Doody (Cont.) Simile
“...went out of our house like a comet…” (pg. 50) Adds to reader’s understanding of the Thurber family’s issues with the woman

19 Mrs. Robertson Diction:
“...a fat and mumbly old Negro woman…” (pg. 50) Describes her appearance with strong imagery words “...flubbering up...bounced…” (pg. 52) Describes her large size and how she carried herself

20 Mrs. Robertson (Cont.) Hyperbole
“...who might have been sixty and who might have been a hundred…” (pg. 50) Describes her age and the type of appearance she has in a humorous and unique way

21 Mrs. Robertson (Cont.) Metaphor
“It seems that she was a jewel.” (pg. 52) Describes Thurber’s mother’s like for Mrs. Robertson Alliteration “Dey is a death watch downstairs!” (pg. 52) Emphasizes the woman’s accent and method of speaking

22 Mrs. Robertson (Cont.) Assonance
“...Spanish fandango on a banjo.” (pg. 52) Describes her talent and adds to the reader’s understanding of her personality

23 Chapter 7 The Dog that Bit People

24 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) Adds to the rhythm of the sentence and adds emphasis on the strange nature of the situation.

25 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.

26 Thurber’s Dogs (cont.) Diction
“...prize-winning French poodle, a great big black poodle—none of your little, untroublesome white miniatures...” (Thurber 54) Thurber demonstrates pride through this particular diction; contrasts the greatness and power of the poodle with the meekness of smaller dogs

27 Muggs Alliteration “The airedale was the worst of all my dogs...A big, burly, choleric dog...” (Thurber 55). “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).

28 Muggs (cont.) Diction “...he always acted as if he thought I wasn’t one of the family” (Thurber 55). Direct and plain choice of words in Muggs’ attitude towards Thurber foreshadows the conflict between Thurber and Muggs later on.

29 Muggs (cont.) Diction “Muggs was afraid of only one thing, an electrical storm” (Thurber 62). Syntax used to add emphasis to the only weakness that detracted from Muggs’ bravery.

30 Muggs (cont.) Hyperbole
“Thunder and lightning frightened him out of his senses” (Thurber 62). 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). Belief in the existence of what is unseen

31 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). Superstitious; eccentric; kind-hearted “...some such inscription as “Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” (Thurber 63). Special bond between Muggs and Thurber’s mother “She was forever defending him” (Thurber 56).

32 Chapter 8 University Days

33 Thurber Anaphora “I didn’t like the swimming pool, I didn’t like swimming, and I didn’t like the swimming instructor...”(Thurber 68). Used for emphasis on Thurber’s dislike

34 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) Similes used for imagery in demonstrating the humorous change throughout his years of military drills.

35 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). Demonstration of the frustration of the professor

36 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) Add a humorous description of the professor’s demeanor and physical appearance.

37 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). Used to highlight the football player’s lack of intelligence.

38 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). Clueless; effort in trying to identify a simplistic answer.

39 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). His use of onomatopoeia demonstrates helpfulness; “[turning] instantly scarlet” emphasizes timid nature. “Ding, dong, ding, dong...Chuffa, chuffa, chuffa” (Thurber 68).

40 General Littlefield Theriomorphism
“‘You startled him!’ barked General Littlefield, looking at me severely” (Thurber 73). Diction Use of the words ‘shouted,’ ‘snapped,’ and ‘barked’ These elements display the General’s cold, abrupt commanding nature.

41 Chapter 9 Draft Board Nights

42 Grandfather Chiasmus “...‘He watched while I now I'm watchin' while he sleeps’…” (page 76) demonstrates fairness in Grandfather’s actions

43 Grandfather (cont.) Metaphor
“...he approached it as he might have approached a wild colt…” (page 76) continued use of the comparison between the electric and a colt shows stubborn refusal to accept changing technologies

44 Grandfather (cont.) Alliteration
“...We followed a tortuous trail…” (page 78) illustrates the importance of Grandfather to Thurber and his family

45 Jake Hyperbole “...Jake hadn't been able to sleep at night for twenty-eight years…” (page 75) enforces the idea that Jake is the “perfect person” for watching over Grandfather

46 Jake (cont.) Alliteration “...perfect person…” (page 75)
used to clearly describe the suitability of this character for his purpose

47 Grandmother Diction “...She had become, surprisingly enough, quite skilful…” (page 76) demonstrates that Grandmother typically was not good at adapting to the use of new technology

48 The Military Diction “...‘You’re absolutely nothing to me’…” (page 80)
shows that the military is rude and cursory in drafting

49 The Military (cont.) Hyperbole
“...ninth or tenth time I was called…” (page 80) illustrates the redundancy of having Thurber attend the drafts

50 Doctor Ridgeway Diction
“...Ridgeway gave him a haughty, indignant look…” (page 81) shows Dr. Ridgeway’s incredulity at being expected to do something that was done by another department

51 Byron Landis Diction “...tall, unexpected young man…” (page 81)
shows that he seemed unfit for his job

52 The Narrator (Thurber)
Diction “...I was assigned, or rather drifted…” (page 80) shows indifference in regards to the draft

53 Narrator (cont.) Onomatopoeia
“...then say "mi, mi, mi, mi,"...” (page 81) used to emphasize the inexperience Thurber had in the field

54 Works Cited Thurber, James. My Life and Hard Times. New York: Harper & Bros., Print.

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