identify at least two techniques used in a descriptive passage from My Antonia

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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It had begun to grow dark when my household returned, and grandmother was so tired that she went at once to bed. Jake and I got supper, and while we were washing the dishes he told me in loud whispers about the state of things over at the Shimerdas'. Nobody could touch the body until the coroner came. If anyone did, something terrible would happen, apparently. The dead man was frozen through, 'just as stiff as a dressed turkey you hang out to freeze,' Jake said. The horses and oxen would not go into the barn until he was frozen so hard that there was no longer any smell of blood. They were stabled there now, with the dead man, because there was no other place to keep them. A lighted lantern was kept hanging over Mr. Shimerda's head. Antonia and Ambrosch and the mother took turns going down to pray beside him. The crazy boy went with them, because he did not feel the cold. I believed he felt cold as much as anyone else, but he liked to be thought insensible to it. He was always coveting distinction, poor Marek!

The above passage illustrates techniques that are particular to Willa Cather.  First, Cather utilizes imagery.  The idea of cold permeates this paragraph with references to the frozen body and the chill in the air, but this relates, of course, to the cold, stiffness of Mr. Shimerda's body and the cold cruelty of the prairie winters in general.

Another technique is that of the metaphor of a turkey.  His body is compared to the hanging out of a turkey to freeze.  This comparison diminishes the importance of the body even though its proper burial is necessary to the family. 



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