Account for the repetitions in the first paragraph of "Two Gallants."

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ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow.  That's a tough question.  It can be hard to figure out why authors do the things they do, especially if it is no obvious.  In general, though, authors tend to repeat things for emphasis, for rhythmic/mood/tone qualities, or to create an image that is sort of surreal. So which one is it?  We'll have to look at that pesky paragraph directly:

"THE grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging unceasing murmur."

I have put the apparent repetitions in bold...

From what I can see, the main reason for repetition here is for effect.  The repetition creates a scene of slow pacing...the author is in no hurry to go anyplace, and neither really are the characters.  The repetition, like what you would find in a lullaby, is soothing to the reader, lulling him/her into a relaxed frame of mind.

I don't see a deeper symbolism, here.  The fact that it is nighttime might contribute to the delinquent nature of the men's actions, and the fact that it is "gray" may be a comment on the men's morality, but that might be digging a bit.

From where I am sitting, I think that the emphasis is put on the phrases in the first paragraph to lull you into the "groove" of the story through an almost melodic instrument.

I hope that makes sense!

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Two Gallants

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