Frank Finale uses imagery and allusion in the passage.
Imagery is the use of specific appeals to sensory details. There is great description of very specific things, including colors and sounds. Notice that he uses the simile “shark-like” to describe the surfboard, and tells us the exact temperature of the day and the color of the school bus. He is painting a picture for us, so that it is almost as if we are there. We know that there are “twenty-seven” kids and that the boardwalk was wooden. This description is so specific that if we closed our eyes and listened, we could picture the scene.
The hard angles of buildings and houses are replaced by smooth curves: dunes, the tide line, waves, the rim of the horizon, the sweep of the gulls. The light on the sea dazzles the eyes, and the waves glitter with a thousand small suns.
Another technique used by Finale to capture the day is allusion. Allusion is a reference to another author or an historical period. In this case, Finale references William Blake’s poetry.
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wildflower....”
This is from a poem called “Auguries of Innocence.” Both the poem and the day at the beach speak about the frailty and temporary nature of innocence. The speaker, a teacher, seems to know that the excitement that his students feel at the day at the beach will be short-lived. They won’t be young and seeing beauty and wonder in the world around them forever. Days like this are fleeting, and special.
These two elements together contribute to the reader’s understanding of the day’s events, and how vividly that stand out in the teacher’s mind. He remembers the day well because of the memory it will create for his students, and because they won’t be young long.