Discuss the language of the text Growing Up

The language of the text Growing Up is playful, tongue-in-cheek, detailed, and occasionally bawdy.

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The language in Russell Baker’s memoir is detailed. When Baker describes his mother’s fall at the beginning and the way in which it disoriented her mental capacities, he provides a thorough depiction of how his mom often didn’t know where she was or who she was with. Sometimes, Baker’s mom would be at a funeral. Other times, she’d be attending a wedding or overseeing a family dinner.

The nuanced language continues throughout the book. When Baker tells about the foods he’d eat, he doesn’t skirt the specifics. He notes the price of the canned salmon (11 cents) and the particular ingredients of Uncle Allen’s sweet-potato pudding.

At times, the language can be somewhat bawdy. When Russell describes his sexual exploits, the text becomes rather lascivious. Indeed, a lot of the language in Baker's book is playful, tongue-in-cheek, and irreverent. There are many memorable one-liners. After his dad’s death, Russell decides that “God was not entirely to be trusted.”

The amusing language isn’t all Russell’s creation. Sometimes other people intervene and add their own funny language. When Russell includes a letter from Oluf, it gives one of his mom’s suitors the chance to showcase his own peculiar, quirky language.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 5, 2021
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