In "Meteor" by John Whyndham, explore the ways the writer uses language to vividly portray a radically different perspective of life on earth.What am I supposed to write exactly? I undersatnd that...

In "Meteor" by John Whyndham, explore the ways the writer uses language to vividly portray a radically different perspective of life on earth.

What am I supposed to write exactly? I undersatnd that I am supposed to compare the view of earth from the aliens eyes before landing on earth with the view of earth from the aliens eyes AFTER landing on earth ... but that doesn't seem to be enough. My teacher said I have to also talk about how I start seeing earth as from the aliens description, how I start looking at earth. How can I do that when I already know what earth is like, and when I already know that the aliens have a wrong view of the earth?

Oh, and do I also have to mention the ironic bits, because irony is a part of language. And do I also have to mention a little bit of the human point of view portrayed in the story?

Thanks for the help!



Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In general terms, because the text of Wyndham's "Meteor" isn't available on-line, when examining a text to determine how an author creates an affect like "radically different perspective of life on earth," look first for the use of literal language versus figurative language. Many specifics fall under the heading "figurative language." Look for idioms, which are sayings that are only understood through the culture in which they are used, for example, "You're a Babe Ruth!" is based on American culture (yes, idioms can become internationally known). Look for metaphor and simile. These are literary techniques whereby two unlike things are compared to each other, such as love compared to a thorn. Look for imagery in which sensory perceptions are stated or described. Imagery conjures mental pictures and involves mention or description of tastes, smells, sounds, the feel of things, and the sight of things. These may describe things, like spiraling green leaves cascading in the slanting wind on a summer day, or may simply state things, like he was struck by the acrid smell.

And yes, look for irony. Since you are specifically examining language (not plot structure) look for verbal irony instead of situational or dramatic irony. Verbal irony presents narrative or dialogic statements that mean something other than what they appear to mean (sarcasm is similar but has a different emotional motive and intent), as in "Thanks for your help," to someone who has not been helpful at all. Also look for allusions. These may be allusions--references--to Earth's history, great individuals, literature, myths, legends, etc., or allusions to the alien's history, great leaders, etc., as a hypothetical example, General Izackopodil of the Fourteenth Inter-Universal Teleportation Conference. Look for the diction level. Is the vocabulary consistent with an ordinary conversation (middle diction)? Is it consistent with formal discourse or even technical or academic discourse (high diction)?

While you examine diction, look for metonymy and synecdoche, which are tropes (figures of speech) that substitute one word for another. Metonymy substitutes a related object or concept for a larger general concept, as in Shelley's "deep blue" for sky. A synecdoche, which is a form of metonymy, substitutes a part of the whole object or concept for the whole object or concept itself, as in "all hands on deck" in which the hands of a sailor substitutes for the whole sailor. Finally look for words that reveal psychological aspects of a character, words like feel and think, and motive words like want. To relate this to yourself, you will in the process identify the language that has a psychological affect on you: language that makes you feel fear, anger, worry, disgust, etc. And of course these psychological reactions will be focused on the new perspective on a view of Earth that Wyndham is developing. So, you won't focus on what you know of Earth, you'll focus on what psychological affect the language of the narrative produces on you. [It's a good idea to confirm this with your instructor before progressing.]