How is personification used in No-Talking?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In No-Talking, Dave Packer, a fifth-grader is intrigued with Mahatma Gandi's writings in which he “believed this was a way to bring order to his mind.” When he tires of the chatter of the girls in his class, he challenges them to a contest to see who can keep quiet the longest. The girls take the challenge, but because they are in school they may all say three words, but no more at a time for two days.

At first the teachers are taken aback by the "Unshushables" strange behavior, but they eventually work out ways to utilize this reticence of their students. Ironically, the students begin to pay more attention and listen better; then they participate in a Mathematics class since each person can say three words. For, with several students contributing three words, the methods of solving the problems can be solved. Soon, the teachers all realize that their loquacious students are more focused in all their classes and are actually learning.

In the telling of this tale of some bright, clever fifth-graders, Andrew Clements uses personification (the attribution of human qualities and a personal nature to that which is not singularly human) in the vernacular: 

  • Chapter 5 - "If Dave himself was a loud mouth..." (a mouth, while a body part cannot be loud. It is the person who is loud)
  • Chapter 7 - "An unshushable wave of energy" (as though energy can talk)
  • Chapter 13 - "Tulips burped giant burps."   "fatmouth" - used as a substitute for someone's name, in a sense personifying him:

In making their agreement about silence, "Lynsey had added, 'No backing out now, fatmouth.'"