What is the imagery used in "How it happened?"

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several types of images in the story, including figurative language and sensory details.

Imagery refers to figurative or descriptive language that creates an image in the reader’s mind.  For example, when the narrator says that his memory of events is like “broken dreams” it is a simile, which is a comparison between two things (memories, and dreams).  It’s not literal, because it’s not actually a dream, and a dream cannot really break.

Imagery is also vivid description in sensory detail.  Sensory detail uses the five senses to describe something.  Look at the narrator’s description of his memory.

I remember also my wondering whether I could get home before midnight. Then I remember the big motor, with its glaring head-lights and glitter of polished brass, waiting for me outside. It was my new thirty-horse-power Robur, which had only been delivered that day.

He describes the lights, and the polish, and uses words like “glaring” and “glitter” so you can really picture what he is talking about.

Another type of imagery is called an idiom.  An idiom is where a person uses a figure of speech that is common phrasing.  The narrator says when his car is going fast that he was “fairly tearing down the slope” and it was “a close shave” for the ditch.  These are idioms, because most people will know what they mean.  He was going too fast, and almost went in the ditch.  Of course this is foreshadowing too.

The narrator then describes his car with a smile.

The wheels were whirring like a high wind and the big body creaking and groaning with the strain.

This means that the car is making so much noise that it sounds like it was in a storm!  It is a simile because it is a comparison using the word “like,” so it is an indirect comparison.  A simile says that something is like something else, and usually uses “like” or “as.”

He also uses a metaphor.

I remember thinking what an awful and yet majestic sight we should appear to any one who met us. It was a narrow road, and we were just a great, roaring, golden death to any one who came in our path.

This is a metaphor because it does not use “like,” but instead says that they were death.  A metaphor says that one thing is something else.  It is a direct comparison.

Of course, perhaps the best part of the story is the irony at the end, when the narrator sees his friend Stanley and realizes he is dead, and Stanley tells him he is too.  The reader then understands the comment about the medium at the beginning of the story, and realizes the story was written by a ghost!