What literary devices does Mackinlay Kantor use in his short story "Blue Eyes Far Away"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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MacKinlay Kantor's short story "Blue Eyes Far Away" is a very simple short story about an elderly woman who cares very deeply about her husband and is very set in her ways. She's so set in her ways that she watches for her husband's return using a spyglass that belonged to him, just as she used to do when she watched for his returns from his fishing trips when they were younger. As a result, she proves to be a valuable witness to his wrongful death in an accident. Since the story is so simple and about such simple, ordinary folk, Kantor creates a simple tone to match. Consequently, he refrains from using very many literary devices because doing so would only create extra fluff that neither matches the personality nor education level of his protagonist Esther Lee.

However, one device he uses frequently is clear imagery to paint his story. Imagery refers to any word or phrase an author uses to paint a mental image in the reader's mind. Since only words pertaining to the five senses--touch, taste, sight, scent, sound--will really paint a picture in a reader's mind, imagery specifically refers to words or phrases that pertain to the five senses; all other words are considered abstract. We can particularly see clear, simple imagery in the opening paragraph that describes the "steep hill road" upon which Esther lives. Since readers can identify something as steep through sight and even see both hills and roads, we can see this phrase is a clear example of sight imagery. Sight imagery is used again later to describe the all-important "shiny brass telescope."

A second literary device he uses frequently is called anacoluthon, which happens when we interrupt the normal grammatical flow of a sentence to create a dramatic pause ("Anacoluthon"). In his short story, Kantor depicts his characters as frequently either interrupting their own trains of thought or as being interrupted by other characters, as is especially seen in the courtroom scene. Kantor's use of anacoluthon helps to portray the realism of his characters. One example of anacoluthon can be seen when, after immediately being told about the accident, Esther Lee thinks to herself, "Convict him ... That means, then, that Joseph was--" Since she never finishes her thought here, which means the writer interrupted the grammar of the sentence, we can see this is a perfect example of anacoluthon.

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