Identify some stylistic devices used in "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury.

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening of his 1951 short story, Bradbury makes the unusual choices of using several infinitive verb phrases ("to enter . . . to put . . . to step") and second person point-of-view ("you, your") to begin the characterization of Mr. Leonard Mead, though he does then switch to third-person ("he").

In the story's first paragraph, second sentence, Bradbury writes a lengthy, complex sentence of seventy-one words to build the momentum of Leonard Mead's walks.

Bradbury employs an extended metaphor in describing the cold air in Mead's lungs "like a Christmas tree" with the lights going on and off and the branches filled with snow, and a simile in describing Mead's "shadow moving like the shadow of a hawk in midcountry."

Bradbury personifies the illumination from a police car as "a fierce white cone of light" and there is a bit of ironic humor that follows when the robotic policeman's voice asks Leonard Mead's profession and then dismisses it as "no profession" when he identifies himself as a writer.

The story is developed with the unusual technique of rhetorical questions to communicate Leonard Mead's thoughts since for most of the story, he doesn't converse. As he passes the lighted houses, he asks "time for a dozen assorted murders? A quiz? A revue? A comedian falling off the stage? Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon-white house?" though there is no one to answer.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course, any work of fiction will contain a large number of stylistic devices that are used by the author to establish meaning, create pictures in their readers' minds and communicate the theme or message of the story that they are trying to get across. "The Pedestrian" is certainly no exception as we are plunged into a future world where it becomes a crime to take an evening stroll and be single. Consider the second paragraph of the story that does so much to build up the atmosphere and the setting:

Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house. And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden grey phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomblike building was still open.

Note how the comparison of the cottages and homes to a "graveyard" creates a supernatural, spooky atmosphere. This is a comparison that is continued throughout this paragraph as "firefly light" that "flickers" is observed, and "sudden grey phantoms" appear as the main character passes. Note too the onomatopoeia in "whisperings and murmurs". These stylistic devices all serve to demonstrate that this city is a threatening place of hidden danger and in some senses it foreshadows the ending of the story.