what are examples of literary devices used in 'the natural' by Bernard Malamud?

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Examples of literary devices used in the novel “The Natural” by American writer Bernard Malamud are:


For example, early on in the novel, Roy Hobbs has a bit of a misunderstanding with a waiter and it says that, “… (this is the buck breakfast) but the blushing ballplayer,…” The alliteration here is the use of the letter “b” to give a musical and rhythmic quality to the line. It is poetic this line because of this literary device.


One metaphor in ‘The Natural” is how Malamud describes Harriet when Roy tries to make an intimate move on her while they are traveling on a train, seated next to each other. He writes that, “Her high-pitched scream lifted her up and twirling like a dancer down the aisle.”


Simile involves comparing two unrelated things. In this novel, the train is compared to some kind of animal when Malamud writes, “As the train yanked its long tail out of the thundering tunnel…”

Here, the author is comparing a man-made machine to some kind of living being with a tail.


Setting is an important literary device to convey the ambiance and theme of a story. In “The Natural” the setting revolves around the baseball diamonds of a bygone era and the aura of America’s national pastime in these stadiums that bespeak a simpler time. However, the story is not a simple story. The backdrop of a different era lends a nostalgic foundation to the actual sharp drams of this novel.


We learn early on in this novel what Bernard Malamud is trying to say about baseball, as relates to Roy Hobbs, the protagonist. This sets the mood that the author intends for this story. We understand what baseball means on a deep emotional level to the protagonist from his dream whereby he sees in his mind’s eye himself, “standing at night in a strange field with a golden baseball in his palm…”

This baseball, in his dream, then becomes white, fluffy, and light, and he determines to keep it forever. This sets the mood the author desires for his readers, that baseball is an integral part of Roy Hobbs’ being.

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The Natural

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