What literary devices are used in Rachel Carson's book The Edge of the Sea?

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Rachel Carson's lasting fame owes much to her ability to make science not just accessible but fascinating to the general public. She accomplishes this in part through the use of imagery, which abounds in her detailed descriptions, and other literary devices. Among those used in The Edge of...

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Rachel Carson's lasting fame owes much to her ability to make science not just accessible but fascinating to the general public. She accomplishes this in part through the use of imagery, which abounds in her detailed descriptions, and other literary devices. Among those used in The Edge of the Sea are alliteration, assonance, simile, and allusion.

Beginning in the preface, Carson immediately establishes her style. Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound. Similarly, she uses assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds. In one sentence she uses alliteration of two consonants together with the assonance of one vowel. This technique helps the sentence cohere and helps the reader remember the content. After repeating one consonant, "p," she changes to another, "c." Between them she uses assonance with a short "e." In the last half of the sentence, she uses both consonant sounds again:

. . . the primeval meeting place of the elements of earth and water, a place of compromise and conflict and eternal change.

Simile is the comparison of two unlike things for effect using the words "like" or "as" (e.g., when barnacles are compared to snow and seaweed is compared to mermaid's hair):

Like drifts of snow no longer white, the barnacles come into view. . . . Smaller patches of green weed, stringy as mermaids' hair.

Allusion is an indirect reference to a person or event, both real and fictional, that will likely be familiar to the reader but is not explicitly related to the topic at hand. In the chapter "The Marginal World," Carson provides many examples of the tenacity of life in surviving varied environments. At one point she emphasizes the smallness of beings that live on the short-line pools by calling them "lilliputian." Originally an illusion to the very tiny people of whom Jonathan Swift wrote in Gulliver's Travels, this word has become part of the English lexicon to refer to something that is very small:

It [life] exists minutely, . . . as Lilliputian beings swimming in dark pools.

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