What are the literary devices used in "Remittance Man" by Judith Wright?

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Among the literary devices that Judith Wright uses are metaphor, alliteration, and assonance. In the last stanza, she also uses allusion . A metaphor is a direct comparison of two unlike things for effect. One metaphor that the author employs is: “let everything but life slip through his...

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Among the literary devices that Judith Wright uses are metaphor, alliteration, and assonance. In the last stanza, she also uses allusion. A metaphor is a direct comparison of two unlike things for effect. One metaphor that the author employs is: “let everything but life slip through his fingers.” What is slipping through the protagonist’s fingers are not objects but are rather abstract concepts such as responsibility and duty. Only life remains; he is living a marginal lifestyle. Another metaphor is the reference to the “pale stalk of a wench” who remained back in England. Calling a woman a “stalk” suggests that she is tall and thin.

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words, while consonance is their repetition anywhere within the words. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. The author uses all three, often in combination, to create sustained or slightly varied sound patterns that emphasize the visual effect conveyed by the words’ meaning.

This combined usage is especially notable in a set of three lines. Alliteration appears with the initial "B" sounds in line 1, "R" in line 2, and "S" in line 3:

Blue blowing smoke of twigs from the noon fire,
red blowing dust of roads where teams go slow,
sparse swinging shadow of trees no longer foreign

The alliteration is enforced with the "S" of “smoke” in line 1, and “slow” in line 2 anticipates all the "S"s in line 3. The "R" is used in consonance along with the alliterative "F" line 1—"from" and “fire”—which is picked up in line 3: “foreign.”

Assonance is shown with the long "O" of “blowing smoke” in line 1, and "blowing" is repeated in line 2, where long "O" also appears in “roads…go slow” and recurs in line 3 in “shadow” and “no.”

Allusion is a reference to someone or something that is well known and appears elsewhere; it can be to a person, whether they are a living or historical figure or a fictional character in a literary work (even in the work itself).

“That harsh biblical country of the scapegoat” refers to the book of Leviticus where a goat is sacrificed; a scapegoat by extension is any sacrifice made for the sake of another person or cause. The speaker suggests that the protagonist was sacrificed by his brother through exile for the sake of the family’s reputation.

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"Remittance Man" tells the story of a once wealthy English aristocrat who casts away his fortune and finds his freedom as an emigrant rambler in the Australian outback. He becomes a rolling stone, like the subject of Dylan's famous song, and within that life, comes to find a deep love for the new landscape and relationships that are detached from the chains of upper-class English lifestyle. 

Much of "Remittance Man" has the feeling of a pastoral or, rather, two pastorals contrasted—England and Australia. 

Blue blowing smoke of twigs from the noon fire/
red blowing dust of roads where teams go slow/ sparse swinging shadow of trees no longer foreign/silted the memory of a greener climate. 

The poem does not follow a rhyme scheme or create patterns in meter. Wright seems to be obsessed with words, and she very carefully chooses her surreal imagery in this poem. It is not a poem that can be read quickly. It is full of speed bumps and potholes, forcing the reader to go slow and to take in the sparse and sublime language as if it were the wild, alien, and beautiful Australian outback, devoid of the neat and tidy rules of the British poetic tradition. 

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