What are some literary techniques in "Cheaper by the Dozen" and what are their impacts?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Of course, this book is pretty long so there are numerous literary techniques used.  I will give you a few from the first chapter.

In this chapter, the authors are trying to set the scene for the rest of the story.  They are trying to show their father as a very capable and important man, even if he is a bit eccentric.  Here are some ways they do that.

  • Hyperbole -- saying that he needed to weigh himself of a railroad scales is surely hyperbole, but it sort of portrays him as a solid and imposing man.
  • Allusion -- they say he has "enough gall to be divided into three parts."  This is a pun as well as an allusion to Julius Caesar's phrase "Gaul is divided into three parts."  This makes us amused and helps us understand that the story is supposed to be funny.

You also asked about the title of the story.  It's an allusion, I guess, to the fact that often you can get things cheaper when you buy a lot of them at once.  The father used to say that about the children often (it's in Chapter 3).

I hope that helps...

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billypede55 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Simile- “Grandma always was threatening to skin someone alive, or draw and quarter him, or scalp him like a Red Indian, or spank him till his bottom blistered.” (Gilbreth,109)

Grandma always had a harsh way of punishing the children when they did something wrong.

Simile- “It was like a newspaper on election night; general staff headquarters on D-Day minus one.”  (Gilbreth,18)

It was always very busy, always wanted and demanded by a bunch of people.

Hyperbole- ““I've seen fish who found the air more delightful than you do the water,” Dad would remark.” (Gilbreth,183)

Dad thought that mother was extremely uncomfortable in water, just like fish were in the fresh air.

Hyperbole- “Dad stated to laugh, and as he rocked back and forth he shook the house so that loose whitewash flaked off the ceiling and landed on the top of his head.” (Gilbreth,145)

Dad laughed really loudly and rocked back and forth over and over a he did.

Simile- “Sometimes, in order to make sure that we left no rubbish behind, he'd have us form a line, like a company front in the army, and march across the picnic ground.” (Gilbreth,33)

When picking up trash at the place where the picnicked, they would stand in a line and all march forward picking up the trash that they each stepped over.

Simile- ““The description,” gloated Mrs. Bruce, “fits her like a glove.”” (Gilbreth, 79)

The description that was given to this Mrs. Bruce about mother described her exactly and perfectly.

I had to do this for a project and know how hard having to find these in such a long book is. These are just some of the ones I found. I reccomend finding an online copy of the book and "searching" for every "like" written in it to find the similes. HOPE THIS HELPED! :D

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