What does sentence structure and language say about the speaker in By the Waters of Babylon?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator of the story is the protagonist of the story.  His name is John, and he is the guy that goes on the journey to the east to discover that New York City wasn't a city of gods.  It was a city of people.  The sentence structure and language say a lot about John and his character.

The sentence structure is clipped.  There are a lot of dashes in many sentences that cause the reader to shift rapidly with John's thoughts.    

It is forbidden to cross the great river and look upon the place that was the Place of the Gods—this is most strictly forbidden. We do not even say its name though we know its name. It is there that spirits live, and demons—it is there that there are the ashes of the Great Burning. These things are forbidden—they have been forbidden since the beginning of time.

Along with those dashes, it's important to note that John sticks to simple sentence structures.  He rarely narrates a compound or complex sentence.  That shows that he is a direct thinker.  He doesn't bother with extended amounts of details or flowery language.  It also indicates that John is not highly educated.  He is educated (I'll get to that in a minute), but not educated enough to really get his sentences to fluidly flow from topic to topic.  

His language indicates that he is somewhat educated.  His sentence structure follows proper subject, verb, object ordering.  His language also does correct subject and verb agreement.  All of those language choices show that John is somewhat properly educated.  

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By the Waters of Babylon

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