The sea is often personified in the story, and described as a person would be.
Personification is a type of figurative language where something nonhuman is described as if it were human or had humanlike qualities. This type of imagery is used throughout the story to make comparisons and describe the setting and other details. It helps to create the story’s mood and suspense.
An example of personification can be found near the beginning of the story, when Rainsford falls into the ocean and swims toward Ship-trap Island. In this example, the sea is described with personification.
Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore.
The sea is described like you would describe a person. People mutter, but seas do not. Yet by describing the sea this way, it helps to create a description of the sea and reinforce the idea that the sea is alive, and create suspense. Rainsford is very happy to have finally reached the shore, so he does not care how grumpy the sea sounds.
The sea is personified again in an even more direct way later when Rainsford finds the chateau and makes a note of where it is on the island. Here the sea is described as having facial features.
His eyes made out the shadowy outlines of a palatial chateau; it was set on a high bluff, and on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.
Rainsford again does not portray the sea in a positive light. He describes it as having “greedy lips” as if it is desperate for carnage. Of course the sea does not literally have lips, since it is not a person. Again this creates suspense, because it makes us feel that something terrible might happen.
Throughout the story, you will find examples like this. You will also find similes and metaphors used to describe the setting. Connell uses the figurative language to make the story more colorful. As you read, you may notice these details help create suspense.