abstract illustration of many different faces and settings that reflect the diversity of speakers in the Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology

by Edgar Lee Masters

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When it says "how does it happen, tell me" two times, can that be considered anaphora? 

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Anaphora is a rhetorical device in which word or phrase is repeated in order to achieve some dramatic effect or meaning. It only needs to be repeated once but it can be repeated many times. So, this does qualify as anaphora. Judge Somers complains to the auditor(s) because his grave is unmarked. He can not accept, being such an important man in his time (according to him), that he would be ignored and forgotten after his death. The repeated "How does it happen, tell me" expresses his extreme frustration. It is the repetition that multiplies this frustration. The fact that he also repeats "tell me" also suggests an ignorance or an unwillingness to understand why his grave is unmarked. He thinks he was at least as important as Chase Henry. 

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