Which element of literature is most significant in "How Beautiful with Shoes"? Use textual evidence from the story to support your answer. Do not choose the plot or conflict.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since most of the narrative is dialogue between Mare and others as well as her life-changing experience, characterization is the most significant literary element in "How Beautiful with Shoes." After her harrowing, yet strangely enlightening experience, Amarantha is affected in spirit, opened to a new perspective. Humble Jewitt's importunate recital of Lovelace's verses enthralls her imagination and with incongruity to the dire circumstances in which she finds herself, the poetry touches her soul and she is profoundly affected. These lines from "To Althea from Prison" suggest Amarantha's experience:

Stone walls doe not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedome in my love,
And in my soule am free,
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.

Upon her return to her home, the transformed Amarantha sits alone pondering her experience, recalling with a certain delight her run across the field as she fled, yet Jewitt caught up and ran with her,

...through a wind white with moonlight and wet with "the small rain." And the wind she ran through, it ran through her, and made her shiver as she ran.... And the world spread around in waves of black and silver, more immense than she had ever known the world could be, and more beautiful.

Though held hostage in a terrifying situation with a madman, the experience has liberated her captivity of soul, one that only has been "used to handling animals," and opened Amarantha's mind and spirit to new delights unknown to her betrothed Ruby. Now with each sensuous recollection, she wonders, “Is it only crazy folks ever say such things?” Can she regain some of the incongruous beauty and delight she experienced on that fearful journey through the night? And, with whom?

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How Beautiful with Shoes

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