Which senses does the author appeal to with the description of the kitchen?  

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his short story “A Christmas Memory,” Truman Capote appeals to the senses with his vivid, heartfelt descriptions. When Buddy and his cousin are in the kitchen shucking walnuts, Capote starts off by addressing the auditory sense, and progresses to addressing the sense of sight. We hear the sounds associated walnuts cracking, and see how the day is moving toward night as the pair works in the firelight.

The author uses onomatopoeia to appeal to the sense of sound with the word “Caarackle!” The reader can immediately hear the sound of the nuts cracking under pressure. As the pair works, the kitchen is filled with sounds of the nuts breaking open and the dog begging for a tasty morsel. While Buddy describes the scene, the reader can hear the crunching sound and feel the contentment the characters are experiencing.

A cheery crunch, scraps of miniature thunder sound as the shells collapse and the golden mound of sweet oily ivory meat mounts in the milk-glass bowl. Queenie begs to taste, and now and again my friend sneaks her a mite, though insisting we deprive ourselves.

As the paragraph progresses, Capote switches his emphasis from the sense of sound to the sense of sight. He describes how the kitchen looks as evening descends upon it. Outside the moon rises, while inside Buddy and his cousin can be seen in the reflections in the window. The pair continue their work by the glow of the fire until they finish shelling the final nut.

The kitchen is growing dark. Dusk turns the window into a mirror: our reflections mingle with the rising moon as we work by the fireside in the firelight. At last, when the moon is quite high, we toss the final hull into the fire and, with joined sighs, watch it catch flame.

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A Christmas Memory

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