Why does Bradbury manipulate language with selected verbs and figures of speech in the following paragraph?“The dark porch air in the late afternoon was full of needle flashes, like a movement...

Why does Bradbury manipulate language with selected verbs and figures of speech in the following paragraph?

“The dark porch air in the late afternoon was full of needle flashes, like a movement of gathered silver insects in the light. The three women’s mouths twitched over their work. Their bodies lay back and then imperceptibly forward, so that the rocking chairs tilted and murmured. Each woman looked to her own hands, as if quite suddenly she had found her heart beating there.”

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This opening paragraph of the short story, "Embroidery," sets the symbolic posture of the women who so assiduously embroider; like the thread, their mouths "twitched," or moved like the jerk of the needle; their figures "lay" back and forward just as the thread enters the material and comes back out. This motion of the women makes the rocking chairs in which they sit "tilted," and the chair creates a sound that is like a "murmur" in imitation of the ladies' pulling of the needles and the beating of their hearts. In a double entendre, the women "look" to their hands--they see them, yet they depend, or "look to" them for an act that can support them during the forthcoming crisis. They perceive their hands working as the heart does; the act of sewing is sustaining them as they brace themselves for a nuclear blast. Their unthinking control of the silver needles is expressed in a simile as this motion is compared to the gathering of silver insects in a light. Like the insects, too, the women will perish in this light. Further, the rocking chairs are personified as having "murmured" and the hands seem to have a "heart beating" in them.

The tight unity of the spirit with the body is connoted in this opening paragraph.  The women are tense, but they release their tension as they embroider, a repetitious "rocking" motion that may serve to calm them.  As the story progresses, the reader arrives at a comprehension of the comparison of the women's bodies to their embroidery: both initiate a movement and tilting of life that can easily be obliterated by man's folly. When, for instance, the one woman makes a sewing error, she removes the man's face from her pattern, so, too, can the embroiderers watch their own bodies be erased by the shocking light of the nuclear attack upon them.

 

 

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