Style and Technique

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 256

How leisurely and urbane the tone of the language is in the opening paragraph of “A Distant Episode.” Long, slowly measured sentences, with modifiers practically banging into one another, abound:Now facing the flaming sky in the west, and now facing the sharp mountains, the car followed the dusty trail down the canyons into air that began to smell of other things besides the endless ozone of the heights: orange blossoms, pepper, sun-baked excrement, burning olive oil, rotten fruit. He closed his eyes happily and lived for an instant in a purely olfactory world.

Illustration of PDF document

Download A Distant Episode Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Sun-baked excrement and all, reflected in the opening paragraph is the anticipation of romance or adventure, certainly not a sense of imminent danger. The opening paragraph sets the ironic tone of “A Distant Episode,” and the unrelenting, crushing weight of it is felt fully by the time the reader gets to the end of the story.

There is a sharp contrast to this leisurely rhythm when, near the end of the story, the Professor begins to feel “the slow sharpening of his consciousness”; the vital action patterns of the sentences give thrust to his sudden, urgent need to find release from his condition: “He felt . . . he attacked . . . he climbed . . . he began to gallop.” When nobody pays attention to him except the French soldier “who takes a potshot at him for good luck,” one sees the fading image of what was once a civilized man, a cavorting figure growing smaller and smaller, framed in a funereal “great silence out there beyond...

(The entire section contains 351 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this A Distant Episode study guide. You'll get access to all of the A Distant Episode content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial