Student Question

How is alliteration used in "The Falling Girl"?

Quick answer:

Alliteration enhances the sense of poetry and whimsy in the opening lines. Alliteration is used as a literary device to create rhythm as well as emphasis at times.

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Alliteration occurs when words beginning with same consonant are placed in close proximity. Alliteration is a poetic device: in this whimsical, sad, and fantastic story about suicide, which becomes an allegory for life itself, the alliteration serves two functions. It enhances the literary, fictive, and poetic quality of this tale, and it creates a sense of rhythm that brings emphasis to certain words.

We feel from the start that we are in the land of poetry and whimsy with the piling up of alliteration in the following sentence, the second in the story (the first sentence also is alliterative, repeating "s" sounds):

The skyscraper was silver, supreme and fortunate in that most beautiful and pure evening, as here and there the wind stirred a few fine filaments of cloud against an absolutely incredible blue background.

Although the subject is macabre, the repeated "s" and "f" and "b" sounds lend a sense of poetry and beauty to the scene of the young woman falling.

The story remains oddly light-hearted with the alliterative "h" sounds below. Note, too, how the emphasis falls on the "h" words: hovering, happy, and hurry.

She laughed, hovering, happy (but meanwhile she was falling): “No, thanks, friends. I can’t. I’m in a hurry.”

Alliteration lends poetry to the imagery below:

On the flower-filled terraces, amid the bustle of waiters in white.

But then, the alliteration of the "c" sound reveals a change of tone as the stress falls on the words "crafty" and "cold." The journey is not so joyous near the end:

The night had craftily fallen and Marta started to feel cold.

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