Student Question

What are some literary terms used in Eric Walters' novel Shattered?

Quick answer:

In Shattered by Eric Walters, literary terms and techniques help readers find the various meanings the author intends to convey. This is a coming-of-age story. The basic elements of plot come to life as readers proceed through the various stages of the novel. Along the way, literary terms like theme, mood, and irony make it clear to readers that the protagonist of the novel undergoes a transformation from naivete to reality as he grows to adulthood.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As with any novel of significance, Shattered by Eric Walters contains a number of literary terms or devices used to make stories more interesting and compelling for readers. Such techniques serve the purpose of helping the reader to better understand the author’s meaning and intent in a literary work.

The most basic of these techniques is plot. This is a literary term that describes the sequence of events that make up a story. Generally, a plot is the structure of a novel that contains the unity of action that binds the happenings of events into a contiguous whole. Typical plots begin with an exposition, wherein the reader is made aware of the setting of the novel’s action. The term indicates an introduction to the story. In Shattered, the plot begins with the introduction of a well-to-do fifteen-year-old teenage protagonist, Ian Blackburn. He is the main character or hero around whom the action takes place. This boy is spoiled and naive and a creature of privilege. In what initially appears to be a minor conflict in the life of a young person, the protagonist is compelled to participate in community service in order to satisfactorily complete the requirements for a school social studies program.

The exposition is followed by the rising action, whereby complications arise. As the story proceeds, Ian chooses to complete his volunteer work at a location known as “The Club,” because it sounds like pleasant place to work. In reality, he discovers it is a soup kitchen that serves the homeless. The atmosphere of “The Club” is in stark contrast to the lifestyle with which Ian is familiar. The situation becomes dangerous when the protagonist is exposed to the lifestyle of the homeless in society and is nearly mugged in the street. He is saved by Sarge (Jacques), a homeless man who was a veteran of the peacekeeping force in Rwanda for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The plot of Shattered reaches a climax, where the conflict in the story reaches its highest point. Ian and Sarge become friends, but Ian realizes that there is a huge contrast (a literary term used to highlight the differences between two characters) in the lives and backgrounds of the two companions. Ian has been sheltered his entire life, while Sarge suffers from PTSD that leads to alcoholism as a result of his exposure to genocide during the conflict in Rwanda. The protagonist realizes that he has been isolated by his social status to the point where he has not been exposed to the horrors of the real world.

The action in the story following that realization is the falling action, or that part of the plot that winds down to a resolution or denouement, where the conflicts in the story are settled. In Shattered, the resolution is not quite complete. The protagonist has learned what it is like to be disadvantaged but does not know how to help his friend or others, since the huge problem of homelessness is overwhelming. He must learn how individuals can help to solve some of the problems in the world by becoming more selfless in their approach toward the more disadvantaged in society.

Shattered is a Bildungsroman novel. This is a literary term referring to a form of storytelling whereby the author centers his story on the coming-of-age of the main character. In this story, Ian undergoes mental, emotional, and moral changes until he is transformed into a stronger individual whose perspective on life is altered forever.

Some other significant literary devices found in Walters’s tale include mood, by which a somber atmosphere surrounding genocide is created in this story, irony, which refers to the difference between what the protagonist anticipates and the reality he encounters, and the various themes, such as homelessness, the horrors of genocide, the importance of social status, globalism, and isolation.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial