Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

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What literary devices are used in pages 129–145 of Out of the Dust?

Quick answer:

Literary devices in Out of the Dust, pages 129–145 include hyperbole in referring to “everyone,” imagery in Ivy’s description of the full house, repetition in the lines beginning with the words our and their, alliteration in “sorry sight,” and the simile “like the parched earth.”

Expert Answers

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In Out of the Dust, the sections on February 1935 and March 1935 that span pages 129–145 include a large number of literary devices. In the section “The Competition,” which begins on page 129, Billie Jo starts off with hyperbole, which is extreme exaggeration for effect.

I suppose everyone in Joyce City and beyond…

came to watch the talent show at the Palace.

A vivid bit of imagery is Ivy’s description of the packed theater, which was so full

that she didn't think they could

squeeze a


into the back.

Another image is the impression that the Harkinses make playing their harp: they

made you want to look up into the heavens for


The author frequently employs repetition. In the same section, two related examples are two sets of lines describing the participants in the show, which begin with our and their.

our wild hearts pounding,

our lips sticking to our teeth,

our urge to empty ourselves….

their feet flying,

their arms swinging,

their mouths gapping.

Alliteration is a kind of repetition involving only initial consonant sounds. In the same section, this appears in the initial s, f, and h sounds in these lines:

made a sorry sight

in front of the

famous Hazel Hurd Players.

In “The Piano Player,” beginning on page 134, there is a simile, a comparison of unlike things for effect using like or as. Billie Jo compares the pain she feels playing the piano to the dry land: “it hurts like the parched earth with each note.”

In “March 1935 Dust Storm,” additional similes are used. Billie Jo evokes the mysterious quality of the people she hears crying out but cannot see: “their voices rose like ghosts.” When her father finally returns home from looking for her, “his eyes [are] as red as raw meat.”

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