Before the Firing Squad

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“Before the Firing Squad”

John Chioles, a professor of comparative literature, using many literary devices in his works. In Before the Firing Squad, Chioles becomes a master imagery. This literary technique involves the author using metaphors, allusions, descriptive words, and similes to create vivid images in the readers minds. Not only does this make a story more interesting and pleasant to read, it creates a sense that the reader is viewing, not reading, what is occurring. John Chioles uses imagery to represent the stark contrast between the German Ludwigs and Fritzs in Before the Firing Squad.

The first instance of imagery utilized by Chioles occurs when he writes, “my knees turned to jelly, my pulse quickened” after he hears the sirens indicating the Ludwigs are coming (Chioles, p. 543). The purpose of this statement is to represent the fear he has of the German black-coats which is in stark comparison to how Chioles uses imagery to describe the younger German soldiers known as Fritzs. For example, he presents the first comparison between the two when he writes, “Their garrison of twelve soldiers stationed in the town wore mustard-colored uniforms, not the sinister black kind worn by the ones in the convoys” (p. 544). In addition, unlike the fear the black outfitted soldiers created, the garrisoned soldiers “spoke a softer kind of German” and “seemed very young and curiously happy” (p.544). Chioles cements how the reader should view the dark coat Germans when he writes, “the dissonance of the enemy, something as ugly and efficient, and foreign to these parts as the unclean death they brought, appeared and disappeared, taking away the sun, leaving behind clouds of dust” (p.544). The use of the words ugly, foreign, and dust all create a picture of unpleasantness and even death. This is the image Chioles creates to contrast against the nicer yellow-coated Germans.

Considering the latter when Chioles writes, “the small garrison, our German...
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