Diction, Imagery, and, Figurative Language in Nighttime Fires by Regina Barecca

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The poem Nighttime Fires by Regina Barecca explains the speaker’s complex view of her father. The speaker uses imagery to describe her father’s strange behaviours after losing his job. Figurative language is used strategically to explain the memories of this young girl’s strange adventures. The diction in this poem is also used very well helping us to understand why these nighttime fires left such a lasting impact on this grown woman from when she was only five years old. All of these things are very important to the progress of the poem and the engagement of the reader.

The diction in the poem is very important, as it would be in any poem, but Barecca chooses her words very nicely to create the image that she wants us to perceive. Lines 3 and 4 talk about when the children are woken in the night. “Piled seven of us, all pajamas and running noses” this uses diction to show us that the kids would be in bed asleep when they would be awoken to go and chase the nighttime fires. The word choice here helps us in the sense that the kids didn’t want to be up chasing fires and helping the reader to understand that the kids likely saw these adventures in a negative light. On lines 7 and 8 the author uses the word mad when describing her father “tried crosswords until he split the pencil between his teeth, mad” this makes him seem very angry and irritated because he would bite on the pencil so hard that it would snap. The use of “wolf whine” as a descriptor for the sounds of the fire engines makes you stop and think of what a wolf whine sounds like and what the fire engine would be sounding Card 2

like. In lines 14 and 15 the speaker mentions “the fire engines that snaked like dragons and split the silent streets. It was festival, carnival.” telling us that the streets were silent and calm until fires broke out and the fire engines burst the silence, making loud noises and bright colours from their flashing lights and piercing sirens; this giving off the vibe of a...
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