Fiction and Sensory Details

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In the short story “On the Rainy River”,the author Tim O’Brien uses literary devices to help break down the story for us. It gives us a better grasp on the story and makes it easier to understand. Using literary devices keeps us interested in reading the story. Without using comparisons the story would be boring and harder to relate to. So the author uses similes; comparing two things using like or as. He also uses repetition to give emphasis to a particular word or phrase. Another lit device used in the short story is sensory details; using certain words or phrases to describe something that puts us in the story. O’Brien does a good job as incorporating these devices in his book. Tim O'Brien uses repetition as a device to help us as a reader connect with the character. “I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile... I feared losing the respect of my parents. I feared the law. I feared ridicule and censure.”44-45 Tim’s use of repetition helps us understand the character. Using the word ‘feared’ over and over helps us remember what the character is like while reading the story. Tim feared many things - losing his life - war - the law - and exile; he feared being a soldier because there’s so much to lose. Similes help us compare two things; one that may not be easy to understand, whereas the other we can relate to. “It's a blur now, as it was then, and all I remember is a sense of high velocity and the feel of the steering wheel in my hands. I was riding on adrenaline. A giddy feeling, in a way, except there was the dreamy edge of impossibility to it—like running a dead-end maze—no way out—it couldn't come to a happy conclusion”47 We might not know how Tim was feeling but we can relate to the dead-end maze. We know how it feels to make a turn thinking ‘I’m out’ but then there’s no exit. We can relate to how the character is feeling because O’Brien uses a simile that’s easy for us to understand. You close your eyes while reading to see if you can picture the...
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