English IV AP – 2B
April 22, 2013
In Denis Johnson's poem "Looking Out The Window", he includes unusual language and punctuation, mundane (yet meaningful) imagery, and emotional shifts in order to emphasize the redundancy of his life as he slips into a state of emotional numbness and falls into the industrial undertaking of the modern world. The author's use of language is unique due to both his diction along with his cacophonous punctuation. Johnson’s strange diction and excessive use of commas serve to highlight him as not a normal human being; he sounds more like a machine just spitting out words. Also, his word choice (i.e. apex, veering) lends to the peculiarity of this poem as a whole. His choppy phrases strung into long, complex sentences seem to distract the reader from the deeper meaning and draw their attention to the importance of the language and styling itself. He also applies language to create a paradox, when he states his “great joy” over his “unenjoyable” life, which leads the reader to question the narrator’s sanity. In this piece, the author is able to apply interesting diction, sharply cut into by punctuation, in order to portray his emotions to the reader. This poem also stands out due to its fascinating emotional shift, which allows the reader a more personal view of what the author is trying to express. At first, the narrator starts very tedious, speaking of everyday imagery and his “slum” of an apartment. Then, the narrator switches to his loss of emotions, which seems like a big deal for any human. The poem gets even weirder when he professes that he actually prefers this robotic lifestyle and praises the great apparatus that he considers our planet. The narrator shifts again at the end, instructing the reader to join him in admiring our beautiful world and all in it that we take for granted. The most important technique used in this poem would be imagery. First, the author opens by...