The Shoe Horn Sonata

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Language helps us share other people’s experiences. Explain how this is achieved in The Shoehorn Sonata and at least two other texts.

Language helps us share other people’s experience. In the play the Shoe Horn Sonata by John Misto, the use of symbolism, stage directions and dialogue enables the audience to feel empathy for the character as does the language used in the film Apocolyto and in the painting “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by Holly Wong.

The Shoe Horn Sonata makes references to actual historical events and places. With the incorporation of many literary devices used in dialogue and language techniques working together, the play creates a sense of realism. This allows the audience to feel empathy and engagement with the characters and situations. Engaging the audience is a distinctive feature that permits the interaction of the themes of heroism, sacrifice and friendship, as well as survival and resilience.

Heroism is a key theme in the play, and is evident from the first time that Bridie and Sheila meet each other. When Sheila begins to “nod off” Bridie hits her with her shoe-horn to stop her from drowning. While Bridie recalls it as a “tap-tap-tap” Sheila uses a hyperbolized onomatopoeia and recalls it as more of a “whack-whack-whack”. This shows the diverse characteristic of each protagonist but displays the friendship to keep the other alive.

Sacrifice is demonstrated through Sheila’s act of offering up her virginity to a Japanese soldier, Lipstick Larry, to obtain quinine to save Bridie’s life. Even though Sheila is traumatized by her own act for over fifty years, she manages to reveal the truth to Bridie, which in itself is a huge difficulty, but still very definitively she retorts that “I’d do it all again, if I had to.” This shows that even after all the physical and psychological hardships encountered during the war, Sheila is still willing to make heroic sacrifices for Bridie. This use of language helps the audience to...
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