The Street Essay

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In Anne Petry’s novel, The Street, the wind wreaks havoc on the city and puts the city and its pedestrians in an overwhelming and chaotic state. The wind is the antagonist in the story as it tortures the pedestrians with its pesky ways and coldness. The wind establishes a negative relationship between Lutie Johnson and the urban setting and Pettry’s use of literary devices aptly displays this relationship.

Petry starts out by letting the reader know there as “a cold November wind”. This wind terrorizes the street by blowing “bits of paper to dancing high in the air” such as “old envelopes” and “newspapers”. Pedestrians were “bent double” as they tried to walk through the wind and street to “offer the least possible exposed surface to its violent assault”. This use of imagery begins to give the reader an understanding of how the relationship between Lutie Johnson and the urban setting will play out.

The selection of detail that the reader is given further shows how the wind is a negative element in the novel. The wind “drove most of the people off the street in the block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues”. This leads the reader to believe the wind is fierce and that one shouldn’t try to withstand it. The wind also blew more than just paper around, it blew things such as “dirt”, “grime”, “dust”, “chicken bones and pork-chop bones”. All of these things blowing around can definitely bring a city to a state of chaos. These details also enhance the urban setting give allow the reader to understand what the experience is like for Lutie Johnson.

Petry’s use of figurative language also made the reader’s understanding of the urban setting more pertinent. The wind was “fingering its way along the curb” and the wind also “wrapped newspaper around their feet”, entangling the pedestrians and forcing them to bend down and remove the newspaper with their hands. This shows the reader how the wind has power over the pedestrians and Lutie Johnson.

Petry’s use of...
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