Water for Elephants

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The triumph of love over death and destruction is at once an inspiring and timeless theme. This theme is thoroughly examined in both Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns and Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Despite their subtle differences in writing style, both novels have protagonists who undergo similar experiences and have similar settings.

The authors of both novels succeed in telling a moving story through their different writing styles. The writing in Water for Elephants is replete with colloquial language. The workers at the circus use broken English and common slang. Camel, for example, pleads with Blackie to let go of Jacob by saying, “Blackie, I’m tellin’ ya! We don’t need no trouble. Let ‘im go!” This vernacular lends much credence to the setting and the characters. Although the story is written from the first person point of view, the author’s use of dialogue allows the reader a glimpse of other characters’ perspectives. The reader can, for example, understand and empathize with Walter’s character after hearing his story of how he was abandoned by his parents as a child.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns, the author’s use of Farsi in his writing lends credibility to the setting, as Farsi is the spoken language of Afghanistan. Aziza calls Mariam khala, which means aunt in Farsi, and when talking about his father’s recovery, Tariq says, “ Yes, but he’s fine now, shookr e Khoda, thanks to God.(115)” The use and integration of Farsi in the diction remind the reader of the setting. In addition, the writing familiarizes the reader with Afghan culture by explaining various traditions, and makes the setting less distant and more tangible. In contrast to Water for Elephants the diction of this novel is less colloquial and more formal. The author’s choice of words creates a solemn mood and sets a serious atmosphere. The serious and sombre mood is congruent with the turbulent backdrop of the story.

In both novels, love and friendship provide the...
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