J. Galsworthy. the Broken Boot

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A Sample of Complex Stylistic Analysis

J. Galsworthy. The Broken Boot (E.M. Zeltin et. Al. English Graduation Course, 1972, pp.88-89: finishing with the words ".. .walked side by side.")

Text Interpretation

The passage under analysis is taken from John Galsworthy's story "The Broken Boot". It is about an actor whose name is Gilbert Caister. For six months he had been without a job and a proper meal. He ran into a man whom he had come to know in a convalescent camp, a man who thought a lot of him as an actor and was tremendously happy to see him again.

To convey Caister's state of mind on the noon when he "emerged" from his lodgings, the author brings into play an abundance of expressive stylistic means and means of speech characterization.

Caister was humiliated by having been out of job, by having to wear old clothes and being hungry. He did not want to acknowledge his poverty and fought the humiliation by assuming an ironic attitude towards himself and things happening to him. The irony is conveyed by lexical means: the epithet "faint" and the bookish word "regard" (instead of "look at"). The stylistic effect is increased by the verb "long for" used in the context inappropriate with its high-flown connotations. Cf. Fixing his monocle, he stopped before a fishmonger's and with a faint smile on his face, regarded a lobster.... One could long for a lobster without paying....

The metaphoric epithet "ghost" and the euphemistic metonymy "elegance" add to the stylistic effect: Yet he received the ghost of aesthetic pleasure from the reflected elegance of a man long fed only twice a day.... The epithet "the ghost of .. .pleasure" forms a specific structure characterized by reversed syntactic-semantic connections (inverted epithet). "Elegance" replaces "gauntiness" because Caister does not like to think of himself as "gaunt".

Irony is accentuated by a mixture of styles (formal, intentionally well-bred vs highly colloquial) in the following:...
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