Critical Analysis Language: Birdsong

Topics: London Underground, Poetry, Novel Pages: 2 (962 words) Published: November 10, 2014


Critical Analysis: Language:

Throughout the novel, Sebastian Faulks makes use of poetic language and tools to create atmosphere and give his descriptions more power and imagination. He also uses symbolic language to subliminally inform or remind the reader of certain points of interest. An example of this can be seen right at the beginning of the novel in the description of the house in which the Azaire family live. Faulks tells us that it is a ‘strong, formal’ building, behind which hide ‘unseen footsteps’. These descriptions afford the house similar qualities to its owners, namely strength and mystery, but also imply hidden intrigues. This immediately telegraphs that something secretive may be about to happen within the walls of this building.

Creating realistic tension or atmosphere is vital in a novel of this type, where the reader could otherwise never hope to fully understand the motivations behind the actions of the characters involved. Faulks achieves this in several sections of the novel, most notably during the boat trip on the River Somme, where he creates a sultry, sensuous, indulgent atmosphere, in which the tension between Isabelle and Stephen becomes almost too great for them to tolerate. In addition, he adds to this by introducing elements which will later relate to the First World War, and in doing so, ensures that when the reader reaches those sections, we will be reminded of the earlier scenes. 

In Part Three, Faulks describes the ‘train of the Central Line [which] fitted its tube like a bullet in the barrel of a rifle’, this simile links the London Underground with the armaments of battle. He also reminds us that the tunnels of the Underground were ‘dug by sweating tunnellers’ which is reminiscent of Jack Firebrace’s role before and during the war. Later, Faulks uses familiarity to spark the reader’s imagination, in his description of the Star and Garter home. He recounts the decor, the colour of the door, the flooring...
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