In the Trenches
In literature sensory imagery is used to evoke emotions in the reader or to bring the text to life. In his essay, In the Trenches, Charles Yale Harrison does so by descriptively retelling his experience of fighting in World War I. As I read the vivid narrative, images were wrought in my mind. The writer’s use of sensory imagery was not only astonishingly effective in drawing out emotional response, but also in bringing the story to life.
The visual imagery he utilized in the fifty-seventh paragraph elicited fear within me. The soldier caught sight of a huge rat while he was on sentry duty. His description of how big it was brought to mind a monstrous picture of a carnivorous rodent that was “fat” off of the remains of dead soldiers. With it being “three feet away” from his face and looking “steadily at” him, I wondered if the creature was going to attack. Once some animals have a taste of human blood they want more, this is common in rats. But luckily the animal scurried away and left him alone.
Further along in the story Harrison describes auditory imagery from the attack on his troops by their enemies. As the Germans fired the minewerfer he heard a “terrific roar” as the “night whistled”. The “air shrieks” and “exploding howls” from the blasts terrified the man, which caused me to feel empathy. The recount of the event was so descriptive I could almost hear the “cat calls” from the weapons of destruction soaring through the air for myself.
Then in the midst of the strike I was given the olfactory images of the scene. “The smoke” was so thick that he began to “cough”. I imagined the odors of smoke, burnt human flesh and gun powder intermingling to create a foul stench. It must’ve been enough to cause the soldiers to want to vomit in disgust. Harrison’s narration was so expressive that it made me feel as if I wanted a breath of fresh air.
While this was happening the author displayed kinaesthetic imagery to explain the forced movement...
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