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The Text Analysis

By juliafoxy1 Oct 04, 2009 1106 Words
The text under analysis is an extract from Snow by Ann Beattie, an American short story writer and novelist, whose work has been compared to Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and John Updike. It is a piece of very intimate narration and may be considered even as the inner monologue of the author resembling a momentary picture of her precious memories. They are presented through a number of bright images with prevailing accent on snow, which determined the title of the story as well. Following the composition of the extract we can single out two parts of it with an evident contrast between them. This division is underlined by the author herself through the graphical organization of the text: the second part begins with a new paragraph. The two paragraphs also differ through the images presented in them. In the first one the attention is concentrated on the image of snow and its whiteness as the symbol of purity, innocence and love: "the day of the big snow", "in white towel turban", "a crazy king of snow", "knee-deep in snow", "and all that whiteness", "the newly fallen snow". These phrases are contrasted to the accent on darkness and night given in the second paragraph: "a small curve of light was shaved from the moon night after night", "the sky was black", "the chipmunk ran to hide in the dark", "one night". That's why the final part of the text is touched with a feeling of sadness and tense. The next difference lies in syntactic organization of the parts. The first one is marked by omitting predicates and usage of nouns followed by detached attributes, for example "you, in white towel turban", "headlights off, our car" or attributes in post-position, such as "king of snow", "the day of the big snow", "the idea of our being together" and participles in attributive function: "the man standing on the beach", "sand sparkling in the sun", "one bit glinting". This repetition of parallel constructions has a certain stylistic purpose: it strengthens the feeling of looking through the photo album while the author is naming things, people and events, those were in the process of acting and happening but someone snapped them. Deliberate omission of conjunctions, or asyndeton, characteristic for this paragraph helps to concentrate the images and - consequently - emotions, giving the essence of the memories. Though, the presence of the author is almost unseen, she doesn't put herself in the center of narration, that's why the personal pronoun "I" is used only once: "Now I think+" Opposite to this, the second paragraph is opened with the personal pronoun "you" and the phrase that marks the gap between two points of view, even two worlds: "You remember it differently". The sentences here are build according to the one and the same model: "you remember", "you were no longer surprised", "the chipmunk ran", "our visitors told", "people tell", "you said", and this parallel constructions, on the contrary with the previous ones, give the impression of commonness, usualness, with no sign of magic and diving deep into the past, dear to the narrator's heart. So, the tragical notes of the lost feelings and the crack separating two characters can be seen even on this level of analysis. Let's turn to the observation of figures of speech to fulfill the picture. The author is in constant search of devices to represent her impressions in the most clear and sincere way. The feelings of narrator towards the beloved even turn into worshiping him, which is presented in the metaphor: "you, in white towel turban" and the simile of the same metaphorical nature: "you like a crazy king of snow". The fire place in personified in a phrase "the fire place made all of them want to tell amazing stories" and acts as the symbol of home warmth and love which welcomes everyone who is ready to share their warmth, love and hope: "Did they talk about amazing things because they thought we'd run into one of them?" But in the next sentence this worriless picture is torn apart with the means of simile "it was as hopeless as giving a child a matched cup and saucer", that reflects the lack of responsibility and understanding in the broken relationship. Remembering the night precious to her heart, the narrator addresses a rhetorical question to her beloved, and doesn't wait for the answer, she just accents on the meaning of that moment: "Remember the night, out on the lawn, knee-deep in snow, chins pointed at the sky as the wind whirled down all that whiteness?" The characters are presented metonymically: "chins pointed at the sky", as if they are dissolved in the snowy night. The beauty of the scene is finalized in the quasi-simile "we were looking into an enormous field of Queen Anne's lace". The snow is compared with a sort of white flower that, of course, doesn't bloom in winter but appears in the narration due to the author's emotions as the symbol of the pure love. The ultimate parallel with the momentary photo is given in the last line of the paragraph with the help of the epithet: "The world outside the car looked solarized". The stylistical devices in the last part are aimed to bring the reader "back to earth" contrasting the memory of narrator and the memory of the second character. The lexical units such as "the cold", "night after night", "black", "to hide in the dark", together with metaphor "a small curve of light was shaved from the moon" possess negative connotations reflecting loneliness, fear and pain. And the last phrase gives the conclusion for the whole extract: "Any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it". Now we can see the final picture of two worlds. There's the world of the narrator who singled out from the everyday routine the amazing land of pure whiteness with her beloved "king of snow" in "white towel turban" on its throne, where "the child + happened to be standing on the right corner" to get "hundreds of Popsicles", with "the man, stooping to find a diamond ring" in the sand. In the opposite dark world there is no place for miracle, it is "different". Contrasting two characters trough all the stylistic levels and filling story with round and emotional images Ann Beattie, the master of belles-letters style, expresses the idea that it's not enough to have "a matched cup and saucer", you should have wish and strength to keep them together.

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