A writer’s style distinguishes him from other writers. The style a writer uses to write a story clearly indicates the tone of a story,vital for the reader to understand the story. The style of a writer is made up of different traits and characteristics used to write the story. These traits and characteristics include and are not limited to symbolism, characterization, and other elements. When evaluating a literature piece for style one should analyze the following five elements: diction, images, details, language, and sentence structure.
Two well-known American writers with completely different styles are Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. Hemingway and Faulkner’s similarities and differences in style become apparent when comparing and contrasting two of their famous short stories, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway and “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner. Diction involve word choices a writer makes for his story. These word choices may be used to achieve an overall feeling from a reader toward a story. Diction also reflects the writer’s attitude toward his subject.
Ernest Hemingway’s choice of diction in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” are simple words that directly mean what they stand for. Hemingway uses simple, less complex words to describe both characters and setting. Examples of diction usage for setting are found in the title, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” (Hemingway 141) and “pleasant” (Hemingway 143). The two waiters describe the customer as a “clean old man… a good client” (Hemingway 141). Hemingway’s choice of diction was blunt and to the point. The diction usage does not let the reader get funny ideas or leeway to think anything other than what Hemingway says.
This element of Hemingway’s style reflects when the young waiter states the old man is “drunk” (Hemingway 141). The young waiter does not suggest he was tipsy or that he seemed intoxicated, he simply meant he was drunk. Hemingway uses the Spanish word for nothing, “nada” (Faulkner 145) to substitute words from the Lord’s prayer, in the old waiter’s speech of despair and loneliness to interrelate the theme. Building a sympathetic feeling from the reader toward the character’s way of seeing his lonely world as nothing, was Hemingway’s intention in doing so.
In comparison to Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner’s use of diction involves more complicated words due to the fact they’re slang and misspelled. Some misspelled words and slang are “kin… hisn… [and] hit” (Faulkner 145) which stand for the words can, his, and it. The reason for the use of a southern accent as diction is to set the mood of where the story takes place. Racist slurs such as “nigger” (Faulkner 146) also make up the diction of the story. Such racist slurs are used to build a certain attitude toward the character who says them.
Faulkner describes Abner’s walk as “stiffly” (Faulkner 146) which also affects the reader’s feelings about a character. Sarty uses the word “bovine” (Faulkner 152) to describe his fat sisters. For many readers who are not familiar with the south or the last century the complex word usage in “Barn Burning” mean many things and nothing at times, this affects the reader’s attitude toward the story as a whole. The overall use of language in an entire story also makes up the writer’s style. Different types of language would be formal or informal, scientific or abstract, etc.
There are no rules to correct language for a writer’s style. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” uses informal and conversational overall language. Incomplete statements and fragments that cast full scenes in form of conversation create informality of the story . “‘He hung himself with a rope. ’” (Hemingway 142) Also, a device Hemingway uses when a characters pauses and then speaks again in the following line make up the informal language. ‘“He’s drunk now,’ he said. ‘He’s drunk every night. ”’ (Hemingway 142)
The language used in “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner includes colloquial, informal, with some interior monologue. The southern drawl creates a particular colloquial dialect. “‘Naw,’ he said. “Hit don’t hurt. Lemme be. ’” (Faulkner 147) Interior Monologue also makes up the element of language. “I could run on and on and never look back, never need to see his face again. ” (Faulkner 155) is Sarty’s interior monologue. Faulkner uses interior monologue to prove Sarty was not allowed to express himself freely out of fear.
The sentence structure used in a story has an impact on the reader’s attitude. The sentences may be structured in a variety of ways to get certain points and feelings across. Types of sentence structure include short, long, simple, complex, and even interrupted sentences. Sentence structure in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” includes regular speech patterns. This would include short, choppy, simple and direct sentences. Examples of these types of sentences include, ‘“He has plenty of money. ”’ (Hemingway 141) and “‘Nothing.
”’ (Hemingway 141) Hemingway’s sentence structure also includes long, compound but simple sentences. “In the day the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. ” (Faulkner 141) Formal, complex and long drawn-out sentences make up the sentence structure in “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner. Faulkner’s style, most of the time formal and excessively detailed, creates sentences extremely complicated that many times the best way to understand them is to go back and reread the sentence.
“The boy, crouched on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, and more: from where he sat he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans whose labels his stomach read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish-this, the cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood. ”
(Faulkner 145) The five basic elements interrelate to create the style of a writer. After the reader understands style, the tone and the true meaning of a story become apparent. The style of both Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner are different with only a few similarities. One style (Hemingway) being simple and to the point, the other (Faulkner) complicated and full of details.
Although the differences are many, one apparent similarity is the informality in the overall language of both stories. Neither style ranks better than the other. The reader changes the value of each style depending on what they appreciate reading.
Courtney from Study Moose
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