Jason Reynolds, in his novel in verse “Long Way Down”

Categories: Human NatureViolence
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Reynold’s use of negative connotations emphasizes the pain felt by Will after losing Shawn. Reynolds uses the word “pushing” (6) in line 16 to show the confusion felt by Will after losing Shawn. Pushing has an aggressive connotation; it implies being forced into something. After Shawn dies, Will feels helpless against his sorrow. The pressure pushing through his ears is forcing him to face his grief.

The constant “slipping” (Reynolds, 6) of the tongue into the “empty space” (Reynolds, 6) where a tooth once was shows Will’s helplessness.

Slipping has a powerful, negative connotation; whereas “pushing” implies being forced by outside forces, “slipping,” implies greater autonomy. When something slips, it is because of internal pressure rather than external forces. “Slipping” is entirely self-destruction. Will’s immense grief is tearing him apart; he is in denial and cannot comprehend that Shawn is gone. Like constantly tonguing a gap, expecting a tooth, Will expects Shawn in his life and is stunned by the hole his death has caused.

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His confusion and denial is just one ramification of violence.

Reynold’s unique use of rhythm and enjambment emphasizes the disconnect felt by Will after Shawn’s death. The passage, despite being relatively short, is broken up into many stanzas of different lengths. This wide range in structure shows Will’s confusion; the disconnect in sentence structure mirrors that of Will’s thoughts, coming in bursts like the chaos of the passage. Near the end of the passage, when realization dawns on Will, the passage breaks into individual lines rather than traditional stanzas.

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This is indicative of Will’s thoughts slowing as recognizes that Shawn truly is gone; before, his thoughts had been chaotic and rushed. The enjambment used in earlier stanzas shows Will’s flurry of thoughts; just in the first six stanzas, only two full sentences are spoken. This haphazard sentence construction represents how Will is in a chaotic state. His disconnect is another ramification of the constant violence in Will’s life.

The metaphorical comparison of Shawn’s death and a tooth being taken show the deep-seated effects of violence. Being “strapped down” (Reynolds, 6) represents when Will learns of Shawn’s death. Just like the straps, this news traps him in his own emotions. The “pliers” (Reynolds, 6) ripping a tooth out represents when Will realizes that Shawn is truly gone. The pressure and blood pooling represent the rush of emotion. The pressure is his confusion, unable to be stopped, and the blood pooling is his grief, collecting and rising. The final “slipping of [the] tongue” (Reynolds, 6) represents Will’s second realization that Shawn is gone and a realization of despair. While the blood and grief continuously “pool” (Reynolds, 6) slowly, Will’s despair comes out in powerful bursts of emotion. This extended metaphor lets Reynolds convey Will’s inner turmoil.

Ultimately, Reynolds’ use of connotation, rhythm, and metaphor conveys the endless repercussions of violence. A single violent act drives Will into emotional wreckage. Reynolds emphasizes the impact violence has on people. Many of Will’s close relatives are dead because they got revenge for a slain friend, causing an endless circle of death. For each act of revenge, another family must grieve. Reynolds implores his readers to stop, and mourn one’s losses without creating more.

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Jason Reynolds, in his novel in verse “Long Way Down”. (2021, Dec 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/jason-reynolds-in-his-novel-in-verse-long-way-down-essay

Jason Reynolds, in his novel in verse “Long Way Down”

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