Have you ever felt like a character in the book that you are reading? Some authors write in such a way that makes the reader feel as if he or she were actually in the book. Michael Morpurgo is one of those authors. In Private Peaceful, he uses characterization, imagery, and setting to really help the reader understand and relate to the plot.
Characterization plays a key role in making the reader relate to the plot. For example, in the beginning of the book, Tommy feels as if he does not belong in society. He is also dependent on Charlie and looks up to him to protect him and guide him through life. But, towards the end of the story, Tommy becomes completely independent and matures into a young, confident soldier. The situation shows the reader how war changes people not only on the outside but also on the inside. Another example is the friendship between Molly, Charlie, and Tommy. They had a deep friendship all through their early years and into their teens. Morpurgo then developed that friendship into a relationship between Molly and Charlie. This eventually excludes Tommy from the group and adds to the fact that he does not belong. The reader can relate to this if they have ever been excluded from a group or ever had a girl that they loved stolen form them.
Another literary element that makes the reader connect to the book is setting. The setting is very detailed. The Peacefuls’ live in Hatherleigh, England which is near the southern part the United Kingdom. When Morpurgo describes where they live, the reader gains a picture of the setup of the town. He describes the house as an old cottage home which is next to a large hill. On top of that hill, the Colonel, the man that Tommy and Charlie’s mother works for and the man that owns their house, lives in his mansion.
This provides an image that the reader can use throughout the story. Another example of where they live is the creek that lies just at the bottom of the hill where Molly, Charlie, and Tommy fished for trout when they were younger. This helps the reader connect situations to the picture that they already have of the layout of Hatherleigh. The setting then moves to France where Charlie and Tommy get thrown into the war. Morpurgo paints a mental picture of the setting as their bunker is right in front of no-man’s land and the enemy right on the other side of no-man’s land. He does this so the reader has an understanding of how close the enemy is to Tommy.
The final literary element used in this book is imagery. Morpurgo uses visual, auditory, and olfactory imagery in the book. He uses auditory when Charlie, Tommy, Hanley, and the rest of the squad are sitting in the bunker and Hanley is ordering them to make a break for it but Charlie ignores the order and the rest of the squad moves with Hanley. Morpurgo depicts the rattling of the machine guns and the screams of the soldiers that were cut short. The visual imagery is used when the wall of Germans are coming over no-man’s land.
He describes the German’s as an invincible wall that cannot be penetrated until he sees the Germans’ falling to their knees and falling over. This helps the reader see the wall and the Germans’ falling to their knees. Olfactory imagery is used when he is in the bunkers in France. Tommy smells men that have not taken showers in weeks and the stench of death. The reader now has an understanding of what war and death smells like. This makes the reader feel as if he or she were in Paris.
The literary elements in the story bring the whole story together. The characterization, imagery, and setting makes the reader connect to the book and not just understand it. This book really explains the cost of war on cities as well as the people in it.