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Virginia Woolf spent many of her childhood summers in a seaside village in Cornwall, England. In an excerpt from her memoirs from her childhood summers, Woolf reminisces on fishing trips with her father and her brother. Woolf utilizes language in order to convey the lasting significance by using punctuation, diction, and choppy phrases
Woolf uses punctuation in several different ways, but she was especially effective at using it to convey her enthusiasm. Near the end of the first paragraph, Woolf talks about how she felt when catching a fish “…and then-how can I convey the excitement?- there was a little leaping tug…” Here, in just this sentence alone, Woolf conveys her excitement and enthusiasm by using punctuation.
“… how can I convey the excitement?…” This phrase appears in the middle of two other little phrases, almost like she’s taking a little break to try and collect her thoughts in order for the reader to understand them. Had she not taken this little moment to sort herself out, her words may have ended up jumbled and not well put together.
This makes her seem so enthusiastic, that she has to take a break in order to calm herself back down.
Virginia Woolf uses diction to help create a lasting significance. For instance, near the beginning of the essay, Woolf talks about how once when they were out fishing/ sailing, her brother, Thoby got to steer them home. “But once Thobby was allowed to steer us home…And Thobby took the fisherman’s place; and steered; flushed and with his blue eyes very blue, and his mouth set, he sat there bringing us to there, bringing us round the point, into the harbor, without letting the sail flag.
” (paragraph 1).
Notice the use of the word “flushed”. “…flushed and with his blue eyes very blue…” Woolf could have used a word such as “blushing” or even “rosy”, but she chose flushed because by definition flushed refers to turning red, by either being embarrassed, an illness, or by a strong emotion. Her brother was flushed because he was nervous to steer the boat home and this stood out in her mind. Although “blushing” and “rosy” are synonyms for the word “flushed”, neither one of them would have given you as strong of detail nor help create the lasting significance that “flushed” did.
Finally, Woolf uses choppy, or short, phrases to help convey this lasting significance. The most obvious comes after they, her brother, father, and herself, had caught the fish. “… there was a little leaping tug; than another; up one hauled; up through the water at length came white twisting fish; and was slapped on the floor.” Much like the punctuation, these short and choppy phrases create that fast paced allusion of being excited– like a little kid at Christmas. Woolf was obviously thrilled at the experience of fishing and had thoroughly enjoyed it and to help convey that, she used these little phrases.
Throughout the essay Woolf used many different types of language to convey a lasting significance. All in all, these three uses of language- punctuation, diction, and choppy phrases- Woolf had used the most to talk about her summer’s spent in Cornwall, England.
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