The Use of Stylistic Devices in Knotted and An Inch Off the Ground by Ben Nickol

Categories: Short Story
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In his work, Nickol used several stylistic devices to bring out several themes, and consequently pass his intended message effectively. While narrating his stories in ‘Knotted and ‘An Inch Off the Ground’, he used the stylistic devices such as characterization and themes to facilitate an understanding of his subject matter by the intended audiences. Nickol had different intentions and inspirations when he was writing these two short stories. Despite this notable difference, it is evident that there are various similarities when it comes to the details of storytelling and literary analysis.

The first similarity that is clearly brought out is that of having two distinct stories embedded in one. There are instances where the characters within the two stories are trying to recollect their memories and cover the stories that took place a couple of years before. The two stories have also been organized in such a way that demonstrates Nickol’s commitment when it comes to plot development.

The stories begin at a low moment then develop through the various phases of plot development to the very end.

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It has also been depicted in the two stories that Nickol is a determined individual when it comes to the aspects of theme facilitation and development. The theme of recklessness is common in the two stories. Nickol in ‘Knotted’ is determined to ensure that he facilitates an understanding of the manner in which characters undertake their activities. The leading character is Leslie who is living in a modernized and transformed society.

The use of modern technology devices like mobile phones is evident and this reveals the time frame of the story; the story has been set in the recent times.

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She says, “I have her number, and Friday after playing I text her” she went ahead to tell us that she texts back. This is clear evidence that there is the use of modern phones for communication (Nickol 37). Characterization is another important device used by Nickol in his literary work. In the Knotted’, Nickol portrays Leslie as a character who does not have a clear path in life. He is one man who is almost thirty years while his fate as far as professional career is concerned is yet to the determined. His love for women and alcohol is questioned by the author.

The narrator tells us “They all drink and smoke” Nickol 31. When it comes to the analysis of ‘An Inch Off the Ground’, Nickol is determined to cover a story in which the narrator is determined to tell his wife, Kate, about the manner in which he grew up basing on his relationship with his father. The narrator has reiterated that he had no close relationship with the father and that the father was an alcohol addict who never provided the guidance that would have been expected from a father. In both of these stories alcoholism is depicted as a habit that comes with negativity and it is loathed by all. Plot development in all short stories helps in the demonstration of the manner in which characters interacts and the flow of events (Shaw, Kelly and Semler 27). In the same regard, Nickol has managed to work on facilitating plot development. In ‘Knotted Nickol has developed the story around Leslie and his girlfriend Jennifer and has managed to indicate the manner in which they used to hang out at the golf course whenever they had time.

The building mechanisms of the story are undertaken from the way a relationship is started by Leslie and Jennifer manages to develop with time. With plot development, the story is made to be more interesting and vivid. Same plot development aspects are witnessed in ‘An Inch Off the Ground’ where Nickol has embarked on the manner in which the narrator and his wife has started at a low instance and managed to develop the story over time. The turning point is where Kate is determined to ensure that her husband narrates to her a story pertaining his childhood and the interactions with the father (Nickol 81). The plot of the story develops further and this is explained by the ideas of Gardiner, Macdonald, and O’Gallagher that stories have to start from a low point, develop to a climax then move into a denouement stage (63).

The two short stories are similar in the sense that the readers are prepared to start from the basics where they have to get a clear picture of what lies ahead then transmits this understanding into the analysis of the stories. Theme development is another very important stylistic device used by Nickol in his work. In ‘Knotted’, Nickol is determined to develop the theme of recklessness and the same is also depicted and illustrated in ‘An Inch off the Ground’. The author has managed to portray Leslie as a young man whose is of the right age to get married; based on the society expectations, but Leslie has refused to move away from a lifestyle that is characterized by alcohol and women. In many instances, he is seen spending most of his time in the company of women enjoying alcohol and other aspects as opposed to building up a career and being a responsible man. The narrator says, “They all drink and smoke and eat steak and fuck strangers. It’s not that they want to die, it’s that they’ve released the tiller and become themselves. “(Nickol 31). These shows how reckless they had been.

Moreover, Leslie an individual that has not been in a position to enhance himself as a professional golfer or even establish himself in any other suitable career several years after leaving college (Nickol 41).In a similar fashion, ‘An Inch Off the Ground’ has the narrator depicted as an individual that has had a horrible past that was characterized by recklessness where women and alcohol were a great part of his life. A number of his friends like Sean have been depicted as having no clear agenda in life since they are deep into alcoholism. He organizes for various partying and drinking thus displaying a reckless lifestyle among the youngsters. The highlighted levels of recklessness in the two stories are similar in the sense that the two leading characters are the ones that are living questionable lives. Nickol has managed to depict another literary device where characters are telling stories inside another mother story.

The characters have been captured telling stories that happened in their past. A story within a story is a mechanism that is undertaken to facilitate an analysis of the events that transpired in the lives of the characters before the current moment (Probst 36). In An Inch off the Ground, Nickol has concentrated on the way the narrator has been telling his wife the events that occurred in his life before they got married (Nickol 81). The narrator is determined to capture all the events in a flashback mechanism to ensure that he informs his wife how he used to live his life. The concentration of this dialogue is based on the determination of the narrator to reflect events regarding his reckless life and the interactions with his father. In the same regard, Knotted also has instances of a storytelling mechanism. Leslie is compelled to narrate to Jennifer how he began his golfing activities and though he is hesitant, this triggers him to flash back and let the audience be aware of the events that transpired earlier on (Shaw, Kelly and Semler 39; Nickol 34). This is a story that has to target the prospect of refreshing Leslie’s memories to help him recollect the events in his life and understand the manner in which he used to live. The use of dialogue helps the readers to better understand the characters as well as understand the plot development of the story. In addition, Headrick indicates that storytelling helps to facilitate character development and also ensures that the subject matter is communicated and understood by the audience (51).

In the two stories, Nickol has demonstrated that dialogues based on the past events that qualify to be termed as flashback are critical aspects when it comes to understanding the characters properly. The understanding of the use of such dialogues and flashbacks is to ensure that there is a clear background understanding of the characters and the determination of the author to facilitate the understanding of the stories (Peer 13).

In summary, the use of stylistic devices by authors in story telling is one of the key features that make a story more interesting. Besides making the story very interesting, stylistic devices play a role in understanding the key intentions of the writer. As for the case of Nickol, the use of stylistic devices has enabled us to understand his view about alcoholism and living a reckless live. As seen above, there are numerous literary analysis components that have been used to ensure that the messages are passed across in an elaborate and satisfactory manner. In this context, the motivation is to ensure that there is a comparative literary analysis that is meant to examine various similar threads that are observed in the two stories.

Works Cited

  1. Gardiner, Michael, Graeme Macdonald, and Niall O’Gallagher. Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature: Comparative Texts and Critical Perspectives. Edinburgh University Press, 2011.
  2. Headrick, Paul. The Wiley Guide to Writing Essays About Literature. Wiley Blackwell, 2014.
  3. Nickol, Ben. Where the Wind Can Find It. Queens Ferry Press, 2015.
  4. Peer, Willie . The Quality of Literature: Linguistic Studies in Literary Evaluation. John Benjamins Pub, 2008.
  5. Probst, Robert E. Response & Analysis: Teaching Literature in Secondary School. Heinemann, 2004.
  6. Shaw, Jan, Philippa Kelly, and L E. Semler. Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches., 2013.
Cite this page

The Use of Stylistic Devices in Knotted and An Inch Off the Ground by Ben Nickol. (2021, Sep 27). Retrieved from

The Use of Stylistic Devices in Knotted and An Inch Off the Ground by Ben Nickol

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