Language

Choice of words

The style of writing and choice of words in the short story “Hall of Small Mammals” by Thomas Pierce is casual and informal. The narrator uses simple, short sentences: “I had to agree with the man. Seventy-two minutes was a lifetime. I checked my watch as we shuffled forward. The zoo would close its gates in two hours.” (ll. 84-85). The narrative and dialogue also use common expressions and idioms: “ ‘I can turn off the flash,’ he said, messing with his camera phone.” (l. 19). The narrator also uses contractions, conveying natural speech patterns, for instance: “I bet we won’t be able to get very close (l. 3) or “like he’d already forgotten me” (l. 331).

The narrator uses many negative words to express his disapproval of the other characters, his current situation, and even himself, which is evidence of his pessimistic outlook on life. As he watches the couple behind them in queue wipe themselves with wet napkins, he reflects that: “Watching them groom was exhausting. All of this was exhausting.” (ll. 37-38). He is bothered and irritated by the extent of Val’s interest in the Pippin Monkeys, as much as to confess: “Frankly, I didn’t want to hear any more about the godforsaken Pippins.” (ll. 45-46). One of the few times when the narrator ...

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