Style of writing

The language used in “Killing Child at Zoo” by Bret Easton Ellis is mainly formal in the narration, with complex words and expressive descriptions that indicate that Patrick is well-educated: “Unable to maintain a credible public persona, I find myself roaming the zoo in Central Park, restlessly.” (p. 178, ll. 12-13). The formal style also conveys Patrick’s detachment from his own emotions and actions, as it makes him seem like an outside observer: “my sudden lack of care crests in a massive wave of fury and I pull the knife out of my pocket and I stab him quickly, in the neck.” (p. 180, ll. 3-4). The narrator sometimes adopts an informal style, suggested by contractions and derogatory slang such as “nigger” (p. 179, l. 5) and “faggots” (p. 179, l. 8). These words express the narrator’s prejudice and lack of empathy.

The story is written in the present tense, even though the text sometimes suggests that Patrick could be describing the events sometime after they happened: “there’s this weird kind of tension, a bizarre pressure, that fuels the following, which starts, happens, ends, very quickly.” (p. 179, ll. 24-26). The use of the present tense could suggest that Patrick is presenting the events vividly not because the murder had an impact on him but because his state of ext...

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