The choice of words in “Lightbox” by Emma Cleary is related to city life, modern technologies, and human interactions (relationships).
Dialogue is missing from the text which only includes a few direct quotations. The lack of dialogue is important for the story’s structure, as it functions as a hint at the story’s real plot—that the narrator is stalking Elsie.
Most of the story is conveyed in the narrative mode, describing Elsie’s actions from the narrator’s perspective. Occasionally, the narrator seems to address readers directly, a technique that helps create a connection between them:
…I think to myself, Elsie, keep something back for just us, you know? I notice the time and realise she’s changing for yoga class. I’m not really in the mood to go today. When I go I feel kind of self-conscious, if you want the truth... (ll. 22-24)
As the text is very descriptive, you can identify multiple instances of imagery, passages that help form a mental image of the action, the setting, and the characters, such as in the opening lines:
To suggest the narrator’s frustration with Elsie liking bearded men, he compares them with cartoon lumberjacks: “the perfect man for Elsie looks like a cartoon lumberjack” (l. 10).
In another instance, the narrator personifies Elsie’s flowers and compares them with people chatting:
Three similar metaphors are used to describe flats with big windows that allow the narrator to spy on people’s lives: “high-rise boxes” (l. 12), “boxes of light” (l. 31), and “individual lightboxes” (l. 80).
These metaphors convey the idea that the narrator views these spaces as confining and revealing at the same time.
A few rhetorical questions help convey the narrator’s thoughts and frustrations, and they function as rhetorical devices that engage the readers: