Choice of words

The language used in the short story “My Girl in Skin-Tight Jeans” by William Boyd helps to reveal the first-person narrator’s background, as well as his mental state. The style is articulate, even elaborate, using many adjectives and adverbs, suggesting that the narrator is educated and supporting his claim that he is “a great reader.” (p. 93, ll. 13-14).

The narrator imagines the girl being assaulted as if reading it from a sensationalist magazine: “I saw stubby stained fingers fondling corn-yellow hair, spectral tattooed arms circling her slim brown body, probing tongue between thick dabbing lips, young beards on soft skin.” (p. 99, ll. 2-6). He is also outraged, and his language is further reminiscent of an article in a scandal magazine: “I was sick with insane visions of the fabulous lusts of nightmare hooligans, terrible images of deviant sex dreams being foully realized out there on the lonely coast.” (p. 99, ll. 11-15)

The narrator explains why he never married, and the language he uses comes across as defensive: “I don’t want you to think that, because I have never married that there is any kind of…of a problem between me and the female sex” (p. 93, ll. 2-4). This sentence, aimed at convincing the reader that the narrator has no problem with women, serves the opposite purpose because of the hesitation suggested by the ellipsis. There is also the hyperbole in this phrase: “I could in fact have married any number of girls had I so chosen – but I didn’t choose to, so there it is” (p. 93, ll. 4-6). This makes us suspect that it is the narrator who was rejected by the girls, and his single status is not as much of a choice as he would have us believe. All these are also ...

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