Language

Choice of words

The language in the short story “Jerry and Molly and Sam” by Raymond Carver is informal. Since the narration follows the thought process of the story’s main character, it is filled with exclamations, such as “Sandy! Betty and Alex and Mary!” (p. 117, l. 37), and “Done! It would be done” (p. 120, l. 39). Both narration and dialogue also have examples of informal expressions, such as: “ ‘The sonaofabitch’ ” (p. 118, l. 35), or “Suzy the godamn dog!” (p. 117, ll. 36-37). These words help to convey the character’s frustration, as well as pointing to his social background and mode of speaking. 

Contracted words are also present, in examples such as: “he’d decide” (p. 116, l. 4), “she wouldn’t let him” (p. 122, l. 5), or “he’d never get over it” (p. 126, l. 14). These serve to convey a natural speech pattern and to capture Al’s voice in the narration. The narrator also uses italics to highlight some of the characters’ ideas in instances such as: “his face doughy, characterless – immoral, that was the word” (p. 125, l. 22), “ ‘that you scared him’ ” (p. 125, l. 15), or “It was time to do something” (p. 118, l. 2). Italics are also used to convey direct thoughts, such as: “My God, heart lurching, what have I done?” (p. 124, l. 9)

Negative words are used often, further highlighting the main character’s state of mind: “He felt…sluggish” (p. 119, l. 13), “the darkened end of the street” (p. 121, l. 22), or “his face doughy characterless  - immoral, that was the word” (p. 125, ll. 21-22). Positive words are used more rarely, mostly to create a contrast with Al’s current life: “happy, well-behaved reasonable children” (p. 120, ll. ...

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