Language

Style of writing

Here, we will cover the part of the English A exam assignment from May 27th, 2019, which asks you to analyse the style of writing in lines 98-109 in the short story “The Other Daughter” by Joanne C. Hillhouse.

In these lines, the narrator recalls the first story she read out at college in Vermont, a fictionalised version of what happened the day when she and her mother went to the Prime Minister’s office. In this version of that day, Ruth, the narrator’s mother, sitting in front of the Prime Minister’s office, is able to stand up to several men who want to send her away.

The lines start with the narrator being in Vermont (ll. 98-99). The point of view then switches to telling the story: “In this version of the story, when the guard wouldn’t even look my mother in the face, she pulled out the collapsible chair” (ll. 100-101). The point of view then switches again to the story itself: “The man was tiny-tiny like a mosquito, and Mom was kick-ass like Storm” (l. 104)

The choice of words indicates an informal style of writing. Certain expletives and informal expressions are used, such as “kick-ass” (l. 104) or “fuck you” (l. 105). Contractions such as “wouldn’t”, “I’ll”, “didn’t”, etc. give the story authenticity and creates a sense of familiarity between readers and the narrator. Allusions to characters from popular culture such as "Storm or the Queen of Dragons" (l. 104) also contribute to the informal style. 

The language in lines 98-109 appears fragmented as comments, repetitions, and explanations are sometimes inserted in the middle of a sentence: “The first story I read out in a group up on the mountain in Vermont – a place of tall trees, endless rivers, and moose – was about my mother...

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