Style of writing

The language of Charles Higson’s short story “The Red Line” features changes in style and tone as the narrative switch between each character's perspective. For example, the unnamed man uses slang and expletives: “So bloody superior. So fucking smug.” (p. 69, ll. 23-24).

The author generally uses long and medium sentences, which help provide readers with many details. Short and fragmented sentences emphasise certain ideas and build tension in the story: “He was dark-skinned, the man, with thick black hair. Dark eyes.” (p. 68, l. 19); “She was too far from the curly-haired man in the red shoes. Past the glass wall. Out in the open.” (p. 71, ll. 29-30)

The story relies almost entirely on narration, as the narrator renders the characters’ thoughts through free indirect speech, which is not distinguished from the narration: “She turned towards the down-escalator and then a thought struck her. What if there was a man on the platform? What if she had to wait there with him?” (p. 72, ll. 11-13)

The only direct line of dialogue in the story is Berto’s, when he approaches the killer: “Scusi”(p. 73, l. 5). Besides this example, also note that Denise’s thoughts are distinguished from the narration through the use of italics, when she is speaking to herself: “Jesus Christ, Denise, she said to herself. It’s finally happened. You’ve lost it.” (p. 72, ll. 24-25)

Words or phrases with negative connotations are most noticeable in the story, as they convey each character’s mental distress: “He could talk to nobody.” (p. 65, l. 9); “drunks, drug addicts, girls with dirty hair” (p. 66, l. 22); “The look of a hunter. Cold, superior, in charge.” (p. 69, l. 4), etc.

In contrast, the use of words with positive connotations help suggest the killer’s ob...

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