Style of language

In the short story “We Can’t Be Good at Everything” by Emma Sloley, the tone is sometimes sarcastic, reflecting Miles’s bitterness. For instance: “the boy’s father, Miles Warden, has only agreed to host the party because it offers the rare occasion to be in the presence of a celebrity: his own mother: Fenella Warden” (ll. 5-6). The statement is somewhat humorous in a bitter, ironic way, and points to the complex relationship between Miles and his mother. 

The same bitter sarcasm is later reflected in the dialogue in one of Miles’s remarks to Fenella: “ ‘Oh cool, that’s so nice you didn’t feel guilty. But sometimes I would have liked to have had two parents, you know?’ ” (ll. 119-120). This suggests that Miles hides his resentment towards Fenella by using irony and humor as a coping mechanism.

The choice of words is mainly negative, suggesting abandonment and disappointment, such as: “inexplicable sorrows” (l. 4), “worried all the time” (l. 17), “illusion” (l. 26), “inconsolable” (l. 53).

Metaphors and similes

Fenella is said to have “bright dark bird’s eyes” (l. 34). This metaphor might suggest Miles’s impression of her as “flighty”, just like a bird will quickly fly away. This is strengthened by the fact that at some other point in the story, he expects her to go bac...

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