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How Does The Author Of The Queen Of Palmyra Communicate Her Ideas And With What Effect On The Reader?

1144 words - 5 pages

Throughout her novel The Queen of Palmyra Minrose Gwin incorporates foreshadowing to intrigue the reader of Florence Forrest’s gripping story exploring racism and interpretation of identity. Upon reading the daily newspaper Florence learns that a new brown spider had been discovered by a young girl which is symbolically noted, “to be more dangerous because it’s lighter in colour and harder to spot.” This foreshadows the unforeseen revelation of the Florence’s father, Winburn’s involvement in the notorious Ku Klux Klan as the Nighthawk. Similarly Florence’s mother Martha cryptically tells Florence that her famous, “devil's food (cake) with angel icing should be a lesson to (her) about how ...view middle of the document...

It is clear that Gwin has used foreshadowing to keep the reader riveted in order to explore the key themes identity and racism.

In a time of violent segregation, Gwin uses setting and historical allusions to immerse the reader into Millwood, a typical southern town of the 1960s in order to consider the racism that defines it. With respect to setting, the race boundaries that divide Millwood are made clear as Gwin explains, “Shake Rag on the south side of the color line.” The importance of this division is made more so by Winburn’s rules preventing his wife and daughter from entering the region, a rule, “Mama was intent on breaking.” Moreover when Florence is sent away to camp she and her grandmother, Mimi await her departure in a room with sign, “Waiting Room. White. Interstate Passengers,” further illustrating the extremities of race division. Similarly by referring to well publicised historic events it becomes much easier for the reader to imagine the story as it may be built from previous knowledge. An example of this is Florence’s father involvement in the infamous Ku Klux Klan as Nighthawk, “You could almost hear people saying to themselves, “That’s him.”” This works to heighten the readers fear for Florence’s wellbeing when in his company. Likewise the shock of Eva’s brutal death is put into perspective as one of the many murderous crimes the KKK commit by mentioning Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist whom like Eva was killed in cold blood, “in broad daylight.” Furthermore notable figures the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and the mass of freedom riders are mentioned in passing adding to the depth of the narrative. Lastly readers that have studied the opposing ideas of integration and nature of the Jim Crow laws would have been able to apply this knowledge to greater understand the conflicts that arise. Together the use of setting and historical allusions works to captivate the reader as the fiction they are reading is not entirely so.

Gwin uses the motif of storytelling to delve into the thoughts of her characters and explore the complexities of identity. Protagonist Florence whilst learning to read in preparation to return to school draws parallels between the stories her loved ones read and their subliminal nature as well as...

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