What Narrative Techniques Does Powers Use To Emphasise The Power Of War In 'yellow Birds'?

1098 words - 5 pages

Powers uses an array of narrative techniques such as imagery, personification, alliteration and varying sentence structure to emphasize the power of war from the first sentence on page three to "We stayed awake on amphetamines and fear," on page five.
Powers personifies war throughout the first page and extends it to the next, this is an example of a semantic field. For instance "the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer" and "the war fasted, fed by it's own deprivation." This emphasises the power of war because and gives it a body, a shape, "war" is no longer just an occurence or situation, it is a being. In addition Powers uses anaphora with his constant repetition of "The war" in linked clauses creating a powerful, pulsing effect. The first line: "The war tried to kill us in the spring" highlights the power of war because the sentence is so short and without embellishment; Powers states the fact plainly, making it clear to the reader that there is no doubt war is brutal and murderous. The sentence "The war had killed thousands by September" is also short and unfeeling. Powers offers no opinion or emotive language, he does not attempt to save the reader from facing the true horrors of war. Also in the first line Powers juxtaposes death with "spring" the season of new life; emphasising that no good force can hinder war, it is merciless, unstoppable and very powerful.
Then, in the sentence immediately after, Powers is describing Al Tafar in summer in a soft tone with longer sentences flowing into each other, which quickly makes the war a personal one i.e "me and Murph". This language contrasts with the sentence before, making the first line even more arresting and intensifies the beauty of the season that the war is crushing. In terms of structure the use of the hyphen in the adjective "low-slung" makes the sentence very casual and the word rolls off the tongue. He uses alliteration; for instance "grass greened" and "weather warmed" to emphasize the colour and warmth and thus creates imagery. He also uses the verb "kneading" to describe how the soldiers travelled through the growth. He uses this verb instead of 'cutting' or 'slicing' because "kneading" is like massaging, it is gentle and controlled and Powers wants to create a calm atmosphere so he is able to make an obvious contrast with the description of the violent, all-consuming war and make war seem very powerful in comparison to nature.
The war is described as unsleeping and relentless in the following; "while we slept, the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer." By personifying war and with the word "prayer" war appears as a slave to death, never resting , it is always chasing and consuming all in its path. Additionally the words "thousand ribs" create an image of war's body as skeletal and wracked, this interpretation resurfaces again in the line "While we ate, the war fasted fed by its own deprivation." Powers describes war with only one...

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