University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Diction, Syntax and Imagery
Have you ever listened to a young child talk? I mean really listened? They don’t sound like a teenager or an adult, do they? In Eleven, Sandra Cisneros uses different techniques to help Rachel’s age come out in her speech and thoughts. Diction, syntax and imagery help the reader to better interpret Rachel’s youthful thoughts and feelings.
Sandra’s use of diction helps the reader understand how Rachel is feeling when she is accused of the sweater belonging to her. “…She sees I’ve shoved the red sweater to the tippy-tip corner of my desk…all over the edge like a waterfall…” (Cisneros 20) Not many adults would say “tippy-tip”, so the use of the phrase helps get Rachel’s point across. Rachel’s youthful tone is shown through this choice of words. “…The sweater is still sitting there like a big red mountain…not mine, not mine, not mine.” Cisneros’s use of repetition here helps show how upset Rachel actually is. This helps show the youthful tone in her sadness. The use of diction throughout the story helps the reader comprehend Rachel’s sadness and embarrassment when the sweater is put onto her desk.
The use of syntax in Eleven helps you see the youthful voice in Rachel’s thoughts. “Not mine, not mine, not mine, not mine.” (Cisneros 20) The short, repetitiveness shows the quick thinking of a child. It’s easy to see this small argumentative line coming from an eleven year old in comparison to a fifteen year old or a thirty year old even. “ – Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one -…” (Cisneros 20) The continuous counting could be seen as a child counting down on its fingers. This is a way of showing the youthfulness in Rachel’s thoughts. Sandra Cisneros’s uses of syntax make it easier for you to notice Rachel’s youthfulness throughout the story.
Sandra’s use of imagery also helps you see the youthful tone throughout Eleven. “My face all hot and spit coming out of my mouth because I can’t stop the little animal noises from coming out of my mouth…” (Cisneros 21) This example from the text makes it easy to picture a young girl being this flustered. It makes it makes it easier to see Rachel sitting there becoming more and more overwhelmed and upset. “…And it’s hanging all over the edge like a waterfall, but I don’t care.” (Cisneros 20) Cisneros’s use of imagery here helps the reader see just how far Rachel is going to prove that the sweater isn’t hers. It gives a more youthful vibe to the story with this use of imagery to help show the reader how she is feeling. There are several examples of imagery throughout Eleven that help show a more youthful tone.
Age is very important in stories, and how the author presents the age is important as well. Young children and adults have such different opinions and vocabularies and ideas. Using different techniques such as proper diction, syntax and imagery help define a characters youthful voice, and help the reader have a better understanding of what is going through a character’s mind.