Figures of Speech in “Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett
Modern literature is presented by a great number of different works of various genres. Every genre is particular and has its own peculiarities. These peculiarities consist in the usage of different figures of speech that make the language of the work more exciting, bright and convincing. Such figures of speech are common for all pieces of work and due to them we appreciate literature in general.
One of the works depicted in this paper is criminal novel Red Harvest written by Dashiell Hammett. Needless to say, that Hammett can be called one of the most famous representatives of American literature of the XX century. The works of this author has a great influence on crime fiction and American culture in general. Red Harvest is one of the brightest examples of the works which attract readers’ attention by its interesting plot, ideas and variety of figures of speech. As usual the works of such criminal fiction is full of hyperboles in order to enforce the effect of certain events. This novel depicts mainly overwhelming idea of society. In his suitably cynical portrayal of Poisonville, the author uses simplified language sometimes with hyperboles in order to display the situation that is widespread in America throughout this period that is famous for the development of crimes, domination of big business over the politics, constant lie and cheat of the citizens.
I have got hard skin all over what’s left on my soul, And after twenty years of messing around with crime I can look at any sort of a murder without seeing anything in it but my bread and butter…(Hammett 137)
In this very abstract the word combination “hard skin” is an allegory and means that criminal situation is so usual and habitual for the hero, that he takes it for granted.
One more book that is worth discussing is Death Man Walking by Helen Prejean. This story also contains some figures of speech in order to affect the reader and demonstrate the depth of the problems touched upon in the book. This book is the so-called demanding explanation of the author’s participation in the activism against the death penalty. it is also written in simple and understandable language as if it is a personal story of Prejean. This book depicts the situation in most American cities, when people were suffering from crimes and violence. “The scene in Hope House with mothers from Helen’s community conveying their experiences with violence and the loss of loved ones intercut with the execution worked really well” (Prejean 168). In this abstract we also can observe the usage of allegory, Hope House, used by the author to describe the place where people try to find safety. Another book under discussion is Sisters of Saint Joseph written by Sister Helen Angela Hurley. This book has a religious theme and provides the readers with the detailed information about the history of the area where the sisters conduct their work. This book is written in a simple language, completely understandable that helps to show love for God that sisters try to demonstrate. ” Our little design and the persons who compose it ought not to live for themselves, but be entirely immolated for God” ( Hurley 7). “Immolated for God” is some sort of hyperbole used to demonstrates the immense love or God.
So, due to the figures of speech we can completely understand the main ideas of the book and the author’s intentions. The books described above contain agreat number of such figures and probably this is the reason of their popularity and interest among the readers.
Hammett, Dashiell. Complete Novels: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, and The Thin Man. New York: Library of America, 2000.
Hurley, Sister Helena Angela. On Good Ground: The Story of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. USA: Univ of Minnesota Press, 2000.
Prejean, Helen. Dead Man Walking. California: Newmarket Press, 2010.