Prose Analysis Of Ann Petry's The Street

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Prose Analysis Essay
In Ann Petry’s The Street, the urban setting is portrayed as harsh and unforgiving to most. Lutie Johnson, however, finds the setting agreeable and rises to challenges posed by the city in order to achieve her goals. Petry portrays this relationship through personification, extended metaphor, and imagery.
The excerpt begins with Petry introducing the wind as a main antagonist through the careful use of personification. The cold wind “[drives] most of the people off the street”, “set[s] a barrage of paper swirl[ing] into the faces of people”, and even “make[s] it difficult to breathe.” These unpleasant and abrasive acts of the wind succeed in their goal of discouraging the residents of the city. They respond with frustration
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This differs greatly from Lutie Johnson’s interaction with the wind. The verbs used to personify the wind’s nature towards Lutie are more tender and sympathetic; the wind “touch[es]” and “explor[es]” Lutie rather than “[grabbing]” and “entangl[ing]” her as it does others. This indicates that the relationship between the wind and Lutie is more pleasant and allows her to be productive in her tasks for the day. Though the wind tests her by pushing the sign Lutie is attempting to read back and forth, Lutie is not deterred like the other people in the story. Instead of responding with irritation, she remains persistent, and eventually the wind relents, “hold[ing] [the sign] still for an instant in front of her”, and allowing her to read it. The wind thus acts as an extended metaphor for the challenges of the urban setting. These trials push down the majority of the populace down since they cannot…show more content…
Vivid descriptions of the wind such as its’ “rattl[ing] the tops of garbage cans”, “dirt and dust and grime”, and “grit sting[ing] skins” create a sense of chaos that is common in the busy hustle of city life. The cold wind also “violent[ly] assault[s]” the residents of the city, allowing the reader to envision the truly excruciating and harrowing journey people in the urban setting must make regularly. Additionally, asyndeton is utilized masterfully throughout the passage to demonstrate the disarray caused by the wind. The wind finds “theater throwaways, announcements of dances and lodge meetings, the heavy waxed paper that loaves of bread had been wrapped in, the thinner waxed paper that enclosed sandwiches, old envelopes, newspapers.” This extensive list without the use of conjunctions speeds up the reading allowing a fast pace similar to the rapid attacks of the wind, enabling the reader to visualize the onslaught on the citizens. Lutie, however, cooperates with the wind, reading the sign swiftly: “three rooms, steam heat, parquet floors, respectable tenants.” Asyndeton in Lutie’s case shows how she skillfully works with the wind to study the hanging notice.
Literary devices such as personification, extended metaphor, imagery, and asyndeton show how Lutie masters the skills she will need in order to survive the challenges the big city, despite the hindrance
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