In Cormac McCarthy s novel The Crossing, there is a dramatic sequence described by the narrator. The author uses many different techniques to convey the impact of the experience on the narrator. Some of these such techniques are: repetition, diction, and simile.
Of the aforementioned techniques, the most obvious is repetition. The author uses the word and a total of thirty-three times. However, the simple usage of the word is not what is to be noticed. It is the placement of the word that is interesting. In sentences in which there is mention of the wolf, the word and is used twenty times. This amount is 150% higher than the amount of times the author chose to include the word and in sentences which did not mention the wolf. There are times in which it would be just as
easy, if not easier, for the author to leave out the word and . For example, McCormac could have said: he touched the cold, perfect teeth . However, and was again squeezed in for the purpose of repetition. A possible reason for this is that the author wanted to give the reader the same feeling the narrator had: one of total mental exasperation and exhaustion. When discussing the wolf, the author uses run-ons to string together ideas in much the same way a person under intense mental or emotional stress would. Also, the repetition of the word and mimics a child. The failure to pause to form the sentences
correctly gives the impression of a child telling a story; not so much worried about the grammatical structure, but more focused on the matter at hand. This immature and juvenile form of writing conveys the narrators loose presence of mind at this time.
Diction is also an important literary technique that McCormac uses to communicate the impact of the experience on the narrator. In the opening sentence of this excerpt, the author uses words such as talus and escarpments . While words such as rocky and cliffs would have sufficed on the elementary level, they do not fully convey the mood. The author purposely uses these words to trip up the reader. The words are not exactly commonplace in most average vocabularies, so the presence of them causes the reader to
slighter falter. It s a possibility that the reader would put the book down and retrieve a dictionary. This stumbling on the reader s part coincides with the narrators stumbling. McCormac had the reader tripping on words at the exact moment that the narrator is tripping on talus slides. This adds to the reader s understanding of the narrator s arduous task.
A final technique used by McCormac to convey the narrator s experience is simile. By comparing the narrator to a dozing penitent , the author gives the impression that the narrator is sorry for what has happened. Simile is also used later on in the story. Where she ran the cries of the coyotes slapped shut as if a door had closed upon them and all was fear and marvel. This simile suggests that the wolf had the power to silence other creatures just with her presence. This is possibly a metaphor and simile in coexistence.
The simile gives the reader some idea as to what kind of power the wolf possessed. Metaphorically speaking, the author may have been referring to God. Fear and marvel are not uncommon terms when discussing God. The conduction of simile and metaphor fully communicates to the reader the kind of love and admiration the narrator felt for the wolf.
In conclusion, McCormac uses many literary techniques to convey to the reader the impact of the experience on the narrator. By the end of this short passage, the reader feels somehow attuned to the narrators anguish and feels a sense of sympathy as well as a sense of loss.