In a competition between man and nature, nature more often claims victory. Pitted against tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, nothing man made is permanent. In an excerpt taken from Ann Petry’s novel, The Street, the main character Lutie Johnson is antagonized by the tumultuous winds that inhabit the town, along with the frigid cold. Using such literary elements as dark imagery, descriptive selection to detail and appalling personification, Petry successfully captures Johnson’s relationship with the urban setting.
Imagery plays an important role in portraying the antagonistic relationship between the Johnson and the wind by allowing the reader to visualize Johnson’s fierce struggle to find a home. Petry starts with “November” and immediately conveys a sense of hopelessness. November is when the last of the leaves fall to the ground and the image of barren trees at dusk fill the mind. This bleak scene represents Johnson’s seemingly hopeless opposition to the wind. Every time “she thought she had the sign in focus, the wind pushed it away from her. She has very little hope in overcoming it as evidenced through her futile attempts to read the sign as it is tossed around. In addition, Petry draws on the “dark red stain like blood” and “chicken bones” to paint a grave image of death. Capturing the chaos and mayhem caused by the wind, Petry describes the “bits of paper [that are sent] dancing high in the air. ” To list all of the different types of paper being blown about demonstrates the wind’s raw power. It is able to move along anything lying on the street.
However, the antagonistic relationship would not be complete if Johnson simply resigned. Her resolution to acquire a home is the most prevailing example of her resistance to the authority of the wind. While the wind “drove most of the people off the street,” Johnson continued to try to find a house. Along with imagery, Petry uses personification to clarify the relationship between Johnson and the urban setting. Figurative language also helps to bolster the idea of the menacing wind.
A simile can be found on line 33: “…and the metal had slowly rusted, making a dark red stain like blood. ” Personification plays a vital role in this excerpt. In this passage, the cold November wind is personified as an abusive, forceful man who does as he pleases with an obdurate disregard of the emotions and feelings of those subject to his actions and influences. The first example within the passage that supports this assertion can be found in line 5, when the wind’s merciless barrage is portrayed by the narrator as a “violent assault. ” Petry takes…