What has happened to the family in who once occupied the house? How do you know?
Explain 3 ways that the family had used technology to make their lives easier. For each, find a quote to support your idea.
What happens at the end of the story?
Study of literary techniques
The author uses imagery of emptiness to make a point. Read the PEC paragraph below:
P: In the story, the author uses imagery to create a sense of loneliness.
E: An example of this imagery is in the line “The empty chairs faced each other between the silent walls”.
C: In this example, the absence of people, symbolised by the empty chairs, creates a poignant image and reinforces the fact that humanity has been destroyed. The use of the word “silent” creates an eerie atmosphere, reminiscent of a ghost story – and indeed, the people have become ghosts.
Note how the (C)omment and further analysis of the image and the words used, is much longer than the P and E!
Now, create your own PEC paragraph based on imagery of emptiness. Find another quote and COMMENT upon it.
Highlight the onomatopoeia in each of the lines below.
“the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh”
“They thudded against chairs, whirling their mustached runners…”
“Behind it whirred angry mice…”
Identify two further uses of onomatopoeia from the story.
Read the PEC paragraph below: Throughout the story, the author uses imagery to suggest destruction, first of the people, and then of their “monument to technology”, the house. At the end of the story, both are destroyed. The author uses a simile the line “Deep freeze, armchair, film tapes, circuits, beds and all like skeletons thrown in a cluttered mound deep under”. In this line, the author first lists many conveniences associated with humans – armchairs, beds etc – and then, by comparing them to skeletons, shows how they have met their destruction, and finally lie abandoned to their disorder. It is ironic that the humans in the story tried so hard to manipulate and control their environment, yet in the final analysis, their legacy is reduced to a “cluttered mound”.
In the paragraph above, identify each of the elements of PEC. Use a different colour to highlight each feature.
Use PEC to analyse the metaphors or similes below. For each, say what technique is being used, explain what two things are being compared, explain the effect of the comparison and suggest a reason for the comparison.
“The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants…”
“an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in a dark corner.”
“At four o’clock the tables folded like great butterflies back through the paneled walls.”
In the last part of the story, both the house and the fire are personified (given human attributes). Identify a line for each which captures the personification. Explain how it works using PEC.
“A subtle perception of inconsistency in which an apparently straight-forward statement or event is undermined by its context so as to give it a very different significance”.
Explain the irony in the following lines:
“It was the children’s hour”.
“The beds warmed their hidden circuits, for the nights were cool here.”
Write a paragraph in which you explain what you think is the main message in the story, and how you think the author has tried to achieve his message.