This paper analyses Ann Petry’s passage “The Street” and the use of the stylistic devices to describe an urban setting. Ann Petry’s use of imagery, detail, and figurative language helps establish Lutie Johnson’s to the urban setting as someone in search of a place to stay on 116th street. Imagery, detail, and figurative language also describe the state of the town. The discussion below gives and the understanding of the poem and how it helps to establish a town setting.
The passage begins with a description of “cold November wind” responsible for spending most people indoors. The wind rattled the garbage cans and sucked window shades. This initial use of imagery service to establish the setting of the passage of which Lutie Johnson is part of. Also, the mention of theatre throwaways and lodge meetings papers which are predominantly with the urban setting help to establish the setting as an urban centre. The images of these papers help to establish the setting. In the poem the images of the house that Lutie is looking for, “… the original coat of white paint was streaked…” as well establishes the state of the houses at that place. Which would probably mean that it had other tenants, therefore; it’s the current state. The imagery gives the passage a sense of place which is important to Lutie’s relationship with the setting.
Furthermore on in the passage, Petry uses a selection of detail to give it the urban setting. The wind continues to be a force to be reckoned with as it found scrap paper and sent it dancing. Petry describes multiple types of paper from announcements of heavy wax paper. These particular details enhance the urban setting. Petry also takes care to describe the battle between the wind and the pedestrians. The wind lifted dirt into their noses, “wrapped in the newspaper around their feet”. And “…grabbed their hats…” Through the selection of detail, Petry further establishes the urban setting and those in it. The description of the room and the details about it help to establish the setting. The apartment is said to be “three rooms, steam heat, parquet floors, respectable tenants and reasonable.” All these details described apartments for hire which are common in the urban setting. The details serve as a comparison to Lutie Johnson and they help to advance the urban setting.
Through the passage, Petry makes use of figurative language most notably personification. Petry gives wind the ability to assault, fine grab, and pry. Theses human-like qualities transform the “cold November wind” into an antagonist for Lutie and the other pedestrians that deal with it. By giving Lutie an element that a post her. The wind is also given the human attribute of discouraging. It is only humans that can discourage other people. In the passage, “it did everything to discourage people from walking along the street” this statement asserts personification and also solidifies an urban setting as streets are commonly in urban centres. Petry further established duties relating to the urban setting. As Lutie attempted to redesign, the wind made it nearly impossible. Even the simplest of tasks was made difficult. By personifying wind, Petry solidifies Lutie’s relationship to the setting.
In conclusion, through the use of imagery, selection of detail and figurative language, Petry establishes Lutie Johnson’s relationship to the urban setting, that of a pedestrian searching for a place to stay. The three devices help to identify the setting of the passage. They give details which describe actions, events and the setting of an urban centre. Petry succeeds to establish the setting of the passage through imagery, selection of detail, and figurative language.
“The Street” Questions.
Break down the prompt into 4 questions:
What is the setting of the passage?
How does imagery achieve to establish the setting in the passage?
How does the selection of detail achieve to establish the setting in the passage?
In which way does figurative language help to achieve setting in the passage?
What is happening in the passage?
Lutie Johnson is on a house hunt and the wind is disturbing her and the pedestrians that all walking through the streets going for their daily errands.
What is the “it” that paragraph 2 refers to?
It refers to the wind. Later in that paragraph, we get a mention of wind blowing the papers high in the air and they ‘dance’ in the air.
Give two examples of personification and why they are significant?
The wind is personified as discouraging people. it is a human attribute to discourage therefore; the wind is personified. This is important since it helps to determine the reaction of people and what people feel about it.
The wind is also personified as having a hand which it uses to lift Lutie’s hair. This attribute helps to describe the mood of the people towards the wind.
Give two examples of imagery and why they are significant?
The description of papers on the streets such as lodging meetings and theatre throwaways help to create mental images of the setting is described.
The description of the houses and the fact that now the iron is exposed as rusting reveals the state of the people and the town.
Give 2 examples of details and why they are significant?
The description of different types of paper that is wax paper and other papers help to reveal the activities of the place described in the village.
The apartment description as; three rooms, steam heat reveal the status of the people that stay in the place.
What kind of a person is Lutie Johnson in the passage?
A tenant who is in search of a place to stay.
What does Lutie Johnson realize by the end of the passage?
She realizes that she has found a place that she was looking for and it is reasonable according to her.
What is Lutie johnson’s relationship with the urban setting?
A sincere relationship since she likes to stay in the urban setting which offers what she exactly wants. She goes in search of a three-room apartment.
Why is this relationship significant?
The relationship helps us to establish her choice of place to stay.