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Conflict within My Life & Hard Times (Ch. 5-9). By Jero R., Ryan C., Axel C. & Vivian Y. September 9, 2014. Thesis.

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conflict within my life hard times ch 5 9

Conflict within My Life & Hard Times (Ch. 5-9)

By Jero R., Ryan C., Axel C. & Vivian Y.

September 9, 2014



In chapters 5-9 of My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber employs a variety of rhetorical devices to exaggerate seemingly insignificant conflicts with authority figures and his family into larger affairs, to make humor of otherwise melancholy events during his life.

what is conflict
What is conflict?
  • Tension between ideas, characters, or places.
  • There is internal and external conflict.
  • Relates to other literary elements to communicate an idea.
  • Chapter 7: “a big burly choleric dog” (55)
  • Chapter 8: “The professor had come back from vacation brown as a berry, bright-eyed, and eager...” (65)
  • Chapter 8: “had to spend several hours a week… looking through a microscope at plant cells, and I could never see through a microscope. I never once saw a cell through a microscope” (64)
anaphora cont
Anaphora (cont.)
  • Chapter 9: “I couldn\'t get into the army on account of my sight, just as grandfather couldn\'t get in on account of his age.” (73)
  • Chapter 9: “I didn’t want to, but I was afraid that he would think I was afraid…” (83)
  • Chapter 5: “...smiling in a faint, strained way which I understand now—but didn’t then—was meant to humor me” (44).
  • Chapter 6: “She kept shouting something from Shakespeare after the shooting—I forget just what—and pursued the gentleman downstairs from her attic room” (46).
caesura cont
Caesura (cont.)
  • Chapter 7: “My mother had never liked the Congressman—she said the signs of his horoscope showed he couldn\'t be trusted (he was Saturn with the moon in Virgo)” (56)
  • Chapter 9: “Pulling too savagely on the guiding-bar—to teach the electric a lesson—was what took him around in a circle. “ (76)
  • Chapter 5: “He was a tall, mildly nervous, peaceable gentleman...” (43).
  • Chapter 8: “vivid, restless clockwork of sharply defined plant cells” (65)
diction cont
Diction (cont.)
  • Chapter 8: “...keeping his eyes on them narrowly before he let go with the swatter” (73).
  • Chapter 9: “I was awakened by the sound of bells ringing and whistles blowing.” (84)
  • Chapter 5: “If you have ever lain awake at night and repeated one word over and over, thousands of millions and hundreds of thousands of millions of times, you know the disturbing mental state you can get into.” (43)
hyperbole cont
Hyperbole (cont.)
  • Chapter 7: “He gave me more trouble than all the other 54 or 55 put together.” (54)
  • Chapter 9: “It is the reason that I shout in my sleep, refuse to ride the elevated, keep jerking the emergency brake in cars other people are driving, have the sensation of flying like a bird when I first lie down, and in certain months can’t keep anything on my stomach.” (83)
  • Chapter 8: “‘Choo-choo-choo’” (67), “Ding, dong, ding, dong… Chuffa chuffa, chuffa chuffa” (68)
  • Chapter 9: “But it was too late to get out; we had begun to climb, clickety-clockety…” (83)
  • Chapter 7: “ mother’s Uncle Horatio was spluterringly indignant when he found out that we fed the dog on a table because we were afraid to put his plate on the floor.” (60)
  • Chapter 6: “Mrs. Doody, a huge middle-aged women with a religious taint, came into and went out of our house like a comet.” (50)
  • Chapter 8: “for while he [Bolenciecwcz] was not dumber than an ox he was not any smarter” (67)
simile cont
Simile (cont.)
  • Chapter 8: “that [journalism] would be very much like falling back full-length on a kit of carpenter’s tools” (70)
  • Chapter 5: “I began to suspect that one might lose one’s mind over some trivial mental tic as a futile search for terra firma Piggly Wiggly Gongonzola Prester John Arc De Triomphe Holy Moses Lares and Penates” (43).
  • Chapter 7: “Mother examined the bite and told Mrs. Detweiler that it was only a bruise. ‘He just bumped you.’” (60)

Chapter 7: “Muggs went up the backstairs and down the front-stairs and had me cornered in the living room. I managed to get up onto the mantelpiece above the fireplace, but it gave way and came down with a tremendous crash throwing a large marble clock, several vases, and myself heavily to the floor.” (58)

work cited
Work Cited

Thurber, James. My Life and Hard Times. New York: Perennial

Classics, 1999. Print.