Tokarczuk’s Unique Use of Literary Techniques

Two Literary techniques that Tokarczuk uses throughout the book is the capitalization and imagery. For my group’s presentation, I didn’t get to dive as deep into how powerful these two techniques are to the whole book but specifically in chapters one through six. Starting with capitalization, Tokarczuk uses the capitalization of unproper nouns to emphasize the ideas Janina brings to the books as well as to add value to the things Janina cares about most. For example, Tokarczuk capitalizes on almost every single animal when referred to in the book. Such as the deer head found in Big Foot’s home or Oddball’s dog. Tokarczuk capitalizes the names of animals to show the reader how Janina believes animals to be of equal importance to humans and to form a deeper connection between the readers and the animals in the story.  I think we usually feel that we should care more about humans than animals, but the use of capitalization sort of breaks that idea and makes us care more about them, as well as understand how much Janina values animals. In other instances when things are capitalized, the author wants us to really understand the importance of what’s happening and to notice when something is being emphasized. For example, at the beginning of chapter 5, Janina is yelling at these hunters to stop shooting the birds. She’s obviously extremely angry but with the use of capitalization, we can see her anger more clearly. At the bottom of page 63, it says “At that point I felt a surge or Anger, genuine, not to say Divine Anger.” Anger being capitalized really emphasized how strong that anger is. In this sentence, Janina is saying that she didn’t feel “Divine Anger, but regular anger. The capitalization of Divine, again emphasizes how strong of a feeling Divine Anger would be and helps readers see the rage through her eyes.

Another style of writing seen in the book is imagery. In the scene where Janina and Oddball are in Big Foot’s house after discovering his body, it says “There we stood in the cold damp room, in the frosty vacuum prevailing at this dull, gray time of night…” Now obviously no author would describe the room by simply stating that it is cold. But the amount of details in Tokarczuk’s writing truly makes you feel like you’re there. You can feel the cold, you can feel the heaviness of what’s happening. We like to associate bad things and death with coldness and grayness so I feel like her imagery there really helped emphasize the gravity of the situation. The second example of imagery is from a passage we’ve kind of already talked about and it’s on page 65. Janina is describing her ailments and she says “ There’s no hiding from this pain, there are no pills or injections for it. It must hurt, just as a river must flow and fire must burn. It spitefully reminds me that I consist of physical particles, which are slipping away by the second. Perhaps one could get used to it? Learn to live with it, just as people live in the cities of Auschwitz. or Hiroshima, without ever thinking about what happened there in the past. They simply live their lives.” Comparing her pain to the two cities was an interesting use of imagery. She’s saying that the atrocities that have occurred there don’t stop people from continuing to live their lives in peace and that even though she’s in pain, she should also be able to live her life in peace. When she says “it must hurt, just as a river must flow and a fire must burn”, it goes along with the point that things keep moving and going and you have to keep moving with the times and through your pain. The imagery was really specific and detailed to where you know exactly what her mindset is and you understand because the readers know these cities and their history, just like we know a river flows and fire burns. So her imagery really helped convey Janina’s pain. Tokarczuk’s use of capitalization and imagery truly makes for a detailed and unique read.

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