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Style and technique


Crichton Smith described the style of the novel as "simple and almost transparent".

This is appropriate as Mrs Scott has led a simple existence and has a rather naive outlook on life.

  • She interprets the remarks of Patrick Sellar in a simple manner:

    ""I came to tell you that you’ll have to leave the house.""

    "Of course the words didn’t make any sense. What should she leave the house for?"

    ""It’s very simple," he said, "the Duke wants you out of here because...""

    ""Is he wanting the house for himself?" she asked."

  • Much of the narrative is literal and factual rather than metaphorical.
    Freshly dug potatoes on the earth.

    Where similes are used, they often refer to simple, basic everyday things, as when Mrs Scott compares leaving her house to a potato being uprooted:

    "It was natural for a potato to grow in the earth. If you took it out of the earth before its time it would die."

  • The structure of the book is equally simple: the first half alternates between past and present, with the flashbacks [flashback: when an earlier event is inserted into the normal chronological order of a story explaining why Mrs Scott has become the sort of person she is. In the second half of the book, the narrative is linear [linear: a story which moves forward with no deviations or tangents, i.e. the story moves forward in a straight line to emphasise how she gradually changes and gains new insights from her painful experiences.


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Hazard Perception

Metaphors, similes, personification... test yourself on these and many more English terms with this hazardous game!

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