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Atmosphere and setting


Implicit meaning

Something that is implicit is inferred - it's suggested, but not openly stated. Implicit meaning can be harder to figure out than explicit meaning. Writers like to be clever and draw you into their text. It's up to you to make your mind up about a setting, in just the same way that it's up to you what to make of a new place you visit. Writers often use language in clever ways to build up a sense of atmosphere and setting.

Take a look at the following extract from Robert Westall's novel, 'Urn Burial'. Ralph has been captured by an alien race...

This was the worst nightmare yet. He was standing with his back pressed against a smooth wall cold as ice. The cold nibbled at his buttocks and legs; it ran up and down the knobbles of his spine, making him shiver; it invaded his lungs so he could hardly breathe; he felt he had been shivering a long time.

'Urn Burial' - Robert Westall

In the extract, the writer intends to create a very creepy, sinister atmosphere. The way that he describes Ralph's imprisonment makes it sound very unpleasant. He is "pressed" against a wall that is "cold as ice" and the cold is creeping into every part of his body, making him shiver. Ralph also feels as if he can "hardly breathe" because of the cold.

The writer also uses figurative language. The simile; "a smooth wall cold as ice", helps the reader relate to Ralph as they will know what ice feels like. The writer also uses personification; the cold "nibbled" at Ralph, it "ran up and down" his back and "invaded" his lungs. This makes the cold sound as if it were alive, running over and into Ralph, trying to eat away at him. This adds to the feeling that he has been overpowered and is in danger.


Atmosphere and setting activity

What does it all mean? Find out with this activity.



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