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Feet by Joe Bloggs

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When humans observe one another, the first thing we notice are their faces or their upper body parts. One body part which is almost always ignored is the foot. Ironically, this prose, “Feet” by Jo Bloggs, is about a boy who observes his surroundings by only observing people’s feet, and thus tells an interesting story from a different perspective.  In the prose, the author uses narration and diction effectively to convey different feelings towards the audience, in order to gain empathy for the narrator.

The author carefully utilises narration and diction in the first stanza to create a feeling of inferiority and terror. From the first line, the narrator introduces the world from his own perspective. “The plastic table cloth hung so far down that I could only see their feet.” (1) The author leaves no guessing games, and throws us straight into the setting of the scene: under a table, observing others only from their feet. We soon learn why the little boy was “crunched up” under the table, with the way he describes his dog, as Smokey “whimpered” and “Quivered”(2) his fur, powerful imageries that summaries the terror they are facing, and gives a sense of fear for the readers. He continues to say that every time Smokey trembled or quivered, he “became deaf to their words and alert to their noise”(4). The author uses diction in the form of juxtaposing the opposites of “deaf” and “alert” to suggest that the narrator is no longer focused on what the people outsider were saying, but what they were in fact doing to bring such terror the dog. This change in the narrator’s focus point while observing further displays that the author is fearful of what the people outside will do, and avoiding them simply isn’t enough; the constant observation radiates a sense of fear for the audience.

The narrator describes the movement of paramedics and sets an observing tone. The diction of “clumping”(8) of the feet of the men and them “manoeuvring” (9)her body, shows that the ambulance men were skilled and precise at the job they were doing, however almost feels robotic and machinelike. This idea is further elaborated with the description of their “glossy”, “shiny black shoes”(13), as contrasted to the descriptions of shoes in the last stanza that was filled with character, shoes which were “heavy and rimed with mud and cement”(33). These glossy black boots gave a sense of solemnity and grimness that reflected the characteristics of the men as a whole. In total, the dispassionate, machinelike nature of the paramedics isolated the narrator to be the only affectionate character in the story, making him more relatable and easier to empathise with.

The author utilises narration and diction furthermore to emphasise the seriousness of the disease the little girl is faced with. Continuing through stanza 2, the little boy describes his observation of the shiny linoleum, which “was so polished that there were answering redness in it, buried upside down under the surface.”(15) The imagery of the redness shining out from the floor is used as a simile to suggest the image of the little girl’s state of sickness. The boy carries on to describe serious diseases with imageries of “disinfected sheets” with “acrid fragrances” (21) and diseases that made “everybody’s face swollen.” Yet, in a light hearted tone, he states that these diseases “weren’t frightening” but in fact “funny”. Since the boy does not take diphtheria or the mumps seriously, diseases which had just been described with dreadful symptoms, the significance of the illness the little girl is faced with is presented to be even more frightening and horrific. The choice of the disease “meningitis”, will have an effect on the audience the way the narrator himself described it: “a word you had to bite on to say it. It had a fright and hiss in it.”(23) The choice of this word, ending with the “is” sound with a hard hiss, while juxtaposed to the other illnesses “scarlatina, rubella, influenza or diphtheria” which all end with the soft “a” sound, indicates the horror of this crippling disease.



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