Growing Sentences #3
The final method
There was a crowd of kids watching the car, and the square was hot, and the trees were green, and the flags hung on their staffs, and it was good to get out of the sun and under the shade of the arcade that runs all the way around the square.
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The first part of this sentence feels to me like someone looking through binoculars and scanning the scenery, the kids, the car, maybe waves of heat coming off the square, the green trees, and the flags. The emphasis is on the pictorial. And then the second part of the sentence turns inward, and the character pokes his way in, and we find out his subjective experience of the scenery.
Here is the third way to grow sentences: through connective words or conjunctions. (And here are the other two from the previous posts):
Hemingway uses five “ands” to string together five independent clauses, and the result is a rhythm and music that doesn’t jar or feel choppy, but rather flows from one thing to another. Imagine if this sentence were written as a series of simple sentences:
1. There was a crowd of kids watching the car.
2. The square was hot.
3. The trees were green.
4. The flags hung on their staffs.
5. It was good to get out of the sun and under the shade of the arcade that runs all the way around the square.
Hemingway’s sentence is an example of parataxis: the joining of ideas in compound structures, placing them side by side, rather than using subordinate structures. It’s a level playing field; an idea or image is not subordinate to another idea or image but on the same equal footing.
Listen to a child telling you something. “I went to the park and there were a lot of kids and so I had to wait to get on the swing but I didn’t want to wait… “ They tend to use this style.
About now a student usually frantically waves a hand high in the air and asks whether this is a run-on sentence. No, I usually say about now. A run-on sentence is when
1) punctuation or coordinating conjunctions are missing
Ex: She was famished she ate a whole bag of chocolate kisses.
Ex: She was famished, she ate a whole bag of chocolate kisses.
(this latter example is a comma splice, and I—sorry English teachers—am all for it when it creates necessary speed).
This syntactic strategy is pretty straightforward. Write a series of independent clauses. As we saw Hemingway had five of them. Now connect them using conjunctions—and, but, for, or, nor, yet, so.
Did you hear Hemingway’s cohesion of sound? Can you add alliteration and assonance to your sentence?
Assonance: (the repetition of vowel sounds) watching/was; trees/green; flags/staff; hung/sun/under/runs; shade/arcade/way
Alliteration: crowd/kids/car; good/get
Here’s another stunning sentence using the syntactic strategy of connection:
I had forgotten about tides and about the kelp and dried crabs that came in with them, and every morning I shivered into a sweater, put combs in my hair, and walked out to wade and to fill my pockets with what I found. Natalie Kusz, "Vital Signs."
Tell me how it goes!
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