A Stylistic Analysis of the Passage
Write a stylistic analysis of the passage. You should try to find three examples of the following: similie, metaphor, personification. You should discuss as fully as possible the effectiveness of each image. Norman Mailer’s account of the memorable boxing match on the 24th March 1962 shows his take of this unforgettable fight. It was between the current world champion Benny Paret and his competitor Emile Griffith, a fight that had a tragic ending. Mailer’s factual account of this horrific evening uses figurative language throughout; the images he creates helping us picture the fight as if being there in the crowd watching it.
The article which Mailer wrote follows in a chronological order, following each section of the fight as it actually happened; making us feel as if we were there watching it as it was happening. This intensifies the images that he creates through figurative language, and we get a clear mental image of each of the parts of the fight. The metaphor “Then Paret began to wilt” shows his lack of enthusiasm in just round 6 out of 15. A wilting plant lacks life and growth, colour and energy – resembling Paret’s exhaustion.
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The only thing that is keeping his spirit up is the thought that ‘he can take more punishment that any man alive’; only adopting this thought to demonstrate his power to the crowd, although this is not the case. It is the first time that he has shown any sign of weakness during a match and he feels ashamed by his ‘wilting’ and we feel the shame that he felt. Griffith, on the other hand is the complete opposite, he is excited and it is shown by the similie “Griffith was in like a cat ready to rip the life out of a huge boxed rat”.
His eagerness, enthusiasm and anticipation is shown through this similie. Although, it can also be seen as ironic, as it was Griffith that “ripped the life” out of Paret, despite him barely surviving a few more days in hospital. The force of the attach which Griffith is unleashing on Paret becomes clear by the similie “Like a baseball bat demolishing a pumpkin”. The image which is created, is that of the force and vindictiveness of each hit. The word, which creates this impact, is ‘demolishing’. Griffith is destroying every piece of him, with all the force that he has.
From this image we know how powerful and dangerous this fight was, and it shocks the reader when this image is created. Once the fight was over, Paret “sank slowly to the floor”. This metaphor reinforces the end of the fight. The word choice of ‘sank’ shows how this is the end, and that he wont get up from these constant punches from Griffith. When something sinks it doesn’t emerge again, and that is what has happened here. Despite the fact that he did live for a few more days, this is where Paret was finished.
Seeing the image of the Boxing World Champion “sinking” to the ground upsets and horrifies the reader. A rushed feeling of sadness comes from the death of him and how he didn’t stand a chance. “Griffiths punches echoed in the mind like a heavy axe in the distance chopping into a wet log”. The effect that the fight had on the crowd is shown through this similie, even though the boxing match has ended the sounds of every single hit is continually going through everyone’s thoughts, and I suspect the sound will be in everyone’s mind for a while.
Even reading the extract, you can picture the audience squinting their eyes to the constant punching sound ringing in their minds, at the shock of the sound of the blows. The state that Paret was left in becomes clear from the metaphor “If he lived, he would have been a vegetable”. We begin to understand the strength of the blows that Paret had received. It has left him mindless, mentally disabled because of the fight. His brain has become deformed, mashed and unresponsive. The story of the fight was sold to different newspapers and magazines, The Goat being one of them.
The use of the personification “The Goat kicked clods of mud all over the place”, gives us an impression of how the paparazzi can change stories. They forecast that the “game was dead”. This is personification because Boxing as a game cannot die, but The Goat aim to get boxing banned because of this tragic event. Mailer’s use of figurative language helps us to visualise the fight in our minds; and he does this extremely well throughout. All of the main parts of the fight contain an example of figurative language, letting us view the fight as if sitting with Mailer 37 years ago watching the match live.