Issues in Literary Stylisitcs

Papers concerned with debatable areas of stylistics

Anthology, 2014

193 Pages




1 Levels of Linguistic Deviation in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
2 Foregrounding Through Parallelism and Deixis in Hemingway's Cat in the Rain
3 Linguistic Foregrounding Through Internal Deviation

4 Phrase Structure- Transformational Analysis and the Concept of Style as Choice
5 A Functional Analysis of the Nominal Group Structures, (Dylan Thomas' Poem There was a saviour As a Case Study)
6 A Functional Analysis of Transitivity in Joyce's Eveline

7 Style As a Product of Three Structural Principles
8 Sentence Length and complexity in Faulkner's The Bear

Part One: Style as Deviation

1 Levels of Linguistic Deviations in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying


Faulkner's As I Lay Dying abounds with various kinds of linguistic deviations to such an extent that they might be regarded as being one of the most prominent stylistic markers in the novel above. They have been explored throughout this paper according to the various levels of linguistic analysis: phonological level, syntactic level, morphological level, lexical level, and semantic level. Moreover, the deviations scored throughout the novel are employed specifically for literary- aesthetic purposes. Though the deviations are not confined to one level at the expense of the others, they have been characterized by various degrees in terms of their limits of deviance and aesthetic employment. Consequently, some levels of deviation have been foregrounded against the others insofar as the aesthetic function of language is concerned. Thus, the syntactic and semantic levels of deviation proved more radical and important than the other ones. Nevertheless, this does not deny the purposeful interconnectedness of the core levels of the language in As I Lay Dying without which we will lose a crucial part of our attempt to understand what Faulkner has written.

1. Introduction

Every stylistic study needs to begin with a linguistic theory or scheme and relate to a piece of spoken or written language, or a corpus of an author's writing . Under such a perspective, this paper comes to be just an attempt to relate Michael Riffaterre's theory of deviation* to Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", taking into consideration the deviant features that constitute a distinctive marker of Faulkner's novel. Apart from Riffaterre's argument about the widely held concept of "defamiliarization", the question of this paper is the linguistic deviation insofar as it involves departure or veering from the orthodox use of language or from the reader's expectations at certain linguistic levels and ranks.

Since language is not a haphazard mass of sounds and symbols but is instead an intricate web of levels, layers and links (Simpson, 2004:5), thus the deviant linguistic features displayed throughout "As I Lay Dying" are identified across a number of interrelated levels of linguistic description. However, some levels and deviations have been neglected such as : Discoursal level, Graphological level, Internal deviation, and External deviation. This is because, on the one hand, there is still a heated debate concerning the validity of some of these levels and deviations (see Finch, 2000:22), and on the other, they do not, seemingly, represent areas of interest to Faulkner's attempts to overstep the limits of language. Moreover, the extra-linguistic function of the deviant features are taken into consideration so that one can explain why they have been employed and what aesthetic end they have served.

2. Phonological Deviation

It is true that stylistic studies are mainly concerned with the linguistic investigation of written language (Enkvist, 1967:69), however, phonology has much to contribute because it is the only means that enables the stylistician to examine the phonetic potential of certain written texts. Faulkner's presence throughout As I Lay Dying makes itself so evident first of all through his efforts to reproduce what one may call a dialect pronunciation. The linguist may find it so easy and ideal if all dialogues in a novel were set down in phonetic transcription. But Faulkner's attempt to convey the peculiarities of the regional pronunciation, American southern pronunciation according to the novel, results in what one may think as an error in spelling, such as the words shown in the following table that have been spelt phonetically rather than alphabetically:

Table -1-

Deviant Forms at the Phonological Level in As I Lay Dying

illustration not visible in this excerpt

It should be noted, however, that Faulkner resorts to the graphological forms to convey certain phonetic features to the reader's sight doing his best with the inadequacies of the alphabet. Thus, he sets out to create his own interesting and original visual patterning through deviation from and contrast with the conventional phonetic transcription of dialect or idiophonic speech.

3. Morphological Deviation

This level of deviation is not open and feasible to those writers who are not interested in exploring the boundaries of language. Faulkner's experiments in morphology throughout As I Lay Dying invite us to recognize him as a serious writer overwhelmed with inescapable desire to reveal the features of substandard American English.

Faulkner's morphological liberties are so appealing particularly through the following points:

1. adding the (-ed) participle to irregularly inflected verbs:
"sawed", (18); "throwed" (33); "knowed" (passim); "growed" (186); . . . etc.
2. archaic past inflections are used: "holp" (29,72) instead of the regular inflectional form helped.
3. the suffix (-eth) is added comically to certain verbs (Marling,1988:25):
"I am the chosen of the lord, for who He loveth, so doeth He chastiseth."
4. as for pronoun forms and inflections, the same contradiction is found with the accepted morphological norms. Thus, the inflection of mine and thine extended by analogy to the possessive pronouns for the third person singular, as in : "hisn" (passim); "hern" (73), and for the first person plural, as in : "ourn" (74). "Hisself" (passim) substitutes for the reflexive pronoun himself. Furthermore, the objective forms of personal pronouns substitute for the subject:
"me and him were born close together" (211)

It is true that Faulkner seems, at this level, more radical and confident of his attempts to exploit the language to the full, so that its resources no longer held any secrets for him.

4. Syntactic Deviation

Though the deviant syntactic features in As I Lay Dying are very common and interestingly divergent, they are still far from being unique, besides they hold a high degree of frequency in Faulkner's language in this novel. They lack the uniqueness of those typical deviant features confined to the text in which they show up. The deviations at this level stem partly from Faulkner's painstaking attempt to verbalize the syntactic features of oral communication.

It is really so hard to comprise all the ramified ranks of syntactic deviation throughout the novel, however, some of them are highly frequent and appealing. For example, as far as verbs are concerned, one finds the following:

1. the auxiliaries (is/was) are used in the plural :
"the boys was . . ." (Faulkner,1988:37)*, "they was . . ."
(86,109,149), "we was . . ." (108,109,186), "but the
roads is good . . ." (26), "Riches is nothing . . ." (10).
2. the auxiliary (were) is used in the singular:
"he were . . ." (146), "the front axle were . . ." (34)
3. sometimes the auxiliaries are totally neglected, and it is so frequent to lose the modal auxiliaries in perfective aspect:
"it kind of . . ." (154), "what you going . . ." (193), "He come . . ." (22), "to taken . . ." (9), "ought to taken . . .' (30), "he taken . . ." (15), "I done . . ." (29),
4. the auxiliary (do) used with third person singular pronouns:
"she don't . . ." (passim), 'Jewel don't . . ." (24), "Anse don't . . ." (29), "It don't . . .." (24,69), "He don't . . ." (passim), . . .etc.
5. the (-s) verbal form is not restricted to third person singular pronouns, but extended to other persons:
" . . . that folks says . . ." (22,82), "I says." (passim), "I asks . . .' (166), "the boys wants to . . .' (89).

Furthermore, there are certain constructional devices, used by Faulkner, modeled on the patterns one may encounter in the eloquence of everyday speech (Marling, 1988:32). One of them is inversion which entails a sort of split or break in the syntactic relationships:

"A good carpenter, Cash is" (8)

"New Hope, 3 mi . it will say" (93)

"kind of pleased astonishment he looked" (95)

The first thing to notice is the deviation, via inversion, of the normal syntactic sequence : Cash is a good carpenter - it will say, New Hope,3 mi - he looked kind of pleased astonishment.

Many structural missings are also found in elliptical constructions : either part of the statement, for example, is missed as in

"Glad to go," (22)

or a clause of the sentence is omitted,

"Which is a good thing." (58)

or the sentence is uncompleted,

"It's because he stays out there, right under the window, hammering and sawing on that goddamn box." (15)

"It's because I am alone." (49)

Although syntactically correct, these sentences do not fulfill their promises. "It's', in the two last examples, in no way defines what the causal subordinate clause appears to explain. That is to say, there is a complete failure to figure out any apprehension of cause-and-effect relationship.

Faulkner's language, throughout certain portions in the novel, has unsettling and may be disturbing effect due to misapplication of syntactical categories or the substitution of one syntactical category for another. This is another interesting area that shows how far Faulkner was preoccupied with practising the limits of the syntactical possibilities. As I lay Dying provides us with several examples in this concern, yet there are two particular ones that underscore a puzzling play on "verb to be":

And since sleep is is-not and rain and wind are was, it is not. Yet the wagon is, because when the wagon is was, Addie Bundren will not be. And Jewel is, so Addie Bundren must be. And then I must be, or I could not empty myself for sleep in a strange room. And so if am not emptied yet, I am is.

(italics mine)* (65)

". . . detached and secret and familiar, an is different from my is." (48)

Chapman (1974:46), insightfully, points out that there is no need to deal with all

kinds of deviation as being inevitably ungrammatical or contrary to any rules,rather, they may result from the overuse of the linguistic possibilities. Consequently, the outcome might be a sentence which is syntactic but unacceptable or sounds odd.

One of the most evident examples of such a kind of deviation in As I Lay Dying is the overuse ,or profusion, of double, even triple, negation:

" I reckon she never had no use for them now." (10)

" But I just can't seem to get no heart into anything." (33)

" He couldn't buy no team from nobody." (149)

The novel is so much studded with these double negatives that they should be added

to the deviations already listed. This kind of "multiple negation" is entirely different in the sense that more than one negative form is used but the meaning is still that of a single negative (see Quirk,1988:186); this may underline the redundant tendency and verbosity of spoken language.

One more example of syntactic deviation in As I Lay Dying may indicate how easily the list of such deviations could be lengthened : them, as a pronoun, has strangely been used as a demonstrative:

"them others . . ." (15)

"one of them spoted . . ." (123)

or sometimes as a possessive pronoun :

"He's takin' back them spades . . ." (190)

"He got them teeth." (208);

"I could a toted them shovels." (206)

5. Lexical Deviation

So far, the deviant features that have been noted may give the measure of Faulkner's linguistic variety and possibilities, but the deviations at the lexical level underscore the author's interesting peculiarities, they can show us the real scope of his linguistic wealth. However, the lexical level is "a level of linguistic form at which variables,[or deviations], can be treated with the greatest freedom," (Fowler, 1970:16), yet, in As I Lay Dying, such variables/deviations have been drawn upon the resources of colloquial speech in a way that suits Faulkner's purposes.

The most obvious examples of lexical deviation are related to neologism in its broad sense as making up a word which did not previously exist (Short,1996:45). Though it is apparent that one aspect of Faulkner's vocabulary is the profusion of words with a negative prefix or suffix, it is those negative words which have been coined by him that hold our concern :

"unalone" (52); "unlamped" (65); "uninferant" (83); "unvirgin" (137); "unwinded' (111)

or he may add the suffix (-ness) to a certain kind of adjectives as in : "aloneness" (136).

More strikingly, he creates some negatives by the addition of (no) or (not) as a suffix : "is-not" (65), or as a prefix which is so frequent throughout the novel :

"not-fish" (45); "not-blood" (Ibid); "not-moving" (154); "not-Anse" (138); "no-sound" (164); "no-wind" (Ibid); "no-hand" (Ibid); "no-strings" (ibid)

It has been noted by Marling (1988:28) that these negatives are not simply "the reverse of an affirmation: the negation preserves within the substance of the word the idea of what it is denying"(ibid.), and paradoxically such a negation sometimes even reinforces the meaning it might be supposed to deny.

Furthermore, Faulkner's creative lexical attempts extend to manifest themselves through the creation of some notable and unusual compounds: for example, "crop-toothed" (14), turns to be 'tooth-cropped" on page (145), "grease-fouled" (61); "bone-gaunted" (88); "straddle-legged" (91), "dangle-armed" (151).

If compounds play no prominent part in As I Lay Dying, the novel gives us another dimension of Faulkner's taste to pile up so many qualifying words, and often there are clusters of three, four or even five adjectives attached to a single noun :

"the long hot sad yellow days" (24)

"an expression sudden, intent, and concerned" (81)

"a wild, sad, profound and despairing quality" (115)

"his pale empty sad composed and questioning face" (93)

The lexical outcome of such a piling up of qualifying words may seem confusing. The cumulative effect of the adjectives is scattering enough to exert the reader's capability of pursuing a writer who needs to say everything whether through : coining new words or piling them in handfuls onto the page.

6. Semantic Deviation

In his attempt to express through language the most inexpressible, Faulkner resorts, this time, to deviation on the semantic level. Throughout As I Lay Dying this kind of deviation has been revealed as a sort of semantic absurdity. The semantic links have drastically been ignored and suppressed, they are apparently and logically inconsistent or paradoxical in some way.

In a sentence like "Pa shaves every day now because my mother is a fish." (80), the statement of the subordinate clause provides us with a juxtaposition of semantic incompatibles (see Fowler,1970:150): (mother vs. fish), besides, the causal relation between the two clauses is absurd. The same absurdity is expressed in so many other examples:

"Jewel's mother is a horse." (75)

"I hollering running and hollering and Dewey Dell hollering at me Vardaman you Vardamnan you Vardaman . . ." (119)

One further interesting example is :

"My brother he went crazy and he went to Jackson too. Jackson is farther away than crazy." (201)

There is an attempt to twist the semantic features of words, (Jackson vs. crazy), attributing such a referential mix to the verbal meaning of went. So, whether it has been used in the same meaning as " . . . he became crazy and he moved to Jackson . . .", it does not matter since the second meaning of went as moved to became dominant and this in turn entails that crazy is not an adjective but an adverb of place. That is, the confusion between the literal and metaphorical meanings of to go (to go to Jackson vs. to go crazy) leads to the absurd equation of crazy with the place name.

Moreover, Faulkner's figurative language is sometimes expressed or signaled by some kind of a deviation in the collocational range or throughout what Leech and Short (1981:149) call "deviant collocation". For instance :

"the furious tide of Jewel's despair" (78)

"The sound of the saw snores steadily into the room" (39)

"I would think of him dressed in sin" (138,139)

"mournful water" (111)

"her pole-thin body clings furiously. . .," (77)

The collocations of (tide vs. despair), (saw vs. snores), (dressed vs. sin), (mournful vs. water), (clings vs. furiously) are characterized by unexpected connections which carry their referential meaning beyond the expected collocational range. With Faulkner, one should remember that the differentiation between figurative and literal language is a matter of referential semantics. Accordingly, it is rare in As I Lay Dying for words to retain their literal/referential meaning right to the end. They are likely to be set with other words with which they have no natural affinity or semantic link. This constitutes the linguistic premise that Faulkner relies on in his novel so that he tries to load his language with as much figurative meanings as he can.

7. Aesthetic Function

It has been claimed that linguistics has no contribution to literary studies more than stylistic description and it is too limited to go beyond (Payne,1969:174). But such a limitation seems to be invalid insofar as the stylistic description is both selective and purposeful (ibid.). Mere description is undeniably not an end by itself, it is of no great use unless one sets out to exercise it as an access to get a profound understanding of the way the language works. Accordingly, the description itself must be purposeful, and to be rewardingly productive it needs to focus on certain distinctive linguistic features [i.e, deviation] that underlie the artistic principles and stylistic value of the writer's choice of language (Leech and Short,1981:74).

Taking into consideration the cyclic relation that holds between linguistic observation and literary insight, this paper is concerned with linguistic observation as a point that stim- ulates literary insight. This, in turn, triggers the questions of the use of linguistic description achieved so far in this paper: how is linguistic deviation in As I Lay Dying used for a specific aesthetic purpose? What is the artistic effect achieved through Faulkner's linguistic deviation?

It should be noted, however, that all the deviant features in the novel under study are first and foremost tools; they are used as a screen to display the various peculiarities of the American Southern dialect. That is, they are instrumental in establishing the social and cultural level of the characters throughout the novel. It is true that Faulkner tries to give his characters a language that is capable of revealing their own distinctive, rustic, cultural, and regional flavor. This has principally been achieved throughout the following :

1. phonological deviation to bring out the pronunciation features of common speech, specifically the dialect spoken by the small hill farmers in northeastern Mississippi,
2. morphological deviation has been handled carefully by Faulkner to correct the shortcomings and offset the diffuseness of ordinary speech, restoring to language part of its flexible power of suggestion,
3. syntactic deviation, with all its ramified aspects, has been used as an attempt to figure out the patterns and characteristics of reported conversations and oral or spoken language. This kind of deviation has, occasionally, been a measure or a device of characterization which signals every character with certain syntactic features and departures,
4. lexical deviation that serves essentially to work out the rustic vocabulary which distinguishes the familiar world of colloquial speech and every day life,
5. semantic deviation which represents Faulkner's utmost achievement to heighten the effect of mental disarray which makes itself felt through the suppressing of logical semantic links, creating a disturbing atmosphere or a total failure to understand.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to associate each stylistic variant/ deviation with a particular stylistic value. Yet, there are special significances associated with one kind of variants/deviations rather than another. What has been achieved above, though it is not final, is just an attempt to link the linguistic observation to its possible aesthetic function.

8. Conclusion

Faulkner's language in As I Lay Dying abounds with deviations which are ramified across various levels of analysis. The most striking feature of these deviations is that they are pervasive : Faulkner ceaselessly reshapes all levels of language for his own ends. Nevertheless, the deviant features do not hold the same degree all through the levels concerned. It is evident that the syntactic level involves highly deviant features which are most indicative of Faulkner's efforts to bridge the gaps beyond the limitations of language. The deviations at the other levels are, however, less deviant in this respect, but they still, though with different degrees, reflect Faulkner's irrepressible attempts to overcome the inadequacies of language.

In addition to the levels at which they operate, and their own degree of indication, deviations are distinguished from each other by their own importance in terms of the aesthetic function that might be ascribed to them. Consequently, Faulkner's semantic deviations are more important and radical in this respect so that his deep suspicion and frustration with the referentiality of language is often expressed in his most deliberate semantic absurdities.

After all, Faulkner deviates from the orthodox form of language-use to draw attention to his skeptical attitude towards language, thus, he foregrounds his dissatisfaction with the representational function of the language at most of its levels.


Chapman, Raymond, Linguistics and Literature. London: Whitstable Litho, 1974.

Enkvist, Nils, "On defining Style : An Essay in Applied Linguistics", Linguistics and Style. John Spencer, editor. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Faulkner, William, As I Lay Dying. London: Penguin Books, 1965.

Finch, Geoffrey, Linguistic Terms and Concepts. London: Macmillan, 2000.

Fowler, Roger, Essays on Style and Language. London: Routledge, 1970.

Leech, Geoffrey; and Michael Short, Style in Fiction. London and New York: Longman, 1981.

Marling, William, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. London: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Payne, Michael, Contemporary Essays on Style. New York: Modern Library, 1969.

Quirk, R. ,and Sidney Greenbaum, A University Grammar of English. London: Longman, 1988.

Riffaterre, Michael, "Criteria for Style Analysis,"Word, xv (April, 1959).

Simpson, Paul, Stylistics. London: Routledge, 2004.

Short, Mick, Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. London and New York: Longman, 1996.

Foregrounding Through Parallelism and Deixis in Hemingway's Cat in the Rain


This paper explores one of the stylistic strategies that Hemingway employs in his short story "Cat in the Rain", by which some key literary meanings are encoded throughout certain linguistic features. To achieve particular aesthetic effects or literary meanings, such features are crucial and given a special attention. In this respect, Hemingway uses linguistic foregrounding to urge readers to pay attention to two groups of foregrounded linguistic features that stimulate certain literary insights: the orientational features of language, or deixis, and the repeated syntactic structures, or syntactic parallelism. Consequently, linguistic foregrounding in the story is brought about by: first, concentrating on the recurrent syntactic structures, used in two suggestive paragraphs related to the wife, second, by the subtle and minute repetition of deictic expressions that are remote in terms of tense, place, and even in the social sense. This might reflect, according to the researcher's argument, the emotional rift between the wife and the husband. The analysis undertaken might not be final, however, it may show the aesthetic functions which might be ascribed to foregrounding as a stylistic strategy ,this in turn would bring certain artistically relevant linguistic features to the fore.

1. Introduction

It is no longer doubtful that the linguistic theory can add a lot to our comprehension of literature. What literature is, how it works, and why it is there at all, are some of the questions that the theory of linguistics tries to provide answers to*. As a result of the increasing interest in practicing linguistic procedures in order to analyze literary texts, linguistics has contributed a significant body of concepts and strategies to literary criticism (Finch, 2000:192). In so doing, the practical importance of linguistics tends to be measurable in terms of the applicability of its techniques to point out some outstanding features that can be ascribed to the literary text. Undoubtedly, such features might be missed if we are not equipped enough with an awareness of how the language works (Jakobson, 1960:350).

In this respect, foregrounding represents one of the most significant concepts widely employed by stylisticians to impart a linguistically based account of literary merit, or worth (Finch, 2000:192). In spite of the multiple-senses attributed to the concept, as it is oftenly used in text linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, . . . etc**, the linguistic sense of foregrounding, as developed by Jakobson and Mukarovsky (Cook, 1995:153),holds our interest in this paper.

Under such a linguistic orientation, foregrounding is defined as being a stylistic strategy that refers to "a form of textual patterning which is motivated specifically for literary-aesthetic purposes" (Simpson,2004:50). The concept has been made use of most in textual analysis. It is a useful tool to describe particular characteristics of the text, or to explain its specific poetic effects on the reader (Hakemulder, 2004:38). Thus, in purely linguistic terms, the textual representation involves new information conveyed throughout textual features which do not conform to the linguistic rules and norms- called the foreground, in contrast to those other features which are linguistically normal-called the background (Short, 1996:12).

This does not mean that there are some portions which are insignificant in the literary text, but those portions or parts in the foreground are more important than the other ones (ibid.). Being important, the linguistic features of these parts should be highlighted or made prominent via foregrounding. As a process, foregrounding is either achieved through the linguistic deviation of an aspect of the text from a linguistic rule, maxim, or convention, or where an aspect of the text is brought to stand out through repetition or parallelism (Simpson,2004:50).

This paper is an attempt to examine the foregrounded parts in "Cat in the Rain", a short story by Ernest Hemingway. After examining the most outstanding linguistic features of such foregrounded parts, an interpretation will be provided in a way that links those parts altogether. So, the attention will be restricted to those linguistic features (e.g. parallelism, and repetition of certain deictic features in our case) which attract some degree of foregrounding and which the author was trying to highlight as being crucial to our understanding of what he has written. Throughout this paper, it might be feasible to see how some key literary meanings in the story are made accessible by giving rise to foregrounding through parallelism, and the subtle, careful, and repetitive use of deictic expressions. Where appropriate, some interpretative comments will also be included.

2. Foregrounding Through Parallelism

It is very crucial to distinguish between parallelism and simple repetition, though some linguists consider the latter as being a limited case of the former (Short, 1996:13-14). The mere repetition of whole phrases or clauses (in terms of both: structure and lexical items) is just one case of parallelism and it is a simple one which entails that everything is paralleled and nothing is varied (Leech and Short,1981:142). Thus, repetition is one restricted device of producing foregrounding that attracts the reader's attention to some clear-cut repetitive lexical groupings or whole structures excluding any possibility of variety (Short,1996:18).

In "Cat in the Rain", parallelism holds our concern as being a rather more interesting device that has the power to foreground the key parts of the story in a way that stimulates literary insights. Simpson (2004:50) defines it as one guise of foregrounding, besides deviation from a norm, which comes in the form of more of the same. Not only is it a process of replicating a specific pattern, but also it attracts our attention where "some features are held constant" (Short, 1996:14), like the structural features in our case, while others, like the lexical items, are varied.

The researcher's main concern is foregrounding through one specific kind of parallelism called: "syntactic parallelism" that occurs when the structure of one sentence, clause or phrase repeats the structure of another. Two paragraphs are foregrounded in the story by the repetition of certain parallelistic structures, as the following display shows:


illustration not visible in this excerpt


illustration not visible in this excerpt

The parallelisms, or structural equivalences, have been placed in brackets, while the mere repetitions of the same structure and the same lexical items have been placed outside the brackets as displayed above. We have mentioned previously that parallelism, not like repetition, permits variety in the sense that it is identified by structural repetitions in which variable elements occur. Thus, we notice the examples in the first paragraph which are foregrounded by a recurrent one pattern exhibited in sentences (2), (4), (5) which consists of :

She liked the way he + V1 + N1, she liked the way he + V2 +N2, she liked the way he + V3 + N3;

in which the (V) and (N) are the only variable elements. While the recurrent pattern in sentences (1), (3), (6), (7) consists of:

The wife liked + N1, she liked + N2, she liked + N3, she liked + N4;

in which the (N) is the only variable element.

Sentences (1), (2), (3), (4), and (8) illustrate the first recurrent pattern in the second paragraph which consists of :

I want to + V1 + N1 + Adv1, I want to + V2 + N2 + Adv2, I want to + V3 + N3 + Adv3, I want to + V4 + N4 + Adv4, I want to + V5 + N5 + Adv5;

in which the (V), (N), and (Adv) are variables.

However, the second repeated pattern in the same paragraph is expressed in sentences (6), (7), (9), and (10) which have the following sequence:

And I want + N1, and I want + N2, and I want + N3, and I want + N4,

where the (N) is the only variable element.

3. Foregrounding Through Deixis

"Cat in the Rain", as a narrative discourse, gives us clear and deliberate indications that the deictic features, being chosen by Hemingway insofar as there is a choice, involve foregrounding and backgrounding of certain aspects of the discourse. Lyons (1968:275) describes deixis as "the orientational features of language relative to the time and place of the utterance." In stylistics, "deixis" refers to " those features of language which orientate our utterances in time, space, and speaker's stand-point" (Finch, 2000:214). So, it involves all the linguistic features related to the speaker's viewpoint considering the latter as if it were a deictic center.

Such features cut across the grammar of English: for example, the TENSE system has a deictic function because it gives the events imaginary locations in the present or the past (ibid.). Deixis applies to space as well as time, thus, 'here', and 'there' are deictic adverbs because they presuppose and assert 'closeness' or 'distance' from the speaker or the deictic center (Short, 1996:270), "a", and "the" are deictic articles related to the unfamiliarity and familiarity of the speaker's (or writer's) view point (Leech and Short 1981: 96). Even the first-person pronouns (I), (we), and the second-person pronoun (you) are also looked at as being deictics as long as they establish a perspective that is recognizable as that of the speaker.(Finch, 2000:214-15)

In the remaining part of this paper, we shall discuss how some of the deictic features mentioned above are used in a way which attracts the reader's attention to certain portions and expressions in the text under study:

3.1 Tense

The most obvious instance of linguistic orientation for English speaker is the phenomenon called TENSE (Traugott, 1980:278). In its semantic sense, tense involves "locating what we talk about on an imaginary time line, of which the speaker is the reference point."(Lyons, 1977:679) Thus the verbal forms related to the inflection (-ed) and the adverbs (yesterday), (last week), all have their own orientations in the speaker's past at the time of utterance (ibid). It is evident that tense, as an orientational system, is speaker-deictic in the sense that it is oriented in the perspective of the speaker.

However, since the corpus of this paper is a narrative discourse, we are interested in the narrative tense which is considerably different from the grammatical tense system. Going through the differences between the narrative tense and the grammatical tense in detail is far beyond the scope of this paper, nevertheless, we need to realize the major difference between them: in writing, the moment of utterance and that of reading do not co-occur simultaneously (Traugott, 1980:297), or it should be made clear that "narrator and reader are not co-present in time; narrator's now is not reader's now"(ibid.).

It is a well-known definition of narrative as being "basically a recounting of something that happened at some earlier time, at a distance from the time of narration" (Scholes, 1966:22). This process of recounting is mainly connected with the ways in which English in general uses the verbal aspect as a tense configuration to establish a sort of deictic function related to perspectives on actions (ibid: 33). To be more specific, in English, for example, (be + ing) emphasizes activity in progress, as in:

It is/was raining.

while the simple forms do not:

It rained/rains.

It is important to mention here that not all verbal forms involve a view adopted toward an action, especially whether it is being viewed in terms of completion or duration (Traugott, 1980:297). Thus, the difference between:

It rained.

It was raining.

is not a difference in tense (both are past), but a difference in what is called "verbal aspect". In addition to (be + ing), which expresses duration, another aspect-marker in English is (have + en), as in:

It has rained.

which indicates activity that is completed but has some present relevance, for example,

It has rained therefore I am wet.

It is true that we have to realize the difference between tense and

aspect, nevertheless, both of them have to occur together in surface structure (ibid).

What holds our concern in "Cat in the Rain" is how aspect is used to signal an extended deictic function involving foregrounding and backgrounding. For example, the progressive ( be + ing) can have a backgrounding function in contrast with simple-tense (Scholes,1966:23). In ( He was running when he fell), for example, "running" is the frame of reference or the background for the action of falling.

In "Cat in the Rain", narration is typically based on narrative clauses that are characterized by finite active verbs in the simple past tense. However, other tenses and aspects are used performing a deictic orientational function. The tense-structure in "Cat in the Rain" is indicated by simple past narrative clauses, while orientation appears in past progressive and past perfect as being not part of the narrative sequence, in other words, as being foregrounded aspects. Consequently, such past progressive and past perfect orientation stands out as a foreground which acts against the simple past tense background. This kind of tense-structure is well illustrated in certain portions throughout the story:

"The American wife stood at the window . . . The cat was trying to make herself so compact . . ."

"Liking him she opened the door and looked out. It was raining harder. A man in a rubber cape was crossing the empty square . . ." 'You must not get wet,' she smiled, speaking Italian. Of Course, the hotel-keeper had sent her."

"George was reading again."

"George shifted his position in the bed. He hadn't looked

away from her since she started to speak."

"She laid the mirror down . . . It was getting dark."

" 'Oh, shut up and get something to read,' George said. He

was reading again."

"His wife was looking out of the window. It was quite dark

now and still raining in the palm trees."

"George was not listening. He was reading his book. His

wife looked out of the window where the light had come

on in the square."

All clauses with finite verbs in the simple tense are part of the narrative sequence, while those with finite past progressive and past perfect are not part of the sequence in question, as aspect indicates. If we put background-foreground distinction in practice, we would find that conveying narrative action through simple past tense is the background against which some passages and clauses, with past progressive and past perfect, are foregrounded.

However, the contrast between past simple and past progressive in the narrative structure has some communicative importance: it is artistically relevant to note that almost all clauses in the progressive aspect are related to a description of what is happening outside the window:

"The cat was trying to make . . ."

"It was raining harder."

"A man in a rubber cape was crossing. . ."

"It was getting dark ."

"His wife was looking out of the window . . ."

"It was quite dark now and still raining. . ."

This creates a sense of ongoing action, giving us a dynamic, and non-monotonous setting regarding the life outside the window, while every thing related to the life inside is conveyed through simple past narrative clauses except the husband's activity of reading that is handled by the progressive aspect:

"The husband went on reading"

"George was reading again."

"He was reading again"

"He was reading his book."

It is a suggestion that the husband remained immovable, passive, and unaffected by his wife's needs, but the only thing that he cares about is reading, this would justify the artistic use of the progressive aspect to express this activity throughout the narrative. Moreover, such a device of transferring narrative into the narrative past tense is a deictic indication of distance from the narrator and it implies that the narrator is not involved in the action.

3.2 Place

Other deictic markers besides tense might be taken into consideration as being deictic expressions related to place. The spatial deixis, as used in the story, comprises three uses of spatial categories:

1. adverbials ('here'/'there);
2. demonstrative pronouns ('this'/'that');
3. verbs ('come'/'go').

Because deixis is speaker-related it can easily be used to highlight particular, and changing viewpoints (Simpson, 2004:28). Insofar as spatial deictic expressions are concerned, the speaker's (in our case the writer's) viewpoint is indicated in terms of his closeness or distance from the people and place mentioned in the story. To understand the deictic functions of closeness and distance signalled by the spatial expressions mentioned above, we need to look at the following alignment of spatial deictics, suggested by Traugott (1980:275), using an abstract performative structure (I X you):

I X You

this that

here there

According to this basic system, 'this', and 'here' indicate closeness: (I have this), and (I am here) (ibid.), while 'that', and 'there' express a remote perspective and used with 'you' as in: (you have that), and (you are there.) (ibid: 276). However simple this model might be, it gives us a skeleton for certain spatial relations in which the speaker has to select appropriate ways for the hearer to orient him/herself in such a way as to recognize and share what is being talked about.

The spatial deictics in "Cat in the Rain" establish a remote perspective background in relation to two different deictic centers: the first is the writer's viewpoint, and the second is the relationship that holds between the characters themselves. A point of particular appeal is the beginning of the story: "There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel." The deictic adverb 'there' presupposes that the perspective concerned here is Hemingway's, being the deictic center, and it asserts distance from the two Americans. However, Hemingway's perspective is not fully known to us which creates a sense of 'disorientation', because we cannot fully recognize the writer's perspective. This effect of 'disorientation' has its own significance in emphasizing the nature of the two characters as being stereotypes or typical samples of the American spouses. Moreover, 'there' is repeatedly used through the narrative whenever the writer occupies his position as a deictic center:

"There were big palms and . . ."

" . . . there was always an artist . . ."

"The table was there washed . . ."

Insofar as the writer's perspective is concerned, we can infer his attitude in perceiving the American husband and wife as being 'remote' and 'distant' even in the psychological sense. Meanwhile, the relation between the wife and the cat can be inferred from the linguistic observation that "there", and "that" are always used by the wife, the wife is considered as being another deictic center here, whenever she refers to the cat:

"There was a cat, 'said the American girl'."

"I wanted that poor kitty."

The cat is seen from the wife's perspective as something 'remote', something she cannot get, reflecting the wife's deep frustration in relation to fulfilling her desires.

Thus, the overwhelming background appears to be that of a remote spatial deixis as indicated by 'there', and 'that'. Nevertheless, there is only one 'close' deictic expression in the last sentence which stands out as being foregrounded against the remote background mentioned above:

"Excuse me", she said, "the padrone asked me to bring this for the Signora."

The use of the demonstrative 'this' here has a special importance in indicating the "closeness", or even the intimate relationship between the wife and the hotel-keeper who had sent the maid with the cat.

Moreover, the spatial deictic verbs 'come', and 'go' involve more complex deictic relations in "Cat in the Rain" insofar as their directional senses are concerned. With 'go', for example, linguists distinguish three meanings:

" Hearer movement to where speaker is not:

1. Go there.

Speaker movement to where hearer is not:

2. I'll go over there at six o'clock.

(Past or future) speaker movement to where speaker is not:

3. a. I went there after the movie.

b. I'll go there after the movie. "

(ibid: 277)

But with 'come', we have the following meanings:

"Hearer movement toward where speaker is:

1. Come here!

Speaker movement toward where hearer is:

2. I'll come over there at six o'clock.

(Past or future) speaker movement toward where speaker is:

3. a. I came here after the movie.

b. I'll come here after the movie."

(ibid: 276)

'Go', particularly, is used in the story in its third (past) meaning which involves orientation toward a directional sense of distance:

"The wife went downstairs . . ."

"She went on up the stairs . . ."

"She went over and . . ."

"She laid the mirror . . . and went over to . . ."

This restriction of the verb 'go' to the wife's activity throughout the story is just a deictic orientation of her attempts to escape from the monotonous atmosphere she finds herself living in, it is a linguistic indication of her endeavor to widen the scope of her world. If we can consider such a deictic use of 'go' in its third sense as another orientational background, the sole use of 'come', in its first directional sense, is clearly foregrounded in respect of its meaning of 'closeness': " 'Come, Signora,' she said."

As far as we are concerned with the spatial deictic expressions, it is evident that the spatial background of distance is overwhelming whether in terms of the use of 'there', or 'that', or 'go'. But the directional sense of 'closeness' is foregrounded, which is reflected through the uses of 'this', and 'come', against the distant background revealed in the forms mentioned above.

3.3 Social Deixis

So far, we have seen how place deixis could be used to infer psychological attitudes. It is possible to view social relations as 'deictic', in the sense that we can feel 'close' or 'remote' to other people in social terms (Short, 1996:272). However, we can make a quizzical look at such a relationship by examining a few specific aspects of communication: namely, the use of naming and address terms (Wardhaugh, 2002:259). The way we name or address another is an indication of the social relationship that we perceive to exist between us and the listener (ibid.). For example, if we feel that we are socially 'remote' to someone, we would refer to him with 'title + last name', or 'T + LN', however, we would refer to those people to whom we are 'close' by their 'first name', or 'FN' (ibid: 267), or by some other kinds of combinations which are beyond the scope of this paper. This contrast between such social relationships is reflected in the narrator's naming strategy which attracts attention to one particular foregrounded aspect of the social web that controls the relations between the characters.

Hemingway's naming strategy in "Cat in the Rain" reveals the linguistic choices he makes to indicate the relationships that hold between the characters. This strategy is exploited in a way that makes us recognize the 'closeness' or 'remoteness' of the relationships between the characters : for example, inside the hotel room, the naming formula consists of only 'T':

"The American wife . . . her husband . . ."

"The wife went . . ."

"The wife said . . ."

This would assume a rather formal and socially distant relationship between the wife and the husband in a way which foregrounds a sort of a rift between them. Personal and possessive pronouns are more likely to be used by social equals who are close to each other (Short, 1996:287), thus, Hemingway refers to the wife as 'she' and the hotel owner as 'he' when the former first meets the latter :

" . . . The wife liked him. She liked the deadly serious way he received any complaints . . . she . . . his dignity . . . She . . . he . . . She . . . he . . . she . . . his old heavy face . . ."

This shift in the naming strategy from 'T' to 'the personal pronoun' coincides with the moment at which the wife liked the owner. So, the close relationship that holds between the wife (she), and the owner (he) is foregrounded this time. However, such social deixis are used to reveal certain sides of the relationships between the characters, Hemingway sometimes tends to foreground certain sides of the same character to build up a many-sided picture of each character. Thus, from the very beginning of the fiction, the author employs variant socially relevant expressions for the same person, for example, he uses varying expressions in third person reference (sometimes called 'elegant variation') referring to the wife:

The American wife.

The American girl.

It is not only an avoidance of repetition by the substitution of different descriptive phrases, but it is a strategy of drawing attention to two varying aspects of the wife's traits. Consequently, the woman is seen at one point in relation to her husband as "the American wife", or "the wife", while she is seen, at another point, as "the American girl" in relation to the cat or the "kitty" she is longing to get.

4. Conclusions

The linguistic examination of the foregrounded features in "Cat in the Rain" assumes as indispensable one major point: some aspects of the literary meaning can be ascribed to certain characteristic linguistic features in a way that linguistic observation stimulates literary insights. Thus, the foregrounded features of the linguistic texture of the story stimulate certain literary-aesthetic purposes the writer endeavors to communicate. So, in seeking an aesthetic function ascribed to such means we need to admit that the recognition of such related features can provide us with an entry for literary interpretation: some key literary meanings in the story are brought into some degree of prominence via certain foregrounded linguistic patternings. In our case, the main focus is on parallelism and deixis. The way they have been foregrounded contributes a lot to the literary meanings related to the emotional relations between characters and the setting in which the events of the story take place.

As a foregrounded feature, syntactic parallelism detected in the story achieves a sense of familiarity that dominates the wife's action throughout the story, the repeated syntactic structures echo a circular life full of sameness, a life distinguished by a recurrent rhyme, however, it gives the wife an impulse to escape from the routine environment she finds herself trapped in. This sense is also achieved by the use of certain deictic tenses that make most events inside the hotel occur in the simple past enhancing the dull and repetitive refrain of the wife's life.

One more key literary meaning we may associate with the deictic expressions used in the story is the distancing effect brought about by:

1. the deliberate employment of spatially remote deictic verbs, adverbs, and demonstratives,
2. the dynamic use of socially remote deictic expressions represented by :

a. the naming system,
b. elegant variation, or the use of varying expressions to refer to the same person.

This distancing effect reflects the emotional poverty of the relationship that holds between the American wife and the American husband, it refers to the rift that is getting worse and worse between them.

Though the linguistic texture of the story shows different degrees of foregrounding, (for example, foregrounding through parallelism is more apparent than that through deixis), we must acknowledge that the linguistic analysis of foregrounding in the story enables us to incline towards a particular interpretation.

However, it is undeniable that there is no escape from being subjective in dealing with a literary text, the linguistic traits of the story, represented by syntactic parallelism and repetition of certain deictic expressions, direct our interpretative tendency in a rather rigorous way towards certain foregrounded meanings which are artistically relevant.


* See Riffaterre, Michael. "Criteria for Style Analysis," Word, xv ( April, 1959), 154-74

* William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. (London: Penguin Books,1965). All references to the novel are from this edition and only the page number will be cited in subsequent quotations.

* All italics inside the quotations from the novel are mine.

*See Mukarovsky, Aesthetic Function; Norm and Value as Social Facts. London : OUP, 1970

** See Van, Peer. Stylistics and Psychology; Investigations of Foregrounding. London: Croom Helm, 1986

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Issues in Literary Stylisitcs
Papers concerned with debatable areas of stylistics
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Khalid Shakir Hussein (Author), 2014, Issues in Literary Stylisitcs, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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