Details are important in both texts, but for different reasons
Both texts feature details that are important to the story. Details serve a plethora of purposes in literature, but they do not maintain the same purpose in each text. In To Kill a Mockingbird, details contribute to characters’ development and their personalities, which are “complex, contradictory, and richly textured” (Williams). However, for different reasons the detail exaggeration is used differently in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The detail exaggeration is a literary device that can be used to make characters more distinct and memorable. “Exaggeration is a key feature of urban myth and tall tales, where the protagonists are often exaggerated to seem more heroic than they really are” (Babcock). By using exaggeration instead of details, the characters are shaped in an extraordinary way, making the characters more memorable.
In To Kill a Mockingbird the details are used to make the characters deeply complex and rich. The characters, who are “complex, contradictory, and richly textured” (Williams), are built with them. These details shape their personalities in an extraordinary way that becomes intrinsic to who they are as a character. For example, imagine Atticus Finch without his stick, or him crossing his arms when listening. The details that shape his character are intrinsic to him. They’re what give him his distinct personality. The same goes for Calpurnia and the other characters, who are made with the details that make them complex and interesting.
The details in the first text are used to create a vivid picture for the reader
In To Kill a Mockingbird, details are used to create a vivid picture for the reader. Gates uses many vivid details in the story by using figurative language and appealing to all of the five senses. For example, when she describes Mrs. Dubose’s garden she says “The rows were straight as a soldier’s coat” (44). This phrase not only appeals to the reader’s sense of sight, but also the reader’s sense of touch. She also uses figurative language when she describes Dill’s “slender body” (30). By saying slender, she is appealing to the reader’s sense of touch. Another example is when Miss Maudie said that “Scout … sometimes looked like a girl who had been caught in a rainstorm and was drying in the wind.” (78). By saying “drying in the wind” she is appealing to all five senses. She appeals to the sense of sight by using the word ‘wind’ and she also appeals to the sense of touch by using the word ‘dry’. This is an example on how details are used to create a vivid picture for the reader.
The details in the second text are used to support the argument being made
In The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway uses details to support his argument about man vs. sea. The details are relevant because they serve as evidence that allow the argument to be supported. In “The Old Man and the Sea” Hemingway says: “The old man had been in action before.” (1). By saying this, he provides evidence that he has been in battle before. Hemingway also uses details to support the theme of the story. The theme is that “the sea was always there” (14). By using pictures he is saying that the sea is always there and never goes away. In this way, his details are not used to tell a story, but rather they are used to help him make a strong argument. Without these details, the argument would not be as strong.
Hemingway uses details to support his argument about man vs. sea. The old man had been in action before (1). By saying this, he provides evidence that he has been in battle before. Hemingway also says The woods were very brown in the dry season and the river was low and spread out over a wide bed and there were big patches of grass on the banks (1). By saying this, he provides evidence that it is dry season and the water levels are low. This would also prove that this is the time of year where man fights with the sea.
The first text is more descriptive, while the second text is more analytical
The first text has many descriptive details. In this case, the story is narrated by Scout, and therefore the reader is able to be immersed in the characters’ world. This is not only done through narrative elements but also through descriptive details. For example, when Scout describes Mrs. Dubose’s house she tells “It was a square, white frame house with a gallery across the front filled with geraniums. The front door was open, and the screen door was hooked back. There was a table on the porch with a pitcher of water and two glasses on it” (Gates 36). By using descriptive details, the reader is able to paint a picture that the reader can imagine in his/her head. This is not only true for Scout, but also for the other characters as well.
In contrast, the second text contains much less detail. This means that there are not many narrative devices used to be able to paint pictures in the reader’s head. In this case, it is not only important that the details are correct but they must also be informative. In the second text, Scout provides a list of all the times she says, “Why didn’t you do that?” when Jem explains his actions or when Scout argues with Mrs. Dubose. To avoid using too many details, the reader must only read several paragraphs at a time and if s/he still wants to know more about what happened then s/he should go back and read the whole scene.
The first text is easier to read, while the second text requires more effort
In the first text, there is a lot of figurative language. This makes the text easy to read because it is not overly descriptive. However, in The Old Man and the Sea there are very little figurative language (only six times), and thus Hemingway makes more work for himself. This can be seen by his use of simple words such as “The sea was always there.” In addition, instead of describing a character in detail he uses a narrative approach. He tells what the character did, such as: “He went to the stern of his boat to lift the heavy wooden mast down.” This eliminates unnecessary details and replaces them with simple facts. In this way, Hemingway makes more work for himself because he must take more time to explain simple details instead of using figurative language. In addition, the objectivity of Hemingway’s piece is expressed by his use of the third person limited point of view, in which he tells a story from one character’s perspective. This point of view makes it seem as if the story is being told by an unbiased “observer.” In this way, he is able to create a text that requires more work to read because it leaves no room for interpretation.