The Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets

Literary Term/Device Development
point of view a way the events of a story are conveyed to the reader, it is the
“vantage point” from which the narrative is passed from author to the reader. The
point of view can vary from work to work.
For example, in the Book of Genesis the objective third person point of view is
presented, where a “nonparticipant” serves as the narrator and has no insight into
the characters' minds. The narrator presents the events using the pronouns he, it,
they, and reveals no inner thoughts of the characters. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short
story “The Cask of Amontillado” the first person point of view is exhibited. In this
instance the main character conveys the incidents he encounters, as well as giving
the reader insight into himself as he reveals his thoughts, feelings, and intentions.
Many other points of view exist, such as omniscient (or “all knowing”) in which the
narrator “moves from one character to another as necessary” to provide those
character’s respective motivations and emotions. Understanding the point of view
used in a work is critical to understanding literature; it serves as the instrument to
relay the events of a story, and in some instances the feelings and motives of the
character(s). See A Handbook to Literature, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction,
Poetry, and Drama. Stephanie White, Student, University of North Carolina at
*Note: 2nd person POV (using “You” or “We” to address the audience primarily is
less common, but does show up in literature as well.
The total environment for the action of a
fictional work. Setting includes time period
(such as the 1890's), the place (such as
downtown Warsaw), the historical milieu (such
as during the Crimean War), as well as the
social, political, and perhaps even spiritual
realities. The setting is usually established
primarily through description, though narration
is used also.
In literature, one of the strongest devices is imagery wherein
the author uses words and phrases to create “mental
images” for the reader. Imagery helps the reader to visualize
and therein more realistically experience the author’s
writings. The usage of metaphors, allusions, descriptive
words and similes amongst other literary forms in order to
“tickle” and awaken the readers’ sensory perceptions is
referred to as imagery. Imagery is not limited to only visual
sensations, but also refers to igniting kinesthetic, olfactory,
tactile, gustatory, thermal and auditory sensations as well.
Similes are one of the most commonly used literary
devices; referring to the practice of drawing parallels or
comparisons between two unrelated and dissimilar
things, people, beings, places and concepts. By using
similes a greater degree of meaning and understanding
is attached to an otherwise simple sentence. The reader
is able to better understand the sentiment the author
wishes to convey. Similes are marked by the use of the
words ‘as’ or ‘such as’ or ‘like’.
Symbol. Something that on the surface is its literal
self but which also has another meaning or even
several meanings. For example, a sword may be a
sword and also symbolize justice. A symbol may be
said to embody an idea. There are two general
types of symbols: universal symbols that embody
universally recognizable meanings wherever used,
such as light to symbolize knowledge, a skull to
symbolize death, etc., and constructed symbols
that are given symbolic meaning by the way an
author uses them in a literary work, as the white
whale becomes a symbol of evil in Moby Dick.
A mode of expression, through words (verbal irony) or events (irony of
situation), conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to
appearance or expectation. A writer may say the opposite of what he means,
create a reversal between expectation and its fulfillment, or give the
audience knowledge that a character lacks, making the character's words
have meaning to the audience not perceived by the character.
In verbal irony, the writer's meaning or even his attitude may be different
from what he says: "Why, no one would dare argue that there could be
anything more important in choosing a college than its proximity to the
An example of situational irony would occur if a professional pickpocket had
his own pocket picked just as he was in the act of picking someone else's
pocket. The irony is generated by the surprise recognition by the audience of
a reality in contrast with expectation or appearance, while another
audience, victim, or character puts confidence in the appearance as reality
(in this case, the pickpocket doesn't expect his own pocket to be picked).
The surprise recognition by the audience often produces a comic effect,
making irony often funny.
The third type is dramatic irony, where the audience is aware of facts that
the characters are NOT aware of. You will see this in some plays we read.
The literary device foreshadowing refers to the
use of indicative words/phrases and hints that
set the stage for a story to unfold and give the
reader a hint of something that is going to
happen without revealing the story or spoiling
the suspense. Foreshadowing is used to
suggest an upcoming outcome to the story.
Characterization in literature refers to a step-by-step process
wherein a character of a story is brought to notice and then
detailed upon in front of the reader. Characterization is a
sort of initiation wherein the reader is introduced to the
character. The initial step is to introduce the character with a
marked emergence. After the arrival his behavior is
discussed. This is followed by an insight into his thoughtprocess. Then comes the part where the character voices his
opinions or converses with others in the story. The last and
finalizing part is when others in the plot respond to the
character’s presence.
DIRECT = Explicitly stated
INDIRECT = Implied where the reader has to infer
STATIC = Character does not change in a
significant way in personality, viewpoint, etc.
 DYNAMIC = Character DOES change in a
significant way in personality, viewpoint, etc.*
 *Dynamic characters might revert back to their
original viewpoint at the end, but they are still
dynamic if they are capable of, or demonstrate,
significant changes.
Flat = “Two Dimensional” (We know little about
their biography, history, hopes, desires,
accomplishments, etc.)
Ex: A tribune in a Shakespeare play that enters and delivers one
line (important to the plot, but not demonstrating a great depth of
Round = “Multi-Dimensional” (We know quite a bit
about their biography, history, hopes, desires,
accomplishments, etc.)
Ex: The protagonist of a novel, where we know a great deal about
The theme of any literary work is the base topic or
focus that acts as a foundation for the entire
literary piece. The theme links all aspects of the
literary work with one another and is basically the
main subject. The theme can be an enduring
pattern or motif throughout the literary work,
occurring in a complex, long winding manner or it
can be short and succinct and provide a certain
insight into the story.
“A Glossary of Literary Terms.” Virtual Salt.
January 4th, 2004.
September 27th, 2012.
 “All American: Glossary of Literary Terms.”
University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
m/general/glossary.htm. September 27th,