Comparison of Once More to the Lake and The Grave

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Comparison of Once More to the Lake and The Grave

Authors often use details that evoke a response in readers to produce an effective description. Their aim is not simply to tell readers what something looks like but to show them. Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Grave” and E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” are essays that use subjective language to illustrate the principles of effective description. Porter’s “The Grave” describes a childish afternoon of rabbit hunting that brings death close enough to be seen and understood, while White’s “Once More tot he Lake” is a classic essay of persona; reminiscence in which he recreates the lakeside camp he visited with his son.

One of the first things readers notice when they read Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Grave” was her use of vivid details. Miranda’s clothes are described in specific details: She was wearing her summer roughing outfit: “dark blue overalls, a light blue shirt, a hired man’s hat, and thick brown sandals.” Through her use of detail, Porter creates her dominant impression about Miranda’s feelings on female decorum as shameful. Porter describes Mirandas meeting with “old women. . . who smoked corn-cob pipes” she met along the road:

“They slanted their gummy old eyes side-ways at the granddaughter

and said, “Ain’t you ashamed of yoself, Missy? It’s aginst the

Scriptures to dress like that. Whut yo Pappy thinkin’ about?”

By describing Miranda’s reaction to the old women’s’ questioning, Porter conveys the sense of embarrassment Miranda felt. She describes Miranda’s reaction by using a simile: “with her powerful social sense, which was like a fine set of antennae radiating from every pore of her skin . . . “ Miranda is ashamed because she knew it was rude and ill-bred to shock anyone although she had faith in her father’s judgment and was perfectly comfortable in the clothes.

Another example of Porter’s use of specific details is how she describes the dead rabbit. As

Miranda’s brother Paul stripped the skin away from the dead animal the “flayed flesh emerged dark

scarlet, sleek, firm.” He slit thin flesh from the center of the ribs to the flanks, and a scarlet bag”

appeared. He slit the bag open to find a bundle of baby rabbits, each wrapped in a “scarlet thin

veil.” Paul pulled them off to reveal their true appearance: “dark grey, their wet down lying in

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